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Walk 97: Ware South-West Loop

Riverside walking and woodland paths

7 miles (11km)


The River Lea Navigation between points 17 and 2 in the directions below  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The River Lea Navigation between points 17 and 2 in the directions below
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

A great walk for anyone who likes canals, barges, locks, quiet woodland paths, walking along the side of secluded rivers, and old Hertfordshire towns. Bird-watchers should take binoculars, because sightings of kingfishers have been reported between points 6 and 8. The walk starts and finishes in Ware, follows the River Ash north-east before heading through Easeye Wood and down to Stanstead Abbotts, and then along the River Lea Navigation back to Ware. There are plenty of opportunities for refreshments in both Ware and Stanstead Abbotts. If you are doing the walk before July 2020, please note there is a temporary diversion in place.

Directions


Map for Walk 97: Ware South-West 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 97: Ware South-West 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

If you are travelling by car, you can use the pay-and-display car park, known as the Library Car Park, off Burgage Lane (Grid ref: TL 35635 14273). You can park for five hours for £2.70 (February 2020 prices).

For those travelling by train, you could use either Ware station or St Margarets station at Stanstead Abbotts. We have included two short detours to the route (in orange on the maps above and below) to allow for accessing the walk from either station. If using Ware station you will join the walk at point 2, if using St Margarets station you will join the walk at point 16.

There is another detour which will be necessary until July 2020. Hertfordshire County Council is replacing a footbridge close to point 2. As a result, Ware Town footpath 18 at the start and end of the walk is closed. So you will need to take the red detour on the maps above and walk through the town to join the walk at point 3 (see close-up map below). The closure notice is attached to the foot of this page.

Close-up of the detour around the closed footbridge on Ware Town footpath 18  Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker  Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
Close-up of the detour around the closed footbridge on Ware Town footpath 18
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors



Ware Town footpath 18 at the start and end of the walk  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Ware Town footpath 18 at the start and end of the walk
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

1: Take the footbridge in the south-east corner of the car park and cross the River Lea Navigation, turning left on the south side. You then head east along the southern bank of the waterway on Ware Town footpath 18, until you reach Bridgefoot (A1170). (If you are walking before July 2020 this path will be closed. Instead head north when you leave the car park, turn right on High Street, and continue to the junction with Star Street where you will join the walk at point 3 below).

2: Here you cross the River Lea Navigation and head north until the road forks.

3: Take the right fork, Star Street (B1004), and head east for 700m until you reach a footpath, Ware Town footpath 21, on your right at the point where the road starts to climb the hill.

4: Turn right here and follow the track south-east past houses on your right and allotments on your left until you reach open ground where you will see a footpath sign directly ahead. This is a continuation of Ware Town footpath 21. Keep heading south-east, ignoring a footpath on your right, until you reach Holly Cross Road (B1004).

Ware Town footpath 21 just past the allotments, mentioned in point 4 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Ware Town footpath 21 just past the allotments, mentioned in point 4 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
5: Diagonally opposite, about 10m to your right, you will see the continuation of Ware footpath 21. Cross the road with care here because there is no pavement at this point. After 90m you come to a footpath crossing. Ignore the path to your left and head north-east following the Wareside footpath 39 round to the right at a bend in the River Ash. At this point the river will be on your left. Continue until you reach a footbridge on your left.

The junction with Wareside footpath 39 mentioned in point 5 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The junction with Wareside footpath 39, mentioned in point 5 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Walk along the side of the River Ash, mentioned in point 5 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Walk along the side of the River Ash, mentioned in point 5 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

6: Cross the footbridge. You are now on Stanstead Abbotts footpath 1, which heads north-east across the south-east corner of the field to a stile in the hedgerow. Cross the stile and turn left, ignoring a path on your right, but, instead, head north-east along a sunken wooded path between the fields. Continue along this path for 170m until you reach a second stile.

