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Walk 88: Ermine Street East Loop

Five nature reserves, deep woodland, and a Roman road


7 miles (11.3 km)


Photograph of a gate along the walk. Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

This is a fascinating walk that takes in five nature reserves, passes the site of an ancient moated encampment, and ends with a two-mile stretch along Ermine Street, a former Roman road which passes through deep and shady woodland. In between are rolling hills with open views. There is one short part where you pass under the A10 and back, but either side there are pretty paths and you soon forget the road. Between points 15 and 16 we saw a "Caution Bull in field" sign on the footpath gate, but we didn't see any bulls. There is a diversion along the road if you are concerned.

Directions


Map for Walk 88: Ermine Street East Loop  Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker  Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors  Note: There is a larger, more detailed map embedded at the end of these directions
Map for Walk 88: Ermine Street East Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
Note: There is a larger, more detailed map embedded at the end of these directions

The gate leading to Ermine Street at the beginning of the walk Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The gate leading to Ermine Street at the beginning of the walk
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

1: Head north along the byway from the Danemead Wood car park (Grid Reference: TL346076). This track is called Brickendon Liberty Restricted Byway 24. Continue heading north until you reach a Spital Brook. To your left is a wooden footbridge. Cross this and then turn right and climb slightly to reach a gate (see image below).

The gate into Hoddesdon Park Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The gate into Hoddesdon Park Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

2: Go through the gate into Hoddesdon Park Wood. Take the right-hand fork and follow the signposts with the green arrow and white admiral butterfly. Follow the path east with the stream on your right and the woodland on your left.

Head east with the stream on your right Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Head east with the stream on your right
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
You will cross a number of elevated walkways. On your left you will see what is left of an ancient moated site.

The ancient moated site in Hoddesdon Park Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The ancient moated site in Hoddesdon Park Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

The information board for the ancient moated site in Hoddesdon Park Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The information board for the ancient moated site in Hoddesdon Park Wood
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Continue over another footbridge until you reach a left turn.

3: Turn left on this path and walk north a short distance looking out for a wooden footbridge and path on your right (see image below).


Take the wooden footbridge and follow the green-topped way-marked signs Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Take the wooden footbridge and follow the green-topped way-marked signs
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

4: Take this path and head north-east following the green top butterfly signs with the purple ring.

5: After crossing a wooden bridge you will come to a footpath T-junction. Here you turn left and head north until you come to a footpath crossing where you turn right and head east uphill.

6: When you reach a wooden gate, go through and turn right on the Hertfordshire Way (Hoddesdon Restricted Byway 23).

Go through the gate and head south-east down the track to Hoddesdon Lodge Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Go through the gate and head south-east down the track to Hoddesdon Lodge
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Head south-east down a track to Hoddesdon Lodge, a pretty farmhouse surrounded by fields. Walk to the right of the farm, go through a gate, and continue along a footpath (Hoddesdon Footpath 24) across the fields heading diagonally south-east, through another gate and continue until you reach the south-east corner of the field.

7: At the corner of the field turn left a short distance to reach a gate.

Turn right at the gate and then immediately left through the underpass Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Turn right at the gate and then immediately left through the underpass
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Go through this gate, turn right on Hoddesdon Bridleway 25, and then immediately turn left taking the footpath that goes under the A10 (Hoddesdon Footpath 10).

Continue heading east along this path with the woodland on your right and the field on your left. At one point the path crosses an elevated wooden walkway that is fenced in (see image below).


Continue east along the elevated walkway Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Continue east along the elevated walkway
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Continue east until your reach the corner of field.

8: Go through a gate at the end of the field and turn left and follow the path as it goes north-east, this point had brambles encroaching on the path when we walked it in July 2018. Not a big problem and we were able to push them out of the way.


This part of the path was encroached by brambles when we walked it in July Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
This part of the path was encroached by small brambles when we walked it in July
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

9: When you reach the Jubilee Park turn left and then immediately right just before a gate and, keeping the woodland on your left, walk north-east with the park on your right and curve round to your left keeping the woodland on your left. Continue along this path until you reach the lane.

10: Turn left on the lane and walk north-west a short distance looking out for a byway on your right (Hoddesdon Byway 7A). 

