This is an easy walk along the valley floor
Length: approx. 4.5 - 6km (2.8 - 3.7 miles)
Time: approx. 1 1/2 - 2 hours
Starting from Heath Lane by St John's Church, head right along Station Road over the canal bridge and down the steps onto the towpath.
Turn right under the bridge and head along the towpath. Just before you reach the next bridge, turn right through another kissing gate onto Bulbourne Moor. Cross the moor towards the river, and then turn right through the kissing gate with the river on your left (1). Continue along the river bank until you see another kissing gate in the stock fencing ahead of you. Go through the gate onto Harding's Moor and continue walking, keeping the river on your left. When you reach the second footbridge, don't cross but turn right and head back across the Moor to the canal. Exit onto the towpath via the kissing gate and retrace your steps under the bridge.
Turn left onto the moor, through the kissing gate. Walk through the avenue of horse chestnut trees towards the bridge (2). Cross the bridge and continue to the kissing gate at the far end of the moor. Cross Fishery Road (take care, this is a busy road) and go through the kissing gate opposite, onto Fishery Moor (3). Follow the tarmac footpath for about 30 metre, then turn right and walk across the moor until you reach a small ditch, which you cross via a metal footbridge into a further field. With the railway embankment on your left, heat for the junction with Old Fishery Lane straight ahead of you. Exit through the kissing gate.
(At this point, you have an optional 1.5km diversion to see the grave marker of James Snook and/or to join up with Green Walk. To do this, turn left and go through the pedestrian tunnel under the railway. On the other side of the tunnel, turn right and go through the kissing gate onto Herdsman's Moor (4). Continue across the moors ahead of you via kissing gates. You will see a white grave marker stone (5) ahead of you as you pass through the final gate. To join up with Green Walk, make your way over towards London Road, go up a flight of steps and through the kissing gate onto the road. Turn right and walk approximately 100 metres until you reach a sign to the Box Moor Trust Old Barn. Cross the road (take care - busy road!) and turn into Westbrook Hay Drive. The small parking area approx. 100 metres on your left is the starting point for the Green Walk. To rejoin the remainder of Blue Walk, retrace your steps back across the moors and through the railway tunnel.)
From the railway bridge/Fishery Moor exit, head towards the canal bridge and onto the towpath via the path or steps to the left of the road. There is access from here to some old cress beds along the Bulbourne stream, and you are very welcome to explore in this area. You will also have a view across the canal to Gadespring Cressbeds on the opposite bank (6).
On the towpath pass under the bridge and continue walking (7), passing under a second bridge at Fishery Lane (The Fishery Inn will be on your left across the canal). You will now be skirting Station Moor on your right. Eventually you will reach the steps up to the Station Road bridge. Climb the steps, cross the bridge and retrace your steps to your starting point at St John's Church.
The majority of this walk is through water meadows, which by their very nature are often wet and muddy. Please note that distances are approximate.
(1) It is along this stretch of the Bulbourne that water-loving birds can be seen. Look out for Little Egrets fishing in the shallows, or a flash of blue and orange as a Kingfisher darts by. These colourful birds nest in the bank of the stream and feed off small fish along its length.
(2) The original concrete bridge was constructed in 1906 and replaced in 1997. The avenue of horse chestnut trees was planted in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII. As they approach the end of their natural life span, the horse chestnuts become susceptible to disease. They are regularly monitored and, as necessary, some are felled. Re-planting will be with species more suited to the soil conditions.
(3) Fishery Moor (formerly referred to as Harrison's Moor) is an old flood meadow that has now been designated a Heritage Site. The wetland area on your right as you enter from Fishery Lane has a wide variety of marshland flowers including Lady's Smock or Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) and locally uncommon Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris).
(4) Herdsman's Moor is so called because it was the site of the original Herdsman's Cottage, demolished to make way for the A41 bypass. These moors are the remnants of the open land that the Trust first acquired in 1594, now having been dissected by the canal, the railway and several roads. Grazed in the summer by the Trust's own livestock, they have a rich diversity of natural grasses.
(5) The common thief, James Snook (often called Robert Snook the highwayman), is buried on the Moor. He was hanged at the scene of his crime (robbing a post boy) in March 1802. The original gravestone marker was placed by the Trustees in 1904.
(6) The old watercress beds on either side of the canal were once common along the River Bulbourne and supplied London hotels and restaurants with watercress. There were about 5 'farms' on the Trust land at one time. On the north side of the canal (opposite the towpath) is Gadespring Cressbeds, acquired by the Trust in 2011. A programme for the sympathetic enhancement of this area for the benefit of wildlife and visitors is underway, and there are organised visits and open days.
(7) The willows along this stretch of the river have traditionally been grown as a crop for the cricket bat industry. Each tree takes approximately 12-15 years to mature before being harvested and sold to the cleft makers.