Lye Lane track across Cherry Farm, Wood End, Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire, United Kingdom


- Great Munden -

  Thatched cottage in Wood End

A circular walk around Great Munden at the end of an icy January.

Woolston Farm, Haultwick   This was one of a number of walks I undertook in January, 2010, on 30th, to be precise, during the cold spell of weather that had gripped the UK. 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. One of my cycle routes takes me south from Royston along the B1368 (parallel to the A10) all the way down to Puckeridge, site of a Roman town. This section of the A10 was known in Roman times as Ermine Street, which ran all the way from London to York through Royston. The route crosses the A10 towards an area known as Great Munden and a village of the same name en route through Wood End and Ardeley. The village of Great Munden lies close to another village in East Hertfordshire which carries the oddest of names, that of Nasty, derived from Anglo Saxon (another in East Hertfordshire has to be that of Cold Christmas and the supposedly haunted 15th century tower of an old Chapel). It is on this cycle route at a distinct bend in the road that I had often seen parked cars along a dirt track that leads off from there, indication of it being a popular walk and signed as Public Byway 46. The Ordinance Survey map seemed to show some interesting routes in the area, though it was well south of Back Lane, an Old Roman Road that ran to the Roman settlement at Puckeridge, which I had walked previously. Nonetheless, I decided to explore and was well rewarded, as it gives rise to some rather picturesque and beautiful countryside.
Walking down Bypass 64, at a junction I took a left before the path swung right, making its way past Stag Hall Farm along the Chain Walk until it reaches a road. Turning left, a couple of hundred yards further down the road, Dark Lane leads off to the left, rejoining the road just before the village of Haultwick, a rather quaint village. I was particularly taken by Woolston Farm, with its rather ornate gates. A short distance into the village, I found a track leading off to the right, affording me a view of Woolston Farm from the rear and beyond it, the path continued across an great expanse of countryside that opened up before me. I was on the ChainWalk which led directly to the village of Green End past some sports fields. Instead of turning left, which would have led me to Church Lane, allowing me to rejoin the Chain Walk, I turned right, passing Green End Farm in the process, picking up a track as it left the village. The path dropped steeply down into a valley, now muddy as a result of the melting snow, reaching a junction. Continuing on, I met a guy walking his dog who soon pointed out my error in having strayed off the Chain Walk and so I returned to the junction, turning south-west towards Cutting Hill Farm. Just below Graves Wood, I rejoined the Chain Walk, turning north-west in the process.

Much of the landscape around me consisted of open patches of land, some of it cultivated or ploughed, with isolated clusters of forestland. It was exquisite countryside and the delightfully warm weather made the walk all the more pleasurable. I reached yet another junction, as the Chain Walk swung once more to the right (north-east). For the first time Benington Park (or Benington Place) came into view towards the west. The churned up, ploughed landscape before me was covered in a light dusting of snow, like icing on a chocolate cake. I continued up the hillside past Witnesses Wood before the path swung due north, heading directly for Cherry Farm in the village of Wood End. Just before the farm, the path gradually turned left before swinging back north past Parker's Green. Here I reached a track I had walked just a few weeks before via Wood Green, just where it meets a tarred road. I past the same set of thatched and Tudor cottages as before. I stopped to take a few photographs and was immediately confronted by a woman rushing out from her front door, demanding to know why I was photographing their homes.

Further down the road I reached Cherry Farm, momentarily trying to make sense of the Public Footpath signpost which seemed to indicate a path leading directly through the muddy farmyard itself precisely where the farmer  now stood. After the roasting I had got earlier from the woman, I was not willing to cross swords with a man of the earth. Surprisingly, however, he beckoned and as I approached, I was struck by his friendliness and total willingness to drop whatever he was doing in order to show me the route leading out from the back of his farm. Crossing a stile, I headed diagonally across a field where grazing sheep turned and gazed at me with moderate interest as I ambled by. I was on Lye Lane, a track that ran to the edge of Thrift Wood, beyond which I would follow a stream known as The Old Bourne, until I reached the road to Haultwick. Heading away from Haultwick, I passed the point where earlier I had joined Dark lane, as well as the path leading from where I had parked, until I found another path that ran directly past the front of Stag Hall Farm, joining Bypass 64. It was almost dark when I got back to my car and despite the disturbing altercation with the local, I had found the walk quite satisfying in the end.


Stag Hall Farm as viewed from the Chain Walk.



Hertfordshire farm landscape along Dark Lane path into Haultwick.


Views of Woolsten Farm, Haultwick.


A fine period cottage in the village of Haultwick, Hertfordshire.



Views from the Chain Walk track that leads from Woolston Farm, Haultwick, to Green End.


Views from a track leading out of Green End past Green End Farm.


On a track leading out of Green End, (left) looking ahead as the track heads in the direction of Benington Park, (right) looking back towards Green End Farm.


View in the direction of Cutting Hill Farm from a track near Green End.


Icy waters on the Chain Walk looking back towards Green End.


Snow dust on ploughed fields near Benington Park - here the Chain Walk swings to the right.

Benington has been described as one of the most attractive villages in the county of Hertfordshire. There are two main theories regarding the origin of the name of Benington. One comes from Saxon times and is derived from the name of the river to the west of the village - the Beane. The middle syllable 'ing' is common in place names all over south-east England and means 'people', Benington therefore meaning 'The Town of the Beane Folk'. The second view is that Benington is a corruption of the name 'Belinton' which appears in the Domesday Book. This is thought to mean the town of Bela's people, after the name of the man who led the first group of immigrants to the area. Benington Park (also known as Benington Place) was recorded in the Domesday book in 1086 as being part of Benington Manor, known as Benington Lordship and Gardens (see map). It is spread over seven acres surrounding a Georgian manor house, with the remains of a Norman castle and moat. 

View across ploughed fields towards Benington House from the Chain Walk, east of the village of Benington.


Following the line of the trees, the Chain Walk swings due north.


On the path heading north towards Wood End.


A patch of ground still covered in snow, on the approach to Wood End behind Cherry Farm.


Lye Lane track across Cherry Farm, Wood End, Hertfordshire.


Curious sheep just off Lye Lane track across Cherry Farm, Wood End, Hertfordshire.



Views from Lye Lane track across Cherry Farm, Wood End, Hertfordshire.


[UK - index] [Home Page]

[Hertfordshire Index]


Links to other websites:

View from the Chain Walk between Woolston Farm, Haultwick and to Green End.

Snow dust on ploughed fields near Benington Park - here the Chain Walk swings to the right.

View across ploughed fields towards Benington House from the Chain Walk, east of the village of Benington.