Walk 1139 - printer friendly version
Harpenden to St Albans via Redbournbury Watermill Walk
Author - Peter Smyly
Length - 12.0 miles / 19.5 km
Ascent - 400 feet / 121 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference TL137141
Lat 51.813976 + Long -0.35201262
Postcode AL5 5LW (approx. location only)
Rural Hertfordshire provides the setting for this walk which starts at Harpenden railway station and ends at St Albans railway station. The route includes part of the Hertfordshire Way and another walking trail, the Nickey Line. The terrain is mostly on the level with a few gentle ups and downs. Terrain presents no difficulties but route-finding requires careful attention to detail as there are numerous points where the route changes course, with plenty of scope to vary the route should you wish, to make it shorter, longer, or simply different. The route involves crossing a few busy main roads.
From Harpenden railway station, after walking down the station approach road, a left turn takes you along the main road with shops to bring you to the high street where you cross over, also crossing Leyton Road to follow Amenbury Lane. Now a path leads you away from the residential area to Rothamsted Park with its wide open green spaces. Follow the perimeter of the park which leads you to a footpath alongside a field leading to the disused former railway line, known as the Nickey Line, to a roundabout at Redbourn Lane. The Nickey Line route continues by following the road straight ahead where the footpath runs alongside the road to the right of it. At Chequer Lane, cross the busy B487 and follow the footpath ahead bordering a field, and leading in less than a mile to Redbournbury Mill, situated next to a stream.
Redbournbury Mill was badly damaged by a fire in 1987 but has now been restored to its former glory. Slowly tuning millstones grind grain into flour, mostly sourced from local farms. Flour and bread can be bought from the mill, also from some local shops. The watermill makes a suitable and pretty place for a stop as there is an outdoor seating area. There are also public conveniences and there is a chance to look around the interior of the mill for a small admission fee; however, it is better to check opening times in advance to avoid disappointment. Narrow steep wooden staircases lead to four different floors and its best to start at the top floor to appreciate the milling process as it passes through different stages. From the watermill at Redbournbury, it is possible to make the walk shorter, and the route easier to follow, by following the course of the River Ver south to St Albans.
Cross the bridge over the stream and bear left with views of water cress growing in a field to the left. The path bends round to the right and runs parallel to a field on the right; take a diagonal footpath across and up the field, leading to a secondary road, Beesonend Lane. At the end of this road, turn left and, crossing the busy main road with care, take the next road on the right, Cross Lane, which has a golf course on the left. Take the first path on the right. This path leads to a road at a T junction and turn right before following the next footpath off to the left across fields with Cheapside Farm to the left. Here you meet up with part of the Hertfordshire Way which takes you all the way to St Albans, first crossing with care the busy Harpenden Road. Turn right and follow the verge alongside the road before taking the next road to the left leading to Childwick Green.
From Childwick Green, the route leads along country lanes and paths with St Albans and its cathedral appearing on the distant horizon before the downhill approach to a busy roundabout, requiring another careful road crossing. .From the roundabout, take Verulam Road in a south easterly direction and the first running on the right Branch Road leads down to cross St Michael's Bridge over a river with a glimpse of St Alban's Cathedral seen beyond trees. After crossing the bridge, almost immediately, a path on the left enters Bell Meadow leading to the lake following the path ahead, the lake with the islands comes into view on the right. At the far end of the long lake, a path leads uphill to the grounds of the cathedral and beyond it, the main shopping thoroughfare of the town. The railway station is on Victoria Street, within easy walking distance of the town centre.