11: Take this byway and head north going through the tunnel under the A10 spur roads.

12: When you emerge at the other side veer left and follow Bramble Lane (Hoddesdon Restricted Byway 6), as it heads north and then north-east along the eastern side of the A10.

13: When you reach the B1197, Hertford Road, turn left and head west under the A10.

14: Once under the A10,  cross the road and take the footpath on your right immediately after the A10 underpass (Hoddesdon Footpath 5), and head north-east and then north away from the road with the stream on your right and continue uphill. Go through a metal gate and continue heading north with the hedgerow on your right and the fields on your left.

15: Leave the field at the gate in the north-east corner of the field and turn left heading north-west with the hedge on your left and field on your right. Continue along this footpath (Hertford Heath Footpath 19) until it reaches a gate. Go through the gate and head north to Hailey Lane.

If there is a bull in the field and you are nervous
retrace steps to point 16 below and take the road
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Note: When we did this walk in July 2018 and in March 2019 there were Caution - Bull in field signs at both ends of this path, although we didn't encounter any bulls on either of our visits. I can never understand why farmers are allowed to let dangerous animals loose along a public right of way. If there are bulls in the field and you feel unsafe we suggest you retrace your steps to point 14 and turn right following the pavement alongside Hertford Road (B1197) until you meet Hailey Lane on your right. Turn right on Hailey Lane walking along the grass verge until you pick up the walk again at point 16 below. The alternative route is shown in yellow on the maps above and below.

16: At Hailey Lane turn right and then first left taking the bridleway (Hertford Heath Bridleway 14) that goes through the grounds of Haileybury College. The path cuts through the college grounds in a north-west direction until it reaches a path leaving the college grounds at the southern edge of woodland.

Leave the grounds of Haileybury College and head north-west through the woods Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Leave the grounds of Haileybury College and head north-west through the woods
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

17: Take this bridleway (Hertford Heath Bridleway 17), and continue north-west with the fields on your right and woodland on your left. Continue heading north-west ignoring paths to your left and right until you reach a lane (Hertford Heath Bridleway 4).


When you reach the lane turn left and head south-west Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
When you reach the lane turn left and head south-west
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

18: Turn left on this lane and head south-west until the lane becomes a track (Hertford Heath Bridleway 5) through Hertford Heath nature reserve (70 acres) which run by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) until you reach Heath Lane. Continue heading south-west until you reach the B1197, London Road.

19: Cross the road and walk past The College Arms on your right (we had a lovely lunch and pint of real ale here on the day we did this walk) and continue south-west along the lane/bridleway (Hertford Heath Bridleway 5)

If you want you could take the track on your right heading into another part of Hertford Heath and follow it round to point 20 below. See yellow detour on the maps above and below.


Turn right at the sign and continue heading south-west across Hertford Heath Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Turn right at the sign and continue heading south-west across Hertford Heath
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


Follow the track as it heads south-west across Hertford Heath Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Follow the track as it heads south-west across Hertford Heath
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
20: Continue until you meet Ermine Street, a Roman road (Hertford Heath Restricted Byway 8), where you turn left and head south.

Look out for the entrance to Balls Wood, another HMWT reserve on your right. This has many way-marked paths (144.5 acres). To continue the walk head south on Ermine Street for two miles along Hertford Heath Restricted Byway 8 which eventually becomes Brickendon Liberty Restricted Byway 24.


Head south down Ermine Street for two miles back to the car park Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Head south down Ermine Street for two miles back to the car park
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

21: Look out for another HMWT reserve on your right soon after Balls Wood. This is Hobbyhorse Wood, also signposted with paths (9.14 acres).

22: Your path crosses the Mangrove Lane before continuing south through Hoddesdon Park Wood (Woodland Trust managed)

After crossing the brook (you crossed it earlier at point 2 on the walk), look out for the Danemead reserve, managed by the HMWT. This 13.8 acre wood also has way-marked paths and information boards. Well worth exploring.

Cross the stream by the same bridge you crossed at the start of the walk Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Cross the stream by the same bridge you crossed at the start of the walk
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Continue south back to the car park on Cock Lane.

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