13 – Brookmans Park loop 5.8 miles – 27th April

In short: rolling Hertfordshire countryside surrounding a pristine commuter village, pretty woodland, bluebells galore, and a delicious pub lunch at an enterprising pub.Very very muddy in places but not impassable with waterproof walking boots. Smart pub toilets at start (and end). 2 hrs 20 mins walking + 40 min pitstop.

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Wednesday this week dawned intermittently bright but cold with a strong wind blowing. I had made an executive decision to find a walk incorporating a bluebell wood – and so after a bit of research online decided to try one of the tempting looking walks found on the Brookmans Park newsletter site (www.brookmans.com/walks).

Brookmans Park is a large commuter village, found on the mainline from Kings Cross to Welwyn Garden City, and has the immaculately manicured look you normally only see in films or magazines.

We decide to park at the Brookmans – a pub/restaurant in the centre of the village near the train station. On arrival there are signs indicating parking permits can be obtained from within the pub so we head inside (it opens at 8.30 for breakfast or coffee – very enterprising and also very welcoming) and explain we want to go for a walk and return for lunch – can we please park? It turns out this is fine and we register the car using the iPad app on the bar – it costs nothing. We avail ourselves of the beautifully smart toilets and set off.

We use the directions from the website which turn out to be pretty good – although I couldn’t manage to print out a useable version of the map.

We start by turning right out of the pub car park towards Brookmans Park railway station. We cross the railway line, continuing on Station Road as it bends right. We then take a footpath off to the left immediately in front of the first road on our left, Bradmore Lane and find ourselves on a footpath heading back parallel to the way we have just come.

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Here the path runs alongside the railway line on our left with open fields to the right. We follow this path for a while as it gradually heads away from the railway line until we come to a bridge crossing a small brook. The walk instructions had warned that this brook is often dry and much to our surprise after all the recent rain, this is the case today. We turn left here and start heading back in the general direction of the railway line.

As we get close to the railway line there are a set of wooden steps leading up to a bridleway running beside the line and we turn right onto this. Here we pass close to fields containing livestock…llamas to be precise. Google maps suggests that to our right is the Queen Mother Hospital for Small Animals and The Royal Veterinary College’s equine practice – certainly this is horsey country as we come across horses and stables throughout this walk.

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The bridleway brings us out onto Hawkshead Lane where we turn left and cross the railway line turning left immediately after into a field. Here there is a choice of paths but we take the one that hugs the hedgerow to our left and runs again parallel to the train line.

We are now heading towards the backs of house on the periphery of the village and on reaching them we turn right just in front of a small stream and head towards the road, which we join at a set of steps. We cross the road, Bluebridge Road and descend the footpath opposite where we continue following the right bank of the stream. Here we pass fields with horses on our right and then enter Gobions Wood – our ‘bluebell wood’ destination.

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We keep following our path, passing the sign marking the wood as a conservation area. This wood is really delightful – and indeed there are clumps of bluebells all over, dotted around under trees. Apparently this was once part of the pleasure garden of an estate – and it does indeed have the look and feel of something that has been, if not designed, then at least carefully managed.

We continue to follow the path beside the stream, ignoring a bridge over the brook to our left but crossing a couple of bridges over small streams arriving from our right. At a fork in the path we take the right climbing slightly and then bending left to skirt the southern edge of the wood. From this vantage point we have views across fields again, beyond the wood, to a well known local landmark, the Folly Arch (once marking the entrance to the Gobions estate).

We are again following a path beside a stream, twisting and turning along its bank, until we reach the ornamental pond and take the large wooden bridge across it on our left.

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From the far side of the pond we take a path heading up and slightly to our left and out of the wood. To our right we now have views across fields to the backs of houses and further to the masts of the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station; to our left bushes and trees.

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The path takes us into another wooded area with Gobions pond (a fishing lake) to our left. We pass a small clearing where someone has been carving logs into seats and after a false start along the wrong path head out of this wooded area along the right fork of the path ahead. We are heading back into Brookmans Park itself, passing a wooden garden fence and the backs of houses to our left, coming out onto Mymms Drive.

Here we turn left and walk past these amazing manicured lawns – and indeed across well-kept grassy areas in front of these houses as there is no recognisable pavement. We pass a couple of turnings until we reach Georges Wood Road where we turn left and immediately cross over into Golf Club Road heading towards Brookmans Park golf club which is on our left. To our right we approach Chancellor’s School and just beyond it we take a right onto a track which leads us to the junction of Pine Grove and The Drive. We bear left onto The Drive, passing more substantial houses heading towards the main road which we can hear ahead of us. Just before reaching the Great North Road (A1000) we take a sharp left into Bell Lane – almost back in the direction we have just come from.

We pass more spacious houses (some have names – incorporating the word cottage which brings a smile to us all!) then just as the road bends sharply right we take a footpath straight ahead and back out into the Hertfordshire countryside.

We were warned in the walk instructions that this path was likely to be wet and so it proved, but oh it was so well worth the effort – we pass private wooded land on our left with masses upon masses of bluebells – honestly in places as far as the eye can see! And to our right rolling fields and farmland. Absolutely gorgeous!

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This path follows the edge of the woodland – and is pretty heavy going at times as the ground is positively marshy – until we reach a metal chain link fence where we need to turn right just in front of it. This proves easier said than done as it’s like a swamp just here but by ducking and weaving through the bushes we manage to pick a firmer path and arrive at the fence. Turning right we skirt a field and then go through a gate and across a bridge to where the path runs alongside Bulls Lane. After a couple of minutes we come out onto the lane and go under a railway bridge.

Immediately after the bridge we turn left onto a track beside the railway line. At a fork in the path we take the right path around a football pitch and through some trees until we come out into a car park beside the North Mymms Youth centre. We take the track out of the car park towards the main road where we turn left, passing the very modern Catholic church on our left and heading back towards Brookmans Park train station along Station Road.

Crossing the railway line beside the station we carry straight on to the Brookmans pub where we have a substantial sandwich and coffee in very comfortable surroundings before heading home.

 

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