Pete's Walks - The Chess Valley Walk

About the Chess Valley Walk

The Chess Valley Walk is a 10-mile route from Chesham, Bucks., to Rickmansworth, Herts., following the delightful valley of the river Chess through part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It starts and finishes at railway stations, so access to the route and returning to the start point are both easy. There are also alternative starts/finishes at the stations at Chorleywood and at Chalfont & Latimer, for people wishing to do shorter sections along the route. The walk was created by the Chilterns Conservation Board, and details of the walk can be downloaded from this web site: (external link opens in new window). Much of my information is taken from that source, the rest has been taken from the numerous information boards along the route. The route is also shown on the OS Explorer maps 181 and 172. It is generally fairly well waymarked on the ground, and can be walked in either direction.

The Chess Valley is one of the most attractive areas in the Chilterns, and I have enjoyed several walks there. The river Chess is a 'chalk stream', fed by ground water that is stored in 'aquifers' - layers of chalk rock that act like a sponge. Like the other chalk streams in the Chilterns (such as the Gade, Misbourne and Ver), the Chess is shallow and narrow, with a gravel bed and clear water. The Chess Valley is not only attractive, it is rich in wildlife (I've often seen Little Egrets here) and is full of historical connections.

Click here to see a rough map of the walk  (but only if you have already read my disclaimer and notes regarding maps).

About my walk

I eventually did this walk on Wednesday 20th May 2009. I had been thinking of doing the walk for a couple of years or so, but had dithered over how exactly I would do it. The distance of 10 miles is a bit awkward for me as I prefer to walk about 15 miles - a 10 mile walk is a little short, and if I did it 'both ways' then 20 miles is a bit too long. I did contemplate splitting it into two walks, making use of the two alternative start/end points at Latimer & Chalfont and Chorleywood stations, but this would have meant repeating a short section of the walk.

In the end, having already done a couple of 20 mile walks recently, I plumped for doing the walk 'both ways'. At least I can now say I have done the walk in both directions.

Picture omitted Day 1 20/05/09

Chesham to Rickmansworth

Post-walk comments

I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the Chess Valley Walk. I'd already walked about half of the route before on various walks, and I really liked the area between Chesham and Sarratt Bottom - I think it's one of the most attractive parts of the Chilterns. Unfortunately I found the rest of the walk, from Sarratt Bottom to Rickmansworth to be less enjoyable. It was obvious that I was entering the outer reaches of suburbia, and for much of that section it was clear that there were built-up areas nearby. The section beside the M25 and the long section between garden fences were rather dull, though there were still occasional attractive sections, basically whenever the route came back to the charming river Chess.

It's certainly not a bad walk - I've tried to make allowances, but perhaps if I'd done it on a sunnier day (or been in a happier mood) I'd have liked it more. I'll certainly walk parts of it again, but on circular routes that will include some of the nearby villages such as Chenies, Sarratt and Flaunden.