Herts Embraced 9.3: completed!

3:05 pm:  The finish line in Chorleywood.

After the last ‘excitement’ with the HS2 works, all went smoothly to plan:  straight along Shire Lane, which is variously a road and a broad, woodland path.  As it approaches Chorleywood, the path shows the signs of once having been a crudely metalled road.  Then it begins to turn into a road as farms appear at the top, then cottages where the tarmac begins, then as it descends the village appears around it, and all the way, it marks the border of Hertfordshire to the east from Buckinghamshire to the west, even as the village grows around it.

Shire Lane, above Chorleywood

So I followed the lane along the road, the path and the road again, down into Chorleywood, and as the railway bridge appeared at the bottom of the valley, I knew the end was, literally, in sight, and the last stroll down just seemed so ordinary as people were getting on with their own business as every day.  I however had walked 170 miles to get to where I was, where I started.

I found in my walk parts of Hertfordshire I thought I knew but which were unfamiliar close to, and a county well worth embracing.


See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Herts Embraced 9.2: A quick crossing, and a Low Speed One

1:40: Old Shire Lane

I should have finished long since, but for unwanted engineering.  I started as planned where I left off and completed the Boundary Path to Batchworth Heath, then entered Bishop’s Wood where, despite a minute or two of doubt, I managed to follow the planned path through the wood, and across Woodcock Hill.  After Fieldways Farm the route nips across the north-westernmost corner of Middlesex down to the Colne and the Grand Union Canal, across which I re-entered Hertfordshire.

In this stretch I came across a sponsored walk in aid of the Michael Sobell Hospice; a popular walk by the numbers I greeted.

Farmland on the edge

After Coppermill Lock I left the charity walkers.  I walked south beside the canal and then crossed between the lakes and to the southernmost point of Hertfordshire.  So far, so good.

Old Shire Lane begins at the Uxbridge Road, at the Buckinghamshire border. I followed this wooded path west and north, on the county border, and intended to follow it all the way to Chorleywood, but north of the path the whole landscape is filled with the works for the HS2 line  Then when I got to a cross-track I found that the Department of Cussedness has closed Old Shire Lane, rot them.

I therefore took a long diversion out to Chalfont St Peter, and a path back – which itself was blocked when I got to the end.  (Never mind how I got to the lane again.)  The roads have been messed around so much that I missed the footpath part of Old Shire Lane and so had a diversion-from-the-diversion-from-the diversion.  Hence being very far behind time (that and sitting down to blog it).

It should now be a straight run in from here; well, let’s see.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.


Herts Embraced 9.1: Closing the embrace

Last day today.  I am starting where I finished yesterday, where the boundary path crosses the railway line (between Moor Park and Northwood stations; I will walk there from Northwood). Then the plan is to carry on westward to the end of the path, and work my way through Bishop’s Wood Country Park and Woodcock Hill to West Hyde’s Coppermill Lock.  To the south is the county’s southernmost point, where Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Buckinghamshire meet, and a footpath that runs along the county border all the way to the top of Shire Lane in Chorleywood, which lane then runs along the county border to the station, which is where I started on Day 1.  Nine days to get back to where I started.

Well, let’s go.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Herts Embraced 8.4: Rus in urbe, urbs in rure

6:15 pm:  between Moor Park and Northwood

The rain eased off a little after my late lunch.  Behind Bushey Heath a path runs out across the open space called Merry Hill, with far views over the valley southwards with barely a house to be seen.  Whatever your ideas of this congested part of our county, there is its natural state still to be found.

Eventually though it drops down to Carpenders Park, where the habitations of man begin, then it is along the road some more, compassing round Carpenders Park and South Oxhey, where the route heads south to the path along the county border, watched and occasionally followed by curious horses. Then through Nascot Wood and Oxhey Wood, where I followed an unsystematic westward path, to hit the exactly right spot.

At the end of the wood begins the path known locally as just ‘the Boundary Path’, which runs for two miles along the border of Hertfordshire with Middlesex, cutting between houses, even across roads, turning from a narrow, muddy path to a broad, clear one almost randomly, with great oaks or their stumps all along the way, suggesting it was once an estate boundary path.  Here then I came to the railway line and called it a day, just over ten miles from the finish where I began.  That is for tomorrow.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Herts Embraced 8.3: Elstree to Bushey Heath

2:45 pm:  The Three Crowns, Bushey Heath.  Raining.  Cold, wet.

