Sometimes you just want to go out of a gentle bike ride to see the countryside and to clear your head without too much effort. This route will show you greenery and scenery without having to go miles and miles and only has one hill which you can walk up if you choose to. In a compact 30 kilometre circular route you begin by cycling along the historic tow paths of the Grand Union Canal, head West into the countryside lanes of Chipperfield and Sarratt and along a few unsurfaced paths and lanes back to Whippendell Woods and Cassiobury Park where you finish.
This bike rides perfect for a Sunday morning and only takes a few hours to complete, suitable for beginner to medium level cyclists.
Starting outside the front entrance of Watford Town Hall by the Colosseum head towards Cassiobury Park and then at the first main road turn right and go along Cassiobury Drive. Keep going straight, across the roundabout and gently right up a slight gradient until you reach Hempstead Road. Turn left along Hempstead Road watching out for traffic, it’s advisable to stay on the footpath if you are not so experienced with road cycling. Carry on past The Grove hotel entrance and then a footpath will appear just after on your left, follow this down past the waterworks to shortly arrive at the Grand Union Canal.
Arriving at the canal cross over the humpback bridge and travel in a Northerly direction along the peaceful towpath. This part of the canal is usually reasonably quiet but worth remembering to ring your bell for pedestrians and runners that may also be using it. You carry on along the canal for quite a while passing multiple locks and then underneath the M25. Keep pedalling enjoying the views and on good days you’ll be able to see right to the bottom of the canal base and any fish that are hiding below. When you get into Kings Langley you’ll arrive at a bridge by Water Lane at which point you’ll cross over to ride on the right hand side of the canal. The countryside comes back again for a while and on your right will be a boat works, very interesting to look in if you have time. Once again you’ll come to a bridge by Nash Mills where you’ll swap sides again and then at the next bridge, swapping again. You’ll now be on the right hand side coming into Apsley Quay. You’re nearing the end of the canal part of your journey and just need to power over one more humpback bridge that’ll out you on the left side for the final time. A couple of hundred metres ahead will be where you depart the Grand Union and head left onto Durrants Hill Road.
Turning left from the canal onto Durrants Hill Road head straight, across a single lane bridge to a set of traffic lights by the main road. Cross straight over through a cycle only lane and start heading uphill to the top of the street, turn right onto Winifred Road then at the end wiggle through the junction to face directly uphill. You are now on Featherbed Lane, this is the only big hill on the ride so don’t be ashamed if you decide to walk up it. Once you get to the top you’ll be able to look back across the valley and see Hemel Hempstead and the prevailing countryside. When full re-energised turn around, turning right across the bridge over the A41 then slightly left onto the unpaved lane/trail on the other side. There will be a signpost to Rucklers Lane, head down this lane enjoying the view and fields either side. If wet this bit might be a bit muddy so enjoy!
Once you exit the muddy lane turn right onto Rucklers Lane and into the luscious open countryside. The lane gently sways across fields and is a really enjoyable part of the ride, if you’re a bit of a speed freak you can pick up a bit of acceleration here. I must admit this was my favourite part of the ride and where my head felt clear and relaxed rolling through the country fields. At the end of the lane you arrive a T-Junction with Tower Hill, turn right and cycle all the way into Chipperfield arriving at the common.
Turn right at Chipperfield Common on The Common and further to Windmill Hill, the tree lined road gently hugs this wide yet peaceful road and on your left is an old woodland well worth a visit another time. Gently squeeze your brakes on the way down Windmill Hill and merge left at the bottom onto Dunny Lane. Carrying on a downhill gradient into the small village of Belsize and past The Plough Pub remain on the main road as it wiggles through the village and back upwards on Poles Hill. Follow the main road onto The Green which meanders for another mile or so then leads you to Sarratt Green. This is a great opportunity before the end of the ride to take in the last village and stop at The Boot Pub for a refreshment or two.
From the green in Sarratt carry on in the same direction passing the small duck pond and local garage. At the next T-Junction turn right to continue on Sarratt Road wiggling along the final country lanes, as you approach the bridge over the M25 prepare to a quick left hand turn onto a footpath after crossing. Turning directly left following the path alongside the M25 you’ll work your way gently down passing a few stables with horses. This is another path that can get a bit mucky so take your time if you don’t have that much grip on your tyres. The path then turns into a lane and at the end it leads out in Chandlers Cross, head straight onto the road curving right onto Rousebarn Lane which has a dead end sign. Carry on for several hundred metres until you have woodland on either side then turn left into Whippendell Woods. Following the
In the woods follow the main wide path which pretty much goes in a straight line until you come to the final climb that leads onto the main path. You’re now on the path towards Cassiobury Park which goes through West Herts Golf Club, stay on the main path try not to get hit by golf balls then curve right at the end downhill to the canal. This’ll be the last time you see the canal so wave goodbye and keep heading straight through Cassiobury Park, stop for a quick cake at the Cha Cafe then out the top by the main cycle route and Rickmansworth Road, turn left again and you’ll be back at the start by the Town Hall!