Take A Stroll In The Chess Valley - Using This Bonkers Map

Last Updated 22 July 2024

Take A Stroll In The Chess Valley - Using This Bonkers Map
A section of the illustrated map
Don't take everything at face value...

Hailed as "Zone 9's leading cartographer", Mark Cowie is a dab hand at creating comical maps that make you do a double take.

Take the Lost Kingdom of Chesham, which — if Cowie is to be believed — was home to the world's oldest cable car, and the nascent fast food dish of peri-peri raven. He also once told us that a clockwork tube train ran on the Met line. We're not sure he can be entirely trusted.

A drawing of a 'water bailiff' in a helmet
Water bailiffs really are a thing, although not sure they ever looked exactly like this...

Cowie's latest effort — the Chess Valley Walk — is perhaps less fantastical, and more practical, than previous efforts. There is indeed a bucolic region just to the north of Greater London called the Chess Valley, featuring a 10-mile walk along the meandering Chess river. Featuring watercress beds, kingfishers, and the site of a Roman villa, it makes for a charming weekend stroll.

Of course, Cowie has presented the walk in his own inimitable style. Pubs are handily plotted out along the route (real ones like the Cock Inn at Sarratt), and he's even helpful enough to point out where the ambler might stumble across fly-tipped white goods, and a wood which "may contain leaves and twigs".

The map
Click to enlarge

Gleefully, there is a liberal scattering of utter daftness too, including mention of a free gondola service which runs every 30 February. Hmm. And do walkers really need to produce a library card for checks on the Herts and Bucks border? Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

What you CAN believe is that the Chess Valley make a great little day trip from London, easily accessible via the Metropolitan line. And if you decide to venture there this summer, you'd be foolish to do so without this map.

The Chess Valley Walk map is available to buy on the Chiltern Society's website.

All images © Mark Cowie