Lemsford - Lea Valley - Wheathampstead - Devil's Dyke

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The walk starts in the picturesque village of Lemsford in Hertfordshire, just off the A1(M). Lemsford was once the site of the first crossing of the River Lea north of London and also a significant stopover on the Great North Road and so was once a bustling little place. Almost immediately, we pass a large watermill known as Lemsford Mill. This impressive building was the original 'Old Mill by the Stream' (of Nellie Dean fame), but is now home to Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. Ever the environmentally aware company, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays have capitalised on the building's history by using the mill-wheel to generate their electricity. For those interested, it is the first breast-shot water wheel in Britain to generate electricity.

We leave Lemsford on the Lea Valley Way and quickly pass through Lord Brocket's estate (yes, that Lord Brocket). The Brocket Estate is now dominated by a large golf course and care must be taken when crossing the fairways. Once past the golf course, the Lea Valley Trail descends through woodland to run along the river to Wheathampstead, where we pick up another long-distance path, The Hertfordshire Way.

The Hertfordshire Way skirts Wheathampstead for a short distance before passing through The Devil's Dyke. This ancient earthwork is thought to date back to 40BC and formed the basis of a large settlement occupied by the Catuvellauni tribe. The ditch was originally an impressive 13m deep and 40m wide. It was also thought to be here that Julius Cesar defeated the British King Cassivellaunus in 54BC.

You would be forgiven for stopping off at the excellent John Bunyan pub, but immediately after that, you can visit John Bunyan's chimney. This is all that remains of the cottage in which the author of 'Pilgrim's Progress' is thought to have stayed and preached.

The last point of interest as we return to Lemsford is once again on the Brocket Estate. It is an old balustraded bridge, which appeared in the film 'The Omen'.

Dog-walkers will be pleased to note the absence of stiles, though please keep your dog under close control on the golf course. The route is, on the whole, quite dog-friendly.

England - Central England - Hertfordshire - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Mostly Flat, Pub, Public Transport, River, Woodland
06/09/2015 - Sam Roebuck

(in response to Mark's comment). Thanks, Mark. I remeasured the distance and amended it to 250m. The reference to zig-zags have now been removed.

25/08/2015 - mark archer

Shame about the weather but a very pleasant walk with easy to follow instructions until WP16 when emerging from Devils Dyke onto the lane. The farm on the left arrives after 100m rather than 300m and the zigzags mentioned appear to be straightened out. It all got a bit confusing until WP18 relying mainly on my GPS. Bunyan's Chimney was a delight as was the Crooked Chimney!

12/06/2013 - Brenda Woodcock

Have just done this interesting and beautiful walk with my husband and aged Lab, it is very dog friendly, well signposted and instructions easy to follow. We lunched at the John Bunyan P H very welcoming and friendly, the food was good too. Would love to do it when the bluebells are out.

04/04/2008 - David Yarwood

Very enjoyable walk on a lovely Spring day (April 4th 2008) As I was returning I was invited to view the working water wheel in the Ramblers Worldwide Holidays building - very friendly people who have done an excellent job of restoration. No doubting their green credentials!

26/03/2008 - Robin Philpott

I did this walk, with my 9 year old daughter Ellie, on 25/3/08. It's a very pleasant route with plenty of variety and wildlife (we recorded 40 species of birds en route, numerous rabbits and a fox but, curiously, not a single squirrel) - more than enough to keep the interest of a youngster for the duration of the walk. I measured it at 10.3km with GPS.

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