Ditch the cars and head out on a wander through Hertfordshire’s green land and beautiful towns, because what beats not having to worry about traffic? We’re big advocates of getting somewhere by train and other more environmentally friendly modes of transport here, especially when they can kickstart a new favourite walk that meanders through the countryside or urban areas to some of our favourite attractions, pubs and outdoor spaces. Topping it off by being able to stay the night before heading home or carrying on the journey – perfect! So, read on and get your next Saturday and Sunday or midweek adventure penned in…
Before we continue, we’d just like to make a note about Ashridge Estate, which is one of Herts’ most prized green spaces. As Hertfordshire residents, we absolutely love the scenic walks and stunning countryside views that our county provides. But did you know that Ashridge Estate’s special area of woodland and unique habitats is currently at risk? Together with Natural England, the National Trust, and other local authorities, Dacorum Borough Council are working on a new programme designed to protect this Special Area of Conservation's wildlife, habitats and woodland from damage caused by walkers. So, in an effort to help us all respect and protect this beautiful landscape, we're sharing some of the many other glorious spots where you can stretch your legs and enjoy the Hertfordshire countryside.
If you’re heading up from London or the south, simply head to Moorgate or Finsbury Park station and pick up a train, with the quickest taking just 25 minutes, into Welwyn Garden City. From the centre, pick up National Route 61 / Cole Green Way and weave through the suburbs and onto the former railway line, which certainly helps with the difficulty of it – it’s flat and lightly gravelled throughout. As you make your way through the trees and over the old bridges, after seven miles you’ll be in the county town of Hertford, noticing the castle, Hartham Common and its colourful houses. Stop for lunch at one of its many independent eateries or stay the night and slow down the pace.
Once you are recharged, head further along the route and into Ware, which is just four miles along the River Lea. Once you’ve passed the glorious countryside, notice the gazebos which dot the river. These are 18th century summerhouses that were built in the gardens of former Coaching Inns along the high street. We’d recommend stopping here and catching the train home from the nearby Ware station but you can continue the whole way along the Lea Valley Walk and into London!
A route guide is available here from Hertfordshire Council.
With regular connections from London Liverpool Street and Cambridge, start this journey in Sawbridgeworth. Just a few hundred feet from the station is the entrance to the River Stort towpath that will guide you to Bishop’s Stortford. Following the wiggly river you will be deep in the countryside of Hertfordshire, spotting canal boats passing you and locks such as that at Twyford. As you get closer to your destination, if you’re there in spring, keep an eye out for Bluebell Woods Rushy Mead, which as you might guess by the name is a special spot to capture some fauna through your camera lens. Finishing up this approx. 5.2 mile route is the centre of Bishop’s Stortford, which will cater quite nicely for those who’ve built up a hunger, with restaurants ranging from Italian to Greek bakeries. Luckily, the train station for the town is on the same line as Sawbridgeworth so you can venture home easily!
Follow our plotting on Google Maps here.
Start this journey in either St Albans or Hatfield, which are handily both connected by trains into London, King’s Cross and St Pancras Int’l. For this one, our personal recommendation would be getting into St Albans a day before the walk, as there’s so much to chance upon in the town – independent shops to stock up on snacks for the next day, jewellery to antique trinkets and not to mention the beautiful Cathedral – before heading down to the south of the city and overnight at Sopwell House, which is handily a short walk to the start of the route. As you embark the next day on the walk, look for signs to the Alban Way. After around 6.5 miles of peaceful surrounds, you’ll arrive in Hatfield. We’d head toward the station as you can wander just another half mile and explore Hatfield House with its sculptures, stunning gardens and instantly recognisable interior.
A route guide from Sustrans (you could take your bike too!) is here.
We love the journeys here that connect with the same train line, making for a seamless journey to and from your grand venture out in Hertfordshire, and this one is no different! Begin this one in Hemel Hempstead (we’d recommend the Fishery Lock), and find the Grand Union Canal towpath toward Berkhamsted. Along the approx. four miles, you’ll past endless canal boats, marinas and green rolling hill views, before making it into Berkhamsted where alongside the canal will be iconic things such as the Totem Pole and just off the canal, the Castle and town's rather lovely painted houses. To extend your day into a stay, we’d recommend the Kings Arms along the high street. To really get the most from your journey, and feel like you’re properly escaping into the old world, continue to Tring where the station is right next door to the canal so you can hop home with ease.
Find our route on Google Maps here.