Rivers & Canals

We can think of the Metropolitan line as a spine with two river valleys running either side of it – the Chess Valley to the north/east and the Misbourne Valley to the south/west. These valleys provide the core for many walks.  The Chiltern main line through High Wycombe lies to the west of the Misbourne. 

Beyond the Chess Valley (further to the east and north) is the Grand Union Canal and Euston main line, which share the valleys of the Rivers Bulbourne and Gade.  The main line out of Paddington runs close to the Thames itself.

River Chess

Chalk streams


The Chess and the Misbourne are two of the chalk streams that run through the Chilterns. You can read more about the chalk streams and their conservation by visiting the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project, here.


Personally, I find walking along river valleys for an entire walk a bit dull, but both these rivers have flat and easy to navigate paths running along them which you can follow. You will end up going along or crossing these valleys in many of the walks from Metropolitan line stations.


Chess Valley


The river Chess is a chalk stream that runs between Chesham and the river Colne at Rickmansworth. There is a 16km riverside walk path that follows its route. For details of the walk see here.


Easily accessible from Chesham, Chalfont & Latimer, Chorleywood and Rickmansworth the Chess valley is a beautiful place to walk.



Misbourne Valley


The river Misbourne rises in Great Missenden and runs through Little Missenden, Old Amersham, Chalfont St Giles and Chalfont St Peter, before it joins the River Colne near the M25. Its route is paralleled by the A413 road.


The Misbourne is easily accessible on walks from Amersham, Chalfont & Latimer and Chorleywood tube stations, as well as walks from Beaconsfield, Seer Green or Gerrards Cross on the Marylebone to High Wycombe Chiltern Railways main line.


Although its proximity to the A413 makes it a little less attractive than the Chess, the Misbourne Valley still provides many attractive walking options.


This leaflet, produced by the Chiltern Conservation Board gives details of three circular walks along the river that can be taken from Great Missenden or Amersham stations.



Grand Union Canal


The Grand Union Canal offers a number of walking opportunities in the Chilterns.  It is particularly useful as it runs parallel to the main railway line from Euston and so can be easily accessed from stations such as Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley.  You can walk along the canal between any combination of these stations (and even to Wendover to Aylesbury using the canal branches). These stations can also be used in combination with the canal to walk to locations such as Chesham and Chalfont & Latimer. The Canal is also close to Metropolitan line stations such as Watford, Croxley, Rickmansworth and Uxbridge.


Features of canal walking are a route that is flat and easy to follow, although they are sometimes crowded. Canal footpaths also often give an different perspective on towns than the main roads (in their day, the canals were the main routes for much freight traffic). You can read more about walking on the Grand Union Canal, on the Canal & River Trust website. Walks on the website include a circular walk from Tring. The Batchworth Lock Canal Centre near Rickmansworth station has 16 walks that you can do in the area.