48 – Rickmansworth Lake District & Grand Union Canal 6.1 miles – 18th January

In short: a wonderful walk on a sparkling morning. Firm, frosty and sometimes icy footpaths; clean, functional public toilets, plentiful free parking and amazing food in a terrific cafe. 2 hrs 15 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.

On a really beautiful but cold and frosty morning we head to Rickmansworth to make the most of the sparkling weather with a very watery walk. We park at the large free car park at Rickmansworth Aquadrome, postcode WD3 1NB – about a 45 minute drive from Muswell Hill up the M1 and through Watford.

After making use of the public toilets beside the cafe we take the path to the right of the cafe building heading between 2 lakes – Bury Lake on our left and Batchworth Lake on our right.

At a junction of paths on our right we turn right towards Batchworth Lake and, keeping the lake on our left we complete a full circuit.

On arriving back at the junction where we started the circuit from, we turn right and, keeping Bury Lake on our left now we take the path alongside bearing left at the top corner of the lake to continue along it’s full length.

At the end of this fairly straight path we come to a T-junction where we turn right – now walking away from the lakes towards a metal bridge. Ignoring a path off left we take a second path left just before the bridge and we are now walking beside the river Colne on our right.

After a short while the path draws closer to the lake on our left, Stocker’s Lake – which is the largest of the three encountered so far – and we have a lovely sunny stretch in front of us with truly glorious views across the glittering water – the far bank just draped in a light mist creating a magical feel.

As we reach the far end of this lake there is a bridge just over to our right leading to yet another lake, however this isn’t in our plan today so we ignore it and continue around Stocker’s Lake a little further. We take stock at a signpost where we finally head away from the lake taking a path right which leads past some buildings to a lane. Here we turn left and very soon find ourselves beside the Grand Union Canal where we turn left to follow the towpath.

Even the canal here is iced over – much to our surprise – and we have to be careful of our footing at various points as any puddles are completely iced up and very treacherous – it seems the sun hasn’t yet reached this stretch. We continue straight on along here, past all the lakes we have walked beside, passing under a bridge and the very pretty Stocker’s Lock, under a second bridge until finally we arrive at Batchworth Lock, shortly after walking under a busy road bridge.

Here we turn off left and follow signs for Ebury Way – a major cycle and footpath linking Rickmansworth and Watford. We pick our way carefully through the tangle of footpaths, keeping a waterway on our right and turning left and immediately right at a T junction to keep the water still on our right. We climb slightly with the path to give us a view down on the boats moored here – many seem to be pretty much fixtures here with garden furniture and satellite dishes. At a bridge on our right we take a peek at the view across allotments on our right – looking more or less straight at this little community of boats – before continuing on our way along the Ebury Way – well signposted just after we cross a small bridge.

The path here is tree lined and very rural with super lake views on both sides and we continue for about 10-15 minutes before arriving back at the Grand Union Canal.

We turn right here onto the towpath with the canal now on our left and return towards the Batchworth Lock junction. We now have lakes to our right and the canal on our left – yet another selection of lovely views on this home stretch!

A few minutes after passing Batchworth Lock and the road bridge we take a path off right signposted to Batchworth Lake. Turning left almost immediately we find ourselves on our initial circuit path around this lake. We continue with the lake to our right and just as the lake path turns sharply right we go left towards the main paved path leading to the cafe. Here we have a bit of a wait to be served as it is prime lunchtime and the place is deservedly popular and therefore busy. But it’s worth it – delicious Olde Spot burgers are well worth the wait and the coffee is also absolutely perfect – ‘The Cafe in the Park’ to give it a name check – thoroughly recommended!

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