Walking in Hertfordshire
For many people Hertfordshire is just a place on the way to or from somewhere else. Ever since the Romans built Ermine Street this has been the case, with over enthusiastic modern road builders following the trend. But creating fast passage through the county has left many quiet backwaters where attractive villages and a charming rural landscape have survived as the busy world has rushed past them.
In fact the countryside of Hertfordshire is both varied and beautiful and a delight to explore on foot. It ranges from green hills and river valleys to wooded parkland, country estates, peaceful farms and villages. The village of Westmill is perhaps the best example of this rural English idyll, but there are many others that can be included in enjoyable walks including Essendon, Braughing, Much Hadham and Therfield. Ashridge Estate (NT) near Berkhamstead on the Chilterns Ridge also provides lovely walking through woodland and chalk downland.
Tucked away on the edge of the Ashridge Estate on the edge of the Chilterns, Aldbury is a well kept secret. A large triangular village green with a duck pond overlooked by a lovely church with a tall slender tower provides a satisfying picture. The green is surrounded by pretty thatched cottages and on the green remain the old village stocks and whipping-post. The scene is completed with the wonderful timber manor house, its quaint latticed windows looking out over the pond.
Above the village on the brow of Moneybury Hill and set amongst beautiful beech trees stands the Bridgewater Monument, a tall classical column visible for miles. This commemorates the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater’s important role in the development of English canals. The Grand Union Canal runs just west of Aldbury.
A Walk from Aldbury [SP 965125] OS Maps: Explorer™ 181
The walk leaves Aldbury near the church with a steep climb through the woods to the Bridgewater Monument. There is a National Trust shop and caf here. The route then progresses southwards through Aldbury Common, which is carpeted with bluebells in spring and foxgloves in summer. Some of the trees are over 300 years old and, where they have fallen, they are often covered in wild honeysuckle. There are meadows and views along the route, which is now following the Icknield Way. At Norcott Hall Farm the route heads north again over Tom's Hill and back into Aldbury. There is a choice of pubs in the village - so why not start at one and finish at the other! About 4 miles.
Best Pubs for this walk
Greyhound, Aldbury Tel: 01442 851228 (Good Pub Guide)
The ivy-clad Greyhound is a picturesque village green pub with a warren of rooms including a public bar and a restaurant with a choice of seating areas. There is gentle lighting and an inglenook fireplace giving a cosy and comfortable feel. Outside in summer there's bench seating at the front, with tree stumps to rest your pint. Generous usual bar food from baguettes and filled baked potatoes to steaks.
Valiant Trooper, Trooper Road, Aldbury Tel: 01442 851203 (Good Pub Guide)
This partly pink painted pub has an enjoyably unspoilt atmosphere. There are three rooms with nice features such as a wood-burning stove in an inglenook fireplace. There is a good choice of bar food served in generous portions, including baked potatoes, sandwiches, ploughman's, pies, roast chicken and daily specials.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pocket Pub Walks in Hertfordshire' by Nick Corble
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