In short: a super walk in glorious rolling Hertfordshire countryside. Birdlife galore. Some narrow, muddy and nettly paths so walking boots required. Free parking in pub at the start, public toilets in St Albans park where there is also a cafe for a quick coffee pitstop. Wonderful pub with great food and very posh toilets for lunch at the end. 4 hrs walking; 20 & 30 mins pitstops.
There are a number of very appealing looking walks on the Hertfordshire council website – in particular a set of walks along the Ver Valley, mostly to the north of St Albans. As we have the time today we decide to try one of the longer of these walks – number 5, called the Three Burys Walk. We decide to start at the Prae Wood Arms though – which means we know we will have a lovely lunch at the end as we visited this pub at the end of our (very foggy) walk number 49. We did check before setting out that the Gorhambury estate path was open today – it is closed on a few days each year so worth checking their website (www.gorhamburyestate.co.uk).
Accordingly we head to Prae Wood Arms just north of St Albans – postcode AL3 6JZ. There is plenty of parking available here – and a number of walks pass close by – it really is in a lovely spot – something we hadn’t fully appreciated on our previous visit.
We head out of the car park to the main road, the A5183 Redbourn Road, cutting through the hedge at an access point to turn left onto the pavement that runs alongside it. After just a couple of minutes walking alongside this busy road we take a lane off left towards a lovely looking property and enter the Gorhambury estate at a gate. We are very soon at a junction of paths beside a sluice house where we turn left – and immediately realise what we missed when we last walked this path – the views are just stunning!
At the end of this path we turn left onto the estate access lane – meanwhile enjoying a veritable flock of kestrels in the sky above – wow!
Views ahead and right are of the gorgeous house and other attractive looking farm buildings…
…farm animals and fields on both sides make for a charming scene.
And then after just a short while we catch a glimpse of St Albans cathedral over the treetops.
Unfortunately on yet another grey day it’s difficult to do these views justice on camera.
At the end of this lane we pass the entrance to the Roman theatre and cross the main road at the pedestrian crossing just over on our right. Left and then immediately right brings us onto St Michael’s Street where we walk ahead then bear right towards the Verulamium museum. Just after the museum we make use of the decent, clean public toilets and then enter the park ahead for a pitstop at the Cafe in the Park. After a yummy toasted teacake and very nice coffee we are ready to continue.
We retrace our steps past the museum and then right onto St Michael’s Street, over the river, left onto Branch Road and across Folly Lane at the end. Here we turn left and cross the playing field just after Oysterfields to reach Batchwood Drive at the top. Here we cross and walk up the drive opposite. From this slightly elevated position we have fabulous views – back to the cathedral:
and all around across rolling fields:
After 10 minutes or so we turn left onto a bridleway which skirts a golf course over to our right. This section of the walk is really incredibly peaceful with glorious views together with sections of lovely woodland.
After a while on this bridleway we join a lane leading to Childwickbury House – once again with lovely farmland views all around. And stunning trees!
After passing the big house we approach the absolutely exquisite Childwick Green – what an unexpected delight…
We pass through the village and continue straight on, approaching the main road ahead, the A1081 Harpenden Road. Here we turn left to walk beside the road for a few minutes.
Just after a lay-by on the far side we cross to turn right onto Ayres End Lane – to be honest I think a couple of paths are missing as well as a couple of landmarks from the printed walk but we manage to find our way through this section.
After a couple of houses we take a left onto East Common – a lane which runs through common land and a golf course simultaneously. Realising that the pub mentioned is not visible we take a left onto Cross Lane back to the main road. Here we cross to pick up the pavement on the far side and take a right onto Beesonend Lane.
Where the road bends right we continue straight on along the lane passing the backs of houses on our right and once again with field views over to our left – soon widening out to rolling field views on both sides.
The lane bends left and then right before starting to descend slightly to the Ver Valley below. At the foot of the lane – where the Ver Valley walk crosses us we take a detour right to take a peek at the Redbournbury Mill.
After a little look at this lovely beauty spot we retrace our steps to the Ver Valley Walk and here we turn right to follow the path beside the stream.
To be honest this path is a bit of a struggle in a few places as it’s quite overgrown – but where it opens out we have fabulous sights of the meadows beside the river as well as interesting birdlife – unidentified but huge birds of prey swooping over a field and a gorgeous egret posing beside the water.
We pass some ‘works’ and continue on towards an attractive mill before arriving at the main road.
Here we cross the road and continue along the Ver Valley walk – here once again entering the Gorhambury estate.
On reaching the sluice house we continue straight on and then follow the lane out onto the main road. Here we turn right and head towards the Prae Wood Arms on our right. We cut through the hedge level with the car park and head to the pub. Here we enjoy a delicious lunch – a really interesting selection of cold soft drinks is most welcome too – fabulous posh hotel standard toilets. All in all a super end to a fabulous walk. Most enjoyable!