The London Green Belt Way - Summary of Places we Pass
A 238.3 mile path around the Green Belt of London, starting and finishishing at Hampton Court Palace (see Interactive Map). It has been developed over the last 25 years and in the main follows a similar route to that of a long distance charity run, the Green Belt Relay, organised by Stragglers Running Club from Kingston-upon-Thames.
Below is a short summary of the route around London. It will give you an outline of the areas we pass through and make you think about the scenery and history associated with them. However, to get a full appreciation of this you will have to read the full write up of all 22 sections.
We starts at the front door to Hampton Court Palace and follow the Thames Path over Hampton Court Bridge, past Molesey Lock (our route passes 30 locks in total, but I won't mention them all here). We continue along the Thames Path through Hurst Park, Walton-on-Thames, Shepperton, Chertsey, Laleham, Staines-upon-Thames and Egham.
At Runnymede we climb Coopers Hill past the memorials, through Englefield Green and enter Windsor Great Park at Bishopsgate. The route soon enters the deer park and follows the Long Walk from the Copper Horse to the castle.
At Windsor we exit the park via Park Street Gate and hug the wall of Windsor Castle before crossing the pedestrian bridge to Eton and rejoining the Thames Path past, Boveney, Dorney Lake, over Maidenhead Bridge and along Cliveden Reach to Cookham.
We cross the River Thames via the footbridge attached to Bourne End railway bridge. Shortly after Bourne End we leave the Thames Path at Spade Oak and go through the local nature reserve to Little Marlow. Here we join a footpath through Wilton Farm and climb the Chilterns, to join the Chilterns Way through Burroughs Grove. A quirk of motorway building allows us to stay on footpaths to pass under the M40 to skirt High Wycombe and on through Booker. At some points you almost feel you can talk to the vehicles speeding past, but they appear so cut off from the solitude of our path.
Booker Common is peaceful and wooded. At first there is a long gradual descent, but soon we are faced with a steep climb up to and through High Barbers Woods. Going through the Chilterns is a bit of a roller-coaster with many steep climbs and descents.
At Druids Hut we follow Toweridge Lane past isolated dwellings and around the back of the West Wycombe Estate and then descends to join the A40 just west of the National Trust village of West Wycombe. You can enjoy the whole village as we walk through it and even divert the short distance to visit the historical Dashwood home, the Hellfire Caves or the church on the hill with its iconic gilded ball and nearby mausoleum.
After leaving West Wycombe we climb again along an ancient track to Downley and across Downley Common to enter the grounds of Hughenden Manor. We pass D'Israeli's house and his grave at the little church below, then join the footpath north along the chalky Hughenden Stream to Hughenden Valley. Boss Lane takes us past some old and historical houses, one said to have been used by Churchill for cabinet meetings during the Second World War. The lane narrows to an enclosed track and climbs up past Pipers Corner School. On approaching Great Kingshill we turn left across fields and then follow an ancient wooded track to Prestwood.
We then follow paths through Peterley Wood, Crook's Wood and Peterley Manor Farm - there is a farm shop and restaurant for a break and you can enjoy some exotic birds, deer and alpacas.
At Little Kingshill we join the South Bucks Way and follow it to Little Missenden then divert through the village. Our route rejoins the South Bucks Way along the River Misbourne through the Shardeloes Estate to Old Amersham and along the wide High Street of this historical town. Just after the market mall we turn left through the churchyard and climb steeply to the Martyrs' Memorial.
Paths take us through Amersham Common and Chiltern Forest to cross the Chess Valley at Latimer. We climb again through woods to Flaunden and along the Hertfordshire Way to Chipperfield Common and onto Chipperfield Village.
At Kings Langley, we pass the Old Palace and join the Grand Union Canal towpath for a short distance before following lanes and paths through Bedmond, Potters Crouch and onto St Albans. Here we pass through Verulanium Park, and follow the River Ver through the Abbey grounds, past Sopwell Nunnery and join the Alban Way all the way to Hatfield.
After skirting Old Hatfield with its famous House and Palace and leaving the Alban Way we go through Mill Green with its old watermill and museum and here we first see sight of the River Lea (also spelt Lee).
We join the Welwyn Centerary Walk across Mill Green Golf Course and through The Commons Nature Reserve. Then join the Cole Green Way and follow it to Hertford. Our route takes us through the old part of town, the castle grounds and we join the Lea Valley Walk across Kings Meads to Ware.
We continue along the Lea Valley Path through Broxbourne, Waltham Abbey and as far as Enfield Lock. On leaving the Lea Navigation, we join the route of the London LOOP, along the River Lea, around the southern end of Enfield Island and through Sewardstone Marsh. We continue with the London LOOP as far as the Scouts HQ at Gilwell Park, then divert through a golf course to Lippitts Hill and onto High Beach at the centre of Epping Forest.
At High Beach we truly enter the forest and join Green Ride and Centenary Walk, past the ancient forts at Loughton Camp and Amesbury Banks, to Bell Common and across it to Epping. Beware as Epping Forest can be decieving as many of the road around it and through it are flat, but the paths within it are a completely different story.
Epping Station marks the start of the Essex Way, which we follow through Coopersale Street, Gernon Bushes Nature Reserve, Toot Hill, Greensted, with its old wooden church, and to just after the historical town of Chipping Ongar. From here we follow St Peters Way through High Ongar and the beautiful old village of Blackmore.