The footbridge over the River Ash, mentioned in point 6 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footbridge over the River Ash, mentioned in point 6 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Stanstead Abbotts footpath 1, mentioned in point 6 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Stanstead Abbotts footpath 1, mentioned in point 6 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
7: Cross the stile and head south-east, east, and then north-east as the path follows the River Ash (on your left), and skirts Mead Wood, also on your left.  Continue heading north-east for 620m before reaching a track.

Stanstead Abbots footpath 1, mentioned in point 7 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Stanstead Abbotts footpath 1, mentioned in point 7 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

8: Follow this track north-east for 310m. As you pass a cottage on your right the path becomes Wareside footpath 75 and continues to a T-junction.

The T-junction, mentioned in point 8 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The T-junction, mentioned in point 8 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

9: Turn right here on Wareside footpath 35 and head south-east through Easneye Wood to the top of the hill where the path continues as Stanstead Abbotts footpath 16. Continue heading south past Chaseway Cottages and North Lodge on your right until you come to a gate. Go through the gate and continue heading south.

The gate on Stanstead Abbotts footpath 16, mentioned in point 9 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The gate on Stanstead Abbotts footpath 16, mentioned in point 9 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

10: When you reach a T-junction, take the bridleway on the left, Stanstead Abbotts bridleway 18 and head south-east and south for 1.25km until you reach Little Briggens farm.

Turn left on Stanstead Abbotts bridleway 18, mentioned in point 10 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Turn left on Stanstead Abbotts bridleway 18, mentioned in point 10 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

11: Follow the path through the farmyard and continue for 220m until you reach Pelly Cottages and a fork in the track.

12: Look out for a footpath on your right, Stanstead Abbotts footpath 6. Take this path and head south-west for 190m until you reach a five-way junction in the paths.

Turn right on Stanstead Abbotts footpath 6, mentioned in point 12 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Turn right on Stanstead Abbotts footpath 6, mentioned in point 12 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

13: At the five-way junction, your way is to continue heading south-east along Stanstead Abbotts footpath 6, which follows a line of telegraph poles at this point.

The five-way junction - follow the line of the telegraph poles, mentioned in point 13 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The five-way junction - follow the line of the telegraph poles, mentioned in point 13 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
14: When you reach the end of the field, go through a gap in a giant laurel hedge. Turn left after passing through the hedge and then follow the steps down to Chappelfields. Turn left here, and then immediately right, heading west and downhill along Abbots Way until you reach Cappell Lane, where you turn left and follow the road into Stanstead Abbotts.

15: There are several pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops in Stanstead Abbotts. We ate at Amico Di Amici, part of the Red Lion pub. Continue heading south-west down High Street until you reach Stanstead Bridge over the River Lea Navigation and a footpath on your right, Great Amwell footpath 10.

The start of Great Amwell footpath 10, mentioned in point 15 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The start of Great Amwell footpath 10, mentioned in point 15 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

16: Take Great Amwell footpath 10, and follow it along the tow path on the west side of the river. Continue along this path as it heads north-west for 3.3km past Stanstead Lock and then Hardman Lock until you reach point 2. (After you pass Hardman Lock the path becomes Ware Town footpath 19). 

If you are a bird-watcher you might want to cross the River Lea Navigation at Stanstead Lock and walk the path running along the east side of the river and adjacent to the Amwell Quarry Nature Reserve, which, according to the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, has “outstanding communities of breeding birds”, and is home to “21 species of dragonfly and damselfly”, making the site the “county’s best for dragonflies”. You can rejoin the route by crossing the river from east to west when you reach Hardman Lock.

When you reach point 2 again you should continue heading east along Ware Town footpath 18 back to the car park.

However, if you are walking before July 2020, turn right when you get to point 2 and retrace your way back to the car park through the town centre, rather than via the footbridge on Ware Town footpath 18, which is closed for repair until then.


Stanstead Lock, mentioned in point 16 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Stanstead Lock, mentioned in point 16 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Hardman Lock, mentioned in point 16 above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Hardman Lock, mentioned in point 16 above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The closure notice between points 1 and 2 in the directions above  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The closure notice between points 1 and 2 in the directions above
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

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