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Hertfordshire Walk
Ayot St Lawrence to Ayot St Peter circular

County/Area - Hertfordshire

Author - Elaine and Craig Hindal

Length - 4.6 miles / 7.5 km    Ascent - 300 feet / 91 metres

Time - 2 hours 40 minutes    Grade - easy

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Ordnance Survey Explorer 182Sheet Map1:25kBUY
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Ayot St Lawrence to Ayot St Peter circular
Click image to see photo description.

There are several walks from Ayot St Lawrence, a small village best known as the home of George Bernard Shaw, where his house, Shaw's Corner, is maintained by the National Trust and open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, April through October. Roadside parking is available near the ruins of The Church of St Lawrence (Grid Reference TL194168), which is easily visible from the road, although parking can be very limited at weekends when the local pub, the Brocket Arms, is quite busy. At Saturdays and Sundays, it's best to plan an early walk so that you can park without any problem.

With the pub, The Brocket Arms, behind you, turn right out of Ayot St Lawrence, turning right again at the signpost to Ayot St Peter. Where the road bends sharply to the right (at Grid Reference TL198166), take the footpath on your left through the gap in the hedge and up a short bank onto open fields. Follow the path ahead up the hill. You will come to a cross-roads where the path crosses a farm access track (you will see Hill Farm to your right). Carry on straight ahead.

The path reaches a narrow country road (Codicote Road). Taking care, cross the road as the path continues straight in front of you. Follow the path as it goes up hill a little (but it's not steep) and follow the path as it bends to the right by an old tree and follows a short hedge on your left.

At the top of the small hill, one path leads diagonally across the field to the left; but you are going to go straight ahead on the wider path that leads towards and around a small, rather sunken copse of trees. Follow the path around this and you will reach the road at a black and white cottage, and directly opposite the old cemetery of Ayot St Peter.

Turning left, follow the country lane into Ayot St Peter. Before reaching the Church, however, you will take the path on your right signposted to Waterend (just before School Lane on your left and a sign pointing to Welwyn and Codicote) and walk alongside a small private wood, Saul's Wood. After walking alongside the wood, you will arrive at Ayot Greenway, a former railway line and now a broad and comfortable path (and an excellent cycle trail). Turn right along the Ayot Greenway.

After a while, you will arrive at an old bridge named on the OS map at Grid Reference TL206143 as Hunters Bridge (but we could find no sign bearing this name). Descend from the Greenway but do not go under the bridge, and instead follow the path up as it goes slightly to the left. There will be a small coppiced wood to your left, and an area of pine trees to your right; further on, the woods (Dowdell's Wood) are only to your right.

You will soon reach Codicote Road again. Taking care, cross the road to the path opposite and carry straight on. Stocking Springs, a small and rather lovely nature reserve of coppiced hornbeam trees, is immediately to your right. You can walk through the nature reserve and re-join the bridleway through a small gate at the top.

The bridleway will bring you to the road (Grid Reference TL194165). Turn right here and walk up the road back towards Ayot St Lawrence, passing Shaw's Corner, with the entrance to the house and gardens on the left. Continue up the road to where our walk started.

In the nearby area

It is worth a small detour to visit St Peter's Church, the spire of which can be seen from the path as you enter Ayot St Peter. It is an "arts and crafts" church, designed by J.P. Seddon and built in 1875 after the original church (at the site of the cemetery passed earlier on the walk) burnt down after being struck by lightning on 12th July 1874. There has, apparently, been a Church of St Peters in this vicinity since 1282. Information from British History.

Practical information

There are some benches along Ayot Greenway which make a nice place to enjoy the view or have a packed lunch. Also, Hunters Bridge on the Ayot Greenway is a good place to shelter if you need to escape the rain!

How to get to Ayot St Lawrence

The village is accessed by minor roads including single track with passing places. One way is to take the B197 on the west side of Welwyn Garden City and then follow the signs to Ayot Green, then Ayot St Peter and finally Ayot St Lawrence.

Note - Shaw's Corner is owned and managed by the National Trust and is open to the general public. Opening times are - House 17th March-28th October 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm not Mondays or Tuesdays (except Bank Holidays) Garden - as house, but 12.00 - 5.30 pm with last entry 4.30 pm. A visitor's car park is close by, within the grounds. For more information visit the National Trust website.


Other walks nearby

Walk 1372 Ayot St Lawrence circulareasy6.0 miles
Walk 2338 The Upper Mimram Valley from Ayot St Lawrenceeasy5.7 miles
Walk 1532 Wheathampstead circulareasy4.5 miles
Walk 2799 Ayot Green circulareasy4.3 miles
Walk 2945 Lea Valley from Batford to Mill Greeneasy/mod8.5 miles

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Walking in Hertfordshire

Despite its proximity to London, Hertfordshire offers a wide range of walking opportunities through pleasant countryside and attractive villages. Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Watford and St Albans are the main towns with walks to suit all abilities within easy reach. The highest land in the county lies to the north-west at Pavis Wood near Tring (244 metres above sea level). Part of the county lies within the Chilterns AONB and is characterised by rolling hills offering scenic walks. Long distance footpaths in the county include the Ridgeway, Icknield Way, Harcamlow Way, Hertfordshire Way and the Grand Union Canal Walk.

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