Spoke 8-9 link

West Drayton to Little Chalfont: Milton's Paradise Lost? Not quite...
Hilliness
Hilly
Ride Conditions
Good
Unsurfaced
Percent Off-road
20%
Distance
19.0 miles

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Description

I have long been aware that the countryside south of the Metropolitan Line as it penetrates deep into Bucks has been ignored by this network. Not for want of exploration, but there are two issues that conflict with Cycle Orbital's aims; the suburban sprawl of the former villages of Amersham-the Chalfonts-Chorleywood-Gerrards Cross are almost contiguous now - and the consequential traffic generated on all roads is substantial.

Looking at the cycle route overlay on the Route map I noticed a "Milto" circular route which exploits some quiet lanes and bridleways, and passing the final home of the poet John Milton in Chalfont St Giles. I had explored here years ago, and again recently when (successfully) leafleting in the recent Amersham by-election so on the final hot days of summer I set off counter-clockwise, returning the next day clockwise, to see if a Spoke 8-9 Link will pass the rigorous test of a CyOrb route.

It does. "Milto" provides the template - with modifications - for the northern section from Chalfont St Peter to Little Chalfont. The midsection combines with and complements Spoke 8N, especially by offering an alternative route through Black Park.

The route starts out of West Drayton with Spoke 8 S on London LOOP Beeches Way, diverging at 0.5 by staying R with the LOOP path (aka Colne Valley Trail). There follows a delightfully watery 1.5 miles over the Slough Arm Canal then beside the braided River Colne and accompanying fishing lakes.

R Iver Lane 2.1 to combine with Spoke 8N (R turn take care at 2.4) until Langley Park, which this link will bypass on Billet Lane to the busy A412 5.4 - cross with care - and into Black Park. Apart from the path around the lake all tracks are cycleable here; the only rule is to enter/leave by the southeast and north/northeast (the southwest/northwest corners are closed), so this new route deliberately takes a different course via the Rhododendron Path to the cafe 6, and leaving the park beside Pinewood Studios. A unit from there may be filming a forest scene anywhere in the park (they were building a cottage amid the trees as I passed...).

An alternative descent on Alderbourne Lane to 8.3 where Spoke 8N leaves L; R to pass through a ford then climb to cross the M40 at the junction with the M25 on wide but quiet lanes to the A40 at Gerrards Cross 9.9. You can cycle to the town centre and Gerrards Cross through East Common. L 10.7 through a carpark to pick up a section of commuter belt suburbia to Chalfont St Peter 12.4. At Gold Hill Common 12.2 the Chiltern Heritage Trail - Milton Route joins, but we take it just for the steep climb out on suburban roads to West Hyde Lane 13.2.

This lane leads to an unloved but mercifully short section of bridleway, L Old Shire Lane 14.1. Here is the main reason for the Paradise Lost? query of the title, and you can detour briefly R if you wish to take in the current reality: the M25 has already announced itself from the noise, but here too is the HS2 Colne Valley Western Slopes site, and the eastern portal for the sub-Chilterns tunnel of this project.

Back to Old Shire Lane. This is a presumably old drove road that follows the Bucks-Herts county boundary. We follow it for almost three miles. Metalled roads take over - and Milton Route rejoins - at Horn Hill 14.3 until 15.1, but the next section is off-road - and better maintained than the section back at the Milton-hellish HS2 Portal. The Milton route deviates into Woodland Trust's Philipshill Wood 15.8, but this is no cycling territory, with a dangerously steep section to climb out of the vale.

Stay with the drove road which climbs steadily rough surface back to a metalled road. These are now the suburbs of Chorleywood. Leaving Old Shire Lane at L Chalfont Lane 16.8 (straight on for Chorleywood), the link ends with a straightforward run on lanes to Amersham Road 19. Straight over on Stony Lane for Spoke 9W, or L for Chalfont and Latimer.

Route
Braided R Colne, mirror smooth: Spoke 8-9 link
Filming in Black Park: Spokes 8N and 8-9 Link
HS2 tunnel portal works: Spoke 8-9 link
Philipshill Wood/Old Shire Lane: Spoke 8-9 link