What soaring dramas were created in Elstree!  Here Mark Anthony wooed Cleopatra (Richard Burton in one production, Sid James in another and you can guess which was the commercial success).  Those studios are gone now and built over.  Infamy!

The whole of the Old Village appears closed too.  Straight on then; north a way then a path across to Aldenham Country Park (while that lasts).  The path lies across the embankment marking the north of the Aldenham Reservoir (which I think in the context of all this manwrought landscape we can honour with the name of ‘lake’).  There for lunch and ..  they had closed the café!  Thank goodness for the kiosk and its sole remaining hot sausage roll.  Nowhere to dry out though or warm up, so it was straight on to Bushey Heath.

It is very wet.  The rain started as I came to Totteridge and has been getting heavier, and I just have to carry on.

It is too much road walking here and Tina is a harsh mistress (“This Is No Alternative”).  Eventually though I came to the main road through Bushey and Bushey Heath, and blessed be The Three Crowns for a toasted cheese and ham sandwich with chips.

(On Day 1 I stopped at the highest point in Hertfordshire, at the edge of Pavis Wood.  Just along the road from here, at the border of Middlesex, is the highest point in that county.  The border is marked by a small stream, which means that the stream is at the top of a hill.  Odd.)

In a moment I must part from the warm pub and head out into the rain again – Carpenders Park, South Oxhey and the Boundary Path call me.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Herts Embraced 8.2: Country life in disproval of bureaucracy

1:30-ish: Elstree

It was an odd clash of cultures I started through, from the busy town, Barnet, just after 9 am and its accompanying sports field to the stream trying its best to preserve its natural dignity amidst the trespassing hand of man. There is no path on the western bank, the Hertfordshire side as this is the land of the South Herts Golf Club, and so I gingerly trod the Middlesex bank, keeping a look-out for hostiles, though here they tend not to wield pitchforks but smartphones. (which is odd – you can’t drive off invaders with an iPhone, nor pick up a bale of hay, so what use are they?)

As soon as the golf course finished I waded across the Dollis Brook (if it is wading when the stream is just an inch deep) only to find there is a bridge, and followed the brook all the way down to Totteridge Lane, where I had to resume on Middlesex soil. until again I could cross.

At the southern edge of Totteridge is a perfect village pond beside a farmhouse and a cottage.  The path then runs down over a broad heathland and woodland lower down, through which I walked, down to a lake surrounded by woods.  From here I walked paths through farmland, grazed by great black cattle.   All this is marked on maps as ‘the London Borough of Barnet’, but can any bureaucrat see all this and seriously label it ‘London’?  This is Hertfordshire land as sure as any.

I had some double-takes as I was using the same Ordnance Survey Explorer 173 ‘London North’ on which I marked the Middlesex Greenway and the two paths are so close here that I had to keep reminding myself which pencil line I was following.

At last, after a long perambulation across the heath and farmland I came to the meadows of Totteridge, which must be one of my favourite villages in Hertfordshire.

All along Totteridge Common – the houses, oh the houses!  Eventually I passed a house named ‘Boundary House’ after which the road suddenly became louder, more uncouth:  I had left Hertfordshire.

Somewhere in the woods I got lost.  I took a footpath through the woods, another short incursion into Middlesex, to avoid the road, and it was pretty indeed, but somehow I ended up on the A1.  (I will have to come back and explore it from the other end to get the right track.). Thereafter it was a long walk along the road runs along the border to Elstree Village.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.

Herts Embraced 8.1: Starting to walk home

This morning I feel the end in sight. I am starting at High Barnet Station, where I left off last weekend. Chipping Barnet, or High Barnet, is in that hook of Hertfordshire which sticks into the body of Middlesex and I could go deeper into that finger of the county, as far as the edge of Southgate, but sanity prescribes limits. As it is I will be passing within less than a mile of my previous day’s path in.

From the station I will walk down to the Dollis Brook and follow it down to where the border turns, and then by the Folly Brook (yes, I though that too) I find the broad greensward of Totteridge Common, wonderfully preserved to hold back the encroaching metropolis. Totteridge itself is a well-to-do village very Hertfordshire in spite of its position and bureaucratic arrangements. From here the way leads, by some necessary short trespasses through the corner Middlesex, up to Elstree and a road stretch along the border to Bushey and as best I can to Carpenders Park, South Oxhey and the Oxhey Woods.

See: Hertfordshire Border Walk

Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.