I found the Hertfordshire Chain Walk to be very enjoyable, more so than Iíd imagined. Some of the early and later stages went through areas Iíd already explored on the Hertfordshire Way, but the central section of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk was entirely new to me and these were the walks I enjoyed the most. The first couple of walks were slightly marred by going though areas of suburbia and commuter belt, but they were still perfectly pleasant walks. The section on bridleways either side of Bramfield Woods was a particular highlight, and the remote and largely unspoilt countryside north from there to Cottered was very pleasant to walk through. Iíd walked through the Sandon, Kelshall and Therfield area twice before, so that part of the walk was not so interesting for me, but the final walk from Ashwell and Morden station was surprisingly good, mainly because of the great views from the ridge of chalk hills over the Cambridgeshire plain.
View out from a corner of Bramfield Woods (Walk 6)
The Hertfordshire Chain Walk is a most unusual long-distance footpath in that it consists of a series of circular walks linked together in a chain (I am quite baffled as to why Walk 7 and Walk 8 donít link up at Watton-at-Stone, thus leaving a gap in the chain Ė I really had to walk the quarter mile through the village to join them up, I just couldnít leave a hole in the middle of the walk!). I found this idea of a Ďchainí walk quite interesting. It solves the transport problem of most long-distance paths, in that people can finish their walks back where they started. It is slightly limiting in that you need to either walk just one link or else two or three links together Ė you canít really stop part-way through a link unless you retrace your steps Ė so you have to be rather more flexible about the distances you walk each day. But as the links vary from 4.25 to 9 miles in length, I donít think this would be a problem for many people.
I was a little disappointed with the guide book for the Hertfordshire Chain Walk, as it gave virtually no historic or other information about the places the walk went through. However, it was generally very good as far as giving directions for the route went (it did throw me on the penultimate walk by referring to a house as a bungalow!). As it was published about twelve years ago, there have obviously been many subsequent minor changes to the route and to the landscape since, but I was always able to tell from the guide book where I should go.