Event led by Peter O
Attendance: 7 men
Distance: 9.6 miles (15.5 km)
Time: start 11:18, end 15:49, lunch 34 minutes
Terrain: track, grass, woodland, crop field, tarmac
Elevation: start 90m, high 152m, low 88m
Weather: hot sun, dry, little cloud, light wind SW 9mph, 25°C
Number of woodlands on the walk: 7
Number of churches on the walk: 1
Pictures, with captions.
The Great Ashby neighbourhood started its development in 1999 within the parish of Graveley in the district of North Hertfordshire, on its border with Stevenage. The neighbourhood has its own shops and community centre but uses - free-rides off! - Stevenage’s infrastructure. A 2010 referendum saw the creation of Great Ashby Community Council and a new parish for Great Ashby.
Great Ashby was built around five areas of ancient woodland: Claypithills Spring, Thirlmere Wood, Serpentine Wood, Hangbois Wood and Brooches Wood. North Hertfordshire District Council manages these woods, publishing a route map. Our walk used part of the route marked on the map with red dots, in two phases. The first phase was to enter from the north, pass through Claypithills Spring, then exit the map NE into Great Ashby District Park. The second phase was to enter from SE into Thirlmere Wood, then followed the red dots to Great Ashby Way, took a shortcut to resume the red dot route, then went into Brooches Wood, exiting the map N. Hangbois Wood was too overgrown to enter.
Off the map, we also visited three other woods nearby: Box Wood, Pryor’s Wood and New Spring.
New Spring is within the scope a proposed “Great Ashby Mark 2”, part of North Herts DC Local Plan 2011-2031. The plan is to build 600 new dwellings at a construction rate of 100 dwellings per year. The proposal plans to rely on utility infrastructure built originally for Stevenage (para 15, waste water going to Rye Meads). Appendix 1 of the Statement of Common Ground shows the proposed extent of an addition to the north of Great Ashby. Our route left Brooches Wood northbound, then went NW to New Spring, NE to Dell Spring (which is a large hole with stagnant water in it). A wider view of NHDC’s local plans suggests that Longdell Wood is to be preserved (PDF page 188 of 230).
Words by Peter O’Connor and Martin Thornhill. Pictures by Peter O’Connor.