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The Old Orchard and Colne Valley

There are currently 3 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

The Old Orchard and Colne Valley
Author: pubwalker, Published: 30 Aug 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walkstar1 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walkstar1 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walkstar1 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walkstar0 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk
Middlesex, Hillingdon
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
The Old Orchard and Colne Valley
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk boot The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk boot The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk
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0004_black_low_cloud The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walkToday's weather
3 °C, Overcast, Wind: 2 mph ENE
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A 4.5 mile circular pub from the Old Orchard in Harefield, Middlesex. The Old Orchard’s hillside position affords it some of the best views of any pub, an uninterrupted panorama of the Colne Valley lakes with their beautiful wooded slopes. In the summer you can enjoy your refreshments on the terrace or in the large garden to enjoy these views but, if the weather is less inviting, the inside of the pub is just as welcoming with open fires and plenty of cask ales to choose from. The walking route has something for everyone. A stretch along the bustling canal towpath, meandering paths between the lakes plus woodland and quiet farm tracks.

There are many steady climbs and descents throughout. The paths are a mixture of well-made stone towpaths and tracks, plus field and woodland paths, the latter of which can be narrow and a little overgrown and can get muddy after periods of rain and in winter. You will need to negotiate one gate and two stiles (both stiles having open fencing alongside which should be easy for most dogs to negotiate). The stiles and gate can be avoided by changing the first few hundred yards of the walk – leave the car park via the vehicle entrance and turn left down the hill until you reach a right hand bend with a stile to your left. Pick up the main directions here from the last sentence of section one. Approximate time 2 hours.

Harefield is located in the London Borough of Hillingdon in Middlesex, north west London. The walk starts and finishes from the Old Orchard pub which is signed off Park Lane in Harefield. Just turn down the small side lane (Jack’s Lane) and you’ll find the pub (and its large car park) half way down on the left. Approximate post code UB9 6HJ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Black Jack's Lock
Start to Black Jack's Lock

Start point: 51.6028 lat, -0.4906 long
End point: 51.6022 lat, -0.495 long

To begin the walk, walk to the far end of the car park (enjoying the spectacular views across the valley to your right) and continue through the gated grass overflow car park. At the far end, pass through the gate into woodland, keep ahead for a few paces and you’ll reach a T-junction with a wider woodland path. Turn right along this heading downhill.

The path leads you to a stile with a Hillingdon Trail signpost alongside. Cross the stile into an open field, and cross this diagonally downhill to reach the far bottom corner, with the Grand Union Canal now visible running along the bottom of the field. In the bottom corner cross the stile and turn left along the tarmac lane. After just a few yards turn left again, signed for the Hillingdon Trail and Black Jack’s Mill. Follow the lane over the arched bridge alongside Black Jack’s Lock.

Black Jack's Lock to North Orbital Road
Black Jack's Lock to North Orbital Road

Start point: 51.6022 lat, -0.495 long
End point: 51.5999 lat, -0.5059 long

Immediately after the bridge, turn right along the towpath passing Black Jack’s Mill on the left with the Grand Union Canal running on your right. Follow the towpath over a brick-sided bridge, crossing a weir down to the left. Immediately before the next high arched bridge set within the towpath, turn left down a narrow footpath signed to Old Uxbridge Road.

Soon the path runs directly alongside an inlet of the canal on the right. After crossing a metal footbridge you’ll emerge to a T-junction with a gravel track. Turn right along this and follow it with lakes now visible each side.

The Colne Valley covers a total of 43 square miles. In this section, north of the M40, there is a distinct valley with the rolling chalk hills forming the valley sides. The wide valley bottom has a wetland landscape created by the River Colne, the Grand Union Canal and a succession of lakes. There are 50 lakes in total stretching from Batchworth Lake in Rickmansworth in the north to Church Lammas in Staines in the south. The lakes are former gravel pits which have now been flooded and are important for both recreation and wildlife.

Keep ahead as the track becomes concrete and on the left you’ll pass a Marble and Granite Centre, which includes a large gantry crane used to move the heavy blocks around. As you draw level with the centre’s gates, follow the track as it bends right. You’ll emerge to a T-junction with Old Uxbridge Road. Turn left along this quiet tarmac lane, passing first a pair of cottages and then further along the ornate metal gates of Troy House. Keep ahead through bollards to join the path signed for Denham Way. A little distance further the path swings right to reach a T-junction with the main North Orbital Road, and you’ll notice you are between the boundary signs for Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

North Orbital Road to Crossroads
North Orbital Road to Crossroads

Start point: 51.5999 lat, -0.5059 long
End point: 51.605 lat, -0.5225 long

Cross over with extreme care to join the bridleway opposite. Keep ahead on the path between hedgerows with a large crop field visible to the right. Continue as the path climbs into a belt of woodland and you will reach a crossroads with a tarmac lane.