We continue with St Peters Way to before Fryerning, but stay on along Beggars Hill, through the village and around the old church, then across fields, past Dunsteads and across the aptly named Trueloves Lane.
Footpaths take us through crop fields to Mountnessing Post Mill, then, along country lanes, through fields, over the longest railway footbridge I have ever crossed and through an industrial estate to Hutton Country Park Nature Reserve. From Hutton Church we follow a bridleway to Ingrave, enter Thorndon Park at Thorndon Hall and along marked trails past Thorndon Park North Visitors Centre.
At Little Warley we skirt the Ford HQ before descending through the Warley Gap. On past the amazing arts and crafts church at Great Warley and on footpaths through Unnamed Wood and Codham Hall Woods.
On reaching the edge of the M25 / A217 (T) junction we are lucky to divert to a footbridge over the trunk road and follows a track below and adjacent to the busy M25. The motorway is above us, mostly out of view and only a slight hum to the ear. Our route soon comes to a halt at a railway, but our path turns right to follow it under the motorway and through Franks Wood. We cross the railway, continue through fields then cross Cranham Golf Course to the recently rebuilt and beautiful Thames Chase Forest Centre at Broadfields Farm.
The route through Essex owes a lot to the formation of the Thames Chase Forest and the new parts of the countryside they have opened to the public. In total we pass through 12 of their sites.
From Thames Chase we continue on footpaths to Cranham, through Cranham Marsh Nature Reserve and along a quiet country lane to join an ancient track through Belhus Woods Country Park, and across Belhus Chase to Aveley.
Our route leaves Aveley via Ship Lane. After a kilometre we turn left onto the Mardyke Way and follow it under the M25 and A13 to Davy Down. Then on footpaths through Stifford Green, Chafford Gorges Nature Reserve and onto Chafford Hundred Station. There is a break in the path because of the Dartford Crossing of the River Thames. However, there is a bus for the station direct to the start of the next stage at Stone Crossing, or you arrange other transport across the River Thames to Kent.
South of the Thames we start again at Stone Crossing Station and soon join a path going west along the south bank of the River Thames. We follow this upstream for three miles to Dartford Creek. Here we join the Darent Valley Path and follow it across Dartford Marshes to the centre of Dartford.
We continue south following the Darent Valley Path through Central Park, past Brooklands Lakes and on through Darenth, Farningham,Eynsford, Lullingstone and Shoreham, then divert through Otford, with its unique duck pond, where we join the North Downs Way (NDW) and soon rejoin the Darent Valley Path but only as far as Dunton Green.
From Dunton Green our route continues to follow the NDW for a half a mile to where it turns north to climb the North Downs. We take a more direct route through Chevening, around its church. across its park and past its stately house. A steep climb leads us into Park Wood, which we exit at Keepers Cottage, then descend steeply along Sundridge Lane. As it starts to level out we turn right onto the Pilgrims' Way and follow it for almost three miles to Westerham Hill. A short walk north along the road and we turn left to rejoin the NDW along The Avenue. At Chestnut Avenue we also join the Tandridge Border Path. We stay with the NDW to just after Park Wood Golf Club. Once again we divert from the NDW to go northwest, still following the Tandridge Border Path, through the golf course, past Tatsfield Church and across fields to Westmore Green.
Southwest of Tatsfield we rejoin the NDW through Botley Hill, Titsey Park and as far as Rockshaw Road. Here we divert south along a footpath and over a footbridge to cross the M25 and on to Merstham Station. We then cross the A23 to Quality Street where we rejoin the NDW at Merstham Cricket Club. Our route continues to follow the NDW through Gatton Park, over Reigate Hill and on to Buckland Heights. As the NDW turns left to descend we continue to hold the high ground across Buckland Hills and onto Pebble Coombe.
Tye Lane (ancient trackway) leads us to Headley Village and across Headley Common to Boxhill Village. At Brockham Hills we rejoin the NDW and follow it to the Boxhill Information Centre.
Once again we divert from the North Downs Way to follow 'The Old Road' past Boxhill Fort to the bottom of Zig Zag Road. We continue through Burford Bridge and West Humble as far as Chapel Farm. A narrow steep lane takes us past the ancient chapel ruins and onto the top of the Downs where we rejoin the NDW above Denbies Vineyard.
For the next 8 miles we follow the NDW through Ranmore Common and along the high escarpment of the North Downs to beyond West Hanger Picnic Area. Here we turn north to leave the NDW for a last time. We descend gradually through woods and fields, past the brewery at Old Scotland Farm, and across the A25 to East Clandon.
Going north from East Clandon we go off road again through the Ryde Estate. We soon join the route of The Fox Way and follow it for 3 miles to Walsham Lock on the River Wey Navigation.
At Ripley we cross The Green and follow a footpath to join the River Wey Navigation at Walsham Lock. Our route follows the River Wey Navigation towpath past Purford Lock and on through West Byfleet, New Haw and Weybridge to Town Lock. We soon join the Desborough Channel to Cowey Sale, and cross the River Thames via Walton Bridge.
We continue east through Lower Sunbury and Hampton where we enter Bushy Park. The walk through the park takes in many of its historical features then exits via Lion Gate and back to the grounds of Hampton Court where we finish our walk in the centre of the Maze - if you can find the route.
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