Gay Outdoor Club
The activity club for gay men and women and their friends

13 August 2016: Hoddesdon “Cock ‘n’ Balls”

18 Aug 2016 | Hertfordshire Group

Event led by Peter O, route designed in 2014
Attendance: 20 men
Distance: 8.1 miles
Time: start 11.11am, end 3.17pm, lunch 40 minutes
Terrain: Hardstanding, farm track, gravel path, woodland track, grass
Elevation: start 43m, high 106m, low 42m
Weather: Mostly overcast with sunny spells, moderate westerly winds
Number of nature reserves on the walk: 3

 

This was a circular route of 8.1 miles from Barclay Park in Hoddesdon, NNW to Hertford Heath, S to Hoddesdon Park Wood and E to Barclay Park.

The walk started with a route through Hoddesdon’s Barclay Park, which has been lovingly restored and tended by a Friends group since 2011. The park was originally part of the High Leigh Estate, which was the family home of Robert Barclay (1843-1921) of the banking dynasty. Following his death, the family gifted 7.4 hectares of land to the people of Hoddesdon, and Barclay Park opened on 12 May 1937. The park includes a lake and the Jubilee Walk, which was created by the Friends of Barclay Park in 2012 to commemorate Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

We then walked to Haileybury College, an independent boarding school established in 1862, though the main buildings date to 1806, when it was originally the East India College. The school is so prestigious that even its cricket pavilion is a listed building. We managed to squeeze in a group shot in front of the buildings.

Immediately after the College, we entered Hertford Heath Nature Reserve, managed by the local Wildlife Trust. The reserve is split into two parts, with the village of Hertford Heath in the middle, which was once the site of a settlement of the Catuvellauni (the local Celtic tribe). The village includes a green, several pubs and a Holy Trinity Church, built in 1863 and restored in 1913. The village lies on the course of the Roman Road known as Ermine Street, and we followed this route south to Balls Wood, another Wildlife Trust nature reserve. At other times of the year, butterflies such as the white admiral and flowers such as herb-paris might be seen here, but not today. It was pretty quiet but lovely and green. We had lunch here, in the shade.

After lunch, we left Balls Wood and rejoined Elbow Lane, the present name for this part of Ermine Street, and reached Hoddesdon Park Wood, which forms part of Hertfordshire’s only National Nature Reserve, Broxbourne Woods. Hoddesdon Park Wood is owned by the Woodland Trust. The reserve is notable for being home to the rare purple emperor butterfly. At the exit to the wood, we found a notice advertising a recent dog show, which we thought appropriate for the group as the awards included “catch the sausage”, “senior handler” and “prettiest bitch” (see photo).

On returning to Hoddesdon, we walked through the Lucy Warren Open Space, which is quite barren and appears to have been created on a former landfill site. Footpaths between houses and across fields of rabbits took us back to Barclay Park. We then visited The Golden Lion pub on Hoddesdon High Street for refreshments.

Group shot with Haileybury College in the background

Group shot with Haileybury College in the background

Cock... and...

Cock... and...

... Balls. Geddit?

... Balls. Geddit?

A sample of Barclay Park

A sample of Barclay Park

Jubilee Walk, a sample of Barclay Park

Jubilee Walk, a sample of Barclay Park

Pond, a sample of Barclay Park

Pond, a sample of Barclay Park

Haileybury College (at least, the bit we saw)

Haileybury College (at least, the bit we saw)

Hertford Heath Nature Reserve

Hertford Heath Nature Reserve

Hertford Heath village church

Hertford Heath village church

Balls Wood

Balls Wood

Ermine Street

Ermine Street

Hoddesdon Park Wood

Hoddesdon Park Wood

It's fun, Mr Clary, but not as we know it.

It's fun, Mr Clary, but not as we know it.

Lucy Warren Open Space

Lucy Warren Open Space

The Golden Lion

The Golden Lion

Words and pictures by Peter O'Connor.

 
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