Pete's Walks - The Hertfordshire Way

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps and GPX files.

Google map of the walk

Day 23 23/01/06 Perry Green to Bishop’s Stortford (5.8 miles each way)

Parked on road in Perry Green.

This was a shorter walk than usual. Again it was a very grey day, a very fine mist limiting the distant views. It was colder that it has been on the last few walks, with the temperature only just above freezing – I was plenty warm enough, but had to keep my coat zipped up and my thermal hat and fingerless mittens on all day.

It took me about an hour and a half to drive to Perry Green this morning. There must have been an accident or something on the northbound carriageway of the M1, because the northbound lane of the A5 was queued up as I tried to get out of Kensworth this morning and the short section of the northbound A6 that I followed was also queued up. These delays only added 10 or so minutes to the journey though. I took a different route today – the sections I have been walking have been more or less due east of where I live, and I have been using a route that goes slightly south of east to Welwyn Garden City and Hertford and then slightly north of east. Today I started by going slightly north of east to Baldock, then south of east through Buntingford. Not much in it time wise, but it made a change.

From Perry Green, the Hertfordshire Way took paths along field boundaries for about a mile to the edge of Green Tye, passing a farm with a duck pond on the way. It then turned on to a path to the right, which crossed over two arable fields [1] separated by a foot bridge to reach a farm track, which was followed to the left to reach a minor road.

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[1] Muddy cross-field path near Green Tye

Here I turned right for about 50 yards before turning left down what had once been the drive to an airfield. There was a car parked by the start of the drive, and a brown Springer spaniel was sat beside it. It came up to me, barking but wagging its stump of a tail. I wondered what it was doing there alone, as I walked down the drive. As I neared some woodlands on my right, I heard a woman repeatedly calling “Kerry!” – putting two and two together (correctly for once!), when I got near I asked if she was looking for a brown dog, and told her where it was. She was quite relieved, as she’d been looking for it for about an hour. I do like to get my good turn for the day done early in the day – I can then relax and go back to being a rotten swine!

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[2] Looking back from near Thorley church

The Hertfordshire Way turned left off the drive and passed through a small bit of woodland before taking another path through arable fields. This soon became a track, and then, just past a barn, a concrete drive. This continued for over half a mile [2], still beside arable fields, to reach Thorley church [3]. This whole section of the walk was very flat, although there was a slight dip and rise just before the church.

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[3] Thorley church

The Hertfordshire Way passed through the church yard, where there seemed to be fresh flowers on almost every grave and, for some reason, as well as the usual benches there was also a picnic table. I followed a lane through the village to a main road, and across this I took another hedgerow path that led downhill to another road crossing, quickly followed by a crossing over a railway (the London-Cambridge line) and then a footbridge over the river Stort.

I followed the towpath to the left for a couple of hundred yards or so, and then crossed back over the river on a road bridge by Twyford Lock [4] – the Hertfordshire Way avoids following the towpath into the centre of Bishop’s Stortford as this would entail entering Essex as the river becomes the county boundary for a short section around here. A path on the right led across a field,that had presumably been ‘set aside’, for about a third of a mile to a lane. This crossed the railway line again, passed through a small industrial estate and emerged as a street leading to a main road in Bishop’s Stortford. I followed this to the left until it recrossed the river, and then turned left on the towpath again. After about a quarter of a mile, I turned right on a path that led through a car park to the railway station, where I turned round and began my walk back to the car. It had only taken me an hour and 35 minutes to walk the 5.8 miles so far.

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[4] River Stort by Twyford Lock

I sat and ate my lunch in the lych gate of Thorley church (more sheltered than the picnic table). On the way back, near the barn at the end of the concrete drive from Thorley church, I saw a stoat poke its head out briefly from a hedgerow on my left. I think that’s the first one I’ve seen since I started these journals – I used to see them 3 or 4 times a year when I lived and walked in Suffolk.

This was a pleasant enough walk, but nothing special. It was fairly flat, and much of it was through arable fields with little variety. But the murky conditions probably didn’t do it any favours – on a warm summer’s day I’m sure it would be very enjoyable. As usual, the section through the town wasn’t as bad as I’d feared – a few yards past some industrial units, a short street, a short road section, a pleasant walk by the river and the station car park, that was it.

I have decided to split the next two walks into three instead – not because one of them was quite long at 8.7 miles each way (I’ve walked longer than that several times, including twice near Hemel Hempstead on this walk) but because of difficulty finding any suitable places to park. The section of the Hertfordshire Way between Bishop’s Stortford and Royston is very rural indeed and passes through very few hamlets or villages. Having looked at the map, where I was intending to split the two walks was simply a farm near a very minor road – it seems very unlikely that there would be somewhere to park there. There is no other sizable habitation for several miles either before or after this place. So, including today’s walk, I shall have four shorter walks of about 6 miles each way, before a final walk of about my usual 7.5 miles each way to complete my journey back to Royston.

Total Distance: 173.1 miles each way