Thursday, April 10, 2014

Best of Hertfordshire

...so far. I've been walking 7 (more or less) consecutive days (daytrips) on the Hertfordshire Way recently, a long distance path that meanders in a kind of curvy ellipse through the county, following on from the river Lee from St. Margaret to Ware, Hertford, Wareside, Much Hadham, Bishops Stortford, Hare Street and Royston. Unlike some of the major national trails such as The Thames Path or the South Downs Way which follow clear geological features such as a river or a range of small mountains, this trail basically seems designed to connect as many lovely interesting old historical hidden away small towns, villages, hamlets, houses, moats, etc. as possible. The landscape is maybe the most scenic you can get to around London, it's mostly fairly flat and agricultural, and you have to walk around or on people's properties most of the time (even some of the forests are private), but every other mile or so you come to another gem of an old village, church, or walk next to a little stream. This all started as I was trying to explore places that are easy to get to from East London, it's only about 45 minutes on a direct regional train to Hertford from Hackney Downs, so after years of walking with the Time Out Book of Country Walks (which I'd still heartily recommend to anyone wanting to go hiking around London), I got this map covering the Lee Valley and Epping Forest which I started to use a lot. I've walked all the way along the river from the Lee Valley Country Park up to Bishops Stortford and the other way to Rye Park and St. Margaret and that's when I came across this trail and decided to follow it. I was only really familiar with St. Albans before but I think Hertfordshire, despite being a bit built up in places, has more to offer, it is a very old landscape, and some of the villages are very charming and very much hidden away. In the Rough Guide to England, which is a big book of around 400 pages, Hertfordshire doesn't feature at all, and in a similar book by Lonely Planet they only feature St. Albans and dismiss the rest as commuter belt. So here's a lot of photos from the days I've walked so far, I tried to narrow it down but instead I think I leave them relatively small.... 


 walking into the springtime, flowers everywhere
 underneath the bridge between Ware and Hertford
 St. Leonards church, Bengeo, Hertford



 Hertford. There are many small rivers, that all flow into the Lee in or near the town
 the "Egyptian house' in Hertford


 Hertford Castle


New River head: that's where the New River starts, so I don't know is it the head or is it the other way round. Anyway....














 old parish church of Thundridge, a ruin standing alone in the countryside







 Much Hadham








 Henry Moore foundation in Perry Green, that's where he used to live and you can visit but even outside these hours you can see some of the sculptures.







 approaching Thorley church






 Bishops Stortford

 the castle, just a mound is left



 the gazebos in Ware




 Great Hormead church



 Anstey









 a second world war airfield near Anstey and Nuthampstead









 Barkway pond, this was a horse wash apparently, as the place was a busy coaching station







 Reed church

 coming down from Reed towards Royston

 Royston priory


 back in Hertford at night