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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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Wednesday walk: Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City - a new map-led walk - Knebworth Hall and Ayot St Lawrence

SWC 340 - Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City

Length: 20.8 km (13 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

NOTE - earlier train now posted

London Kings Cross: 09-51 hrs  Cambridge North service   Finsbury Park 10-00 hrs
Arrive Knebworth: 10-34 hrs

Return: Welwyn Garden City to Kings Cross: 16-22, 16-52, 17-02, 17-22, 17-32, 17-52 and 18-02 hrs

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Knebworth. Non-senior railcard holders - use your railcard from Finsbury Park

OS Explorer Maps: 182 and 193

This walk was suggested by one of our Wednesday and Sunday walkers, and Pete B has kindly written up basic details for her - and for the rest of us. Today we will test drive the walk on unsuspecting Wednesday walkers - we can all get lost together. But to keep us sort of on piste it will help if a few of us planning to attend the walk have the OS Explorer maps with us.

The walk visits the grounds of Knebworth House and Park of historic interest. We then head for the pretty village of Ayot St Lawrence where we can stop for lunch at the popular Brocket Arms pub (7.3 miles into the walk) which serves good food and beer, although service can be very slow. With reference to SWC Walk 69 - Welwyn Circular walk - you can divert to the village of Wheathampstead, adding 2 km to the walk, where you can take lunch at the Swan pub for a good  alternative to the Brocket Arms.

In the afternoon you reverse sections of the Welwyn Circular walk, passing Brocket Hall en route. Arriving in Welwyn Garden City, you have a number of pubs, cafes and bistros for post walk refreshments.
Outline details of the walk are here: L=swc.340


PeteB said...

Map and gpx and kml route files now available on the walk page. Many thanks Andrew.

Marcus said...

As it is close to 3 hours from the start to the lunchtime pub, it has been suggested we take the train 30 mins earlier than the one I originally posted - so the earlier train it now is. Younger walkers can use your railcards from Finsbury Park.
The weather forecast is none too promising, so please bring good waterproofs with you.

gouldman said...

Alternatively, you could take shelter and food in the Bell Inn, Codicote.
There are buses outside at 13.44 back to Knebworth or 14.20 direct to Welwyn Garden City station.

Marcus said...

Anonymous, Mon 17 Jun 19, 09:08
Para 9 "At a T junction......." It's only a T junction if doing the walk in reverse. It's a right turn into Whitwell Rd, as detailed in the previous comment. I walked into Codicote looking for the T junction, but instead soon came to a pub.

Para 11 "Your route swings gently left and at Abbotshay the path forks......"
Should read "The path climbs upwards gently to the left and reaches a tarmac lane, where you turn right. Shortly in front of a gate marked private and a three point footpath post, where the lane comes to a dead end, the path forks.

Para 21 There are directions missing between the first and second sentences.

Overall a varied and interesting walk, with the GPX spot on. You could perhaps shorten the walk by joining the Ayot Greenway at Sparrowhall Bridge.

Marcus said...

Anonymous, Wed 22 May 19, 11:53
A pleasant walk, with straightforward navigation. A couple of stretches across open fields that might not be ideal in summer sun.

Two small *corrections*:

Para 7 should say "...continue with Holl Lays Wood on your *left* and open fields to your

Para 9 should be something like: "...leave the B656 and turn right down *Whitwell Road*. The lane swings
left and you ignore a path going sharp left. You reach a fork in the road with a small grassy
area. Take the left fork (*the Grove*) ..."

Also, there is a footpath that runs parallel to Whitwell Rd on the left (south). This avoids traffic and might be worth a mention.

Marcus said...

The unfavourable weather forecast might have dissuaded some of our regulars to stay under the duvet today, but n=8 decided to venture forth on this new walk - and what an excellent and enjoyable one it turned out to be.
As for the weather, it was w=overcast-and-humid-in-the-morning-after-lunch-turning-to-steady-drizzle-then-wet-wet-wet.
The morning route took us past the impressive pile of sandstone that is Knebworth House (worth a visit on another occasion) with its extensive grounds. The deer took a rain check and hid from us but no matter, we were soon in woods then on well cut pathways through vast fields of wheat, oats and barley as we made our way to the village of Ayot St Lawrence.
So far, so good - the route was well waymarked and not difficult to follow. It was getting rather humid by the time we reached the lunchtime pub - for our first hiccup of the day. The pub is known for its slow service but their food when it comes is usually very good and worth the wait. 4 of us opted to dine and having been informed by bar staff that the kitchen was busy, we accepted there would be the usual wait here as we retired to a nice table under a large parasol in the front garden. We waited patiently whilst enjoying some excellent drinks - rhubarb cider, anyone ?. Our 4 sandwichers joined us for a drink then after 30 mins they bade us farewell and set off on the afternoon leg of the walk, now in drizzly rain. We waited another 30 mins then found out our orders had been lost ! So no lunch for us (good for my waistline) and after receiving a modicum of apology and refunds we decided to continue on the walk. I must now fez up to an inexcusable bit of minor vandalism. The pub used to display a certificate of excellence - best pub of the year etc. No more - after the pub's faux pas with us I took some delight in depositing said certificate in a litter bin on the outskirts of the village. Completely out of order on my part, and guilty as charged, but it cheered me up as the rain became heavier.
The afternoon leg of the walk took us over more vast fields in crop with big vista views - and some wonderful displays of bright red poppies - the best I have ever seen - I should have brought along my opium pipe. We were soon in the grounds of Brocket Hall, familiar to those of us who have done the Welwyn Circular walk - and on through Sherrardspark to Welwyn Garden City. We were a tad wet now as we briefly met up with our sandwichers who had enjoyed an excellent tea at Simmonds cafe. It was closing as we arrived at 5 pm, so as the sandwichers headed for the railway station
some of us took tea at Cafe Nero's, others elsewhere.
Weather and dodgy pubs notwithstanding, I believe all eight of us thought this walk to be superior to the Welwyn Circular walk - for content, scenery and interest - so a big thank you to Elsa and Peter B for devising the walk and writing up the sketch notes. We now await with bated breath Elsa's Knebworth Circular walk - and then her Berkhamsted to Whipsnade Zoo walk.

Walker said...

Ha! Marcus reveals his wild side! Criminal damage, yet....

PeteB said...

Great report Marcus; sorry you had such a wretched experience at the Brocket Arms - the Brocket needs a rocket! I will be amending the walk instructions and getting some photos up for the walk - including one of the stupendous poppy field which is at least the equal of the one I saw on the South Downs near Newhaven some years ago. A great day out despite the afternoon weather and thanks to Elsa for a lovely well-designed walk. There looks to be scope for other adventures in the area and hopefully we'll get to enjoy these some day.