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A growing collection of free walks suitable for all ages, from an hour-long potter to half-day hikes. We have walking tips for those new to rambling and a comment box beneath every walk for your feedback - you may need to disable any ad blocker to add comments.

Walk 5: The River Lea Loop

Rolling hills, open vistas and a secluded pub

3 miles (5 km)

Image for walk 13, The Candlestick Loop, created by The Hertfordshire Walker and released under Creative Commons

This is a fairly short but stretching walk down from West End along bridleways, footpaths, and country lanes to the banks of the River Lea and back up to West End. It offers marvellous open views north across the Hertfordshire countryside and has the benefit of beginning and ending at The Candlestick pub.

The part along the river can be muddy after rain but the going is good for most of the route.

Map for walk 5, The River Lea Loop, created by David Brewer, map elements copyright MapHub and Thunderforest


  1. If you intend to end this walk with refreshments at the Candlestick pub at West End, you can park in the pub car park, otherwise park on the lane.
  2. Leave the pub car park and turn right. Almost directly opposite you on the left is a quiet lane leading uphill to cottages on your right.
  3. Follow the lane as it climbs the hill. When you reach the last cottage at the top you will see a footpath (Essendon footpath 12) heading north. Turn right here and follow the path downhill for about 1km until you reach Hillend Cottages.
  4. Join the quiet lane (Essendon footpath 96) here and continue walking almost straight north downhill, heading for the river.
  5. Three quarters of the way down you will see a footpath (Essendon footpath 8) to the right shortly after a lane to Hillend Farm. The path is marked with grey dashes on the map above. This path is a possible shortcut if you are feeling tired, but it can be a difficult route through crops in the summer.
  6. We prefer to continue down the lane until it veers left. At this point you turn right along a bridleway (Essendon bridleway 75) keeping the river on your left.
  7. The path bends slightly left, then right, but continues in a mainly straight line for about 1km until you reach a bridelway joining from the right (Essendon bridleway 10). Take this path and begin a fairly steady climb uphill heading south out of the valley and back up to West End.
  8. When you rejoin the West End to Essendon lane, turn right and follow the lane round to the left and back to the Candlestick pub.

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