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7 mile circular walk across Hertfordshire countryside from Wheathampstead to Shaw’s Corner

By Emma McNamee – 10th February 2020

Why I love this walk

It’s quiet, it’s calm, and you’re surrounded by country air.  Be it open fields, footpaths, valleys or woodlands, you really are at one with Hertfordshire’s countryside.  What’s more, you get a dose of Britain’s literary heritage as you step in to the world of playwright Bernard Shaw.

Your Starting Point

Park up in Wheathampstead in East Lane Car Park (postcode AL4 8BH).

Head back to the main road heading through Wheathampstead and turn right up the hill to the roundabout.

The Old Wheathampstead Train Station Platform

A must before you continue on your walk – on your right at the roundabout walk up the steps to visit the site of the old Wheathampstead station platform, lovingly restored.   There’s also a photo opportunity in the form of a full-size wood carving of Bernard Shaw in the platform shelter.  You can exit back down to the road at the other end of the platform down steps.  At the bottom of the steps make a U-turn right walking down the side road called Abbot John Mews.

http://wheathampstead-pc.gov.uk/station-platform/

Ayot Greenway

Follow this road as it leads on to a footpath through a new residential estate, and when the pathway comes to a T junction (currently, as I write, this is in front of a construction site), turn left at the fingerpost sign for Ayot Greenway.  Follow this footpath for a good while, initially alongside a stream then alongside fields and wire fences. When a road looms in front of you, the footpath continues to bear round to the right.   Soon after the right turn look out for some steps down off the pathway to your left, ducking under a metal bar to an underpass.  Turn left under the underpass then look out for a little dirt track up a slope to your left with an iron kissing gate at the top.  Go through this and across the field in front of you, over the path of an old railway and up the slope again on the other side through another kissing gate.

Lamer Park

You’ll eventually come out in to Codicote Road, be careful crossing here.  Cross over and you’ll see a big drive for Lamerwood House in front of you.  To the right of the white fences you’ll see the public footpath pick up again signposted for Lamer Park walking parallel to and alongside the drive.

When the path comes to a T junction at the end, turn left following the Hertfordshire Way.

When you come to the end of the path you’ll see a sign advising “private estate – footpath only”, which is the entrance to Lamer Park Farm.  At the gates of Lamer Park Farm, take the footpath on the right through an avenue of limes.  Continuing along this trail you’ll go through another metal kissing gate beside a wooden fence – just keep following this straight ahead.  You are truly walking in the steps of Bernard Shaw at this point as a good friend of his, explorer and author Apsley Cherry-Garrard, lived at Lamer House so he would have frequently done this walk.

Shaw’s Corner

You’ll eventually come out in a country lane, Bibbs Hall Lane – follow this to the right passing a few houses and you’ll arrive at Shaw’s Corner on your right.   Owned by the National Trust, this was the Edwardian country home of playwright Bernard Shaw for 44 years.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shaws-corner

If open, it’s well worth stopping to visit.  You’re able to walk around his home and glimpse all the artefacts and books he collected over the years, along with his Oscar.  You can also explore the gardens and his infamous revolving writing hut, essentially a garden shed on a revolving mechanism so that as he worked he could follow the sun throughout the day.  Cool right?!  I love this idea!

Ayot Estate

However, let’s continue on our walk now, heading past Shaw’s Corner to the end of Bibbs Hall Lane, and turn right at the T junction down the hill.   As the road bends round to the left follow the curve and you’ll then see a footpath in front of you to follow.

The path continues for quite a while, alongside Stockings Springs Woods, coming out at Codicote Road. Cross this road and continue on the public bridleway opposite towards Hunters Bridge and Water End Lane on the Ayot Estate.

After around 200m look out for a waymarked path across the field to your right, up a gentle slope, which at the top then bears your round to the left continuing through fields.  The path then leads you over a little brick bridge.

Continue onwards through fields, following the yellow waymark signs.  The path leads you through a valley of more fields, with sweeping country hillside views around you and down some steps where you then turn right on to the Lea Valley Way.  Keep following this path for around a mile, sticking to the main path and proceeding forward, sometimes alongside woodlands at other times alongside the edge of fields.   When you come to a metal kissing gate, go through and continue onwards with wire fence to your left and fields around you.

You’ll go through a couple of wooden kissing gates too, and walk alongside electric wire fence.    When you go through the last wooden kissing gate you’ll see a road in front of you.  Stay on this side, don’t cross, but turn right and continue along the footpath over a metal bridge and stream.  Once over the bridge, follow the lane in front of you and after approx. 300 yards, just after Orchard Cottage, look out for a public footpath sign between hedges that takes you right towards East Lane – follow this narrow public footpath through the hedges until you come out in to an open playing field / park area.

The Forge

When you reach the playing fields, turn right walking along the bottom of the fields until you reach the river.  Turn left walking alongside the river to the forge.

It’s a lovely little spot here for some stream paddling, with green areas to sit and laze around or have a picnic.

To get back to your parking spot, go out on to the road past the forge and East Lane car park will be further up on your right.

And there you are, back at your car and a little bit wiser after your insight to the literary world of George Bernard Shaw.  Thanks for joining me on one of my favourite local walks as I ramble around Hertfordshire.  If you’re on instagram, be sure to follow me @girlabouthertfordshire as well where I’ll be adding more of my walking routes in the months ahead.  I love to explore at home and abroad!  If you’ve got any of your own walks around Herts for me to try out, do tag me and use the hashtag #favouritewalksinherts

With love,

Emma x

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