In short: promising walk that unfortunately went wrong, extremely muddy, nonetheless delicious lunch (as before) and accessible clean toilets. 1 hr 50 mins walking + 40 min pitstop.
Due to a number of other (not very exciting) commitments my trusty companion and I ended up squeezing a walk in on Tuesday – thereby neatly missing both the best and the worst of the weather this week.
I thought it would be a good opportunity to show Alison Shenley Park – my find at half term when she wasn’t around. So once again we head out to Shenley village in Hertfordshire and park easily in the car park, postcode WD7 9DW.
We decide to head off on walk number 4, which according to their map is 4 miles – shorter than our usual walk but we are a little pressed for time so should be perfect!
We take the path off to the left from the lodge/cafe building and head slightly uphill following the path that skirts the top edge of the park. The orchard is on our right followed by the wildflower meadow – this is very muddy so rather than crossing it we stay on the perimeter path heading for the exit opposite on Radlett Lane.
We cross the road here and take the footpath opposite heading away from the road and uphill slightly. We stay on this path with lovely views across farmland to our right and a thin line of trees and bushes to our left until a path branches off to the left, waymarked as path 4. This very quickly becomes quite narrow and functional, bounded to the left by a thick wire fence and to the right by garden walls.
The path leads out onto the main road through the village, London Road, and we turn right here. We pass The White Horse pub on our right, cross a road at a mini roundabout and head out of the village on this road towards open farmland. We cross the road at Pursley Farm, ignoring a sign to footpath 19 and taking footpath 18. This, slightly disconcertingly, takes us through the farm gate and we head diagonally across the farmyard picking up a farm track which runs between 2 fields, with the trees and hedges on our left.
Once past the immediate farmyard paraphernalia this really is a delightful path with terrific views across rolling Hertfordshire countryside. It takes a good while (15-20 minutes?) to get to the end of this field at which point we are faced by another field with a reasonably clear path ahead through the just growing plants (or following the field edge left – not necessarily obvious as a footpath). There are no helpful waymarks to confirm our path but we take the one straight ahead – which turns out to be correct!
This field is exceptionally muddy and we really are dragging large clods of mud with us as we walk from hereon. At the end of this field there is a large established tree and a clear junction of paths – including a waymark for footpath 4 – and we head in the direction (we think) indicated. However somewhere here we either go wrong or possibly a footpath entrance is blocked off.
From here we take the fork slightly left and uphill which finishes on Mimms Lane via one of 2 exits (a fork at the end – both exits a few yards apart onto the same road). According to our map there should be a footpath immediately opposite at this point but there is nothing – albeit some minor construction work is taking place in the field. Should there be a footpath here? There is nothing obvious, so we turn right towards a farmhouse further up the lane to try and get a sense of where we are.
The name of the farmhouse unfortunately doesn’t tally with any of the named buildings on our map but we see a footpath signpost further along on our left, footpath 21 and take that. It is a very short and muddy path, effectively cutting the corner off the junction of Mimms Lane and Packhorse Lane. So we quickly emerge on Packhorse Lane and again try to take stock of our whereabouts.
After some hesitation and debate we decide to turn left onto the lane which immediately bends sharply right so we are effectively continuing straight ahead. A few yards further on there is a footpath signpost off to our left, footpath 23, which we decide is heading in the right general direction (albeit it’s not where we should be!) and so we decide to follow that path. This actually takes us across some more lovely countryside, we cross a narrow lane and continue across another couple of fields, including one which warns us to beware of the bull (fortunately absent this day!) and eventually we arrive on Rectory Lane.
We turn left onto Rectory Lane and pass Rectory Farm on our right; noticing to our left and right signs for footpath 21 – which we should have been on all along but where and how?!
After a brief discussion we decide we haven’t really got time to pursue footpath 21 in the direction of the ‘proper’ walk number 4 (not waymarked at any point here) so we decide to just continue walking along Rectory Lane as it leads to Shenley village.
The lane is actually quite an attractive one – we are only passed by a couple of vehicles (one of which was travelling at a ridiculous speed and decided to toot his horn at us – quite unnecessarily – much to our added enjoyment!). We pass a livery stables on our right, a stunning bank of snowdrops on our left and after a few minutes come to the edge of the village, where, taking two right forks in immediate succession, we continue on Rectory Lane.
We stay on this lane till we come to a T-junction with London Road; crossing here we re-enter Shenley Park, walk along a side road, cross Radlett Lane and turn right then immediately left to enter the park proper. We follow the path at this point back through the orchard to the cafe.
A well-deserved and delicious lunch in the pleasant cafe – but unfortunately no-one could enlighten us about how or where we had gone wrong! All in all this actually turned out to be a pleasant walk – although difficult to shake off the niggling feeling that it could have been better, if only…