St Albans and the Ver Valley

The sun was shining early on so we decided to take full advantage and go for a longer walk.  This one was based on walk 28 in number 54 of the Pathfinder Guide dealing with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.  We changed the beginning and took the alternative route for the end, walking along the road rather then the permissive paths.  Please click on the links to see the photographs.

We started at 0740 and decided to take a different route to start off, because we had recently covered most of the original start of this walk.  So we set off by walking up Beaconsfield Road, then left into Hatfield Road and across the main roundabout in town into Catherine Street, and then down the hill on Folly Lane.  This is the route I drive to work each morning.  Then we are on Redbourn Road and reaching the crossroads with Hempstead Road and Batchwood Drive.  We are now back on the Pathfinder Guide route as we turn right into Batchwood Drive, then left onto a bridleway.  We followed that path alongside Batchwood Hall Golf Course, before turning left along a tree-lined path.  We are climbing steadily (though not actually ascending by very much), and at one point we can see Gorhambury in the distance, which is a location we will be walking to another day.  Many of the paths on this walk are either tree-lined or enclosed, and we do follow an enclosed path by the right edge of Ladies Grove Wood, before emerging onto a tarmac track by Woodlands Farm & Stables.  This track takes us past Childwick Bury and into the estate hamlet of Childwick Green, which was quite lovely but was full of signs forbidding parking or walking on the grass or stopping, which really did not suit the welcoming look of the place.  We passed the small, redbrick Victorian Church of St Mary and continued down the track to the A1081.

We turned left on to Harpenden Road and then were fortunate to notice the sign for the public footpath on the other side, and descended an embankment before walking through fields, then another tree-lined path takes us to a couple of lanes and we find ourselves among golfers again as we walk across part of Harpenden Common.  The Three Horseshoes pub is up for sale and we turn left when we get to Cross Lane.  That takes us back to the A1081 and we take a refreshment stop at the bus stop across from where we come out.  We then turn right into Beesonend Lane and take the left-hand lane at a fork which allows us to descend gently into the valley.  We decide not to take the detour to the Redbournbury Mill today, and that will be another location for another day.  Instead we join the Ver Valley Walk, passing through meadows with the River Ver always to our right.  This was a very pleasant part of the walk, either along tracks or on grass, surrounded by everything that you would want from the countryside, and as we continue the River Ver develops into what you would expect from a river.  We come out at the A5183 and decided to take the road route back into St Albans because we wanted to get to the shops, so we walk along the Redbourn Road into Verulam Road, before turning left into Britton Avenue and then Waddington Road, which brings us to the back of Marks & Spencer.  And then we got lucky.  We had wanted to go to Marks & Spencer to get some crab for lunch and I suggested we go in through the back entrance on Drovers Way, but Debbie decided she wanted to look at the shops on Waddington Street, and when we came out on to St Peter’s Street we found the farmers’ market.  And some cheese, pork and black pudding pie, crab, and rocky road later we had more than enough for lunch and dinner without having to go to a supermarket, which we both preferred.  The morning was not quite over yet, because (to my mind, anyway) we are also very lucky to live so close to a Cotswold Outdoor, so we were able to nip on on the final walk down Victoria Street to get me a Rab Vapour-rise Lite Alpine Jacket, which will get a lot of use during our summer evening walks, and to get Debbie a pair of Merrell Siren Breeze.

In all we must have covered over 10 miles, and while the sun was not always very warm, it was always there, and mostly the sky had been blue, with clouds starting to come across only on our way back.  All in all, a wonderful way to spend a morning.  And it must have had a good effect on us, because on returning from seeing Dark Shadows at the cinema this evening we headed out for another half an hour’s walking.

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