Redbourn walk

Today I walked to Redbourn and back, starting from my home in Kensworth. I’ve done this walk several times before, but today I varied it by doing it anti-clockwise for the first time and by changing the route slightly as I got back to Kensworth. If the weather forecast had been good, I’d have done the walk in the usual clockwise direction, taken lots of photographs and written the walk up on my web site. But the forecast was for grey skies and showers, so I chose to do this slightly different version instead, leaving the usual walk for a nicer day.

I started off along the Whipsnade Road. Just as I turned left onto a field path, there was a brief shower. I put my waterproof jacket on, but by the time I’d crossed two fields and walked down Dovehouse Lane to the junction with Buckwood Lane it had stopped. I followed the path behind the edge of Holywell, turning left through a small wood and crossing a very large field to reach Byslips Road. I continued through Byslips Wood, and then picked up the bridleway that is the continuation of Roe End Lane. Soon after reaching Roe End Lane, I turned left and followed a path to the edge of Markyate (well, Cheverell’s Green, to be exact).

Here I started off down Friendless Lane (Great name! Think I mentioned last time I was here that this is my favourite of all the street/lane names I’ve come across. Someone like Bruce Springsteen should have an album called Friendless Lane!). I soon left it though, taking a very pleasant field path that goes more or less parallel to the lane, to its right. The path terminated by going through a wood and returning to Friendless Lane, which I followed a short distance further before turning right at a crossroads (curiously, the continuation of Friendless Lane is the lane going left here, not the lane on the opposite side of the crossroads – I would meet Friendless Lane again later on, when I returned through Flamstead). I went steeply downhill and at the bottom of the slope turned left onto a bridleway that ran along a valley bottom beside the boundary of some corn fields to reach the hamlet of Trowley Bottom (which I always think sounds like a medical problem!).

There was now a bit more lane walking (very quiet, I think I was maybe passed by one vehicle) for about half a mile or so, then I started off down a very long farm track. This ran for about a mile with huge fields (all stubble) either side, without passing so much as a hedgerow. There were nice views over the surrounding countryside, with a small wood beyond the field on my left. I passed the farm complex at Flamsteadbury and crossed over the M1 on a new bridge (this section of motorway has recently been widened to four lanes, so the old bridges had to be replaced with new ones with a greater span) and soon entered the large village of Redbourn.

I followed the village streets beside the cricket pitch (games were first recorded there in 1666, though Redbourn CC’s history only goes back to 1823) and along the green before turning left just before a chapel. At the end of that street I turned left, and then picked up a path that led past a school on my right and back out into the countryside. I followed a headland between fields for several hundred yards (there was some blue Chicory growing here), then the path went half right along the top of an embankment next to the motorway, with a wood on my right.

The path ended at a farm drive, which I followed to the left, crossing the motorway on another replacement bridge. I then turned left onto another path, which went through a paddock by a house, and then continued through more fields either side of a small valley (where I saw a Buzzard) to reach Flamstead. I made my way through this attractive and interesting village, pausing to read a notice board about the history of Flamstead. I then set off down the other end of Friendless Lane, but soon left it, turning right onto another field path. I soon stopped on a stile to eat my lunch, then continued along the path through a sequence of fields, mainly stubble, to reach Markyate.

There was another brief shower here, causing me to don my waterproof jacket again for a few minutes. I made my way through the streets of Markyate, then took a footpath that initially ran along the right edge of some playing fields. I continued beside a hedge, parallel to course of the infant river Ver in the valley to my right, with Markyate Cell on the far side of the valley. The path across the corner of the next field had not been reinstated after ploughing, but I had no difficulty crossing over.

The reason I have always previously done this walk in the clockwise direction is that I get the rather boring 15-minute walk along the road through Kensworth over and done with straightaway – I just don’t fancy doing that at the end of a walk, it would be a bit of an anti-climax. So I now deviated from my usual route. Instead of continuing ahead on the path that would eventually bring me out close to Kensworth School (wear I lurned to reed and rite!), I turned right and followed the hedge row for several hundred yards to reach Kensworth Lynch, a hamlet of mainly quite old houses clustered at the foot of Lynch Hill.

I crossed over the main road (heading up the hill to Kensworth) and took the the lane called The Lynch on the opposite side. I soon passed through the hamlet and continued along the lane as it ran along a small valley, with hedges either side. I don’t think I’d walked along here since I was a child, and though I’d already done more lane walking than I usually do, I enjoyed this section of lane walking which led after about three quarters of a mile to Church End. The end of the walk was then the same as my last one, along Hollicks Lane and the footpath parallel to the lane, up and down the 1 in 7 or steeper slopes either side of the valley immediately north of Kensworth. At the end of Hollicks Lane, I turned right and was soon home again.

I really enjoyed this walk, which took me about 5 hours. I’d not walked the long section from Cheverell’s Green to Redbourn and then back to Flamstead  in that direction before, so that was interesting and especially enjoyable. I’m not sure if I’ve walked that section of path leading to the Lynch before – I’ve been aware of it for ages (I pass it every time I’ve done this Redbourn Walk in my usual clockwork direction), but don’t think I’ve actually got round to walking it before. And walking along The Lynch to Church End was very interesting for me, as I tried to remember it from my childhood.

The two showers I had were very brief, and for most of the time it was bright and sunny despite their being a lot of clouds about. So if I’d have done the usual walk I would have managed to get some decent photos and so could have added the walk at long last to my web site. Oh well – I wasn’t to know, and I really enjoyed doing the walk this way instead. I was lucky yet again, weather-wise – there were a couple of really heavy but brief  downpours after I got home.

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