100 – Forty Hall, Crews Hill, Hertfordshire fields and lanes, New River path 11.3 miles – 12th February

In short: an interesting variation on previous walks in this area – a wider circle to make it a longer walk – mostly really lovely. Very puddly and muddy in stretches so well worth proper waterproof walking boots. Large free car park at Forty Hall; functional but none too lovely public toilets there. Pitstop and toilets at lovely garden centre in Crews Hill. 4 hrs 5 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop.

Today we are following a walk I found on the ‘Walks and Walking’ website – this one called the ‘Forty Hall Enfield walking route’. There are a couple of occasions where the instructions aren’t quite what they might be but on the whole this is a sufficiently challenging and definitely interesting walk.

We park at the large free Forty Hall car park, postcode EN2 9HA and immediately follow the signs to make use of the public toilets near the lovely Jacobean main house. These are, as usual, none too clean – albeit everything seems to be in working order today.

Leaving here we return in the direction of the car park to the road, Forty Hill, where we turn left. Having had to cross to walk on the pavement on the far side, we now cross back at a pedestrian crossing to enter the Forty Hall park at a London Loop sign. We walk straight on here with Turkey Brook on our right and a grassy meadow on our left till we enter the woods ahead.

We continue on past some pretty ponds on our left, still on the London Loop path and carry on following these signs – turning first left and a little later right to eventually emerge beside the Rose and Crown pub at Clay Hill.

We cross the road here to enter Hillyfields Park and continue on the London Loop path at the foot of the hill beside the brook. After a short while we turn right, crossing the stream to take a path uphill and eventually exit the park opposite a church.

Here we turn left to follow the lane, Strayfield Road, which becomes more of a track the further we go. Where the lane bends sharp left we mistakenly follow it but soon realise our mistake as we go under a railway line – we should be crossing this according to our directions! We retrace our steps to the sharp bend and this time continue straight on following a footpath sign. This section is a little overgrown but clear enough to follow.

Soon after, we reach the railway line which we cross with care and climb uphill for a short time through trees till we emerge at the edge of the Crews Hill golf course. The path is fortunately obvious here so we proceed in a straight line, beside trees and bushes, across the golf course – taking care, obviously, not to disturb the golfers!! The path leads out beside the clubhouse into the car park and we turn right onto Cattlegate Road, heading into Crews Hill.

We decide to make our pitstop at the first of the garden centres on our right – Woldens. The Greenhouse Café inside serves a lovely toasted teacake and cappuccino, which boosts us, and after making use of their outdoor toilet facilities – clean and well appointed – we continue on through Crews Hill.

Just as the road bends sharply right we turn left onto a lane to pass under the M25, and thence uphill between fields with lovely views all round.

We continue on this lane until we reach a junction where we turn right onto Silver Street but it seems at this point we have somehow made a mistake – this sentence of the walk instructions is really not very clear! We realise we are some way away from Oldpark Ride which we are supposed to be heading towards and so stop a kind dogwalker and ask directions for getting there.

Following his instructions we continue on this lane till we reach a footpath signpost right which heads towards a farm. The path goes through the farmyard and is marked with a handmade sign where it bears right in front of the farmhouse and continues on between fields.

Eventually the path feeds out onto a T-junction at a lane – this is Oldpark Ride – and here we turn left. We stay on this lane for quite some distance and eventually it curves away left, becoming Bury Green Road, up to a main road which we cross just in front of a roundabout.

We continue on a footpath, turning right in front of a school and going on to a junction of paths where we turn left and then immediately right to follow a path between fences – horses on our right – towards the New River which is in front of us.

On reaching the river we cross at a bridge and turn right to follow this river path towards the M25. This section of path is really very slippery and we take great care not to end up on our backsides! At a small pumphouse we cross at a bridge to follow a footpath running between some woodland and a field, heading gradually towards the motorway. After a short while we reach steps up to a lane where we turn left to cross the M25 at a bridge.

We stay on this lane, Bulls Cross Ride, till we reach a T-junction in front of the entrance to the Spurs training ground, where we turn left. We follow this road now as it bends sharply right and heads past Myddelton House towards Forty Hall. At the pedestrian crossing where we previously crossed to join the London Loop we cross and take the path sharp left up towards the Forty Hall car park.

A lovely long walk – proper leg-stretcher – and really very enjoyable. But oh what we wouldn’t give for a spell of dry weather and the chance to stride out on some proper country paths…


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