The Alban Way

Alban Way cyclists

The Alban Way runs between two of Hertfordshire’s heartland towns:  St Albans, the county’s ecclesiastical capital, and Hatfield, its aristocratic capital (which description you may doubt if you have just seen the new-town centre, but here stands Hatfield House, the home of the Marquesses of Salisbury).  The Alban Way uses the route of the old Hatfield to St Albans branch line of the Great Northern Railway.

The route is a cycling route primarily.  It may be walked of course, and a good walk it is even in ordinary shoes.  At just six and a half miles long it is a morning’s walk, or a pleasant way by bike between the two towns.  It could also be used as a link between the stations in St Albans and Hatfield and the railway lines that otherwise do not meet until they get to central London.

The route is reasonably level and the path has been laid down with a smooth cycling surface: it would be easy to use such a cyclepath to hare off at dangerous speeds, but please beware of others using it.  Slow down and enjoy the greenness.

Alban Way arch (from Wikimedia Commons)

The route

From west to east, the Alban Way starts from Cotonmill Lane in St Albans, just south of St Albans Abbey Station, and heads east.  It soon meets the Hertfordshire Way, and here crosses the River Ver (not a raging torrent).  After this, the way cut cleanly through the town’s eastern outgrowth, eventually to emerge in that precious green cordon between St Albans and Hatfield.

Once the two towns were considered to sit far apart:  it tells something of the rapid growth of the twentieth century that a small gap now separates them, and that bridged by a vicious fast road.  The Alban Way though is between the Hatfield Road to the north, with its eastward-reaching fingers of residential and industrial estates reaching eastwards, and the sub-motorway A414 to the south.

The Alban Way enters Hatfield close by the A1(M) and takes to the road to cross the latter as it enters the Hatfield Tunnel.  Then it follows north-eastward cutting through the townscape and largely hidden from it, to finish at the edge of Home Park, and the state of Hatfield House.

I cannot think of a more satisfying way to get between the two towns, or between the Cathedral and the great house, whether by bicycle or on foot.

Route map