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11 December 2021: Harpenden, Rothamsted Park and Nickey Line with Brunch

Event led by Khris R.
Attendance: 17 men and 1 dog.
Distance: 5.73 miles (9.22 km).
Time: brunch start 10:30, walk start 11:40, end 14:14, no lunch.
Speed: brisk with long pauses, 2.2mph (3.58kmph)
Terrain: pavement, road, track, grass, footpath, bridleway, highway.
Elevation: start 98m, high 121m, low 98m.
Weather: overcast, clement, 10°C.
Number of sewage works: 0.
Number of churches: 1.
Number of golf courses: 0.


This was a circular(ish) walk of 5.73 miles (9.22 km) from Southdown, Harpenden, N through the town, then W along the Nickey Line, then ESE to a pub near the start point.

The walk started with an optional brunch at Café Aroma, Southdown, Harpenden, at which 9 walkers attended.

This being mid-December, the town was in Chrimbo mode. Various decorations had appeared – see also the group shot – and at St Nicholas’ Church, a small choir festival sang carols to a large crowd of ~100 residents with their children.

After a brief route through the residential areas of the town, we joined the disused railway, the Nickey Line, at its starting junction from the London Midland Service. This was a nice long stretch of unbroken walking in relative peace: this point of the railway is in a deep cutting, a few metres below street level, so it was quiet down there. The railway route changes quickly between cuttings and embankments to remain broadly flat amidst a landscape that is quite lumpy. As the railway headed out into the countryside, the land became flatter and the route more open.

The route took us in front of Rothamsted Manor (as a business, with interior pics), a grade 1 listed building which acts as a venue and is rumoured to await conversion to a hotel.

The route ended on Harpenden Common as daylight began to fade into evening. A lovely little walk with a sprinkling of Christmas magic for added sweetness.

The optional pub at the end was the Queen’s Head gastro-pub, at which 8 walkers attended.

The event was planned in line with GOC’s covid-secure policy. This walk required no particular mitigations.

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

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