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09 September 2017: Buntingford and Aspenden

Event led by Roy L
Attendance: 13 men
Distance: 12.9km (8 miles)
Time: start 11:14, end 15:13, lunch 22 minutes
Terrain: footpath, bridleway, by-way open to all traffic, field edge, woodland, road/pavement.
Elevation: start 101m, high 120m, low 98m
Weather: hot sunny spells, cool overcast, 2 short bursts of torrential rain, 16°C (with wind 16°C)

This was an 8-mile circular walk from Buntingford Bowling Green Lane car park, SE to Aspenden, then an anti-clockwise loop wholly in the most rural of countryside within Cottered, Ardeley, Wood End, before return N into Aspenden, then using the same route back into Buntingford.

The route originated from a national newspaper.  Walk-leader Roy adapted the published route into a workable route.

After crossing the footbridge over the A10 Buntingford by-pass, we saw the splendour of Aspenden Hall, a grade 2 listed building, in the classical style, dating from the mid-Victorian era.  The Hall sits atop an undulation, below it a large pond and behind it views of the rolling countryside.

Next to the Hall is the grade 1 listed parish church of St Mary's.  On our first pass, somebody was rehearsing a performance on the church's organ.  On our second pass, we had the church as the backdrop to our group shot.

On our approach to Tannis Court - the name caused us some confusion - we encountered an unusual waymarker for Herts: a white arrow annotated "No through route."

We visited a small wood, passing an old moat, seeing an animal’s skull hung onto a tree, before using the East Herts Chain Walk southbound to the public byway Back Lane, a former Roman Road.  This was wide enough to look like a Roman dual-carriageway.  It appears to be an extension of Stane Street (Colchester to Braughing), from Braughing to Baldock.  It can be deduced from the Ordnance Survey map, but not from other tentative sources (here and, to the joy of Londoners, here).

We saw many beets in crop, in numerous fields.  We speculated that they might have been parsnips, but checked a crop identification book after the walk to confirm the crop’s identity.

We passed the site of the medieval village of Wakeley.  The site is now just an empty field.

At the end of the walk, Jez kindly provided tea & cakes for all 13 of us.  Comestibles included savoury quichlets, the world-famous Jez cheesecake, the world-famous Munir scones (presented in the Cornish style), two Swiss rolls, one Victoria sponge and an experimental Nadiya savoury chocolate tart.

This was the last walk that Roy & Charles shall organise for Herts GOC as they have moved from Hertfordshire to Northamptonshire, where they intend to contribute regularly to GOC East Midlands.  Herts GOC would like to thank Roy & Charles for their long years of support for the group, and their many contributions to it, since its inception in the mid-2000s.

Pics by Peter O’Connor.  Words by Martin Thornhill.

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