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End of the Line at Chesham

Discover the delights of the little-known Chess Valley before returning to Chesham by tube.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 2hrs 15min

Ascent/gradient 165ft (50m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Roads, field and woodland paths and tracks, 8 stiles

Landscape Unspoiled farmland and woodland scenery of Chess Valley

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 181 Chiltern Hills North

Start/finish SP 960016

Dog friendliness On lead in Chesham,Latimer and where there may be livestock, under control elsewhere

Parking Chesham tube

Public toilets Chesham tube and Chalfont and Latimer tube

1 Turn left out of the station to join the Chess Valley Walk. The delightful old signal box can be seen from the path. Bear right at the waymark and walk down to Trinity Baptist Church. Cross the main road and follow the way through Meades Water Gardens to reach the road by a roundabout. Make for Moor Road on the far side and pass beneath the railway. When the road sweeps right, go straight on along a tarmac path. Swing right at the next footbridge and rejoin the road.

2 Pass a swimming pool and go straight over at the next junction, following the trail between the river and a recreation ground. Join the road by a weir and maintain direction along Latimer Road. When it swings right at a bridge, veer off to the left to a stile, signposted 'Blackwell Hall'. Cross four stiles to reach the road. Swing left, passing Blackwell Farm, and continue ahead on a track as the lane sweeps left. On reaching farm outbuildings, go straight ahead.

3 There are two tracks running parallel across the fields. Keep to the left track, go through a gate and continue over farmland, crossing two stiles to reach a gate leading into the wood. Follow the path uphill, ignore a path on the right and make for the woodland edge. Skirt the field, keeping the trees on your right and head for a kissing gate. Walk towards a white gate for several paces, looking for a stile in the left boundary, out to the road.

4 Turn right, pass the entrance to Parkfield Latimer and follow the road down to the Old Rectory and the entrance to Latimer House, now the offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers. Continue down the road to the next entrance to the house and just beyond it join a tarmac drive running down into the valley. Down by the weir the view to the north is dominated by the façade of Latimer House. When the drive forks, go through the gate ahead and across the pasture to the road.

5 Cross over to a kissing gate and follow the wide path up the field slope towards woodland. Bear right to pass a stile and about 75yds (69m) beyond it, veer left and climb between the trees. Cross a wide track and head for a house. Keep to the right of it and join a drive leading to a road. Follow Chenies Avenue, cross Elizabeth Avenue and head down to a junction. Bear left and walk along to the Chalfont and Latimer Station to catch the tube back to Chesham.

If you're not familiar with the county of Buckinghamshire, it's something of a surprise to arrive at a small country town and find signs for the London Underground - the instantly recognisable circle with a line running through it. At Chesham's charming little station you can board a tube train and travel 25 miles (40.2km) to Aldgate in the City of London via places like Finchley Road, Northwood Hills, Wembley Park and Pinner - the heart of Metroland.

Chesham lies at the end of a branch of the Metropolitan Line, which opened in 1889. Together with nearby Amersham, it's one of London Underground's furthest outposts. Work began on extending what was then known as the St John's Wood Line beyond central London during the latter years of the 19th century. By the mid-1880s the railway had become known as the Metropolitan, running 17½ miles (28km) from Baker Street. The plan was to continue the line all the way to Aylesbury, but financial problems restricted its extension at that time to Chesham.

Most of the land for the new sections of railway was acquired from the Duke of Bedford and Lord Chesham, but the land for the final half mile (800m) of the Chesham branch was presented to the railway by local residents to enable a station to be built in the centre of the town instead of on the outskirts, as was originally planned. In May 1889 the people of Chesham were invited to inspect the branch and afterwards entertained to a banquet. Seven weeks later, the line from Rickmansworth to Chesham was opened. For the next three years, until the main line from Chalfont and Latimer Station to Amersham and Aylesbury was opened in 1892, Chesham was the Metropolitan's most northerly terminus.

Where to eat and drink

There are no pubs on the rural stretches of the walk, but Chesham offers plenty of choice - including the Last Post and the Cock Tavern, which has a wide-ranging menu, with everything from pizza to jumbo sausage and toasted sandwiches.

What to look for latimer house, once the home of lord chesham and now a conference centre, was originally an elizabethan manor house, but was badly damaged by fire during the 1830s. the house was later restored and during the second world war it became an interrogation centre. later, the house was used as the headquarters of the joint services staff college, then the national defence college. a short distance from latimer station lies the entrance to beel house, the former home of the film star dirk bogarde (1921-99). it was here that he entertained some of hollywood's most famous celebrities, including judy garland, ava gardner, gregory peck and elizabeth taylor.

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