Event route planned and designed by Paul F in 2014.
Weather: clear skies, bright sunshine, cold 4°C, light wind NW 7mph.
Attendance: 19 heads: 18 male, 1 female. 1 new member. Meal was 20 heads, including 2 non-walkers.
Time: 11:21 to 13:24. Meal ended at 15:55.
Terrain: pavement, road, grass fields, muddy woodland tracks, cultivated fields.
Elevation: start at 115m, highest 128m, lowest 70m.
Number of watercress farms on the route: 1.
Number of sewage works on the route: 0
This was a circular walk of 4.3 miles from Church End in Sarratt, SW the River Chess, W to Chenies in Buckinghamshire, N to Chenies Bottom and the River Chess, E to Sarratt Bottom and SE to Church End. The annual Christmas bloat-out followed the walk. The meal was at the Cock Inn, Sarratt.
Starting off at the Cock Inn, Sarratt, we crossed over to the 12th century Church of the Holy Cross, grade 2* listed, passing in front of it through the churchyard and then passing a large 18th century manor house “Goldingtons”, a grade 2 listed building (currently for sale in December 2014, 52 acres, 9 beds, 8 baths, 8 reception rooms, 1,105m² living space, swimming pool, stables, leisure centre, fishing rights, tennis court, a steal at £5m). As we went downhill into the River Chess Valley, the sun shone low and bright, illuminating glorious views of the landscape and the undersides of red kites flying overhead.
We walked near to the river on the Chess Valley Walk and crossed over the river on a small footbridge onto the Chiltern Way. The ground then became muddy as we entered Turveylane Wood, which had amazing backlit views uphill. We reached the village of Chenies and passed Chenies Manor, a grade 1 listed building dating back to 12th century. It has a very colourful history, more-or-less starting with a contested bequest in 1494. Today, the house is still a private residence, run as a venue business, hosting functions from weddings to corporate pow-wows and has also served as a film set. In between all of this, the house is open to the public, except when we walked past it!
We then entered some more woodland, heading back into the valley, stopping for some of Krispian’s excellent homemade mince pies. Then up to Chenies Bottom and back to the Chess, re-entering Hertfordshire. Part of this area is Frogmore Meadow nature reserve, a site of special scientific interest of 4.6ha, listed for being a lowland neutral grassland, part-owned by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Here, we had fantastic views of the bloated river and were able to watch a grey heron skulking, and ducks and other common water birds.
After this, we came to a watercress farm. Unfortunately, the farm had no stock on sale! We quickly moved on to Sarratt Bottom and climbed the hill back to Church End, walking around the back of the Church, returning to the Cock Inn.
At the meal, we then chomped our way through a three-course meal, a good-value pub-grub meal in a pub well-known locally for its kitchen and a wide range of real ales. The pub itself is 17th century, formerly known as the Cock Horse, and, typical for this part of the world, is a grade 2 listed building. The pub has found a superb niche for itself, offering hospitality for walkers and the occasional wedding crowd (being opposite a church). The venue was ideal for us: upon returning from a fantastic walk, we glided into a fairly busy pub, amidst the smell of real wood fires and fresh food.
Words by Peter O’Connor and Martin Thornhill.
Pictures by Paul Ferguson. All rights reserved.