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RICKMANSWORTH Metropolitan ( Amersham) 

The Rickmansworth Lakes (formed from gravel pits), the Grand Union Canal and the nature reserve by the River Colne combine to make this a very rewarding route of about 5 miles. Most of it is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, as there are excellent wide paths. However, parts of the section labelled 'Part 2' are not so easily accessible and might be muddy in wet weather.  Birdwatchers, make sure to take your binoculars - more than 60 species of breeding birds have been recorded in the Stockers Lake area.

From the Tube station turn right and go downhill. Pass under the bridge to the right and walk down Station Road to reach the pleasant High Street. Turn left here, and after a few yards cross to enter Church Street. On the corner is a splendid old inn, The Feathers. Opposite the nineteenth-century church are some Georgian cottages with verandahs. Follow the curve of Church Street until the Batchworth roundabout. Head for the zebra crossing at the centre of the bridge to get to easy-access steps, then turn right along the tow path. 

Just before the huge Tesco opposite, walk over the iron bridge, then go through an inconspicuous entrance to the Aquadrome. Although the name suggests some kind of indoor swimming pool, in fact it is a large water park.  Take the path ahead with Batchworth Lake on your left.  The River Colne runs parallel. When the lakeside way bends, follow the sign for the cafe. After a little while you will come to seats and open grass, with the cafe further on. Bury Lake is on your right. When you reach a car park, turn right on a tree-lined road, eventually passing a marina. At the intersection turn right. Keep to this track (a delightful stretch between Bury Lake on the right and Stockers Lake on the left) until just before the bridge spanning the River Colne. [Alternatively, a bit before this, turn right at the Circular Walk sign at the end of Bury Lake to get back to the car park/canal where you started.]  

PART 2: Pass through the gate immediately before the bridge to find the narrow trail between the River Colne and Stockers Lake marked ‘to Springwell and Inn Lakes’. Now you have left the Aquadrome and are in a nature reserve managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wild Life Trust.  Potter along, going through another gate. This part is particularly beautiful, with the river your constant companion on the right. (Incidentally, if you are doing this part of the walk it is at its best during early summer before vegetation screens the river). Beware nettles drooping on the track! There are some buildings on the other bank for a short stretch, but these are mostly hidden by trees.  After a bend, another gate and bridge (about twenty minutes from the first gate into the nature reserve) there's a weir. At this point you may be glad to discover a picnic table by the rushing water. To continue the route, go over the wooden bridge, in summer pausing for a moment to look out for water forget-me-nots and damsel flies. Follow the path as it curves round left.  Turn left at the exit to Springwell Lane. Although this is usually quiet, please be cautious, as there are no pavements and you may have to negotiate parked cars outside business premises just up the road.  During this short section you'll cross the Colne and there is a lovely view of the river from the small bridge. Where the road goes to the right is a second bridge. Head for the tow path keeping a look-out for traffic. (You'll glimpse boats through the trees). Turn left. There are semi-permanent moorings here, and it is fascinating to see the tiny gardens the canal boat people make for themselves, both at the waterside or on top of the boats themselves. 

Less cheering is a industrial ruin nearby. Half-filled with vegetation, the mysterious iron skeleton broods over the canal in the most scary fashion -  to say nothing of the huge monkey dangling from the rusted frame as if from a gallows. I'm told the toy came from a house clearance and was put there after a party. It's been there for years, but presumably won't last for ever. . .

On the next stretch look out for a granite pillar in the undergrowth. This is a Coal Tax Post marking the border of places where duty was payable. Where the land rises on the other side of the canal is Stockers Farm. Situated snugly in the valley are several old timber outbuildings, with the mellow brick farmhouse itself behind them. It is a popular filming location, and film buffs might like to know some of the titles in which it has appeared.  Next comes Stockers Lock. The lock-keeper's cottage has a collection of iron bits and pieces on show in the front garden from the days when the canal was mainly for commercial purposes rather than being the 'leisure facility' it is now. The cottage was also used as a toll house for collecting the Coal Tax mentioned above - thought to be the only one where the money was collected at the canal itself.

Wander by the canal a bit further. Just before some power lines is an simple iron bridge half-hidden in the hedge. From here you can reach the Aquadrome cafe again, otherwise keep on walking along the canal back towards the Batchworth roundabout bridge. This time, instead of going down Church Street, explore Bury Lane (first left after the church) where there are some small cottages. At the corner there is a sign for The Bury. This refers to a seventeenth century house at a bend of the Colne, only a few steps away. Although still handsome, the building has been much altered over the years, and its formerly extensive grounds are now a small public park.

Returning to Bury Lane,  proceed straight ahead to the High Street, passing Beresford almshouses (1894) which have pretty windows. At the High Street turn left and make your way back to the Tube station.

You might find this downloadable leaflet useful.

Rickmansworth is just one route from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!
© DR