21st May 2013

Arrive R'worth Horses The Chess Church End Chorley Wood Thank You Features Read Me

Rickmansworth to Chorley Wood

What a lovely afternoon walk! All praises to Melissa for leading and navigating! The Chilterns are alive with the greenery and the flowers that herald summer. The River Chess provides a focus for the first part of our walk, which is also liberally sprinkled with affluent residences. Horses greet us as we wend our way along the Chess.

Summer is not far off, and yet some trees are already cloaked in colours that seem almost autumnal.

And so to Church End, which, with its time-honoured buildings, caters for both matters spiritual: the ancient church and "The Cock Inn". The inn makes a nice lunch stop. Watercress beds, bluebell-carpeted woods and wisteria-covered cottages make excellent ingredients for the second half of our walk. A visit to a wonderfully stylish tea shop rounds off a very good day. Melissa, Many Thanks!

Here is what you will see.

Marylebone - Gateway to the Chilterns

Departing from Marylebone Station is usually a nice experience, and today is no exception. It's a well-kept station serving the affluent Chilterns. The only thing is that it is sometimes a bit challenging to get to the station in the first place. With a journey time of only about 22 minutes, it is the quickest way to the start of our walk. Even so there is a wait of about 25 minutes before the train departs. However, this allows time to appreciate the vestiges of the golden age of the Great Central, as these next two pictures proudly testify.

The station gates proudly proclaim that this is Great Central territory. The Great Central main line to Sheffield was expunged out of existence by Beeching, but HS2 - which follows a fair bit of the old route - is now firmly on the agenda. Is there a proverbial moral lurking somewhere?

Trains depart for the suburban destinations of the old Great Central including Gerrards Cross, Aylesbury and Princes Risborough. To this list have been added places such as Birmingham, Wrexham and Malvern. Marylebone Station has certainly found a busy new life after Beeching.

Rickmansworth - We see the Chess

After leaving Rickmansworth Station, we "hug" the railway line for a while. Then we reach the curious church at Fortune Green. The verdant banks of the River Chess are close by, and soon we are in the country - the wavy landscape of the Chilterns.

This church seems to try and hide from the web pages. However, it is a Catholic church, built in the early Victorian times, possibly to synchronise with the Emancipation Act.

This Victorian house is bedecked with French style mansard windows. Victorians liked to play with architecture, even if the visual results are nowadays not always appreciated.

The fish symbolises the Chess path, some of which we are following.

There are lots and lots of bluebells around.
Admittedly, here the lighting for the camera suggests white bells.

These tall Scots Pines are lining an ultra-affluent residential road with handsome dwellings to the left and right, just outside the picture.

Equine Interlude

Horses are a sign of the local surrounding local affluence. We pass a paddock with four young equines, which engage in a sort of quiet horsey conversation with our party. I manage to commit our encounter to celluloid - err, no, it's pixels nowadays.

Does the horse like to be stroked on the nose, ...

... or is the thought of food more on the equine agenda?

What, no apples?

Perhaps I can eat the camera that's pointing at me.

We continue along the Chess

We play leap frog with the Chess, all the while soaking up the rural atmosphere - as soon as we are out of earshot of the M25, Britain's biggest car park, or so it is said. Late spring has, to good aesthetic effect, seriously thrown its verdant mantle across the undulations and bumps of the countryside. We find a "secret" house seemingly just awaking from its 19th century slumbers.

Here is another tranquil view of the Chess - well not really so tranquil. The M25 is right next to us, but luckily we can soon leave the roar of modern traffic behind us.

Summer is not far off, and yet some trees are already cloaked in colours that seem almost autumnal.

Nestling beneath a slope of yet to ripen wheat, this looks like a rural Regency hide-away for some wealthy individual. What secrets does it conceal?

Again we cross the Chess. Ahead is the field of green wheat destined to ripen in the late summer sun.

From the bridge there are nice views of the Chess, to the south ...

... and to the north.

Church End - Our Lunch Stop

We scale the heights to reach Church End. This village was originally located - like so many villages - on high ground, so that danger, in the form of marauders and the like, could readily be spotted, and appropriate action taken. The church provides interesting snippets of English history. Indeed, the whole of Church End is alive with intriguing relics from the past.

We are welcomed by Sarratt's flint and brick church (of the Holy Cross), founded in 1190.

We see that Queen Victoria still rules OK, or so it would appear.

The colourful inn sign beckons the thirsty and the hungry.

Being a "Hall & Woodhouse" inn, the bird is accompanied by a badger looking down from on high.

The food and wine menus look good, but the prices do not allow the visitor to forget the affluence of the area.

The Grade II listed erstwhile alms houses opposite the church were built in 1821 and funded by a wealthy local, or so the white stone plaque tells us.

There are six individual "units". The window frames look very "Regency".

As befits a church of this age, there are some interesting things within.

A mediaeval wall painting - that must have escaped being destroyed by Cromwell's reforming zeal - probably shows a scene from the Bible. Pictures - not words - were used to convey the religious message to the locals in days of old.

This is a Tudor monument by the altar; in Tudor times, it was customary to show the children with their parents - boys with their father and girls with their mother. Subsequent Googling reveals that the monument is that of one William Kingsley and is dated 1611. OK, just post Tudor!

And so to Chorley Wood

It's a pleasant walk to Chorley Wood over verdant hills and across fields. It's bluebell time with a vengeance. On the way we admire a cottage covered in wisteria, and stop at the watercress beds to buy some of the healthy produce. We pass through the outskirts of Chenies, leaving a visit to Chenies Place for a later time. Verdant woods, all fresh in their spring green and with carpets of bluebells, are a pleasant gateway to Chorley Wood. In Chorley Wood we stop for tea and cakes in an excellent tea shop that reflects the style and affluence of the area.

A nice avenue of trees leads from Church End to Saratt Bottom.

On the way we saviour the peaceful undulating landscape.

We have reached Sarratt Bottom and admire the wisteria-covered cottage.
Perhaps someone's country retreat.

The watercress beds benefit from the River Chess. We take a delight in the fresh peppery taste of the cress which we have just bought.

In Mount Wood, the bluebells are running riot.

The Red Lion in Chenies acts as an interesting landmark. I try to learn new things every day, and today it is the word "Autarkic" which is proudly displayed above the words "Free House" on the front of the pub. Since I'm sure you enjoy the challenge of finding out about words and their etymology as much as I do, I'll leave you to satisfy your natural curiosity by consulting the COD or some comparably august tome.

The Chantry Woods bring us to the affluent outskirts of Chorley Wood, where the excellent tea shop awaits our visit. Melissa, what an excellent choice! I'm not a cakes person usually, but the tea and cakes are really excellent and can definitely compete with continental offerings.

A Victorian Send Off

As we take our trains back south, we realise that some aspects go unnoticed by travellers in their quest to travel. For example, the supports of the platform awnings on Chorley Wood station are fine examples of Victorian cast iron work, as the following pictures show. This blend of old architecture and modern trains is a nice way of embarking on our respective homeward journeys.

On station platforms it's sometimes a case of "look up and ye shall find", especially if you are yearning for the aesthetic ingredients in life.

And here is some more nice cast iron work - painted with a feeling for the more refined aspects of our industrial heritage.

Thank You

Melissa, once again, Many Thanks for a lovely walk. Also thanks for adjusting the start time to let me join from the wilds of Essex. It was certainly a successful walk, which allowed us to absorb to the full the seasonal imprint of nature on our countryside. A re-run - sorry, re-walk - would certainly be an excellent idea.