Start/End: Rickmansworth Underground Station, Rickmansworth, Herts, WD3 1QY. Parking is available in the Three Rivers District Council car park within the Aquadrome.
Distance: 5 miles
Allow: 2 hours 15 minutes
Ascent: 100 feet
Highlights: Rickmansworth Aquadrome, Rickmansworth High Street & Old Town, Stockers Lake Nature Reserve, Grand Union Canal, Stockers Lock.
Refreshments: ‘The Café in the Park’, located within the grounds of the Rickmansworth Aquadrome, has a wide selection of teas, coffees, hot & cold snacks and ice creams.
The Aquadrome in Rickmansworth is a beautiful area of lakes and waterways, set inside an oasis of natural parkland, just outside Greater London and near the M25. The town itself is easily accessible by tube and car from Pinner, and is a 12 minute train journey away on an Amersham or Chesham service. It is open all year and admission is free – and it hosts a number of outdoor societies & clubs, as well as an excellent café.
From the station, turn right and follow Homestead Road downhill, passing a multi –storey car park on your left. At the junction at the bottom, turn right under the railway bridge and descend into Rickmansworth via Station Road, continuing straight until you come to a t–junction. This is Rickmansworth High Street, which became a shopping district in the 19th century, and now houses an attractive array of cafes, convenience stores and a Marks & Spencer.
Turn left on the High Street and walk westwards, passing the Fox & Hounds pub and a supermarket on your left. Continue straight on where the road forks off to the left, into a quiet cul–de–sac, separated from the one–way system by a brick wall and a subway, constructed in the 1960s. Take the subway and cross underneath the roundabout, continuing to the furthest exit on your left. This emerges onto the A412 at the foot of a hill. Cross the road running to the right from the roundabout, and continue on the main road with a play area on your right. Take the first path into this play area, which leads to a bridge, crossing over the River Colne and into the Aquadrome.
The first lake that you approach is Batchworth Lake, a serene area of natural beauty, open to fisherman and home to a water-skiing club. Take a left-hand path round the western side of the lake. The body of water is naturally spring fed, and is topped up by occasional floods by the adjacent River Colne. Pikes are in abundance in this lake, and the Uxbridge Rovers club provides licences to fishermen who feature aplenty during the summer.
The path leads to Bury Lake, the central lake of the Aquadrome, and home to sailing, windsurfing and canoe clubs. Turn left when you reach the path that trails the perimeter of the lake, in the direction of the café. During daylight hours and especially on weekends, the path is crowded with walkers of all ages, with dogs, pushchairs and prams. Bury Lake Young Mariners often runs sailing events on the lake, and their training centre is located on the south shore.
Turn right at a path crossroads at the south-eastern corner of the lake and walk down a wooded path, passing the café on your right. The Nomad Kayak club buildings are on your left, and the club runs weekend training sessions on the lake as well as canal paddling and water-polo sessions (their pitch is further up on the right). When you reach the Bury Lake Young Mariners Club, bear left on the path, and follow the trail until you reach a turning on the right at the south-western corner of the lake.
This path runs on top of a boundary separating Bury Lake on the right from Stockers Lake on the left. This lake was created in the 1920s by the removal of hundreds of tons of gravel, some of which was used to build the original Wembley Stadium in 1924. Now herons have made the lake their home, as well as perch and pike, and the lake is maintained by the Wildlife Trust, as well as a voluntary organisation, Friends of Stockers Lake (FOSL).
At the top of the path, before crossing over the River Colne, take a left turning through a gate and walk down a muddied footpath, with the river running on your left. To begin with, the path is rather overgrown, but it widens out into a well maintained gravel path. Fantastic shots of Stockers Lake are available on the left, and halfway around there is a lookout point together with a signboard, describing its features. The lake is managed by the Herts & Middlesex wildlife trust, which is responsible for maintaining the boardwalks and paths.
After ¾ mile, cross the River Colne via a footbridge on your right, and then follow the path which winds around Inns Lake on your right, until you emerge onto a road with a car-park directly opposite. Cross the road, enter the car park and take a path leading off to the right, which takes you around Springwell Lake. The lake is actually located in the north-west of the London Borough of Hillingdon, and was used as the filming location for a 1970s episode of Dr. Who (the Three Doctors).
When the path turns to tarmac, follow it to your left, and then just before the bridge turn right through a gate and onto the Grand Union Canal towpath. This is a delightful part of the canal, between the major trading centre of Uxbridge and Batchworth Junction to the north. Turn left along the towpath, walking under the Springwell Lane road bridge, and past Springwell Lock. On the southern side of the canal, green fields mark the land of timber-framed Stocker’s Farm. Horses can be seen grazing in the meadow all year round, and Little Owls also have nests in the scrub surrounding the farmland.
Turn left down the adjacent footpath, and cross a car-park that provides convenient vehicle access to the Aquadrome. Head straight on and the café will once again come into view on your left. To return to the station, follow the path around the right hand side of Bury Lake once again, and take the first footpath turning on your left, leading back around Batchworth Lake. Soon after passing the Water-ski club, take a footpath on your left, crossing over the River Colne, and out to the A412 major dual carriageway. Cross under this road via the subway, and instead of walking back through the town centre of Rickmansworth, follow the right hand side of this road up the hill and back to Rickmansworth Station.
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