Event led by Julian S.
Attendance: 10 men and 2 cute doggies
Distance: 7.3 miles / 11.8km
Time: start 11:06, end 14:34, lunch 22 minutes
Terrain: Pavement, road, track, field.
Elevation: start 163m, high 163m, low 126m
Weather: light snow first ¾ of walk, cold (2°C, felt like -2°C).
Number of churches on the walk: 3
Number of libraries in telephone booths on the walk: 2
Throughout this walk, we took in a lot of pleasant countryside, today blessed with a light dusting of snow. This stripped the landscape of its usual winter colours, leaving behind a beautiful bleakness. All of the villages in this area boast a full complement of pretty cottages, a sample of which are in the pics.
Starting outside the Fox and Duck pub in Therfield amid light snowfall, we headed southbound on the road to Hay Green, then followed a long section of byway, apparently known as Kelshall Lane, and then turning onto Notley Lane, leading to Notley Green. This also forms part of the Icknield Way Trial and one of the Hertfordshire Chain Walks. On the way we passed a small nature reserve, Hawkins Wood, managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, though we did not visit the reserve.
We then headed to Green End and visited Blagrove Common, another HMWT nature reserve, known for a wide range of orchid species that grow there, but none at this time of year. The site was particularly attractive with its icing of snow.
We then reached Roe Green, a hamlet spread around a large green, stopping here for lunch and a group shot in front of a thatched cottage, which is called The Old Anchor, a former pub dating to the 17th century. We took advantage of some benches in the open field, and sensibly made this is a very quick lunch in the sub-zero temperatures.
After lunch, we moved onto Sandon, re-visiting the grade I listed All Saints Church, that we last saw a few years ago, noteworthy for its extraordinary (and rather unsubtle) 17th-century red-brick buttressing to keep the tower upright. In the churchyard was a patch white snowdrops and brilliant yellow winter aconites.
The next leg of our journey passed through Kelshall and its 15th century grade II* listed church, dedicated to St Faith. On the day, the church was scaffolded and a bright pink portaloo was plonked outside the churchyard. Kelshall also contains the remains of two medieval crosses, a 15th century one in the church yard and a 14th century one on the village green, which was found in a pond in 1906. The older cross now sits beside the modern Millennium Cross.
On return to Therfield, we passed the 14th century, grade II listed Church of St Mary the Virgin. We then collapsed into the Fox & Duck to warm up. The Fox & Duck is a Greene King pub (as at 12Feb2017, the pub has yet to appear on the group’s website, so perhaps it is a new acquisition). Food service was in full swing, with a number of parties and families finishing lunch. The smell of seafood was overpowering and enticingly delicious. The beer was maintained well. Coffees were served with intriguing petits fours, a jelly of lemonade and Martini, an almond biscotti and a lump of dark chocolate ganache. A pub to note for a future January lunch?
Pics by Peter O'Connor. Text by Peter O'Connor and Martin Thornhill.