View towards Southern Green en route from Rushden to Broadfield Hall.

The church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall.


Hertfordshire, United Kingdom


- Baldock to Therfield via Wallington -  



A variation on a walk from Baldock to Royston in a day - part 3

(discovering the home of George Orwell).

The morning of Saturday 6th November, just as I had done exactly one week earlier, I decided to repeat the walk from Therfield to Royston, with some variations of the route, after arriving at Baldock station around 10h30, though the clocks had gone back. Colleague Annie Brinsley had asked me in the week whether she could join.

On the October walk, I had passed within viewing distance of the home she shares with partner Dougie Bisset. What was basically the same  route linking a number of villages I knew and loved, each with a small church as the focal point, I wanted establish a definitive route for myself. I could in reality refer to it as the church walk, as indeed the villages of BaldockGM, ClothalGM, WallingtonGM, RushdenGM, SandonGM, KelshallGM, TherfieldGM and RoystonGM, each with their own unique character and beauty, all boast a church at the heart of the village.

The weather was a tad chillier than the week before. After a quarter of an hour had elapsed, Annie duly arrived, though unexpectedly, accompanied by her dog Sophie, held firmly on a leash. would the dog manage the six hour walk to Royston, I wondered. I was about to discover. In fact another mystery had been solved at this point. I had not realised that Annie had a daughter by the same name.

For a month prior to my Patagonian trip, I had been getting a lift to work from her and Dougie's home and though I had probably not paid full attention, I found myself confused by statements such as "Sophie's car is here - she must be home" with "we're taking Sophie for her morning walk in the woods". Unbeknown to both Annie and I at this stage, I was to meet Sophie the daughter later that day.


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.

Without describing the entire route found hereHertfordshire-6b, I shall refer only to the variations to the previous walk. Without dawdling in Baldock itself, we set off on the path across the footbridge at Weston Hills Tunnel, on the A505 Baldock Bypass. Unlike the previous week, I remained on the Roman path as it led directly into the village of Clothall. Following the road that wound its way down to the village church, we explored the grounds of St Mary the Virgin, built of flint rubble and stone dressings around 1350-70 and its stained glass windows. As things turned out, Dougie had been on a run that morning and had seen and recognised Annie and the dog. He came over to the church and relieved Annie of Sophie.


Walkers on the Icknield Way, approaching the A507.


Autumn comes to the village of Clothall.


The church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall.


View north from the grounds of the church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall.


The church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall, built bewteen 1350 and 1370 on the site of an ancient church.


Arched doorway of the church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall.

Beautiful stained glass windows of the church of St Mary the Virgin at Clothall

Returning back the way we came on the path to Baldock, we reached the junction of this path with the Icknield Way path, which crosses the A507 from Baldock and heads directly north between Bird Hill and Quickwood Farm. From the higher ground, we viewed the vast landscape west towards Bygrave, the cars on the A505 clearly visible in the distance. I could spot a section of a favourite off-road cycle track running past a farm just outside Bygrave, leading down to the railway and A505 motorway tunnels, passing through both and then along a tree-lined track past Bygrave Lodge Farm. We met and chatted to other ramblers en route. They enquired as to where we were from and told us of their favourite routes, though nothing as ambitious as we were attempting that day. The Icknield Way path eventually reaches Wallington Road, which leads off from the A505 motorway.


Rejoining the Icknield Way, west of the village of Clothall.


The Icknield Way just up ahead.


Views of the countryside on the Icknield Way, looking north (top) and west towards Weston Hills near Baldock (lower).


The Icknield Way on the approach to the village of Wallington.


View west from the Icknield Way and the A505 motorway.


Countoured farmland, as viewed from the Icknield Way, looking towards the A505 motorway.


Hedgerows crossing the Icknield Way Path.


Just as one enters the village of Wallington, a path leads off to the right up an embankment and into a wood, before the junction of Wallington Road with another road known as The Street, where I have previously photographed a beautiful thatched-roof cottage hereHertfordshire-5 on one of my cycles. Within minutes I was to meet the occupant of that very cottage. At the very same junction, on the opposite corner to the thatched cottage, stands the very cottage that George Orwell had lived in from 1936 until 1948, as signified by a plaque at the end of the Tudor-style cottage front wall. The path through the wood led directly to the local church, St Mary's, and a beauty it certainly is, with its white-washed walls. We entered quietly, as a short figure of a woman with her back to us was in the process of arranging flowers, petals falling to the stone floor. She turned around and said to us: "Would you like to see the church grafitti"? She was referring to two distinct carvings as if made by a sharp knife, in odd positions at two places on the wall, one a medieval knight with sword and shield and the other a hobby horse. It has been suggested that these may relate to a now forgotten Mummer's play (seasonal folk plays performed by troupes of actors known as mummers) of 'St George & the Dragon' once performed at Wallington.

This walk continues hereHertfordshire-6d.


[UK - index] [Home Page]

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

[Hertfordshire Index]


Links to other websites: