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Hadham Hall to Little Hormead

I did this walk on Saturday 3rd February 2007. I drove up to Hertfordshire and parked by the small nature reserve at Patmore Heath. I then made my way for some 2.8 miles back down to Hadham Hall to resume my walk along the Hertfordshire Way. It had been a cold night with an almost full moon and the remains of a frost was lingering in the shady areas however it was another very calm day with completely blue skies and no wind and thus once again felt quite warm in the sunshine.

Hadham Hall
Fields nr Hadham Hall
Approaching Upwick Green
(1) Hadham Hall
(2) Fields nr Hadham Hall
(3) Approaching Upwick Green

The Hertfordshire Way passes through the arch of the building in photo 1 as it makes its way through the grounds of Hadham Hall. Leaving Hadham Hall the Hertfordshire Way runs along a farm track, photo 2, between fields that makes its way to a road by Upwick Hall. The path runs across the top of a broad hill which gives good views, photo 3, across the surrounding countryside which looked particularly nice in the clear winter sunlight.

Hertfordshire Way nr Upwick Green
Hertfordshire Way nr Upwick Green
Patmore Heath
(4) Hertfordshire Way nr Upwick Green
(5) Hertfordshire Way nr Upwick Green
(6) Patmore Heath

The path heads down the driveway of Upwick Hall and turns left on to a minor road for a short distance before turning right by Pillar Box cottage to take another track signposted Brooms farm that also runs between field, photo 4. Next to the path there were some lovely patches of snowdrops in undergrowth. As I was walking down the path from Upwick Green a Buzzard came flying across the fields quite low overhead heading towards Upwick Wood. I could hear its screeching calls carrying across on the wind. I tried taking a photo but by the time I had got my camera out and focused in the right place it had flown behind trees. All that remained visible was a distinctive wing tip. Leaving the track beside the fields the path crosses a small road and heads downhill along a broad track between low fences before climbing uphill towards the houses around the edge of Patmore Heath, photo 6, a 9ha SSSI.

Sheep, Patmore Heath
Fields nr Gravesend, Herts
Hounds by Oaken Spring, Herts
(7) Sheep, Patmore Heath
(8) Fields nr Gravesend, Herts
(9) Hounds by Oaken Spring, Herts

On the heath a number of sheep were grazing, photo 7, part of a programme to ensure the heath retains its character and does not become overgrown with shrubs and trees. The Hertfordshire Way crosses Patmore Heath and turns left down a minor road that leads into the small Hertfordshire village of Gravesend. Turning right along the road the Hertfordshire Way heads through the village and turns left down a bridleway at the end of the village. The bridleway heads downhill, once more between fields with could views across the countryside over the fields to small patches of woodland and clumps of trees, photo 8.. As I was walking along a hunt was taking place, I could hear the sound of the huntsman's horn and soon a number of horses and hounds appeared on the bridleway a short distance ahead. Disturbed by the noise a number of deer could be seen running across fields over to the right. The riders and dogs headed right past me as they made there way over to the woodland at Oaken Spring, photo 9. I continued on along the track until just past as isolated house the Hertfordshire Way turns to the right alongside a hedge, hearing the horn calls and the shouts to the hounds, as I progressed. The riders were split into a number of different groups and I passed quite a few horses on the way as well as cars of the hunt followers.

View towards Patient End
Fields nr Patient End
Hertfordshire Way nr Rotten Row
(10) View towards Patient End
(11) Fields nr Patient End
(12) Hertfordshire Way nr Rotten Row

I suppose with hunting being banned the technical term for what I witnessed was riding with dogs. From the location I assume the riders were members of the Puckeridge Hunt. After passing over a number of fields, photo 10, the Hertfordshire Way crosses a road and heads down a driveway towards Patients Farm and barns. Past the farmhouse the Hertfordshire Way turns left once more crossing wide open fields, photo 11, with the views all around seeming to get ever more expansive the further along the path I went. A mile or so after I had last seen them I crossed paths with the hunt party once again, heading from one patch of woodland to another. One of the female riders commented on passing "you're having an adventurous walk aren't you". Well adventurous may not be the right word but it was certainly a bit different. One downside of the horses was that there hooves were cutting up the paths quite badly which made them rather uneven to walk on. The path makes its way over fields once again towards some isolated building at Rotten Row. The route heads to the right along a road as it loops round the buildings before taking a footpath off to the left, photo 12, that heads gradually over the middle of a field towards a patch of woodland.

Old cars
Little Hormead Church
(13) Mutfords
(14) Old Cars
(15) Little Hormead Church

The route passes through the edge of a small patch of woodland heading down the left hand side of a field and then turning left to follow a hedge at the side of a truly enormous field for about of a mile. At a bend in the hedge the route of the Hertfordshire Way continues straight ahead across the field to reach a track by a hedge where the route turns right to head down to the green coloured buildings at Mutfords, photo 13. The path passes between the green farm buildings, bears to the left to take a track down to the right of the farmhouse and continues on, past a collection of old cars, photo 14, over another small stretch of field. At a hedge the route turns right and then left in quick succession to continue besides fields to reach the road at Little Hormead where I turned left down to Little Hormead Church, photo 15. The path passes through the churchyard of the attractive little church, which features a 800 year old front door, and takes a footpath downhill to Little Hormead Brook, photo 16, where I finished this stage of my walk around the Hertfordshire Way.

Approaching Little Hormead Brook
(16) Approaching Little Hormead Brook

At this point I had walked another 7.1 miles along the Hertfordshire Way and by the time I got back to my car a total of 14.3 miles for the day. With one or too very short exceptions my return route being the same as that I had already walked. As can be seen from the photos this was a very rural area of rolling farmland and it was hard to believe that London was less than an hours drive away.

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