97 – Rickmansworth Aquadrome to Cassiobury Park, Watford 10 miles – 22nd January

In short: fabulous watery walk from the lovely Aquadrome in Rickmansworth, making use of Ebury Way and the Grand Union canal towpath. Everywhere still very wet including huge puddles on the towpath. But all paths reasonably well-surfaced so passable with good waterproof walking boots. Plentiful free parking, adequate, clean, public toilets at start and smart new ones at Cassiobury Park halfway point, together with new pleasantly situated café – for yummy coffee and snack. Second pitstop for lunch at the delightful Aquadrome cafe. 3 hrs 30 mins walking + 2 x 30 mins pitstops.

We park in the large, free car park at Rickmansworth Aquadrome – postcode WD3 1NB – and pick our way round the huge deep puddles to the public toilets beside the cafe next to Bury Lake. After making use of the clean but odd metal toilets and semi-automated hand-washing facilities we head out, turning right onto the main paved path, keeping the lake over to our right.

We turn right just after the sailing club to make a circuit of the lake, continuing on to the next corner where we turn right again.

At the next lake corner we turn right again until we reach a junction of paths where we take a sharp left and head towards the next lake along – Batchworth Lake. Once again we follow the path around the lake – keeping the lake to our right.

We follow this path all the way to the gate out onto the Grand Union canal towpath where we turn left.

We pass under a road bridge and come to the Batchworth Lock canal centre. We stay on the left of the lock and then also to the left of the canal spur branching off left. We turn right to follow the Ebury Way – here cycle path 61 – along a path between trees with a series of lakes on both sides. We cross the canal and continue on this path past an industrial estate on our right and Croxley Common Moor on our left. We turn left at a gate onto the moor to cross it, heading back towards the canal.

This path is muddy in places but by using the drier hillocks on the moor we are able to keep our feet dry. We cross the river and then the canal at successive bridges and then turn right to join the canal towpath heading towards Watford with the canal on our right.

We walk along this towpath for quite some distance –  eventually we pass under a road bridge and railway line in short succession and come to a stretch with woods on our left and the green bushes and trees of Cassiobury Park over on our right on the far bank.

At a lock we cross the canal to follow the signs into Cassiobury Park, crossing a small river and admiring the rush of water over a weir on our left.

We head towards the new wooden-clad Hub building behind the playground where we enjoy a delicious scone/teacake and coffee in the lovely light open space of the café.

After a reviving pitstop we make use of the clean toilets inside the building – there appear to more accessed from outside – and head back through the park to the canal. Before reaching the bridge over the canal though we decide to take a path off left – on the far bank of the river – running briefly alongside the canal. We are really just following our noses here and head straight on until turning right and then sharp right in front of a small lake before joining a lane – Rousebarn Lane according to the tracker app – which takes us over the canal and allows us to rejoin the canal towpath. Here we turn left and head back towards Rickmansworth with the canal now on our left.

We now stride out to follow this towpath all the way back to Batchworth – past the lock and alongside the lake. Here we turn right to follow the path around this lake again – now with the lake on our left – as we are determined to make this walk hit the 10 mile landmark!

And so we walk around three sides of this lake to arrive at the Aquadrome café – which we enter and enjoy a gorgeous bowl of homemade chicken and vegetable broth – absolutely delicious and thoroughly deserved! A great way to finish a great walk!

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