As forecast, the sun was out when we woke up on New Year’s Day, so we decided to go for a short local walk – walk 6 from the Pathfinder Guide for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
It did not take long to drive over to Essendon and we were lucky enough to find a parking space right next to the church of St Mary the Virgin, which dates from the 15th to the 19th century. We walked along the lane, passing to the right of the church, before turning left on to a public footpath and following it along a narrow enclosed path. It was easy to follow the route because if the well trodden track did not give it away, the signs telling you where to stay away from gave you little option. It carried on across a field and it was already very clear that the rain we have had this year has left the ground soaked through – as we entered Backhouse Wood and continued downhill we were just walking through mud, and as we crossed Essendon Brook it was full and flowing fast, and it was not the only brook on our walk which had clearly benefitted from the rainfall.
We headed uphill and were now following the Hertfordshire Way, which took us along a tree-lined track and into fields before we reached another wooded area and crossed another brook. The walk through this part of the wood was delightful and will certainly be one to repeat in the summer. I will also be using it as a training run in my preparation for the Wolf Run. The track remained muddy at worst and wet at best, and we often took to higher ground to try to find some drier areas, and soon enough we came to a very substantial footbridge, which we ignored, and a far less substantial footbridge, which we used to cross this brook. We headed uphill again out of the woods and across a road to an enclosed path, which we followed until we came to Berkhamsted Lane. It is just 2 kilometres along there to get to the war memorial and the mainly Victorian church in Little Berkhamsted, and after we had passed those on our right we turned left into Breach lane and began a gentle downhill walk through the fields and lanes.
We crossed another brook and followed an enclosed path until it came out on a tarmac track. Soon we were back to the edge of woodland and with a chalk pit on our right we followed the hill down to another brook crossing, then followed the path to the other side of Essendon golf course. Not long after we reached the Essendon war memorial and the fork to the left brought us back to the car. The sun had mostly stayed out during the walk, which had made it very pleasant, even during the slightly more heavy going through the mud. It was an easy distance to ease us into 2013 and had certainly blown away any cobwebs from the end of 2012, and all in all it was a woodland walk I would certainly do again.
You can see my photos from the walk here.