Hertfordshire, United Kingdom


- Barkway -


The cold spell of January 2010 persists - a winter's day walk across a Hertfordshire airfield and a golf course.

Saturday 9th January, Hertfordshire and indeed all of the United Kingdom was still gripped in an extended, cold wintry spell, the worst in 30 years. Yet on this particular day, the sky seemed bright, cheery and welcoming, despite the chill in the air and the snow on the ground. The worst of the snowfalls after New Year seemed to pass Herts by. Grabbing the OS map of the area to the south of Royston, a multitude of possibilities in terms of a walk lay before me. I jumped in my car and headed off the Barkway, a long-established village and civil parish about five miles south-east of Royston and 35 miles from London. The Prime Meridian (line of longitude at which the longitude is defined to be 0.) passes a mile or so to the west of Barkway. Reputedly listed in the Domesday Book as "Birchwig" Birch Way. Barkway has a number of 15th and 16th Century properties, some with beautifully thatched roofs. Most properties are on or near the High Street, which is part of the old London to Cambridge coaching route. Barkway High Street contains several buildings of note including a late Medieval Hall House, which has a jettied gable with entrance facing the street, The Red House a large 18th century house, now two dwellings, and a rebuilt Hall House of Wealden type. Barkway has had a village church for over 1000 years. The current flint and stone church, which is over 800 years old, has a full peal of 8 bells which are rung every week.


An engraving depicts St Mary Magdalene Church and the infant's school in Barkway; Three thatched farmhouses on Barkway's High Street.


Just outside the village of Anstey on the road to Buntingford, I continued until I reached Barkway.


Historic buildings line the High Street in Barkway .


.Barkway golf course (special effect applied to images).



Old thatched farmhouses on Barkway's High Steet.

My route took me along most of what is known as the Hertfordshire Way, skirting earl's Wood until I reached a light aircraft landing strip. just before reaching the airfield, I had crossing a farm marked as a bridleway, whereupon I encountered the farmer emerging from his sheds in a Landrover as I was perusing my map, stopping to see if I required assistance. I had made the mistake of going around the wrong side of the farm. Nonetheless, he was quite nice about it and suggested that I hop in, so that he could show me where I would eventually emerge and continue on my walk. Encouraged by my map reading skills having located a T-junction on the path on the edge of the landing strip, I cut south around Scales Park and Earl Wood towards the village of Anstey via Cheapside. I had been going for about an hour and a half. The Barkway radio mast provided a great beacon from which to verify one's position. A herd of deer scattered before me in an adjacent field. I decided not to widen my circular walk too much, as the temperature seemed to have dropped, instead donning my gloves and whilst munching on a sandwich from my hamper, I left Anstey and headed along a winding country road until I reached Barkway golf course, through which the public footway passed. I tried to steer clear of the putting green, amused by the benches and golf ball stands dotted around the countryside. The River Quin, which resembled a stream more than anything, flowed through the golfing area and so I crossed the course over a series of bridges, until I eventually reached London Road, south of Barkway. I continued north until I reached the village and my car.

Hertfordshire winter landscape, depicted in 2007.


A row of trees, devoid of foliage, line the roadside near Reed.


Barkway homes are concentrated mainly along the High Street connecting it to Cambridge and London Roads on either side of the town.


A country road near Reed (special effect applied).


Taken in 2007, just off the the A10 towards Hertford, just south of the A120 towards Bishop Stortford.


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Links to other websites:

  • Barkway landscape character assessment - North Herts website

  • Old Barkway photos - Francis Firth website

  • A longer walk - Walking Britain website