Cold, proud, noisy geese peppered our route along this section of the Hertfordshire Way from Broxbourne to Hertford. I always find it difficult to rouse myself from the January post-Christmas festive slump and get out walking and it was indeed fortuitous that this section coincided with a perfect winter’s walk.
The day felt forlorn, melancholy and dreary as we set off from Broxbourne. What a change from the last section of the route, which had been undertaken on the most glorious Autumn day. We had previously exalted under cover of russet-leaved trees; today they were bare, stripped naked, the world asleep with still no promise of Spring on the horizon.
Most of the 12.5 mile route followed the made-up paths bordering the canal and New River between Broxbourne and Hertford. The New River had been opened in 1613 to take fresh drinking water into London from the River Lea and nearby Springs. In view of the weather and the shortness of daylight hours we made the decision to stick alongside the waterways the whole time and miss out the section of the Hertfordshire Way which took in Stanstead Abbotts and Easneye Wood, probably shortening our walk by four miles. We also (by accident, I think) missed out Great Amwell with its picturesque ponds, well and St John’s Church and perhaps is an area we shall return to.
We did, however, pass by the William Blake quote which we had noted on our trek along the whole of the Lea Valley Path several years ago. As always it left us musing.
Taking this shortened route we soon found ourselves passing through Ware. On the opposite side of the riverbank were unusual Eighteenth Century gazebos. Following the introduction of England’s first turnpike at Wadesmill much traffic tried to bypass Ware and the inns lost out on business. For this reason the hostelries added summer houses and gazebos to their grounds to make themselves more attractive. We pondered how pleasant would be to sit out in one on a summer’s evening and watch the boats go by.
After a well-priced beverage break in a friendly fish and chip shop in Ware we resumed our somewhat leisurely amble along the canal tow path. The drab, colourless day was now turning cold and we bypassed the village of Bengeo and soon round ourselves on the footpath walking into Hertford.
I always find the approach to the County Town along the towpath and riverside walks welcoming and even on this downcast day it was delightful.
After briefly wandering around the town and the Saturday market we took refuge in the warm and cosy White Hart and sunk into the welcoming deep sofas.
The cold, sad day was relieved by our good spirits and constant chatter – talk of grandchildren and further walking challenges; the Tudors and face creams; our increased desire for simplicity in our lives and gratitude that we had come this far.
The writer received a beautiful piece of polished Hertfordshire Pudding Stone, a super commemoration of almost reaching the half-way point in our birthday pilgrimage and a present she will treasure for ever. The Red Hyundai driver a bar of Chilli Chocolate!
The Hertfordshire Way: Leg 10B – Broxbourne to Hertford. 12.5 miles but we did 8 with shortcut.
Good public transport links at the Ware end (a little difficult at the Broxbourne end ) – we used the Red Hyundai driver. Flat, very easy walking. Good for a muddy day because made-up paths underfoot if sticking to towpaths. Plenty of refreshment stops en-route. Would be a pretty walk in all seasons, but particularly suitable if looking for a walk in Winter. And plenty of geese!