A steady drop, a steep climb and a hidden hamlet
3.5 miles (6 km)
This walk is rich in variety, with a good downhill stretch for striding out, a steady climb back up to Essendon and, halfway round, the quiet hamlet of Howe Green. You cross the golf course twice and pass a quarry, but don't be put off, the views are spectacular and the flora, particularly near the quarry, is rich.
A user of this site has mailed suggest a warning be issued with this walk to be careful for flying golf balls and that walkers should not making a noise if someone is attempting a shot. Towards the end, the route skirts the north and west side of Essendon, via a charming path that weaves its way around the village and returns past the cricket field. A great walk for getting the heart pounding.
- Park in the village of Essendon. A good place is near the church where the walk begins.
- Head south until you reach School Lane on your left. There is a signpost to 'School and Village Hall'.
- Continue down School Lane until you reach the school on your right and East View on your left. Your way is down a footpath between the two.
- Continue down the path as it crosses the golf course. Walk straight, heading for the quarry to the north-east.
- Leave the golf course and cross a footpath junction and a ford and climb the hill, keeping the quarry on your left, until you reach a step stile on the left. Here the path forks, with one going over the step stile and the other going stright on. You can take either as they both end up in the same place.
- When you reach the lane, turn right and follow the lane round past Ashfield House on the left and Ashfield Cottage on the right, until the lane turns right and into Ashfield Farm.
- Here you will see a footpath on you left to Howe Green. Cross the stile and follow this path, keeping the hedge on your right.
- When the hedge ends, look diagonally ahead and slightly to your left, and you will see a large new house. To the right of the house is a wooden bridge. Head in this direction.
- Cross the bridge and go straight, keeping the house on your left, until you emerge into a country lane.
- Turn left here and follow the lane as it weaves round to the left. Soon, after a left bend and some white stone markers, you come to an old oak tree on the right and a stile.
- Cross the stile into a field and head straight over and down the hill to another stile.
- You now cross a bridge made of old railway sleepers and emerge on the lane leading to the quarry. Turn right and follow the lane until it meets the Essendon - Hertford road.
- Turn left, taking care here because the traffic can be busy. Almost immediately on your left, you will see a footpath sign and stile. Cross the stile and enter the golf course again.
- Here the path climbs steadily up over the golf course towards Essendon church. You will see the church tower and steeple in the distance.
- Follow this paved path as climbs the hill. After a green it forks left. Ignore this turn and continue on paved path to your right.
- The paved path crosses a brick footbridge and over the fairway on your right you will see a lake.
- Continue until you reach the point where the path skirts the left hand side of a green and reaches a fork. Take the left hand fork, and look out for a wooden footpath marker on your right pointing through the grass and then across the fairway.
- Follow these markers across the fairway and follow the path through the trees until it emerges in a field.
- Cross the field, keeping the house on your left, until you come to the B158.
- Cross the road and take the footpath heading south-east and skirting the village.
- When you enter this field, you will notice two houses on the far side. Head for the right of the house on the right and exit the field through a gate, emerging on West End Lane.
- Turn left and walk along the lane a short distance and, almost immediately on your right, you will come across a footpath. This footpath has several bachelor gates as it twists its way round the village before opening up into a meadow.
- You will see the cricket ground buildings on your left as the path heads diagonally south-west and downhill into woodland.
- When you reach the woods turn left and head back to the village, skirting the right hand side of the cricket ground.
- This path leads to the main road, where you turn left and head back to wherever you parked the car.
- If you want refreshments, The Rose and Crown is on your right and on the other side of the road, as you leave the cricket ground.