We had done this walk before back in May 2012, which you can read about here, and had stuck to shorter walks together since then, although Debbie had walked that route again by herself during last year. This morning it was her who wanted to get out into the frost to walk this one, and I decided to give Regiment Fitness a miss to join her.
We set off from the house at 0830 and headed down the road through the cold and frosty morning, cold enough that I was wearing my gloves. The route in the guidebook sets off from the Market Place but we were going to join it in Verulamium Park by going around the back by the swimming bath which is now used by the sub aqua club and from there to the other side of the park near to the leisure centre, passing trees which seemed to be full of squirrels, before passing fallen trees which must have been blown over in the recent winds.
The ground would have been muddy if it had not been frozen and I wonder how long it will take to dry out. We crossed the road into the park, walked past the place where there had almost been a lake when I was at Regiment Fitness on Tuesday morning, which had now drained away, and as we enjoyed the sounds of the bells from St Albans Cathedral we passed more fallen trees before we got to the real lake. The morning sun and the frost made it all very picturesque.
We walked to the other side of the lake and carried on to emerge on to the road, where we turned left towards St Michael’s Church, whose bells we had been hearing since we were in the park, and followed the road round to the A4147 main road. We turned right, crossed the big roundabout and then turned off to the left along a tarmac track which was leading to Batchwood Hall. I recognised this track from my running of the St Albans Half-Marathon last year, which you can read about here, but this time we were walking up it rather than me running down it.
Walking up here gave us a great view of the Cathedral through the hazy sun as we looked back, and having walked alongside a golf course we were then turning off to the left along a tree-lined path which took us gently uphill, then across fields before leading down an enclosed path by the side of Ladies Grove Wood until we emerged onto a tarmac track and were presented with fine views of the Ver valley. We walked past Childwick Bury and kept ahead into the hamlet of Childwick Green, going past the redbrick Victorian church and coming to the A1081 main road, where we turned left.
We soon reached a footpath on the right which took us back into fields and on to a track which in turn took us to a lane which itself took us to a left turning, which we followed across part of Harpenden Common, going through another golf course and past the Three Horseshoes pub, reaching a crossroads where we turned left, cutting across the golf course to return to the A1081. We turned left and the right, and followed the road until we took a left-hand lane at a fork and kept along this as it rose at first and then gently descended into the valley. At the bottom we turned left along a mud track which is the Ver Valley Walk. Fortunately the muddy track was still frozen and we were soon going across fields and along paths through belts of trees, with the sun coming through. We went past some buildings before the track we were on took us round to the right to another main road, the A5183. We crossed this to go into the woodland on the other side, and before long we were walking along permissive paths across the Gorhambury Estate. The path was obvious and after crossing a footbridge we turned right to cross the river and continued along a tarmac track, turning right at the top of the road, where we saw a very impressive display from a sheepdog in the opposite field. The road now took us back towards St Albans, with the Cathedral very clearly in view.
We passed the Roman theatre but did not stop to have a look around, crossing the road to go back past St Michael’s Church, following the road round to the left and past the pudding stone, before following the back roads through to the Cathedral and then into town to visit the Pudding Shop before heading for home.
We had been out for 4 hours in lovely winter weather and had covered 11 miles. It had been a great morning.
You can see more photographs from the walk here.