Yet again, The Hertfordshire Way did not fail to delight! On another roasting hot day in the best summer we have had since 1976 (the year between our ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels) the two walking pilgrims reminisced as they undertook the marked 10.3 miles from Widford to Bishop’s Stortford.
The last leg of the walk had been completed in heavy rain; the contrast this day could not have been greater. Faint fantasies of clouds graced the sky as we continued our plodding across the now arid grasslands of this beautiful County.
After delighting in the architecture of some of the new buildings in Widford we soon found ourselves again in the familiar terrain of meadows and fields. The temperature rose throughout the day and every area of woodland was welcomed.
Rather like the leg from Shenley to Cuffley which we walked last year “water” seemed to be ever present in our minds. The delightful Mill Wood contained a small pond. What a lovely place this would have been to sit beside and read.
Many small streams and brooks appeared dry. As on so many of our walks along the Hertfordshire Way we passed very few people. Had they all gone to the seaside, The Lakes, The Peak District – we pondered? It did not matter; we exalted in the serenity of the quiet green lanes and byways.
The guidebook route takes in a short detour to Much Hadham and this is to be greatly recommended. Just before reaching Much Hadham we crossed a small ford – more water………..
Time for a paddle; we did not use the available bridge. What a simple pleasure to cool one’s feet in the water and probably one of the highlights of the Hertfordshire Way so far.
There were many photo opportunities in Much Hadham. Such a beautiful village in so many ways. The houses encompassed a variety of architectural styles.
We stopped and chatted for a while to a delightful lady who lived in one of the almshouses. Another resident directed us to the Church and told us of its history.
St Andrew’s Much Hadham is a “shared” Church between The C of E and Roman Catholics . How gratifying to see such a beautiful building being used for worship in this joint way.
(See what I did right there!)
Equally inspiring were the kneelers for the pews. Each seat had an individual carefully embroidered kneeler and on the wall was a hand embroidered tableaux about the village.
And the joys continued. “The Tree of Life” a modern stained glass window from an etching by local resident Henry Moore (whose gargoyles adorn the archway of the West door) celebrating the shared use of the Church.
It is also recorded inside the church that Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII was born in the Palace of Much Hadham.
We had been told by the local residents of the well-regarded Hopley’s Café. This centre contained a super looking plant nursery, a café offering all sorts of delights and an outside seating area which overlooked beautiful gardens. We stopped off for a tea and an elderflower juice and found it hard to drag ourselves away to continue our walk.
After re-crossing the ford our walk resumed across brown “meadows” and along the outskirts of woods until we reached Perry Green and the Henry Moore Visitor Centre. Several sculptures were visible from the footpath.
The centre is on the outskirts of Perry Green. The guidebook said that by this time we had walked 5.3 miles. Maybe it was the heat but it seemed for us a lot longer and our phones told us differently. We were not sure whether the trip into Much Hadham was included in the distances. Perry Green itself had a pub (at present closed) and a pretty looking green.
Just after here we became very confused. The guidebook states “Pass Bucklers Hall Farm and go round a pond. In 400 yards where the path becomes a green lane turn left and in 250 yards the Prince of Wales pub will be on your left”. The Herts Way signpost directing us left before the green land was only about 150 yards after the pond (not 400) and then we wandered on and on apparently in the middle of nowhere looking for a pub. The thoughts of another drink and water always on our mind. In fact after about a quarter of a mile (not 250 yards) after passing a couple of thatched cottages and eventually approaching a main road the pub finally appeared). We were then back safely following the guidebook directions.
We passed close to Bury Green and then Green Tye (why not “Tye Green” we wondered). By now we were getting tired and welcomed the cooling shade of Stocking Wood for a while.
Very quickly from the peace of the wooded area we found ourselves crossing under the Bishop’s Stortford by pass and arriving at our destination of the local Tesco store. The ever true, honest and reliable red Hyundai driver was awaiting us.
A super walk (but surely more than 10.3 miles?) if only for the visit to Much Hadham. How much of life have we lived since that summer of ’76. How many beautiful memories shared. May God bless us with many more.
(Come on…… you didn’t think I wouldn’t have spotted a real one somewhere). I wonder whether at the end of this birthday pilgrimage I will be gifted with a ride on one?)