A walk with several steep hills suitable for the more agile.
Length: approx. 6km (3.5 miles)
Time: approx 2 - 3 hours
Start at Heath Park. Walk towards the canal and cross via the lock gate or enter the canal tow path by the bridge opposite B & Q. Walk towards Berkhamsted. After 100m, turn left on to the moor using the stile. Pass through the kissing gate on your right and cross the river, using the new bridge. (No.1) Follow the hedgeline to the road. Cross the road. This can be very busy so be careful.
Next to the Gas Board entrance there is a public footpath which leads over the railway (No.2) to the corner of Further Roughdown. Follow the hedgeline to your left to the top (No.3). Take the kissing gate to your right and walk through the new plantation, passing through 2 kissing gates on to Lower Roughdown Common. Follow the footpath signs along the open ground above the A41 until you reach a track entered by a stile. Turn left over the bridge and climb the steps on the left.
Follow the path bearing right through Upper Roughdown wood (No.4), pass through the kissing gate and follow the track to Felden Lane. There is no footway on this part of the road - take care and walk in single file. Continue up the hill for 100 yards: cross the road to follow the Boys Brigade Drive.
Continue along the drive until you see a thatched cottage on your left. Turn right and follow the bridleway into the woods, keeping the golf course to your right (No.5).
At the fork, bear right, continuing down the hill until you meet a driveway. At this point turn left then right into Bury Wood (No.6). At the end of the wood, you will meet Bury Rise, a private road. Turn right for a short distance, (No.7), then right back into the wood. This path will take you back towards the golf course.
Follow the base of the golf course to the car park. Turn right up the hill through the woods, taking the left fork after the small shed. Once through the wood, take the track to the left which winds up the hill back to the Boys Brigade track where you turn left.
Return through Upper Roughdown wood to the track over the A41. This time, continue down the track, passing a chalk dell on your right (No.8). Continue down the track to meet the London Road at The Hooden in the Box. Walk alongside the Moors, along Station Road until you reach Heath Park (No.9).
Please note that distances are approximate and references to metres can also be read as yards.
No.1 - The depression you see to the left as you cross the bridge is the site of an old cress bed. Local cress beds used to be prolific. The produce was sent by train to supply many London markets. The new footbridge was put in by the Trust in 1997.
No.2 - The site before you reach the railway is identified as an area of interest for wildlife. Cut off from the surrounding area, it has become an oasis in an industrial landscape.
No.3 - This field is part of the land the Trust was given in exchange for land taken for the A41 Bypass and reseeded with chalkland grass and plant species to recreate the chalk downland that was once prominent in this area. In the Spring, the display of cowslips is quite impressive. In the summer other plants typical of this area can be seen, including snakeshead rattle and salad burnet.
If you take a detour through Lower Roughdown, you will see the chalk face with the fine examples of juniper trees. In June and July the pyramid orchid with burnet moths makes this a spot to sit in and enjoy.
No.4 - Now severed from Lower Roughdown, this area has become a secluded wooded area with glades created to allow woodland chalk plants to develop and also to encourage birds back to the site. You may hear or see kestrels in the high branches or tawny owls at dusk.
No.5 - Sheethanger Common is over 30 acres of chalk downland, once grazed with sheep. There has been a golf course on the site since 1890. The Box Moor Trust, in conjunction with the Boxmoor Golf Club and Hertfordshire County Council have designated this area a Heritage Site.
It is well worth a visit on its own especially in the summer months when the Golf Course is closed on a Sunday afternoon. The lower slopes will be full of many varieties of chalk land plants. Cowslips and spotted orchids are a particular pleasure.
No.6 - To the left of the path is the ancient Bury Wood. The ditch to the right is the old boundary with remnants of layered hornbeam hedge. The much younger wood to the right was once open chalk downland grazed by livestock. At the summit of the path can be seen rushes that indicate possible wetland - possibly the site of an old dew pond. There is evidence of green and great spotted woodpeckers in this area. Look for the holes in the trees. The great spotted woodpecker makes its hole in the underside of branches.
No.7 - Continue down Bury Rise to the meeting point with Green Walk. Please be careful if you cross Box Lane as this point is on a difficult bend.
No.8 - A bat cave was created in the old chalk workings in 1994 with the help of the Herts. and Middx. Bat Group and the Vincent Trust. There is evidence that bats now hibernate there.
No.9 - Meeting point with Blue Walk.