Walk 2970 - printer friendly version
The Beane Valley from Walkern to Hertford Walk
Author - Barry Mackie
Length - 14.3 miles / 23.2 km
Ascent - 800 feet / 242 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference TL292265
Lat 51.922039 + Long -0.12264938
Postcode SG2 7PB (approx. location only)
This walk along the Beane Valley from Walkern to the ancient town of Hertford, via Watton-at-Stone, is predominantly through remote open countryside. Much of the route is close to the River Beane, which rises to the north of Walkern and joins Hertfordshire's largest river, the River Lea, at Hertford.
This region has endured two dry winters, followed by an exceptionally dry summer (2006) and the river has suffered accordingly. Although some of its upper reaches are dry, there is plenty of evidence to show that when the climate changes, then so will the river. This is most noticeable at the various fords and wetlands seen during the walk.
There are train stations at Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Hertford North, and local bus services also cover the area. The route goes within a mile of the station at Watton-at-Stone, and this is a good half way point should you decide to complete the walk in two stages.
Starting at the ford near St Mary's Church in Church Lane, Walkern (Grid ref. TL292265), follow the path south alongside the river that veers to the right, leading to the High Street. Turn left and walk through the village centre until you reach the B1037, (signposted to Stevenage). Turn right for a short distance until you reach the side road, Moors Ley. Cross the B1037 here and follow the footpath opposite south up the slope and over to the right side of the field. Go through the gate and head south along the edge of the next field. Here will be your first view of the western slopes of the valley.
Soon the path veers southeast down the slope and you are near the riverbank at the old mill. Turn south again and the path stays close to the river for some distance until you reach the ford at White Hall (Grid ref. TL287214). This section of the walk gives you a real feel of the open countryside and has superb views of both sides of the valley. Cross the ford and walk up the road to reach the T-Junction on the Walkern Road. Turn right along the road until you reach the entrance to the grounds of Frogmore Hall.
Ignore the permissive path to your right that would lead you back down to the river, and instead take the narrow rough track to the left heading uphill through light woodland in a north easterly direction, signposted to High Elms Lane. Continue on this path to open ground then over the brow of the hill until you reach the minor road. Pause on this hill for the panoramic views, especially to the southwest, that offer a wonderful image of rural Hertfordshire. Turn right and follow this road down the hill until you reach the waymarker on your left at a gap in the hedgerow. Take this path to the bottom of the slope, turning right at the large ditch and follow it to the main road.
Cross the road and take the path, through light woodland, to the left and soon come out into the open field. Take the path across the field and turn right at the road (Mill Lane). Here you cross the river and at the junction, turn left and follow the road through the village of Watton-at-Stone. At the last roundabout, leaving the village, head up the slope to the church of St Andrew and St Mary. Leave the churchyard at the path by its southern flank and walk up Perrywood Lane for a short distance to turn left on the path signposted to Stapleford. At the gate take the left of two paths and head across the field with the other side of the valley and Woodhall Park coming into view.
Cross the main road and follow the drive into Woodhall Park and again meet the river. Here the river and the overlooking 18th century house make an impressive sight. Go over the bridge and follow the river for a short distance through the farm, then left to reach the bridge across the adjoining stream. Take this route into parkland and soon pick up the waymarkers that lead you back alongside the river. Staying with the river, travel through the village of Stapleford and then Waterford Marsh. Just short of the treeline at the end of Waterford Marsh (Grid ref. TL316143) turn right, away from the river and go under the railway bridge and up the hill through a wooded area. Take the left hand path at the junction and then keep to the right to come out at the side road, The Orchard.
At the main road, turn right and walk down through Bengeo, following the B158, until the turning on your left signposted to Hartham Leisure Centre. To the left of the Centre, the large open area is Hartham Common, with the river skirting the far side. This is where the Beane Valley, and this walk, finishes (Grid ref. TL326130). A little further downstream, the river, soon to be joined by the River Rib, flows into the River Lea.