Everyone knows that London is severely spoilt when it comes to parks, from the sprawling open space of Hyde Park, the tree strewn acreage of Regents Park and the multitude of more modest, but no less beautiful, green spaces in between, as a city London is blessed by bucolity.
But, I think everyone yearns for something a little more untamed, a litter wilder, ‘real countryside’ for want of a better phrase. Finding this with any ease however can be easier said than done. Firstly, for many Londoners, relying solely on public transport can limit your choices. Secondly, if you gamble on a train to a quaint sounding destination how can you be sure that it’s actually worth visiting.
I am compiling a list of walks, hikes and rambles that can be started and finished entirely on public transport and no more than an hour away from London, with a finish point that is finishing at.
The first such walk that I planned and walked was from Chorleywood to Great Missenden.
Easily reached on the Metropolitan line, it takes about forty five minutes from Kings Cross, Chorleywood is a tiny commuter town just next to Rickmansorth. It’s always interesting to follow a tube line from its centre point to its terminus as the city slips away in front of you.
I had planned to followed the South Bucks Way, which is well signposted enough to mostly negate a map, but to reach it I had to weave a little through footpaths and minor roads, joining the path proper just past the small village of Chalfont St Giles.
This walk takes you through the famous Chiltern Hills, which never seem to be mentioned without the qualifier ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. This route however includes no major ascents and is generally flat.
After meandering through wooded outcrops and an endless ribbon of fields, the trail passes through Amersham’s old town. The last stop on the Metropolitan line, Amersham was picture postcard quaint, neat rows of tudor buildings, cosy pubs and boutique shops that melted away into a myriad of small lanes pocked with villages, smallholdings and farms.
Eventually the path wound its way into Great Missenden. A town where Roald Dahl lived and wrote and is now home to the striking Roald Dahl museum. For me, who has always been a fan, this is reward enough in itself, but there are also couple of popular pubs that can offer you liquid, and more solid, refreshment.
From Great Missenden there is a direct train back to London Marylebone.