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Hertfordshire Walk
Reed to Nuthampstead Circular

County/Area - Hertfordshire

Author - Donald Morton

Length - 7.3 miles / 11.8 km

Ascent - 400 feet / 121 metres

Time - 4 hours 0 minutes

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference TL361357
Lat 52.003063 // Long -0.018734
Postcode SG8 8AN (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Reed to Nuthampstead Circular Photo from the walk - Reed to Nuthampstead Circular Photo from the walk - Reed to Nuthampstead Circular Photo from the walk - Reed to Nuthampstead Circular Photo from the walk - Reed to Nuthampstead Circular
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Reed is an ancient village, lying just to the east of the old Roman Ermine Street now the A10, some 5 miles south of Royston. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and there are many medieval traces in the area. The church typifies this long history, being a mixture of Saxon, Norman and 14th Century construction. This walk as described starts from the church. There is room to park to the side of the road outside, but make sure there is room for passing farm vehicles (Grid Ref TL361357).

The walk starts by following the Hertfordshire Way through the church yard passing the church on the left (note the old wooden "Hertfordshire bedstead" grave marker near the door) to the eastern boundary where a gap leads out to an arable field. There is a welcoming notice from Wishbridge Farm and the path goes straight on across the field to a waymark on the opposite side. Here cross over a track and bridge and turn left on the bridleway at the crossing track, immediately right up some shallow steps and then left to continue your previous direction across a second field. On reaching a crushed asphalt track go straight on - hedge on left. Follow it round to the right and look out for a wide hedge gap: there is no waymark but turn left here. It is still a made up path and you go forward passing a waymark and then curving left and right. Where the made up path turns left go straight on along the grass track - hedge on left and wide views over to the right. It leaves Wishbridge Farm land and enters a short enclosed stretch. Soon after emerging from this you ignore a footpath going left and follow the bridle path as it curves right - hedge on left. After another short enclosed stretch, it comes to a fingerpost at crossways. The OS Map shows the Hertfordshire Way going straight on at this point but it has been changed. So turn left (no finger) past a seat and continue after it becomes tarmac past the church on the edge of Barkway to come out on the B1368 which is the village high street.

Barkway is another ancient settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book. The church, dating from the 13th century, seems enormous for the size of the village: currently it is closed for building work but the churchyard contains some interesting and imposing grave monuments. The High Street is lined with a fascinating mixture of old dwellings "Georgian, timbered, thatched, two medieval hall houses" there is little later than 1800 (except the cars parked in front). On reaching the High Street the walk turns right, but a detour up and down the High Street to the left rewards anyone with a liking and appreciation of old buildings. And if you want refreshment the Tally Ho pub is about 1/4 mile further beyond where you turn off the High Street to continue the walk.

Returning to the walk, having turned right when you come to the B1368, walk down it past the duck pond - where there is a village information board - and then, just before a road comes in from the left, down an enclosed footpath going left. (You know it is the right one because there is a Hertfordshire Way sign attached to the finger post albeit pointing up the High Street you have just walked down.) You emerge into a field and go straight on down a crushed asphalt track. Where this turns right to a house, continue straight on past a gate, past a barn conversion, and then turn right on tarmac and quickly left past a barrier. Go up the broad green track - hedge on left to the corner of a wood (Earl's Wood). The track becomes narrower as you continue forward with the woods on the left and a hedge on the right. Ignore a footpath going right and go straight on past the end of the woods to a kissing gate. Bear slightly right to a fence corner and then over a field, aiming for the left hand end of a range of farm buildings (Nuthampstead Bury) seen ahead. You are going towards a hedge on the right at an angle: look out for a kissing gate in this hedge. Go through this double gate (if it is still there - looks as if the ponies grind their teeth on it) and cross to field corner with cottages ahead and out onto lane. Cross the lane and go down the footpath to the left of Bury Farm Cottage. This has been nicely mown but you soon fork left off it down an enclosed path, over a bridge out to a field. Go straight on across the field parallel to the hedge on the right but about 20 yards away. Where the hedge ends continue straight on over the field aiming for a waymark post visible on the other side. Here bear right between fields - ditch on right. At end of field turn left and continue up field edge - woods on right. Look out for a waymark buried in the undergrowth on the right. (Grid Ref TL409 349) This is where you leave the Hertfordshire Way by continuing up the field edge.

(If you are ready for refreshment The Woodman pub, with wartime associations with the USAF, is a little further along the Hertfordshire Way: turn right at the waymark through the copse and right again along the field edge to a waymark; either follow a previously trod or restored path or go across the field aiming for the left hand of the right most farm building and when you reach a fence corner turn left along the field edge to a stile; go down the edge of the meadow to a second stile; bear left to the field corner -house with roof skylight ; turn right and at T-junction turn right again and then straight on to Woodman; to continue retrace)

At the field corner go through the hedge gap and then turn left down field edge - boundary on left. Go over a crossing path, at a copse dogleg left and right to continue on with copse on right. Enter woods via a kissing gate and follow the path to a gate. Go down a field edge to woods, straight on and left over a bridge and right to the field corner. Go straight on between trees for a short distance. On coming out to a field again continue straight on with woods (the rear side of Earl's Wood) once more on the left. At the end of the woods, cross a track and go straight on down an enclosed track to the gates of a house. Turn right and immediately left to follow the garden fence past the house and garden on the left. At the end of the garden fence go straight on. At the field corner, go through a hedge gap and bear slightly left following a waymark. The next waymark points straight across a field. Ignore this and turn left down the obviously trod path which goes through woods, turning right to follow parallel with the edge of the field seen on the right. This choice is confirmed when the path comes out to a playing field where there is a waymark pointing you to the far left hand corner. Exit the playing field down an enclosed path from the corner to come out at the B1368 at the top end of Barkway. It is at a bend in the B road so cross carefully to go on down Royston Road, opposite. Where the road turns right go straight on down a byway (as per OS map - actually signed as a bridleway but with red byway arrow). This byway goes straight all the way back to Reed, sometimes gravel, sometimes grassy, sometimes crushed asphalt, mostly in the open but at the end, after a waymarked junction, down an enclosed track. At a T junction turn right and then quickly left down a lane. At the next T junction turn left and so back to the church.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers. Travel restrictions for exercise in Wales and Scotland will be lifted in early July.

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