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The Alford Arms and the Chiltern Hills

There are currently 6 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

The Alford Arms and the Chiltern Hills
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 26 May 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Hertfordshire, Frithsden
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
The Alford Arms and the Chiltern Hills
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4 mile circular pub walk from the Alford Arms in Frithsden, Hertfordshire. The Alford Arms has a wonderful philosophy of ‘children, dogs and muddy boots welcome’, but don’t think spit and sawdust. You’ll find a friendly atmosphere, good local ales, carefully chosen wines and delicious meals (including the best Sunday roast we’ve had in years). The walking route takes in the surrounding rolling hills of the Chilterns, with ancient lanes, pastures, woodlands and water meadows. There are lovely views throughout and the chance to see plenty of wildlife.

The route includes several long and steady climbs and descents, plus a couple of steeper sections. The paths are firm in the main, but can get muddy after rain or in winter and the water meadows (as the name suggests) can be quite marshy so good boots are a must. There are no stiles on route, just some kissing gates to negotiate. There are a couple of short sections of walking along the country lanes so take care of traffic at these points. Two of the fields you cross may be holding cattle and/or sheep so take care with dogs. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

Frithsden is located about two miles north of Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. The walk starts and finishes from the Alford Arms which has its own small car park. There is also a small amount of street-side parking nearby but this fills up quickly at peak times. To make life easier for the pub, please try to arrive in the morning to complete the walk while the pub is closed, finishing just in time for a well-earned lunch as the pub opens. Approximate post code HP1 3DD.

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Walk Sections

Start to Nettleden
Start to Nettleden

Start point: 51.7777 lat, -0.5277 long
End point: 51.7841 lat, -0.5235 long

Leave the pub car park via the vehicle entrance and turn right along the road edge. Immediately after passing in front of the pub, turn right again onto the small village lane signed as the Icknield Way. On the left you’ll see Little Manor, a property with a particularly ornate ‘pargetted’ exterior believed to date back to the early 1500s.

Keep straight ahead on the country lane climbing steadily between properties, taking care of any occasional traffic. A little further along you’ll pass Frithsden Vineyard on the right. The lane now climbs more steeply into trees. At the brow of the hill you’ll pass the entrance for Highridge Farm on the left. At this point take a moment to enjoy the views of the rolling Chiltern Hills.

At about 10 o’clock you’ll be able to see a white building within the trees, Ashridge House. In medieval times this was the site of a monastery, Ashridge Priory. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries the estate passed to the Dukes of Bridgewater and the current house was built in the early 1800s. Today the house is used as a management training college and the estate and grounds are managed by the National Trust.

Ignore the footpath off to the left, simply keep straight ahead on the narrower path between hedgerows. At the fork keep left, staying on the main path as it descends fairly steeply between impressive tall flint and brick walls. This track, Roman Lane, was an old access drive to Ashridge House. It is also known as Spooky Lane as it was thought to be haunted by an Ashridge monk. The lane was created in the early 1800s, dug deep into the hill so that visitors using the driveway could avoid contact with the local villagers.

Follow the track under the bridge and you’ll emerge alongside Nettleden Farm. Simply keep ahead along the access lane to reach the T-junction with the main road in Nettleden.

Nettleden to Amaravati Monastery
Nettleden to Amaravati Monastery

Start point: 51.7841 lat, -0.5235 long
End point: 51.792 lat, -0.52 long

Cross over the road and turn left for just a few yards, taking care of any traffic, and then turn right to join the public footpath signed to St Margarets. Pass through the staggered barrier and follow the path climbing steadily between hedgerows. (Watch out for any nettles – the name Nettleden means ‘valley where nettles grow’ so you have been warned!)

The path leads you through a number of tunnels of ancient gnarled trees. At the top of the climb the path levels off, keep ahead on the path passing a camp site on the left. Continue down through the woodland and you’ll emerge to a gravel driveway. Keep ahead along this, passing a property to the right. You’ll emerge to a T-junction with the main road.

Turn left for a few paces to pass the entrance to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery on the left. This site was once home to a medieval convent, was a transit camp for the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II, a boarding school and now a monastery. The monastery provides retreat centres and weekly meditation workshops for visitors.

Amaravati Monastery to Church
Amaravati Monastery to Church

Start point: 51.792 lat, -0.52 long
End point: 51.7907 lat, -0.5098 long

Immediately after the monastery entrance on the left, you’ll see a small track off to the right. Do NOT take the track itself, instead look for the wooden gate set within the hedge to the right of it and pass through this. Follow the fenced footpath which runs around the outside of a horse paddock.

Follow the path steadily downhill, enjoying the views across the valley ahead. You will come to a kissing gate ahead, pass through this to enter a large open pasture (which may be holding sheep or cattle). Go ahead through the field, passing to the right of the large clump of trees. In the far corner pass through the kissing gate and keep left through the arch in the hedge to enter the next pasture. Cross this diagonally to reach the opposite corner where you’ll see a choice of two kissing gates.

Take the right-hand one into a section of the church graveyard. Keep ahead for a few yards and you’ll find a gate into the main churchyard on the left. Pass through the gate and follow the stone path which runs to the left of the church. The Church of St John the Baptist in Great Gaddesden retains features from every century since the 1100s, including a Roman brick chancel and a flint tower from the 1400s, topped with stone gargoyles.

Follow the path along the side of the church, right in front of the church and then turn left to pass the war memorial and leave the churchyard via the lych gate.

