Walk 1725 - St Margaret's circular via Widford
Walk Route Description
This walk follows sections of the Hertfordshire Way and the Harcamlow Way. The first few miles mostly follow public footpaths and bridleways across fields, alongside hedgerows, past woodland and across farmland. The latter stages feature the lakes of the Amwell Nature Reserve and part of the Lee Valley Navigation route alongside a canal.
St Margaret's railway station to Young Wood
With the Jolly Fisherman pub on your right, cross the bridge over the canal and walk up the main high street of Stanstead Abbots. At the end of the street, turn left along Cappell Lane. Leave this road to follow a path on the right signposted 'Public bridleway to Wareside 2 1/4', part of the Hertfordshire Way. Once you leave Stanstead Abbots behind, there is an open landscape of fields and hedgerows. Follow the route ahead as far as Young Wood and leave the Hertfordshire Way for now by bearing sharp right along part of the Harcamlow Way. In season, there are rose hips and sloe berries to be found around here. The significance of the name Harcamlow is that the route starts and finishes in Harlow in Essex and goes up to Cambridge.
Young Wood to Fillets Farm
The next stretch does not have the appearance of a footpath. Follow the edge of a field with a mixture of woodland and hedgerow on your left until a path across a field joins from the right. Pass through the hedge due north and, with the farm in view ahead, contour round the field to your right with a hedge on your left. Although it is not clear at this point that you are on a proper walking route, this impression changes when you get to the end of the hedgerow and a bridleway appears on the left. Follow this track to a T junction and turn left to reach the farm.
Fillets Farm to Widford
At the farm, when the route forks, bear right and, at the T junction, turn left. This track follows the edge of a field on the right and a public footpath sign shortly appears on the left. The Outdoor Leisure map 174 shows a track here passing Thistly Wood on the right but, having investigated this option, while it appeared promising initially with a clear path and public footpath signs, the route appeared to come to an abrupt halt at the next ploughed field. Ignore this turning, therefore, and follow the bridleway ahead for the next mile. The church spire and houses of Widford are clearly seen ahead long before you reach the village.
Widford to Watersplace Farm
Follow the main road to the left for about half a mile along a pavement. Leave the road when it bends sharp right and a public footpath appears opposite, part of the Hertfordshire Way again. A public bridleway (Number 19 to Mardocks 1.25) leads you initially through woods and then along the edge of a field. Looking back, the spire of the church at Widford can just be seen peeping over the edge of a sloping field. When the bridleway reaches a crossroads after about a mile, bear left with a house on the right and then turn right at the next T junction. This country lane leads ahead across a road bridge but take a path immediately to the left before the bridge to join up with the disused railway line that leads, in around a quarter of a mile, to Watersplace Farm. This is one of the more scenic points on the walk with its ford, footbridge and backdrop of fields and woods.
Watersplace Farm to Amwell Nature Reserve
Next the route heads in the opposite direction to the ford to follow a loop that passes near to Ware. Cross the main road ahead and follow the restricted public bridleway number 25 leading to Newhole Farm. The track passes the farm and skirts round to the left along Wood Lane.
At the end of the loop, cross back over the road, past Widburyhill Farm and there is a good view from up on a hill overlooking the town of Ware as the route goes downhill where it almost reaches the busy Hollycross Road. At the bottom of the hill, bear sharp left and then take the first grassy path on the right across a field to a gap in the hedgerow where a path leads both left and right between trees. Take the one on the right and this path leads you via a bridge under Hollycross Road to the Amwell Nature Reserve with its lakes and the canal.
Amwell Nature Reserve to St Margaret's station
Cross a footbridge over the canal, a fine viewpoint in both directions, with Hardmead Lock seen in the distance on the right. Turn left along the tow path, part of the River Lee Navigation route, and this path leads you past Stanstead Lock and back to Stanstead Abbotts, the Jolly Fisherman and the railway station of St Margaret's once more.