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Sarratt WI - Walk Number Five

Bucks Hill - Little Westwood - Jeffreys Farm - Apostles Pond - Belsize - Plough Wood - Old Forge
 
A varied walk of 6 miles with some hill incorporating Chipperfield Common with wonderful autumn colours and a superb bluebell wood in the spring.
 


With your back to the Village Hall, cross the dell and the main road and turn right down Dimmocks Lane. At the corner cross Deadmans Ash Lane and go through a kissing gate into an open field. Walk through this field to Newhall Farm track, where you turn left towards the farm.

Keeping to the left of all the farm buildings, walk straight ahead down the steep hill, which is dancing with butterflies in summer (Peacock butterfly pictured), to the stile onto Bottom Lane.
 
Turn left along the lane for about 30 yards. Then take the footpath on your right which meanders uphill through a copse.

Just before leaving the copse note the gravestones on your left to well-loved pets (unless they are obscured by nettles).
 
Emerge on Bucks Hill to the right of Bucks Hill Cottage, which has a working Victorian Post-box in its flank wall. 
 
Go left for 40 yards, then cross the road and the stile at the corner and walk left diagonally across the field, leaving Little Westwood Farm (pictured left), with its interesting windows and fine old barn, on your right.
 
 
Cross another stiles and follow the path, shared with horses, round the edge of the field and downhill with the hedge on your right. A good field for seeing red-legged partridges and pheasants.
 
 
Where the path meets the wide farm track go left and then right uphill by a row of conifers, a steep climb well worthwhile to see the plethora of flowers here: pink musk mallow and dainty field bindweed.

Cross the stile on your left at the corner of Berrybushes Wood.  This chalky bank is studded with a profusion of wildflowers: primroses, purple-flowering self-heal, little yellow rock rose, toadflax and many, many more.
 

At the end of the wood cross the stile and go left downhill to the farm track. Turn right along the track which winds round and uphill to Jeffreys Farm.

 
Note the cherry trees on your left, a reminder than 100 years ago Sarratt was full of cherry orchards; a 90 feet tall examlple of the ladders which were used for picking the cherries can be seen at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, Newlands Park, Chalfont St. Giles (well worth a visit).

 
 
Just before the farmhouse, take the extremely narrow diagonal path on your right through an arable field. Walk along the short straight section parallel with the bridlepath, then take the right diagonal path to a stile onto the bridlepath which goes parallel with the busy Chipperfield Road.

Cross the road to the wide footpath on your left into Chipperfield Common, signposted Windmill Hill. For more details about this lovely common, Countryside Management Services have produced an excellent leaflet available from The Windmill pub and the  Tea Shop in Chipperfield. 
  
Follow this path past Little Callipers to Apostles Pond.   

Note the ancient hedge on your left, marking the boundary for both parish and borough councils. Trees and shrubs were planted on top of the bank made from the earth dug out of the ditch. The wide variety of species testifies to its age. The pond is a superb habitat for many insects and amphibians.

Leaving the pond on your right take the wide track along the edge of the wood for 400 yards, passing Mole House, White Oaks and Mahogany Hall (M.H. carved into gate). Cross over the intersecting path onto a narrower path past Penman's End.

After passing Little Winch and Brackenhurst and immediately before the next house, take the well-hidden footpath on your left to Penman's Green.
 
At the path junction bear left along Penman's Piece Drive and then onto a narrowers path. At the T junction, turn right down a concrete service road to the hamlet of Belsize, an attractive cluster of houses round a little triangular green and The Plough Public House (pictured right); Belsize has won the Hertfordshire Best Kept Hamlet Award.
 
The Plough started life in the early 18th century along Plough Lane, locally called "Under the Heavens", (nobody knows why!) where two cottages - The Old Plough and Plough Cottage (pictured below) remain.
 
 
This was probably the "main road" at the time, particularly for cattle droving toweards the London markets.
 
In the mid 19th century a new purpose-build pub in Belsize took over the licence and the name and still thrives today.
 
 
This was probably the "main road" at the time, particularly for cattle droving toweards the London markets.

  

In the mid 19th century a new purpose-build pub in Belsize took over the licence and the name and still thrives today.
 

Skirt the triangle of grass and, ignoring Plough Lane, go left up Poles Hill. Cross the concealed stile in the hedge on your left about 100 yards along and take the diagonal path uphill to the edge of Plough Wood.
Go left with the wood on your right and cross a stile into Plough Wood. In April/May the bluebells in this wood are quite spectacular. Follow the path through the wood until you are almost at the main road.
 
Stay in the wood and turn sharp left through the wood to emerge onto Plough Lane (exit pictured right with Plough Cottage a few yards to your left).

Go right along the lane and take the second footpath on your right, just before Dellfield House. Cross the stiles and climb uphill and across two stiles to emerge at the Old Forge.

Turn left through the village and half a mile further on you're back at the Village Hall.