Green Belt Way
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The route follows much of the same route as the Green Belt Relay, but with some differences. To see the detailed stages and lots of information about walking it, see here
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, get a full appreciation of this you will have to read the full write up of all 22 sections.
Starts at the front door to Hampton Court Palace and follows the Thames Path through Hurst Park, Walton-on-Thames, Shepperton, Laleham, Staines and Egham.
At Runnymede we climb Coopers Hill past the memorials 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 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.
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, through Handy Cross. A quirk of motorway building allows us to stay on footpaths to pass under the M40 and skirt High Wycombe 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 and soon we are faced with another 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 the route follows 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 and 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, and on an ancient wooded track up to Great Kingshill.
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-on-the-Hill and Chiltern Forest to cross the Chess Valley at Latimer and climb again through woods to Flaunden and on to Chipperfield.
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 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 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 Lee.
Some well placed paths take us across the Mill Green Golf Course and through the Commons Wood Nature Reserve at Welwyn where we join the start of 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 Lee Valley Path across Kings Meads to Ware. We continue along the Lee Valley Path through Broxbourne,Waltham Abbey and as far as Enfield Lock. On leaving the Lee we join the route of the London Loop as far as the Scouts HQ at Gilwell Park, then divert through 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.
Epping Station marks the start of the Essex Way, which we join through Coopersale Street, Toothill, Greensted and to just after Chipping Ongar. From here we follow St Peters Way through High Ongar and Blackmore to leave it just before Fryerning.
Footpaths take us through crop fields to Mountnessing Post Mill, then, along country lanes to Hutton Country Park Nature Reserve. From Hutton Church we follow a bridleway to Ingrave, enter Thorndon Park at Thorndon Hall and stop for a brief break at the Thorndon Park North Visitor’s Centre.
Forest paths take us through Hart’s Wood and Donkey Lane Plantation to Little Warley where 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 notorious Brook Street Roundabout (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 newly rebuilt and beautiful Thames Chase Forest Centre at Broadfields Farm.
The route through Essex owes a lot to the recent formation of the Thames Chase Forest and the new parts of the countryside they have opened to the public. In total we pass through 15 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 and after a kilometre turns left onto the Mardyke Way to Davy Down. Here there is a break in the path because of the Dartford Crossing of the River Thames. You can choose to walk to Chafford Hundred Station and catch a bus across the QE2 Bridge or arrange other transport.
South of the Thames we start again at the Bridge View Picnic Area (now closed) and continue south through Dartford to Brooklands Lakes. We follow the Darent Valley Path through Darenth, Farningham, Lullingstone and Shoreham, then divert through Otford before rejoining it (and the North Downs Way) to Dunton Green. Our route continues to follow the NDW for a mile where it turns north to climb the Downs. We take a more direct route through Chevening across its park and past it 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 onto 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 to just after Park Wood Golf Club. Once again we divert from the NDW to go northwest 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 to Merstham Station and across 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 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 7 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.
At Ripley we cross the Green and follow a footpath to join the River Wey Navigation at Walsham Lock. Our route follows the Wey 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.