HERTFORDSHIRE CHAIN WALK - LINKS 13, 14 and 15
Circular from Cottered via Sandon and Therfield

 Cottered
Fields nr Cottered
Fields nr Throcking
(1) Cottered
(2) Fields nr Cottered
(3) Fields nr Throcking

I walked these sections of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk on 15th April 2006. It was a grey gloomy morning more fitting to Winter than Spring and quite chilly for the time of year. I parked in side rod in Cottered which is on the Hertfordshire Chain walk, close to where links 12 and 13 join up, photo 1. The path turns left by the wheelie bin at the left of the road and runs along the edge of a field behind house to cross the A507, photo 2, although this is obscured by the mist.
The path then makes it way across fields, photo 3, in a rather roundabout way crossing one field only to then turn around and cross back the other way to eventually join the Throcking Road, just before Whytegates Farm. I guess the route must be following established rights of way but it would have made more sense to just go round the top of the field boundary. With the recent rain and the damp weather the fields were very muddy and my boots and trousers were soon caked in mud.

View towards Broadfield Hall
Looking towards Bush Wood
Field nr Little Manor Farm
(4) View towards Broadfield Hall
(5) Looking towards Bush Wood
(6) Field nr Little Manor Farm

From the Throcking Road the path turns up past Coles Green Farm and heads across fields in the direction of Broadfield Hall which can just about be made out through the mist in photo 4. On the way the path passes under a couple of rows of Electricity pylons. For probably the first time on the entire walk I needed to concentrate to follow the route of the path as the paths across the fields in this area were not always evident on the ground and in a number of places field boundaries that were marked on the map have been dug up to make larger fields. Having said that, on all occasions I was able to spot footpath markers in the distance to give me something to aim for as I crossed the fields but it was not quite as straightforward as following a clearly defined path. As the crops grow bigger I guess the route of the paths will become easier to see or the farmer may spray the path. Once past the first set of electricity pylons the quality of paths improved and remained better for the rest of the day. It really was only the first couple of miles that were a bit difficult. From Broadfield Hall the path heads past Bush Wood, photo 5 before turning north by Park wood to head up to Little Manor Farm where the next link of the chain walk is joined. The path heads past the farm and across various fields, photo 6, for three quarters of a mile to join a road to the East of Southern Green. On this stretch I saw a considerable number of yellowhammers flying about in the hedges, the first I had spotted for some years.

Another trackless field
Walk signposts
Violets
(7) Another trackless field
(8) Walk signposts
(9) Violets

The route of the Hertfordhire Chain Walk heads up the road towards Offley Green, past the gardens of a small group of houses at Friars Grange and on across fields towards Roe Green. While there was no clear path across the final field, photo 7, fortunatly the soil was not to damp and did not stick to my boots to any great extent. Crossing the field I could see numerous deer tracks in the soil. At Roe Green the Hertfordshire Chain Walk links up with the routes of both the Hertfordshire Way and the Icknield Way, photo 8. For the next couple of miles the paths keep bumping into each other as they both take slighlty different routes in the same general direction. Passing through Sandon the Hertfordshire Chain Walk meets up with the next chain of the walk, near Sandon Church. The route of the path follows main road out of the village towards Notley Green where the path turns left up a road for a short distance and then left again along Notley Lane. There were a few spring flowers out in the lane including a small group of violets, photo 9.

Notley lane
Deer nr Collins Green
Approaching Therfield
(10) Notley Lane
(11) Deer nr Collins Green
(12) Approaching Therfield

As I approached Philpotts Wood a hare appeared briefly on the path in front of me, stopping for a quick look before running off into the fields. The path leaves Notley Lane, photo 9, and cuts across fields to join another green lane, Kelshall Lane. Between the two lanes I spotted a couple of groups of deer. There were 27 in biggest group most of which can be seen running off in photo 11, alongside the route of the path. (Click green text to see a larger version). From Kelshall Lane the path goes onto Ducks Green before turning across fields to Therfield, photo 12.

