View north near Toggs, on the A507, east of Baldock.

Hertfordshire, United Kingdom


- Baldock to Royston over Hertfordshire countryside -


A  new challenge - A walk from Baldock to Royston in a day - part 2


  So on the morning of Saturday 30th October, I jumped off at Baldock railway station around 10h30 and took a slow stroll into the town centre via Station Road, turning right into Whitehorse Road, which leads off from the Royston Road (the old A505) entering the town from the north. Prior to the construction of the new Baldock Bypass in 2006, travelling home to Royston meant accessing Baldock town centre, which is at the junction of three roads, Whitehorse Road, Hitchin Road (still the A505) and London Road or High Street (A6141). Despite encountering the inevitable traffic snarl-up,  I didn't mind because Baldock is an attractive town, steeped in history, as well as one of vibrancy.

It has some particularly lovely old buildings and whilst my priority was to complete the rather lengthy walk I had not done before, I got caught up for  an hour and a half in the town centre, taking photographs. Cafés and shops had opened for the day and business was brisk. I am a regular customer at one of the town's butchers, Chapman and Sons, along with many other South Africans in this area of North Hertfordshire, since they produce and stock many delicacies known to us, such as biltong (similar to American jerky), dried sausage and boerewors (boer sausage), biscuits and chocolates, all of South African origin.

It's hard to lose your roots and so I'm in the habit of buying a few boxes of Ouma rusks, a few packets of Pro-Vitas (a low-fat wheat biscuit) and occasionally, a bottle of Mrs Balls South African chutney. The butcher is so popular that a row of customers can be seen at the doorway. They do also stock some lovely cheeses and an assortment of olives, which I love!

The tower of the 13th Century church of St Mary was covered in scaffolding and currently under restoration. The old Alm houses, built by a sum of £1000 bequeathed in the will of John Wynne in 1617 for the purposes of housing the poor, still follow in that spirit to this day. Passing the Taste Café and Bar, I  yearned for a coffee; however, as my late Scottish cousin once removed said "Time waits for no man". At the top end of London Road at the roundabout near the Tesco store, I turned left into South Road and right into Kiln Lane, picking up the pathway just past a new housing development and near the entrance to an old-age home.

And so to the route....

My route on the first of the two walks at the end of October would take me from BaldockGM through RushdenGM, SandonGM, TherfieldGM and RoystonGM whilst the subsequent ramble followed the villages of BaldockGM, ClothalGM, WallingtonGM, Shaw Green, RushdenGM, SandonGM and ending short in TherfieldGM.  

The path reaches a footbridge that crosses the A505 Baldock Bypass at the Weston Hill tunnels. The path runs parallel with the A507 to the village of Clothall. After passing a farmhouse and outbuildings, it joins up with an old Roman road which ultimately runs through the village however, upon reaching another path bordered by trees and hedges, I turned south, effectively meaning that I would bypass Clothall. This path swings east and I glimpsed the brilliant early autumn colours of the leaves on rows of trees across the landscape. Just a week later, I was to attempt a variation in the route and continue on the Roman path to where the Icknield Way branches north, just before Clothall. I reached a row of houses on the edge of the village, crossed a road and continued on until I reached a farm, after passing several clumps of forest in close proximity. Turning north I walked on what resembled a path past a shed. I then reached a clearing from which I could see a small grouping of houses near Toggs, where my colleagues Dougie and Annie (who accompanied me on my second walk) had recently purchased a house. The path crosses a long indentation in the landscape and then reaches a farmgate, with no fencing, and a road that leads down to the farm from the A507, It was here I spotted a sign prohibiting entrance, which was not obvious if one had been walking from the other direction. Crossing the road at Westfield Common, the direction of the path from here on wasn't clear. Though the country road had no hard shoulder, I followed it for a while until I reached the entrance road to Kingswood bury Farm, which the path would ultimately join. It was on this lane that I saw a herd of deer in the field. They stopped an gazed at me, before scampering off. I reached the huge outbuildings, which were jam-packed with an assortment of farm tractors, ploughs and heavy-duty vehicles. The path, though somewhat vague in places, continues across the farmland close to a stream. My intention was to pick up a distinct tree-lined path running from north to south from Shaw Green, which I managed to reach, after negotiating a ditch. This path led past Munches Wood, a delightful name for a forest, where I realised I had ventured too far down the path to pick up another which branches off to the village of Rushden and emerges at a small bus stop next to a local village garden centre along the road that joins the A507. It was at this point my Nikon Coolpix S10 ran out of battery power. I had forgotten the spare batteries at home, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.


The A505 near Baldock just near the Baldock Bypass tunnel.


The Weston Hills Baldock Bypass tunnel on the A505.


View of the Roman Path towards Clothall after crossing the A505 via a pedestrian bridge.


The Baldock Bypass tunnel and Weston Hills.


View of the path back towards Baldock and Weston Hills.


At the junction of pathway bypassing the village of Clothall. Directly ahead along the Roman Path, the Icknield Way branches north (to the left).


