Chesham sits at the end of the Metropolitan line (nearly an hour out) and in many ways feels like most of the dullish North London suburbs as much as the attractive Chilterns town its normally regarded as. As always, you need to walk a bit.
I used to walk around here quite a bit when I worked near St Albans. It was as close as you could get to hilly within 30 minutes, and only the area around Chequers (ten miles away) ever seemed busy. I don’t remember the crocodile at Dungrove farm (the best viewing point) though.
On my walk today I didn’t see a soul, a few dog-walkers drifting away within ten minutes of the station. The mud on the steep descent back to town explained why.
With a nondescript pedestrianized High Street devoid of much excitement (see also Barnet), it’s the area around St Mary’s Church and Queen St that still impressed.
This was the view looking into the Queen’s Head, which clearly retains the good Fullers and Thai combination I remember from the ’90s.
I couldn’t really see much change since my last visit a decade ago. That gap alone implies a lack of change in the pub scene around here until the Chesham Brewery Shop opened recently. In complete contrast to the pub above, this comes in Craft-approved taps on white wall format.
A full range of Red Squirrel beer and guests made a bewildering choice. I really couldn’t tell you what was cask/keykeg or whatever, but a half of Mr Squirrel at a Chilterns bargain £1.40 was good (NBSS 3). A few tables to drink at, and about as pubby as the average micro. Those folk who feel the need to drink at home will find an impressive choice of bottles.
The photo above was taken as I emerged at 12.20 on Monday. It really was that quiet in town. With most of the town’s workers 30 miles south, the High Street was the preserve of pensioners and oddities like me.
The most significant change in the centre is the loss of the Wetherspoons, a Beer Guide regular years back. Almost mirroring Barnet again, it’s become a Misty Moon. It wasn’t the beer range (Greene King and Courage) that stopped me popping in for a look; it was the fact you couldn’t see into it, which always puts me off a place.
All the old boys normally seen drinking in Home Counties Spoons (Exhibit 1 – Hemel Hempstead) seemed to have decamped to Café Nero, which appeared to have lost the will to remain tidy now the competition from Spoons has gone. I’m surprised the citizens of Chesham haven’t marched the Met line to Watford to protest.