Thatched Houses, Therfield
Church of St Mary Virgin, Therfield
Path towards Kelshall
(13) Thatched Houses, Therfield
(14) Church of St Mary Virgin, Therfield
(15) Path towards Kelshall

Therfield was a very attractive little village, photo 13, with numerous interesting buildings. The path turns left down a road opposite the pub that leads to the Church of St Mary Virgin, photo 14. Passing through the churchyard the path heads across more fields towards the village of Kelshall, photo 15.

Fields nr Kelshall
Path to Sandon Church
All Saints Church, Sandon
(16) Fields nr Kelshall
(17) Path to Sandon Church
(18) All Saints Church, Sandon

At the road the path turns left for a short distance before taking a footpath off to the right that heads in the direction of the church. Just before the church is reached the path heads off to the left again through a complicated series of small fenced off fields. Eventually a larger field is reached that takes the path to a road by Woodcotes Farm. This is one of the highest sections of the walk and there were reasonable views across to the North West, photo 16, although these did not really come out in the photo due to the weather. The path then makes it way along the road back towards Sandon, turning on to a narrow tree lined path between fields, photo 17, that leads to Sandon Church. Going along the path a cross in the graveyard could be seen on the horizon at the end of the path. The path passes All Saints Church in Sandon, photo 18, an unusual church that almost seems like two buildings stuck together, and heads back to the main road past the village green. The village sign featured a white goose and sure enough one was sitting on the grass close to the sign. This completed what I have currently made the 15th link of the chain walk.

Caravans, Sandon
Field nr Mill End
View towards Little Manor Farm
(19) Caravans, Sandon
(20) Field nr Mill End
(21) View towards Little Manor Farm

From Sandon the path then takes a footpath that runs past a house, not far from the village pond, that leads diagonally across a field to cross a small stream where a footpath that runs alongside a field towards Tichney Wood is joined. In the field there were a couple of old style wooden caravans, photo 19, very much in use. I stopped for a lunchbreak by Tichney Wood before continuing along footpaths over fields towards Mill End. The field in photo 20 managing to look remarkably similar to the one in photo 15. On the way I saw a number of long tailed tits. Just before the road at Mill End is reached the path passes through someones garden before going through a very overgrown peice of footpath to the road. The path continues along the road for just a few yards before taking another footpath off to the right that heads in a generally Southerly direction over fields, photo 21, back to Little Manor Farm to complete the 14th? link of the chain walk.

Road nr Broadfield Hall
View towards Cottered
Cottered
(22) Road nr Broadfield Hall
(23) View towards Cottered
(24) Cottered

As before the path heads past the farm and across various fields for three quarters of a mile to join a road to the East of Southern Green. This time around I turned left onto the road and headed down towards Broadfield Hall, photo 22. Just past the driveway to Broadfield Hall the route of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk turns right onto a footpath that heads in a South Westerly direction towards Cottered, photo 23. Whilst walking across this section I spotted another hare in the field. After passing through a number of fields and under the two sets of Electricity Pylons crossed much earlier in the day the path reaches Bull Lane and heads down to the A507 in the centre of Cottered from where it was just a short walk along the main road back to the car.
Having completed these sections of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk I now have just one more left to do complete the walk however I must have gone wrong somewhere as that will make 16 links in the chain and the description of the guidebook published by the East Herts Footpath Society states "A series of 15 linked circular walks ". So somewhere I must have made two links out of one!! My guess it is what I made links 7 and 8 may just be one link that does not quite meet in the middle of the walk. I am going to try and get a a copy of the guidebook and can see myself having to do some re numbering of the pages.

The GPS made this walk 15.3 miles long. The walk was through a very rural area mainly along paths running across farmland as seen in the rather similar photos' above. There was only one significant stretch of road walking just past Sandon heading towards Therfield. Once again, generally easy walking over pleasant countryside and still under an hours drive from London.

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