Church to Heizdin's Wood
Church to Heizdin's Wood

Start point: 51.7907 lat, -0.5098 long
End point: 51.7793 lat, -0.5049 long

You will emerge from the churchyard to a tarmac driveway, with the village school on the left. Follow the drive as it swings right to reach the main road. Cross over with care and turn right for just a few yards. Ignore the stile on the left, instead take the track immediately afterwards (the driveway for Sybden), a footpath signed for Nettleden Road.

Keep left of the entrance gates to join the narrow fenced footpath ahead. You will emerge to the corner of a large crop field. Keep ahead along the left-hand boundary. In the field corner you’ll come to a junction of paths. Turn left through the metal kissing gate into the Water End water meadows, part of the Gaddesden Estate. Walk straight through the centre of the meadows, heading for the wooden footbridge (the ground can get a little marshy). Do NOT cross the bridge, but take a moment here to appreciate the surroundings.

The river in front of you is the River Gade. Rising from chalk springs, its clear water meant that for many years it was used for farming watercress, including right here in Water End. In 1947 water was diverted from the river to supply the rising demands of Hemel Hempstead. The water meadows form part of Gaddesden Estate, which has been managed by the Halsey family since the mid 1500s.

With the footbridge still in front of you, turn right onto the path alongside the river (on your left) heading directly for the telegraph pole. A sleeper bridge will lead you over a small stream and alongside the telegraph pole you’ll see a yellow arrow waymarker for the Chiltern Way footpath. Follow this, bearing right away from the power lines, and stay on the fairly obvious grass path through the water meadows. The ground can get very marshy so, if necessary, you can make your way over to the right-hand fence and follow this higher ground around the edge of the meadow instead.

In the far right-hand corner pass through a pair of gates to reach Nettleden Road. Turn right along the grass verge and after just a short distance cross over to turn left through the wooden kissing gate to join the path signed to Potten End Hill (and still part of the Chiltern Way). Follow the stone path straight ahead climbing steadily between crops to reach the woodland ahead, Heizdin’s Wood.

Heizdin's Wood to End
Heizdin's Wood to End

Start point: 51.7793 lat, -0.5049 long
End point: 51.7778 lat, -0.5277 long

Follow the path which enters the woodland and then swings right through the centre of it. Locally the woodland is known as Badger Wood. You will be passing between a number of old beech trees and the ground is awash with bluebells every spring.

Continue just until you reach a footpath marker post on the right. Here you need to fork right, leaving the main path to join a smaller path heading down through the trees. Follow the path (marked with yellow arrows) and you’ll emerge out into an open crop field. Keep straight ahead on the stone path through the centre of the crops.

Take time to enjoy the glorious views ahead and down the valley to the right. If you look back over your right shoulder, you will have a great view of Gaddesden Place beyond the marsh you crossed earlier. The mansion was designed by famous architect James Wyatt and built, for the Hasley family, between 1768 and 1773. The mansion is a popular filming location and has appeared in shows as diverse as Jeeves and Wooster, Foyles War, Spooks, Little Britain and Sense and Sensibility.

Stay on the main stone path which descends steadily heading for the buildings of Crossways Farm in the hollow ahead. You will come to a fenced horse paddock ahead. Turn left and then, at the corner, turn right to join the fenced path with the horse paddock on the right. You will emerge to a T-junction with the main road.

Turn left along this, taking care of any traffic and using the grass verges for your own safety where possible. On the left you will pass the Folly’s Farm sanctuary for donkeys. Follow the road as it bends right and then left. Immediately after the left-hand bend, turn right into the smaller side road signed to Frithsden. Follow this for just a short distance and you will come to the Alford Arms on the right for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


6 responses to "The Alford Arms and the Chiltern Hills"

This was a wonderful walk, first time I had done an ifootpath walk. Detail was brilliant, no chance of getting lost. And the lunch afterwards at the Alford Arms was fab-u-lous. Did walk and lunch with friends, will be repeating the experience with my family. Many thanks. Susie

By willowway on 2015-03-25 20:24:25

Very clear and detailed instructions and a lovely walk.

By nickchadwick on 2015-04-06 13:02:56

What a great walk! Never knew we had such beautiful countryside on the front door! Very Dog friendly as well. As an update, The Alford Arms should be opening again late summer 2016.

By palmerr2002 on 2016-04-13 11:46:05

Great walk with relatively easy climbs. Our daughter of 13 said it was the best walk she had ever been on. Partly as we saw 3 separate lots of Alpacas.

By hunterarcher on 2016-05-30 19:39:45

A lovely walk through some stunning countryside, even the stubborn showers that I had couldn't ruin it. The Alford Arms is a great pub, very dog friendly and lovely staff, food is great quality.
Some steep sections to the walk but be sure to check behind you for the scenery.

By Pete78 on 2016-08-29 08:35:38

Great walk. The Alford Arms is now open again, refurbed after the fire (Summer 2016). The text refers to the "Hasley family", but this is misspelt and should be "Halsey".

ADMIN RESPONSE: Glad you enjoyed the walk. Yes, we removed the note about the pub closure on the day it re-opened - make sure you press 'Refresh' on your walk within the App to ensure you have the latest version. And thank you for the correction of Hasley, we have amended that.

By JamesRoper42 on 2016-09-01 11:28:06

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 Alford Arms and the Chiltern Hills"

3211_0richard1443182317 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
5680A7C2-14B1-4035-A00E-634D14C8393E.JPG
3211_0richard1443182289 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
3E6766D2-CE44-41EB-99C0-99EE335F1B3F.JPG
3211_0Richard1401100240 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
A lot of work to keep from meeting the peasants
3211_1Richard1401100240 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Taken in May 2014

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