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08 March 2014: Much Hadham & Henry Moore sculptures

Event route planned and designed by Martin T in 2012.

Weather: mainly sunny with cloud cover, dry, south-westerly winds ~8mph, 14°C, no wind-chill.  Noticeably warm for time of year.

Attendance: 21 attendees, of whom 1 prospective member of GOC.  20 males, 1 female.

Time: start 1113, end 1540, lunch 42 minutes.  Walking average speed 2.3mph.

Terrain: pavement, footpath, bridleway, field-edge, lots of mud.

This walk was a circular route of 8.4m from Much Hadham, S to Widford, across the River Ash, then N back to Much Hadham.  The route ascended both sides of the Ash Valley.

Much Hadham is one of Hertfordshire's most attractive and conservative villages.  Nearly every building along the High Street is listed.  The village was the residence of the Bishop of London for centuries, the legacy of which has been a wealth of construction over time.  The village is maintained to a high standard.

After enjoying a quarter-mile of the High Street, the route ascended the first of its valley sides, walking past Moor Place, a country house built in ~1775.  The adjacent yard features some new construction, which looks like big, posh housing.

The route descended to the valley floor, crossing the disused railway from Buntingford to Hertford, walking alongside the River Ash for a short distance.  The river's level was relatively high, following the heavy rains earlier in the year.  We stopped for coffee prior to climbing a steep hill into Widford.  Widford and the route to Nether Street featured a number of thatched cottages and a free public house, the Green Man.

The route entered Mill Wood, climbing up the Ash's eastern valley side for the second time, over disused landfill and into fields adjacent to the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green.  Henry Moore's Foundation aims to encourage public appreciation of visual arts, which means placing lumps of semi-abstract monumental artwork in the middle of the countryside.  Various sculptures are visible from the public footpath, including Large Reclining Figure, Reclining Figure: Angles, Large Figure in a Shelter (see also group photo), Double Oval and Square Form with Cut.  Lunch was in the grounds of the Foundation, between two sculptures, Mother & Child: Block Seat and Large Totem Head.  The lunch point was two-thirds along the route.

After lunch, the route continued N to Green Tye, passing a number of greenhouses in which tomato crops grow, and a free public house and micro-brewery, the Prince of Wales.  From this point, the route headed NW to Much Hadham, largely down the valley side.  This presented some wonderful views of the Ash Valley and Much Hadham, bathed in mid-afternoon winter sun.  An unusual Victorian-gothic style building punctured the landscape.

At the end point was St Andrews with Holy Cross, a church shared between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.  The Church features a tall lead spire on its main tower, in the typical Hertfordshire style.  The inside of the Church is mainly Church of England, the main clue to the church's shared use being an inscription over the main entrance, "Go and sin no more".

The pub at the end of the walk was The Bull, Much Hadham.

Pictures by Peter O'Connor and Martin Thornhill, 2014.


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