Hertfordshire, United Kingdom


- Therfield & Cottered -

  A Kelshall farmstead, just off Kelshall Street near the Church of St Faith, Hertfordshire.

Six hour walk exploring Hertfordshire - Therfield heading south towards Cottered

Therfield, a delightful village close to Royston, has often featured in terms of my personal walking and cycling activities. A circular route from my home in Royston via Therfield, returning via Royston Heath, I have enjoyed more times than I can remember. The name Therfield is a variation of Tharfield and anciently Şurreweld. It is a theophoric placename referring to Thunor, and either means 'Thunor's Field' or 'Thunor's High place", from the same Germanic root that gives 'veldt'. It was inhabited long before the Anglo Saxons came, as the Icknield Way runs through the village, and Neolithic barrows have been found on Therfield Heath. In Therfield the Church of St Mary the Virgin has stood the test of time. The most recent version was completed in 1878 and it replaced the church that had existed since the 13th Century which fell into such disrepair that it was in danger of collapsing. When it was replaced, the windows, pulpit and font were removed from the old church and built into the new structure. The tower contains six bells dating from 1597, 1608, 1626, 1656, 1689 with the most recent from 1707. For years these bells were not used and worship services were marked by the ringing of a bell dated 1862 that hung from a tree in a nearby field. The church register dates from the year 1538.

As one of a number of walks I undertook in January, 2010, during the cold spell of weather that had gripped the UK, on 24th, I wanted to explore the terrain south of the village, towards Sandon and beyond. In some ways it formed part of my preparations for my long-awaited trip to Patagonia in March, 2010, as well as presenting me with an opportunity to acquaint myself with routes in this part of Hertfordshire and hone my OS map-reading skills at the same time


Protective coats shield these ponies from the bitter cold on a farm near Kelshall, Hertfordshire.

Bypassing sheds at Broadfield Lodge Farm.   I parked my car at The Fox and the Duck, a pub on Therfield common, where I had taken guests and family visiting from abroad. A 12th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, known as Therfield Castle, is located in the village centre, off Church Lane, by the water tower, though I have yet to locate it. The small motte has a shallow depression in the top and is partly enclosed by a ditch. Starting off down Church Lane, I soon found myself in the grounds of the Church of St Mary, in fact, it was the first time I had set my eyes on its beautiful stone facade. From a gate on the south side of the church, a number of footpaths can be seen, one in particular leading across the fields towards Hagger's Farm in Kelshall.  I reached Kelshall street on a bend just down from an intersection in the town centre. Near the church of St Faith and a beautiful farmhouse with a long, wooden rear extension, I found a path leading south across ploughed farmland, layers of mud building up under my boots with each step I took. Reaching a dirt track running east-west near Woodcotes, I joined the Hertfordshire Way running between Lords and Philpotts Woods, until I came upon an intersection with the Chain Walk, as it ran east and joined the Icknield Way. Continuing south, a narrow, tarred track known as Notley Lane lead me to Notley Green. As the trees formed a canopy across the lane, I followed it as it meandered, finally emerging at the public road running between Sandon and Green End. Turning towards Green End, I was off-road once more for a short distance, skirting Tichney Wood, until I reached a farm lane at Green End that lead directly to Beckfield Farm. Before reaching Beckfield Farm, however, I headed south instead, in the direction of Bird's Nest Farm. Though the map indicated a path across the ploughed fields of Beckfield Farm, only the trampled mud underfoot of those who had been before me, gave an inkling to its existence. 

Ploughed fields on the edge of Philpotts (right) and Lords Wood (left) - on the rise is the Hertfordshire Way path.


Glorious sunshine on this view from Friar's Lane, looking east across the ploughed field on Beckfield Farm. Believe it or not, there is a path across that field!


View across Beckfield Farm from Friar's Lane, Green End, Hertfordshire.

Finding myself running out of path options, I diverted off the path along a ditch on the edge of the field until I reached Friar's Lane, which then cut through Friar's Wood until the path reached the lane leading away from Wood Farm. This joins a road providing access to all farms in the area via Rushden and Southern Green. Continuing on as the road cut through Broadfield Lodge Farm, which I ought to have recognised at this point,  I reached an elegant farmstead with a beautiful pergola garden, which I instantly recognised as one I had passed many times on my cycle route from Royston via Puckeridge and Great Munden, only that I usually approached it from the other direction. This was Broadfield Hall Farm. Now not that far from Cottered, I had reached a point in the walk where I had come as far south as I cared, given the time that remained and now needed to head back to Therfield. Just beyond Broadfield Hall Farm, a path leads off to the left through a farm gate across the Broadfield 's fields towards the edge of Green Wood, before another leads towards Park Wood. Now on the Chain Walk, I skirted the latter, heading north, towards Whitehall. Several paths lead from the rear of the Little Manor Farm. I picked one and set off. Realising that it would ultimately lead back to where the Broadfield Lodge Farm road joins the Rushden road, I followed a fence running just east of Wood Farm in order to pick up a path that would lead me to Bird's Nest Farm. This being a poor decision, I found myself in no-mans land yet again with no choice but to track back to Friar's Lane across Beckfield Farm, along the edge same ditch as I had earlier. My attention was drawn to the squealing of multitudes of pigs as I reached the sheds of Beckfield Farm. Though it instinctively I thought they were having their throats slit, it was when I caught sight of the farmer that I guessed they were probably being fed and excited as a result. Several paths lead from the rear of Beckfield Farm, not least one that follows the farm lane as it reaches the road joining Green End and Sandon.   Beckfield Farm - somewhere across the ploughed field is a public footpath!



Sandon Chapel and Manse, Roe Green, Sandon, also in former times.

Instead, I headed west from Beckfield Farm, before crossing farmland on a path that lead towards Sayfield Cottages in Roe Green. Following the road from Roe Green to Sandon past the cricket field, as I often do on my cycle routes, I passed Sandon Chapel and Manse. After exploring the grounds of the All Saints Church in Sandon, I discovered a delightful tree-lined path that led from the rear of the church, that soon emerged at the road between Sandon and Kelshall, which I followed until I reached Woodcotes. The sky had now turned a bright orange and dusk drew the day to a close. Turning east, I followed a dirt track that intersected the Hertfordshire Way (which I had been on earlier that day). Reaching the end of the road from Hagger's Farm, Kelshall, I deviated to pick up the Chain Walk through Duck's Green towards Hay Green. I wandered the last stretch on the road that joins Hay Green and Therfield, returning to my car at The Fox and the Duck, the local pub in Therfield. In retrospect, I had not chosen the easiest of routes that day, however, it gave me an inkling as to what my options were when next I endeavoured any walks south of Therfield.

All Saints Church in Sandon, Hertfordshire, with Six Bells Cottage (left) and Sextons's Cottage (right).


View from the grounds of the All Saints Church in Sandon, Hertfordshire.


Sunset from the grounds of the All Saints Church in Sandon, Hertfordshire.


Views along the road between Sandon and Kelshall., near Park Lane


View towards Lords Wood on the path from Woodcotes towards where it joins the Hertfordshire Way.


Sunset view towards Sandon, Hertfordshire.


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Links to other websites:

Cottered to Therfield Walk - website

Church of St Mary, Therfield - listed buildings

Church of St Faith, Kelshall - listed buildings

  • The Icknield Way - wiki