View north of the Icknield Way, looking beyond the A507 which bypasses the village of Clothall.


Walkers on the Icknield Way, approaching the A507.


On the path as it swings east towards Clothall, where it skirts the southern side of the village.


View from the path (south of the village), just beyond and east of Clothall.


View north from a farm path towards Westfield Common, near the A507 at Toggs.


View from a farm path near Toggs, the home of colleagues Annie and Dougie visible to the left.


Deer on Westfield Common near Kingswoodbury Farm.


Farm tracker at Kingswoodbury Farm.


On the path between the villages of Shaw Green and Rushden, at Munches Wood.


Farmland just west of the village of Rushden, North Hertfordshire.


Approaching the road through Rushden near the bus stop, along the garden centre boundary.


View north-west towards Shaw Green, from the Rushden Road.

Crossing over Rushden Road (which runs through Mill End, effectively bypassing Rushden) and continuing along a tree-lined road up the steep hill which leads into Rushden itself, a number of very old thatched cottages came into view. I had free-wheeled many times down this incline on my bicycle. Rather than continue down to the church along Church End, I turned right into Treacle Lane, passing a rather novel road sign which read: "Please drive slowly. Free Range Children". Two women on horseback came. The road peters out, giving rise to a path along a line of trees, turning one way and then the other until the path enters a forest. The women on horseback had taken the same path but had disappeared out of sight. In the forest , the path divided and I picked the one leading to the left, which took me in a direction I had not intended. I had wanted to emerge somewhere near the tarred farm road near Broadfield Hall. Instead, I found myself emerging at the end of a dirt lane at Southern Green, which ran down to some houses, off the Rushden village road. Heading east and away from both villages along the Rushden village road past Southern Green Farm, I reached the junction of the intended farm road but well north of Broadfield Lodge Farm. Heading north along the road which terminates at Wood Farm, I soon wandered off along a footpath, reaching a large forest known as Friar's Wood. The path cut through the forest, reaching a clearing near the farm. Here I met a woman walking her dog, whereupon I asked for the time. Though I was confident I had enough light, it was after three and I needed to continue my brisk pace. The path entered the wood once more and emerged at a clearing along Friar's Lane, where it continued north to Beckfield Farm, a pig farm. This was familiar territory. I had walked hereHertfordshire-3 as training in January prior to Patagonia trip. Passing the farmhouse and outbuildings, I was on Beckfield Lane leaving Beckfield Farm towards Green End, which I soon left, along a bridleway. Passing a gate sporting a sign requesting hikers to keep it closed, I continued north and reached a row of trees, where I followed the path along the edge of tree-lined farmland. Soon I reached a stream and I realised  that only a wood separated me from the road between Green End and the village of Sandon. this was in fact Tichney Wood. I resisted crossing a number of very small wooden bridges, until the I eventually crossed one at a riding school near a farm. This led me to the tarred road just outside Sandon Common.

I entered the grounds of the All Saints Church and wandered through its graveyard, a truly beautiful setting at sunset. The quaint tree-lined path continues until it emerges along the Sandon-Kelshall road. Heading towards Kelshall, at the bend in the road where a dirt path known as Park Lane leads off, I picked up another path partially blocked off by a cantilevered farm gate, which cut through a wood known as Philpotts Wood. This emerges a the junction of the Hertfordshire Way, Notley Lane and the Icknield Way path. I headed east along the tree-lined Icknield Way, a broad somewhat rutted dirt track, though solid underfoot. Close to Chapel Green, this track reaches a junction with Kelshall Lane, a similar track heading north-west towards the village of Kelshall. This merges with the Chain Walk which in turn merges with Duck's Green, which finally reaches the road to Therfield. The tall trees were home to many pigeons roosting in its tree-tops. Every five paces I took, a flock of pigeons fluttered their wings and took off in fright. Along Duck's Green, by entering through a kissing gate, I picked up the path that led directly into the grounds of Therfield's St Mary Church (see hereHertfordshire-5). Leaving the grounds along Church Lane and in dire need of some of a drink to quench my thirst, I stopped off at the Fox and the Duck in the village for a well-earned cider. Recently under new ownership, I received a welcome greeting as I entered, astounding locals with the walk I had just undertaken. I was not quite finished and what remained was the final leg to Royston along the Icknield Path bridleway leading off from the rear of Park Farm. The Icknield Way Path eventually emerges at Therfield Heath at the golf course, with a view north across Cambridgeshire. I wandered past the clubhouse and into the town. The sun has set yet there was still some residual light on the horizon - had a stopped to take more photos if my camera batteries not run flat, I would have no doubt walked the last stretch in the dark. Once home, aching and sore but well satisfies with my achievement, I took a much-needed shower.

Follow a variation to this walk hereHertfordshire-6c, exactly one week later.


[UK - index] [Home Page]

Hertfordshire [6a] [6b] [6c] [6d]

[Hertfordshire Index]


Links to other websites: