In short: fun local(ish) walk – many lovely spots and a couple of interesting M25 crossings. Plentiful free parking, functional clean public toilets at Forty Hall and unusual homemade soup in a delightful setting. 3 hrs walking + 40 mins pitstop.
There are 3 of us today embarking on an adventure starting and ending at the ever lovely Forty Hall and using an ordnance survey map to help us cross and re-cross the M25. We park in the large free car park – attempting to find some shade on this very warm day – postcode EN2 9HA.
Leaving the car park we follow the sign to the public toilets, skirting the ornamental pond with a view of the lovely Jacobean hall on the far side:
After a quick visit to use the facilities we head away from the toilet/cafe block and pass by the entrance to the on-site educational building and the farm to enter the parkland beside a wooden gate. We continue on a broadly straight line towards the trees ahead and pass through the wooded area ahead to the beautiful lake in the woods. Here we veer left following a path through the trees with the lake on our right.
Shortly after passing a second lake we cross a bridge over the brook which feeds into them both and turn right onto a path running back on the far side of the same lakes. At a fork in the path we bear left on a path that runs beside the grounds of Myddleton House. Unfortunately we can’t cut in and walk through the gardens as the access gate is currently locked due to some problems in the grounds which require repair.
The path comes out onto a road, Bulls Cross, which we cross and turn left. We pass the entrance to Myddleton Hall on the far side of the road, and continue straight on till the road bends sharply left just after the pub and a row of houses, becoming Whitewebbs Lane as it does so. We turn onto a lane on our right just opposite the entrance to the Spurs training ground and after passing a couple of fields we cross the M25 on this lane.
Immediately after the motorway we drop down from the lane and take a path on our right through some scrubby woodland. A field appears on our right between us and the motorway which houses some horses, grazing peacefully beside the traffic roar. Our path veers away from the M25 and soon reaches a bridge over the New River. We cross and turn left onto a broad grassy path running alongside the river.
This is a surprisingly beautiful stretch of path, with the river to our left, arable fields to our right – albeit the A10 just beyond with it’s attendant noise!
The path takes us past a large pond and shortly after curves left and brings us out onto a lane. We turn left here onto the lane and, staying on it, enter what appears to be the access road to a hotel – not private – which the map tells us is Theobald’s Lane. This area seems to be rife with properties bearing the name Theobalds so it is a mite confusing but we don’t encounter any problems using this path – sticking to the well surfaced lane and not veering off into the woods on our right.
We walk alongside a lovely old wall to our left, giving glimpses into the parkland of a property which is out of sight – possible the hotel? – and shortly after passing a lane arriving on our left we come to a T junction and turn left onto another lane. Now we are passing more horsey country, together with a few houses, on a lane which is privately gated at both ends. The views, particularly to our right, are surprisingly rural but once again we are slowly approaching the M25 on our left.
Just after the entrance driveway to a particularly lovely house on our right we take a footpath left through the fields. The path passes to the left of a small copse and alongside some birds we semi-confidently identify as grouse. We now arrive at what can only be described as an alarmingly narrow (but concrete and properly built!) footbridge over the M25. Taking a deep breath we charge across – the traffic seems unbelievably close – and arrive beside a field on the far side.
The footpath heads directly away from the motorway through the fence and into the field ahead. We keep close to a fence on our right and pass groups of horses enjoying the warm sunshine.
The motorway noise soon becomes a distant hum as we continue across the fields to the farmhouse ahead. The path passes beside the farmyard – not the most attractive part of the walk – and fraught slightly with hazards as an amount of trailing barbed wire has been left on the ground here. We pick our way through here and end up on a road, Whitewebbs Lane again.
We turn right, crossing to the pavement on the far side beyond the King and Tinker pub and take the first path left into the woods, signposted for the Whitewebbs golf club and a carvery.
The path, which is the access lane to the golf club, takes us through the woods past a pond on our right and the golf club left. We take the lane left just after the club and just before the entrance to the carvery and find ourselves on a path running alongside the golf course – and in fact actually through the middle of it for a while – a slightly hazardous experience as some of the golfers don’t deem it necessary to shout a warning before they hit a ball in the direction of any of the walkers on this path!
The path ends at a little car park and mobile cafe where we take a path sharp left signposted for Forty Hall. This path takes us through some trees and after some debate as paths join and leave in a number of directions we take the path beside the brook (on our left) with open green fields on our right.
This path curves left and then right until we meet up with the London Loop path arriving from our left and we find ourselves back on the path beside Turkey Brook in the woodland beside the lakes where we started our walk.
We cross the brook at the first bridge we come to and carry on with the brook on our left till we come to the two lakes at which point we veer right through the trees and come out into the Forty Hall parkland. We head very slightly uphill on the path we came down on and arrive back at the gate, the farm entrance and then the cafe building. Here we take a small detour around the front of the main hall and past a magnificent tree to take a turn around the walled garden. It is still lovely but not as stunning as a few weeks ago, in the height of summer.
We make for the cafe where, despite the heat, we are all drawn to the homemade soup and bread. Somewhat unfortunately we get the last three portions of soup which is a slightly odd mixture of interesting and delicious vegetables and overpowering lumps of ginger and the roots of herbs. Nonetheless we (wo)manfully plough on and find that as well as bread it is also accompanied by a homemade fruit scone (!) All a little bizarre but well-intentioned – and in an undoubtedly stunning setting. We decide it has been an interesting experience all round – but definitely one worth repeating!