Cross over to continue on the bridleway opposite, now part of the South Bucks Way. Follow the path down to a dip and continuing to climb once again. As the hedgerow on the right gives way, take time to enjoy the views across the surrounding hills.

Across the crop fields you’ll be able to see the traffic on the M25 in the distance. Over to the far right you’ll see the village of Harefield from which you came. Harefield has a number of diverse claims to fame. Harefield Hospital is a world-famous heart and lung hospital and Alexander Fleming (Noble Prize winner for the discovery of penicillin) was the pathologist at the hospital in 1939. It is also remarkable that a village as small as Harefield is associated with three Victoria Cross recipients, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry.

The path continues undulating and swinging steadily right. Eventually you will cross over a concrete access road, in a dip in the path, and immediately afterwards you’ll see a crossroads of paths.

Crossroads to Grand Union Canal
Crossroads to Grand Union Canal

Start point: 51.605 lat, -0.5225 long
End point: 51.6096 lat, -0.499 long

Turn right here onto the bridleway signed to Pynesfield Lake. Follow this grass track with a fence running to the right and a field sloping up to the left. You’ll emerge to a T-junction with the main North Orbital Road. Cross over with care and take the track directly opposite which crosses a narrow crop field to reach a T-junction with a quiet tarmac lane.

Turn left and then immediately right signed as public footpath 003 to Coppermill Lane. Continue as the path narrows between fences, passing to the left of the garage ahead. Keep ahead over a footbridge and on to join a fenced woodland path. Soon you’ll be walking again between lakes, with Pynesfield Lake to the left.

You’ll emerge to a T-junction with a tarmac road. Keep right and then left to join a fenced footpath between lawns. Keep ahead over the tarmac access lane, with the gated entrance to the Clancy Group on the right. Pass a car park on the left and then keep ahead to reach a T-junction with the main road. Turn right, with care, along the road edge over the first bridge and then turn right again (before the second bridge) to join the towpath with the Grand Union Canal on the left.

Grand Union Canal to End
Grand Union Canal to End

Start point: 51.6096 lat, -0.499 long
End point: 51.6031 lat, -0.491 long

The main line of the Grand Union Canal runs from Brentford on the River Thames to Birmingham and has 166 locks. The route is used for the annual Grand Union Canal Race, a 145 mile race from Birmingham to London which must be run within a maximum of 45 hours. Resting for more than 40 minutes at a time is not permitted – so clearly not for the faint-hearted!

A little way along the canal towpath, keep ahead over the arched bridge, and continue on the towpath (you are now on the section you followed on your outward leg). Continue on to reach Black Jack’s Mill and Lock and immediately afterwards cross the bridge over the canal.

At the T-junction, turn right and you will come to a left-hand bend on the road (with the stile to the right that you used on the outward leg). For the return journey simply follow the road left and climbing fairly steeply uphill. Continue until you reach the Old Orchard on the right for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author pubwalker and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "The Old Orchard and Colne Valley"

This is one of my favourite walks and the view across the valley from The Old Orchard is wonderful. There's a mixture of busy canal life and wide open fields and valleys.

By Richard on 2014-04-13 13:09:59

Lovely walk, would recommend to a friend!

By Christo777 on 2016-05-07 16:03:34

Was recommended by a friend and found it to be a fantastic walk...great for dogs too as they can be off the lead for most of it!!

By Nadinejb on 2016-05-15 21:30:50

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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4 images to "The Old Orchard and Colne Valley"

2484_0Richard1377939506 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
This is a view from the bridge over the canal looking down on Black Jack's lock. Taken in August 2013.
2484_0Richard1377939627 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Bobbie the poodle "Struttin' her stuff" on the way down to Black Jack's Mill. She has her cool coat on as it was a hot August day in 2013
2484_0Richard1377939722 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Opposite the pub are wonderful views across the lakes making this perhaps one of the best pub gardens inside the M25?
2484_0Richard1377940079 The Old Orchard and Colne Valley - Pub walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
As well as a great garden the inside of the pub is fab too.

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