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A grand loop through a historic home county — Hertfordshire Way

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A grand loop through a historic home county — Hertfordshire Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

17

Tours

82:07 h

194 mi

8,800 ft

Hertfordshire is a beautiful county that occupies the rural pastures to the north of London’s urban sprawl. It’s home to countless attractive towns and villages, most of which are well served by public transport. This means it’s easy to explore the region’s patchwork countryside, vibrant waterways, chalk escarpments, historic ruins, wildlife-rich wetlands, grand country estates and bluebell woodlands.

The Hertfordshire Way is a grand loop of the county, linking many of its charming towns, picture postcard villages and natural beauty spots. During this varied and spellbinding journey, you venture into the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), explore the vibrant Lea Valley and discover miles and miles of woodland trails, protected areas of greenbelt and gorgeous nature reserves.

The Way’s total length is either around 166 miles or 195 miles (267 km or 314 km) depending on which route you take between Cuffley and Hertford. It begins in rural northeast Hertfordshire in the historic town of Royston and embarks on an anti-clockwise circuit.

Highlights along the way include: St Albans, a city boasting a rich Roman heritage and an impressive ancient cathedral; the Ashridge Estate, a magnificent area of woodland, commons and chalk downland with a grand mansion; the county town of Hertford, where four rivers meet; and Perry Green, the village that’s home to the great sculptor Henry Moore’s Studios and Gardens.

In this Collection, I’ve split the Way into 15 stages of between 7.5 and 14 miles (11 and 22.5 km) in length and have also included two additional stages to represent the official longer alternative to the original route. These two stages replace stage 11 between Cuffley and Hertford.

Most stages end near accommodation and places to eat. When these are sparse, I name alternatives in the Tour descriptions. The county is very well served by railway links and many of the stages end near stations. This makes picking up the Way and tackling it one chunk at a time a great option.

Hertfordshire is a relatively populous and affluent county so you’re never far from the next town or village, which makes the Way a good choice as a first long-distance trail. Finding places to stock up on supplies or to grab a bite to eat is easy and the trail is flat and waymarked throughout.

Regardless, it’s always worth carrying water and a little spare food, just in case. Sun cream is essential during the warmer months, while you should always have waterproof layers handy, whatever the forecast. There are plenty of rugged woodland trails and rough farm tracks, so I recommend decent hiking footwear too.

The official start and end point at Royston is around an hour’s train journey from London’s Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.

On The Map

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Hertfordshire Way original route

167 mi

7,850 ft

7,850 ft

Last updated: August 2, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Royston to Clothall — Hertfordshire Way

    Difficult
    05:31
    12.9 mi
    2.3 mph
    700 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    During the first stage, you hike across north Hertfordshire’s beautiful heath and farmland, visiting picturesque villages on your way from the town of Royston to the village of Wallington.

    

    The Way officially starts at the Royce Stone, an ancient glacial erratic brought to the town from Northern England

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    03:46
    8.95 mi
    2.4 mph
    325 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The second stage explores a lovely area of greenbelt between the towns of Stevenage, Letchworth and Hitchin. The countryside is delightful, the walking is easygoing and the villages visited en route are full of rural charm.

    

    Return to where the first stage left off and follow the Way south into the village

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:46
    11.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    750 ft
    600 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a beautiful stage that explores a succession of villages that occupy fine spots in distinctively Chiltern-esque surroundings, despite not being within the boundaries of the Chiltern Hills AONB. You discover a serene chalky river, a haunted chapel ruin, delightful timber-framed villages and more

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:59
    11.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    475 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This wonderful stage snakes through the Hertfordshire countryside to finish in the historic city of St Albans, with its rich Roman heritage and stunning Norman cathedral. En route, you cross the River Lea, discover an Iron Age earthwork and skirt one of England’s newest woodlands.

    

    From Ayot St Lawrence

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:18
    10.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    375 ft
    275 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage begins by exploring Verulamium Park, the historic site of the major Roman town of Verulamium, before shadowing the River Ver upstream through the villages of Redbourn, Flamstead and finishing in Markyate.

