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Walk 63: Gobions Wood

Woodland paths through a former ornamental garden


(2 miles 3.2 km)


Photograph of Folly Arch taken from Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Folly Arch taken from Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

A well-signposted walk through what was once the 18th century pleasure garden belonging to the former Gobions Estate. The site is now a woodland reserve famous for its bluebells, wood anemones, fungi, and birdlife. The reserve is managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, is open all year round, and entry is free of charge. There is free car parking in the nearby local authority car park.


Computer generated map for walk 63 Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Computer generated map for walk 63 Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


Directions


1: Park in the North Mymms Parish Council car park at the bottom of Jonas Way off Moffats Lane, Brookmans Park, AL9 7RW. Take the southern exit from the car park walking past the play area on your right. When you reach the end of the play area turn right and walk to the gap in the hedge.


Photograph taken along walk 63 Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The north-west entrance to Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

2: You will see a footpath on your left with a sign for Gobions Wood. Take this path and continue heading south until you see a footbridge over Ray Brook. Just before the footbridge you can take a short detour to your left to view the site of the old disused sewage works (Marker P on map).


Photograph of the old sewage works in Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The old sewage works in Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

To continue the walk, return to the path and continue heading south across the footbridge. Once across, turn left and head east with Ray Brook on your left.


Photograph of the footbridge over Ray Brook Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footbridge over Ray Brook
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


3: When you reach a clearing, the path diverges left and right. You take the right fork, climbing slightly and heading south-east, before veering to the left and continuing along the Gobions southern path in an easterly direction. You will cross a small footbridge, descend a flight of steps, and climb up to a series of wood and steel bridges.


Photograph of one of the footbridge over the former ornamental pond in Gobions Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
One of the footbridges along the route
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


4: Continue on the southern path crossing the first of the bridges and head east. At this point you are entering the main part of Gobions Wood, designed by Charles Bridgeman, a famous 18th century landscape gardener. Below is a sketch of garden by Michael Jonas, based on a map of 1735, and the directions for a walk written in 1774. For more on the history of Gobions Wood and the ornamental garden, please visit our history site for a feature on the history and evolution of Gobions from 1718.


Sketch by Michael Jonas of the route taken by the author of a walk round Gobions written in 1774. Image from the former Gobions Woodland Trust
Scan of map of Gubbins Estate c 1774. Image from the former Gobions Woodland Trust


5: Continue heading east until you reach a track crossing your way. You are now at what was considered to be the centre of the ornamental garden, where a statue of Hercules once stood. To the left is a brick bridge over Ray Brook, close to a line of redwoods. To your right you can see Folly Arch through the trees in the distance.


Photograph of the old brick-faced bridge in Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The old brick bridge in Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Straight ahead you will see a path with blue and red topped markers leading down to what was the canal, another ornamental feature, pictured below in its heyday, and again in modern times (Marker C on the map above). It's worth taking this five minute detour.


Scan of a coloured etching of the canal at Gobions Image from the former Gobions Woodland Trust
A coloured etching of the canal at Gobions
Image from the former Gobions Woodland Trust


Photograph of the canal in Gobions today with one of the dog memorial benches in front Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The canal in Gobions today with one of the dog memorial benches in front
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Return to the path you were on and continue heading south past another information board. Here you will have a good view out over the fields to Folly Arch.


Photograph of one of tne information signs in Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
One of the information signs in Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


Photograph of Folly Arch taken from Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Folly Arch taken from Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


Keeping to your left, and follow the path as it continues to head east along the southern boundary of Gobions Wood. At this point look to your left to see what was once the Gobions bowling green, now a flat piece of the woodland floor covered in undergrowth (Marker B on the map above). The two pictures below show the bowling green, first when it was a feature of the garden, and again as it was in March 2018.


Etching of The Bowling Green at Gubbins 1748.  (courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection)
Etching of The Bowling Green at Gubbins 1748
Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Photograph of the old bowling green in Gobions Wood, now overgrown with trees and shrubs Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The old bowling green in Gobions Wood, the gnarled hornbeam is at what was the centre
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

6: Continue to follow the path as it weaves its way through an area rich in bluebells. Please keep to the paths on this stretch. Some people have been seen wandering through the bluebells and letting children run freely. The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust asks all those who visit Gobions Wood not to tread on the bluebells at any time in their growth cycle, but, rather, help preserve them for the enjoyment of all.

This path eventually reaches the boundary of Gobions Wood. There are a few splits in the path at this point, but all designated paths (those lined with logs) end up in same place. For this walk, keep the boundary of Gobions Wood on your right at all times and continue to walk north.


Photograph of a designated path through the bluebell wood in Gobions Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
A designated path guiding walkers through the bluebell wood in Gobions
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

7: The path now swings to the left and heads west along the southerly bank of Ray Brook. Follow this until you come to another footbridge, which you cross and then return to the track with the brick  bridge you saw earlier, now to your left.

8: Continue heading west along a path with a blue and red topped marker, keeping Ray Brook on your left until you reach a path leading down to the large wood and steel footbridge.

9: Turn right close to another Gobions Wood display sign, and head north following the path to Gobions Pond.

Photograph of one of the information signs in Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
One of the information signs in Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of one of the information signs in Gobions Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
One of the information signs in Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


10: You pass a small pond on your left and come to a bachelor gate. This is one of the exits from Gobions Wood. Here you enter North Mymms Parish Council land. Turn left and follow the path along the southern edge of Gobions Pond heading west.


Photograph of Gobions Pond outside of Gobions Wood on North Mymms Parish Council land Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Gobions Pond outside of Gobions Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


11: At the western tip of Gobions Pond the path drops down to your left and reaches Gobions Open Space. To the north you will see the play area and car park where the walk started.

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Local history

You can read more about the history of the former ornamental gardens at Gobions Wood on our history site, the North Mymms History Project. There are two features:

Below is a brochure about Gobions Wood, published by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.




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You can find out who is behind this site along with some tips for preparing for the walks by visiting our about page. Information about the content that appears on the site is set out on our copyright page

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