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If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.
Google map of the walk
I did this 10.6 mile circular walk on Saturday, 28th July, 2012. It was the reverse of Walk 2 of my Chiltern Chain Walk, this time I was walking in the anti-clockwise direction.
I parked in the car park on Studham Common (Grid Reference TL 027156). As I arrived I saw a Red Kite overhead, then as I parked I saw a Marbled White butterfly amongst the flowers on the edge of the car park. As I crossed the road from the car park to the central section of the common I could hear a Buzzard somewhere ahead. I followed the top of this part of the common, and as I approached the road separating it from the wooded western section of the common, I spotted the Buzzard fly from one tree to another. I crossed the road, and followed the path through the wood, descending slightly into a small valley. Bearing left here, I soon passed Studham School and followed a path from the common along the valley to reach Valley Road. Across this road, a path went half-left uphill through a field of peas or beans to reach Common Road, Studham.
Studham is the southernmost village in Bedfordshire, and borders both Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire (until 1897 part of the parish was in Hertfordshire). It appears in the Domesday Book as Estodham, and the village church was consecrated in 1220. Studham Common is a 128 hectare area of land that escaped the enclosures acts. It is popular with walkers and horse riders as it is well-connected to surrounding rights of way. The common is divided into three by two roads – the western section contains many trees and bushes but the middle and eastern sections are mainly just grass as a result of their use for crops during World War II. The common is home to dormice, skylarks, sparrowhawks and green woodpeckers, among many other species. Orchids, including Bee Orchids, are among the numerous flowers that bloom here in the Spring and Summer months.
The middle section of Studham Common, across the road from the car park
The western section of Studham Common
The path from Studham Common to Valley Road
The path from Valley Road to Common Road, Studham
Across Common Road, a bridleway started off down a driveway. It was soon following the left-hand hedge of a large field (more peas or beans, I think), and then passed through Ravensdell Wood. Beyond a plantation of young trees, the bridleway dropped quite steeply into the Gade Valley (or at least what becomes the Gade Valley, I don't think the river ever flows here). Across the road that runs through the valley, I followed the bridleway as it continued up the other side of the valley. After a while, the bridleway went half-left, but a footpath continued steeply ahead to reach a path junction on the edge of Hudnall.
The bridleway from Studham to Hudnall
The bridleway approaching Ravensdell Wood
The bridleway crossing the Gade valley
Looking left along the Gade Valley towards Great Gaddesden
The bridleway continuing uphill towards Hudnall
The footpath continuing towards Hudnall
The path now went half-right, past a solitary tree, through a very large corn field. On the far side, I went through a gate and continued through a meadow, with Little Gaddesden church away to my right. Over the drive to the church, the path continued through a smaller meadow. It then ran along the bottom of some gardens, before continuing between the wooden fences of some paddocks to reach the road through Little Gaddesden by the Bridgewater Arms pub. I crossed the road and walked through the pub's car park to where another footpath started. This ran between fences, soon dropping gently downhill and crossing a private drive before continuing on between garden boundaries.
Little Gaddesden was once in Buckinghamshire but is now in Hertfordshire. As well as Little Gaddesden itself, the parish includes Hudnall, Ashridge and part of Ringshall. The valley of Witchcraft Bottom is reputedly where the last witch in Buckinghamshire was tried and executed. A local man called John O’ Gaddesden was the physician to the Royal Household in the 14th century – he served the household at the same time as Geoffrey Chaucer and it is claimed the main character in The Doctor’s Tale was based on him. The house John O’Gaddesden lived in still stands in the village (though some claim this house dates to a later period).
The footpath from Hudnall to Little Gaddesden
The path continuing through a meadow to reach the drive to Little Gaddesden church
Looking towards Little Gaddesden church
Paddocks, Little Gaddesden
The path from the car park of the Bridgewater Arms, Little Gaddedesden
Part 2 of this walk
Chiltern Chain Walk (2) main page