Walk 2945 - printer friendly version
Lea Valley from Batford to Mill Green Walk
Author - Barry Mackie
Length - 8.5 miles / 13.8 km
Ascent - 440 feet / 133 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference TL143152
Lat 51.82374 + Long -0.34294998
Postcode AL5 4XT (approx. location only)
From its source at Leagrave, just to the north of Luton, the River Lea (or Lee) flows for some 50 miles/80 kms to join the River Thames at Bow in East London, passing through Hertfordshire and Essex on its way. The walk described here is a section of "The Lea Valley Walk", a trail that broadly follows the entire length of the river.
Our route is fairly well signposted, with a white swan on a green background as the logo. Although it is through predominantly rural areas, you should be able to get refreshments along the way at Wheathampstead and Stanborough Park. These two places also have car parks, if you want to complete a shorter section.
Arrive at Batford on the B653 and take the B652 turning to Harpenden. Immediately after the first bend, on your left, is All Saints Church, which is our starting point (Grid ref TL143152). Go through the car park to the right of the church to pick up the first of the waymarkers and then soon get a first sight of the river. Continue in a south easterly direction to a footbridge and turn right, then left into Marquis Lane (Grid ref TL148148). At the end of the lane go right and take the steps up the slope to the tarmac path (which is on the disused railway line) and turn left to reach Leasey Bridge (Grid ref TL161143). Here turn right then immediately left onto the short driveway to the bungalow, then up the slope in a south/south westerly direction to the outskirts of Leasey Bridge Farm on your right (Grid ref TL162141).
The next short section changes direction a couple of times, but is very well signposted, and soon the path straightens. Continue south easterly to Wheathampstead, getting good views across the valley, to come out at the road (High Meads). Walk down to the junction, turn right into Bury Green and follow this for a short distance to the main road with the church on your left. Here you have a couple of choices; you can either walk down the High Street or take the path through the churchyard to meet the High Street further down the road. There is little difference, although a waymarker, almost hidden by a yew tree, does direct you through the churchyard.
Continue down the High Street to cross the river and turn right into Mount Road to join the start of the bridleway (Grid ref TL177142). Soon, with a wooden fence to your left, you come to a fork on your right, leading you back to the river. Ignore this, and continue straight on, until you reach the road (B653). Go under the road bridge, here quite muddy, but easily passable, and immediately turn right up the steps to travel in an initial north easterly direction to reach the ford at Watersend, and then soon after, the grounds of Brocket Hall.
Go up the steep slope through the pine trees, then through deciduous woods to come to the edge of the golf courses. Cross the golf courses with care, with Brocket Hall and the Broadwater of the river on your right, to reach a point (Grid ref TL216129) at the edge of the woodland. Again there are two choices, either straight on (south east) or initially south/south west to walk around the edge of the golf course. We took the former option across the course on the faint path, to arrive at the road at Lemsford Mill. Turn right and walk up the road for a short distance, then at the waymarker, turn left to reach Lemsford Springs and the Nature Reserve on your left.
Cross the road (B197) and take the steps through the wooded area down to the river and the bridge under the A1 (M) motorway. Here the level of the path is very close to that of the river, so in continual wet weather, whilst this section would remain passable, you might need to think about your footwear. (This comment also applies to the next road bridge that we meet, although the levels of path and river are not quite as tight).
Now enter Stanborough Park, a large area of parkland with two lakes. Take the path to the left of the first lake and with the river on your left, walk to the far end to cross the wooden footbridge over the river. Turn right on the path and go under the low road bridge (A6129) to reach the car park and the second lake. Just to your left is an excellent café, with an outdoor undercover seating area. Nearby, there are toilet facilities and a public telephone.
Take the path to the right of this lake, and with the river now to your right, walk to the far end of the lake. Here turn north east across the open parkland to the railway bridge (Grid ref TL233107). Go under the railway bridge and follow an initially rough track, then onto a well surfaced driveway. At the end, go through the gap in the hedgerow to the road (A1000). Cross the road and turn right and a short distance later, turn left into Mill Green Lane (Grid ref TL247097), and this is where our walk ends. For those of you who want to see a bit more of Mill Green, half way down the lane is The Green Man pub, and at the bottom of the lane to your right is the small, but excellent museum with its working water mill that is driven by the flow of the river.
If you need to get back to the start point, there are regular bus services passing at the top of the lane. These take you to the bus depot in Welwyn Garden City town centre. From here, take a bus to Harpenden, which passes through Batford. Before travelling do check times especially on Sundays when services may be limited.