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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Sunday Walk - Broxbourne Circular or to Bayford (lots of woods = lots of bluebells?)

Length: 24.3 km (15.1 mi) or 18.8 km/11.7 mi if finishing in Bayford (4/10)
Ascent/Descent:  329 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours
Toughness:  6 out of 10 

Take the 09.43 Cambridge North train from Liverpool Street (09.50 Hackney Downs, 09.57 Seven Sisters), arriving Broxbourne at 10.15. Broxbourne is within the Oyster Pay-As-You-Go area.  
Return trains from Broxbourne: xx.10, xx.16, xx.39, xx.47; from Bayford xx.22  and xx.52.

After winding its way out of Broxbourne along a canal and through a park, this walk ascends
through the Spital Brook valley into Broxbourne Woods National Nature Reserve, an assortment of varied, ancient and wild woods, serrated by a plethora of streams. A circuitous route linking up separate woods follows age old trails, paths and green lanes through a magnificent and diverse woodland setting. While broadly following a well signposted trail through the Nature Reserve, the walk often diverts from it to take more interesting directions. Most of the distance and the ascent are covered before lunch, but the lunch pub serves food all afternoon, so a leisurely pace is entirely possible.
There are plenty of signed and unsigned paths in the woods, thus following the detailed written directions is essential, and a map and a compass are recommended.

A shorter walk (18.8 km/11.7 mi, 4/10), finishing in Bayford, is possible. Caution: Bayford station is on a different train line run by a different operator, trains go to Moorgate, a separate ticket is required. And Bayford is not within the Oyster Pay-As-You-Go area, but a Hertford (All Stations) return ticket covers both stations. This should be the cheapest option for the short walk.

Lunch will be at The Woodman & Olive in Wormley West End (14.5 km/9.0 mi, food all afternoon).
Tea: The Bull and The White Bear, both just a few minutes from the station. There is also The Old Mill Retreat Café  (open to 17.30) just off route on the (Old) River Lea, we’ll endeavour to find it (thanks Sean). On the Bayford ending, there is The Farmer’s Boy, 10 minutes from the station.

For walk directions, map, photos, height profile, and gpx/kml files click here.


Unknown said...

Now I might do the Walk on Sunday. But I can't Guarantee I will. If I do. Then really and conveniently I can take the Bus.

Thomas G said...

6 off the scheduled train and the walk poster one train behind, so n=7 in w=overcast-and-chilly-but-dry weather.
Due to the immediate obstacle of the start of the walk along The New River being closed for path widening works (for a shared cycle/footpath), the group of 6 tried (and failed) to find an alternative route through the station car park. The proper diversion was in fact well signed and led through some nice residential streets, while adding only about 5 minutes of walking.
The New River, the Spital Brook and the subsequent streams in the woods were as full as I've seen them (having walked this about 10 times in all seasons), which was nice on the one hand as the route follows waterways for quite some distance and crosses streams quite often. On the other hand that also meant high levels of mud, especially in the woods. You can't have it all...
What we didn't have much of were bluebells, in fact there were none in the main Broxbourne Woods NNR, but then the very last small wood right on the fringes of town was delightfully full of them. Personally I like a forest walk any time of the year, but especially this time of year - with the foliage a bright green, and the muddy bits were nothing worse than what we experienced elsewhere over the last months.
Interesting if slightly devastating development: in the (privately owned by the Hatfield House Estate) north westerly woods (Cowheath Woods and Bramble's Wood) an enormous amount of large permanent tents have been set up over the last few years, evidently for a company offering Bushcraft and Survival Skills Camps (Polaris Bushcraft). Always well away from the public rights-of-way that our route follows, but often in sight, and - as enraged mountain bikers' comments in several internet forums show - aggressively blocking routes that they have been using for decades (but have never been a r-o-w).
We arrived at the only pub en route, the usually excellent value Woodman & Olive, to find a sign outside declaring that the pub was shut for a Private Function. That of course does not stop a bunch of hungry and thirsty SWCers from entering, which was just as well, as it turned out the sign was accidentally left out from the evening before and staff had been wondering why there was so little custom for lunch! 3 of us settled for a longish lunch, the 4 sandwichers took their tea or hot chocolate and soon moved on w/o the diners. Those 3 then also had a drink at The Bull back in Broxbourne. 18.10 train.