Walk 65: Mimmshall Brook Loop

A haunted bridge, a short hill climb, and wide, open views

8.5 miles (13.6 km)


Photograph of the path from North Mymms to South Mimms as it passes Cangsley Grove Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The path from North Mymms to South Mimms as it passes Cangsley Grove on the left
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

This walks retraces parts of the route of a Victorian ramble through North Mymms written in 1893. We've adapted it considerably, and have chosen public footpaths to avoid main roads. Along the route your will come across a rural bridge over Mimmshall Brook, said to be haunted by the ghosts of Dick Turpin, a local witch, and a swarm of 'repulsive' black flies. But don't worry, we didn't see a thing when we visited.

Map of Walk 65 Mimmshall Brook Loop created on MapHub © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
Map of Walk 65 Mimmshall Brook Loop (click on map to enlarge and print)
Created on MapHub © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors

The walk starts and finishes at Potters Bar station. It passes close to The Woodman Inn at Water End (needs a slight detour), goes past The Black Horse and The White Hart in South Mimms, before ending close to The Old Manor on your return to Potters Bar. Fairly flat apart from the climb up from North Mymms to Cangsley Grove. Well sign-posted. Paths can become overgrown with weeds and nettles at times. Can be muddy in parts after heavy rain.

Directions


We have two maps, the one above is an image which you can print out. The one below is an interactive map. We do recommend that, as well as using these maps, you also carry the Ordnance Survey map for the area, or download the OS app if you have a smartphone. You will need another map with more detail just in case you get lost.

If you want to print these directions without the pictures, just choose the first icon - the green one with the printer on - in the social share bar below. It will launch PrintFriendly, which enables you to delete the elements of the walk you don't need, thereby saving a few trees, perhaps.





1: Leave Potters Bar station via the westerly exit leading out to the car park. Turn right and follow the path alongside the west of the track as it heads north. Continue for three quarters of a mile until you reach the Cranbourne Industrial Estate.

2: Here you leave the path and drop down to your left heading west through the industrial estate via a small public footpath that leads to the entrance of Furzefield Wood. Enter the wood and follow the path as it continues to head west until you reach Warrengate Farm.

3: Turn right at Warrengate Farm and head north and then north-west following the path as it crosses fields and then continues to the right of Mimmshall Brook, emerging on Hawkshead Lane close to the bridge.

4: Turn left on Hawkshead Lane, cross the bridge, head straight ahead (west) along a lane with a bungalow on the right and a field with horses on the left. A few yards on and you reach Swanland Road. Cross with care and take the footbridge over the A1 (M) to Love Lane, a small track. Turn right and follow the track north-west for about a mile, ignoring the first footpath on your right.

5: At a footpath crossroads you have three options. Turning left or heading straight on will shorten the route considerably, but if you want to do the entire walk, and have a look at St Mary's Church, or take a break at The Woodman Inn at Water End, turn right and head north-east until you reach the A1 (M). Here you turn left and follow the path north (with the motorway on your right) until you reach the footbridge. At this point you can cross the motorway and visit The Woodman Inn, or turn left climbing the steps up to the footbridge and look for a footpath on your left set back in the hedgerow  and continue on the walk.

6: Go through the wooden bachelor gate. Straight ahead you will see North Mymms Cricket Club. Veer right and walk west-north-west heading for St Mary's Church in the distance. You will emerge at a metal bachelor gate on St Mary's Church Road. At this point you could make a slight detour to see the church.

Photograph of St Mary's Church,  North Mymms - a five minute detour from the route Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
St Mary's Church,  North Mymms - a five minute detour from the route
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

7: Turn left on St Mary's Church Road and follow the metalled road south until it turns to the right. At this point you will see a gate and a track straight ahead. Climb this track as it goes first through Cangsley Grove and emerges at Potwells, a quiet valley with open views (see picture at the top of this walk)

8: Continue south, past Oak Lodge on your right, through Redwell Wood (on your right) and Hawkshead Wood (on your left), eventually emerging at Blackhorse Lane.

9: Head south on Blackhorse Lane, past The Black Horse pub and on to the B554, St Albans Road.

10: Here you turn left passing The White Hart pub and continue walking south-east to the roundabout. Turn right at the roundabout continuing on St Albans Road a short distance looking out for a footpath sign on your left, soon after the roundabout. Take this path as it heads south-east across fields. After the first field you will come to a wooden marker pointing straight ahead. At certain times of the year the path is covered in crops, so it might be best to walk round the edge of the field - first slightly south then east - until you meet a small footbridge where the path continues and heads south along the west side of the A1 (M).

11: When you reach St Albans Road again, turn left and head east crossing the bridge over the A1 (M) to Swanland Road. Turn left on Swanland Road, then cross and walk along the east side for a short distance, past the entrance to Wash Lane. Soon after, look out for a footpath on your right. Take this path as it heads east through crops to a picturesque triple-arched bridge crossing Mimmshall Brook.

Photograph of Bridgefoot Bridge over Mimmshall Brook, South Mimms Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Bridgefoot Bridge over Mimmshall Brook, South Mimms
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


12: This is the Bridgefoot bridge, which is supposed to be haunted by the ghost of Dick Turpin. Apparently he used to like hanging out around here after his exploits. The story of the witch and the swarms of flies are similarly bizarre. I have copied a story about them below for those interested in such tales. If you want to take pictures of the bridge, walk down to the ford to the right. It's shallow so you should be able to paddle across and take a few snaps. After you are done continue heading east along Bridgefoot Lane until you emerge on Dugdale Hill Lane.

13: Here you turn left a short distance, pass the school, and look out for a footpath on your right heading through woods. You emerge on a housing estate. Turn right and look out for another path on your left between the houses, take this and follow the paths and estate roads until you reach Heather Way where you turn right walking east to Baker Street. Turn left and head back to Potters Bar station. If you fancy refreshments you pass The Old Manor pub and restaurant just before you reach the station. There are many cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and bars in the area to choose from.

The Haunted Bridge


Taken from the “Brief Historical Notes” section of the 1952 edition of the Official Guide published by Potters Bar Urban District Council and shared with this site by local historian and archivist, Peter Miller, one of the team responsible for the North Mymms History Project. We've reproduced the text about ghostly sightings at the bridge as it was written.

The Ghost of South Mimms


“The neighbourhood around Barnet is said to have been the hunting ground of the notorious Dick Turpin, and it is therefore not surprising, that his ghost is believed to make its appearance at intervals at the South Mimms Wash. Another supernatural phenomenon said to be seen in this vicinity is a Shadow and a swarm of black flies. The story is told that once an old woman lived in the South Mimms neighbourhood who was regarded as a witch. One morning she was discovered at the Wash, and some people thought she had been murdered. She was not buried in the churchyard, being a witch, and was interred at the crossroads, a stake being driven through her to prevent her ghost from wandering. Despite this, people declared that they saw a Shadow at night time on the road leading to the Wash which they believed to be the spirit of the old witch and it always came to a standstill at the place where she lay buried. People also said that at this place were a swarm of repulsive black flies which appeared to wait for the Shadow, and then both disappeared in mysterious fashion. Naturally one cannot vouch for the authenticity of the stories that have been handed down for many years, but they always seem to have a fascination for people.”



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