    

    You begin by following the Way through Verulamium Park. Verulamium was once the second

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:49
    11.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    750 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    During this stage, you enter the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a landscape characterised by vibrant wooded hills that hide charming towns and quaint villages within their folds. The stage takes you through the Ashridge Estate and past the grand Ashridge House before it ends

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    03:20
    7.90 mi
    2.4 mph
    300 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage explores more of the vibrant Ashridge Woodlands, before descending to the Grand Union Canal at Berkhamsted. Here, you discover a historic castle ruin, before shadowing the canal to the stage’s end at the pleasant village of Bourne End.

    

    From Tring Station, you ascend back into the glorious woodland

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    03:20
    7.77 mi
    2.3 mph
    425 ft
    475 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This short stage between the villages of Bourne End and Kings Langley arcs through some beautiful greenbelt countryside. You discover a patchwork of woodland, heath and farmland scenery, which are a real treat in spring and summer, when they are at their most colourful.

    

    From Bourne End, you stride out

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:14
    12.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    625 ft
    500 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage ventures within the M25 London Orbital motorway, exploring large areas of protected greenbelt, such as the vibrant Bricket Wood Common, and some attractive commuter villages.

    

    From Kings Langley, you venture east, crossing the M25 and skirting the northern edge of Abbots Langley through fields

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:50
    11.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    400 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage heads east, skirting the northern reaches of Potters Bar to end in the village of Cuffley. En route you discover some gorgeous little villages, vibrant farmland and historic parkland.

    

    To begin, you arc around Shenley and venture east along footpaths and minor roads, crossing under the M25 alongside

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:28
    12.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    650 ft
    725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Beyond Cuffley, the Way splits in two, with the original route taking you to Hertford via Essendon and the newer alternative taking a longer path via Broxbourne. This is the original route, which arcs through undulating countryside, taking you to the villages of Essendon, Little Berkhamsted and Bayford

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:54
    14.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    625 ft
    500 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This lovely, rural stage follows the River Beane north to the historic Woodhall Park, before meandering east to the villages of Wadesmill and Thundbridge on either side of the River Rib.

    

    From Hertford, head northwest, crossing both the Rivers Lea and Beane. The latter you then follow upstream for 4 miles

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:54
    11.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    425 ft
    475 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage initially heads north alongside the River Ash to the ancient village of Much Hadham, before turning back on itself and arcing through Perry Green, home to a remarkable sculpture garden. From here, the Way ventures northeast and enters the historic market town of Bishop’s Stortford.

    

    From Widford

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:23
    12.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Once you leave Bishop’s Stortford behind, this is a delightfully rural stage that takes you across wonderful Hertfordshire countryside. There are no settlements of any great size, just charming hamlets and open pastures.

    

    From the centre of Bishop’s Stortford, retrace your steps from the previous stage

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:20
    12.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage heads through rural East Hertfordshire, taking you through colourful fields and charming villages to where the Way ends at the Royce Stone in Royston.

    

    Initially, head east and skirt the village of Great Hormead, before venturing north to the village of Anstey. Admire the Gothic Revival

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:07
    12.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    525 ft
    650 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Beyond Cuffley, the Way splits in two, with the original route taking you to Hertford via Essendon and the newer alternative taking a longer path via Broxbourne.

    This is the first stage of the alternative route, which takes you to the village of Goffs Oak before heading north and exploring the wonderful

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:08
    12.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    300 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This is the second stage of the alternative route from Cuffley to Hertford, which takes you from Broxbourne, through the wildlife-rich Lea Valley to Hertford, making use of the New River Path, the Greenwich Meridian Trail and the Lea Valley Walk long-distance trails.

    

    From Broxbourne, you follow the New

    by Alex Foxfield

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    17
  • Distance
    194 mi
  • Duration
    82:07 h
  • Elevation
    8,800 ft

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