On a morning in early August 2019, A and I began the penultimate leg of our 60th Birthday Pilgrimage along the Hertfordshire Way. We had completed the last leg at Little Wymondley but having considered the busyness of the A602 and following the guidebook’s suggestion we asked the long-suffering Red Hyundai driver to drop us off a mile further on at Titmore Green. There seemed to be more horses than houses in this tiny hamlet.
We soon got that “ahh” moment as we found ourselves out in the fields. The clouds began to disperse and yet again we began to put one foot in front of the other – enjoying the scenery, the birdsong and the freedom of being outside, whilst “putting the world to rights”.
We soon found ourselves at the Rusty Gun PH. It was a little early to stop for refreshment but we enjoyed looking at wallowing pigs. In fact this was a walk full of various animals and wildlife. As well as the horses, pigs, cows and sheep we encountered we were pleased to be accompanied by butterflies along our route and spied a cinnabar moth caterpillar.
A long slow climb took us up to the ruined Minsden Chapel. We sat for a while amongst the fallen masonry and I spied a small field mouse scuttling amongst the wreckage and fallen leaves. Leaving the chapel behind we crossed some newly harvested fields and spotted a hare – it got away just a little too quickly for me to take a photo.
Hard on through woods and across flinty fields. Lots of time for picking up interesting stones
The way eventually led on to St Pauls Walden. We peeked behind a half open door and found the old village well then yet again stopped for a while on yet another bench in yet another churchyard and went through the now established tradition of eating our sandwiches (and occasional chocolate bar!)
The weather was beautiful. Hot enough to sit outside but not the continental blistering heat the country had experienced several weeks previously. Understandably, perhaps, some of our chat was about climate breakdown.
However, the seasons keep on turning and the farmers were hard at work harvesting crops. This leg of the Hertfordshire Way is a particularly rural walk keeping mainly to fields. The area appeared to also be “horsey country” – so I was not short of subjects for my usual traditional shot.
At some stages of this section the directions were hard to follow. Crops were high in fields and paths not easily apparent. On several occasions the instructions would have taken us directly across growing crops and we made our way around the edges of fields or along tractor tracks rather than follow the route specified.
There were also some pretty areas of wild flowers – particularly as we headed down into Whitwell. Time for a refreshment break. This time at The Royal Oak with its resident cat.
We sat for a while. The only customers in what was a lovely pub with a very friendly landlady. Each leg of the walk seems to be taking us longer – are we slowing down our walking pace I wonder? Or am I taking more photographs? Maybe we are stopping longer for refreshments (as we did here)? Or maybe we are just more relaxed? We enjoy the walking, the places we pass, the people we meet and each other’s company – and perhaps we are no longer in any rush to complete the miles. Eventually rousing ourselves, we took a steep climb out of Whitwell, crossed further fields and found ourselves in old parkland on the outskirts of Codicote.
After crossing a bridge over the dried up bed of an ornamental lake at Hoo Park we headed towards Rye End Cottages and sent a text to the lovely, patient, ever kind Red Hyundai driver saying we were not far away. In fact at this stage we got a little confused with the directions and decided not to follow either the Herts Way signs or the guidebook details and instead take the village centre sign into Codicote. There he was listening to the cricket in the car. (Can’t remember the result). Another leg done. Only one to go. It all seems to have gone really rather quickly now………………….. rather like the last 60 years.
The Hertfordshire Way; Little Wymondley to Codicote.
9.3 miles. Maps Explorer 193, 182, Landarnger 166. Pubs in titmore Green, St Paul’s Walden, Whitwell, Codicote. Quite hilly, very rural.