3 – Shenley Park 3.2 miles – 17th February

In short: simple way-marked walk, much of it on tarmacced surfaces, wonderful cafe and clean, smart public toilets. 1 hr 10 mins walking + 40 min pitstop.

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It’s half term this week and Alison, my usual walking companion, is away with her family so I had to resort to bribing a child to accompany me. Luckily my youngest son can still be enticed out of the house by the promise of a good lunch and so we headed off together to explore ‘deepest’ Hertfordshire!

We headed to Shenley, just north of Borehamwood, so not far from home, parking at the car park for Shenley Park, postcode WD7 9DW. There was plenty of free parking here.

The cafe is in a wooden cabin style building at the edge of the car park and we checked it out before heading off for our walk. It was lovely and welcoming inside and the lunch menu looked interesting so we decided to head back there for lunch rather than one of the pubs in the village. The toilets are in the same building but not inside the actual cafe so accessible to all park users.

We then headed off on one of the Shenley Park walks which are marked out on the information boards – both inside the cafe block and dotted around outside. We chose walk number 2 as it promised good views and at 3 miles was just about the distance we were looking for.

Leaving the car park at the opposite end to the cafe we walk through the small overflow car park in the direction of the walled garden. Staying inside the park boundary and with the walled garden on our right we follow a path which leads to a tarmac lane coming from the right and we turn left, exiting the park by South Lodge.

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Turn right onto Radlett Lane and follow the pavement with first a cricket ground and then a golf course on the right hand side. After about 5-10 minutes walking along this road the footpath heads left as the road bends to the right. Cross the road here – there’s a very obvious sign marked ‘Footpath 55’ with the way mark symbols slightly tucked away on the post – and head along the path up through the woods. The path here is very obvious as the land on both sides is private, albeit the fencing is relatively unobtrusive.

This path climbs gently up and at the top we were rewarded with a lovely view over the countryside. The path bends to the left here and there are views of the surrounding farmland on both sides as the walk proceeds.

Arriving at a very muddy gate we find ourselves at the entrance to Wood Hall Farm estate and bear left here heading away from the farm. We are now on a tarmacced lane with the occasional farm vehicle and horse rider passing by.

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This lane continues with the view back towards Shenley Park on the left – together with the buildings immediately behind it which apparently used to be a hospital in the past – and after 15 minutes or so we take a path off to the left, clearly way marked, running through a copse.

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This pretty path heads mostly downhill with a compacted sand surface. It is a bit wet in places but nothing that a sturdy pair of trainers can’t cope with.

Ignoring the path off to the right (way marked for footpath no 4) it ends up at Radlett Lane opposite an entrance into Shenley Park. At this point we initially headed left towards the cafe and car park but then decided to explore the park a little and turned right along the bridleway towards the wildflower garden. Coming out at the far side we turn left and walk around the outside of the orchard towards the tennis courts. The cafe is on the left just here.

The cafe was heaving with families – lunchtime in half term and with a lovely children’s playground right next door its clearly very popular. However the staff are very efficient and found us a table within a couple of minutes. Lunch was excellent (a highly recommended club sandwich – my companion ate the all day breakfast and pronounced it delicious), the coffee also fantastic and service was prompt and friendly – no mean feat given the number of people there.

After lunch we took a brief stroll on through the car park to the pond, signposted to the right and marking the start of footpaths 1 and 3. Turning left at the pond we completed a circuit through converted outbuildings and back to our car.

All in all very pleasant and well worth a return journey – probably extending the walk by bolting on one or two other marked footpaths next time.

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