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Walk 11: West End Loop

Footbridges, kingfishers, and herons

4.4 miles (7.25 km)

Image for walk 11, West End Loop, created by The Hertfordshire Walker and released under Creative Commons

This undulating walk along footpaths, byways and quiet lanes taking in woodland, rivers, and open spaces involves a lot of up and down with a total elevation gain of almost 400ft. There are refreshment opportunities both on and slightly off the route at Little Berkhamsted, Essendon and West End.


Map for Walk 11: West End 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 11: West End Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
There is an interactive map embedded at the end of these directions
Those with GPS devices can download GPX or KML files for this walk

1: Park in the lane outside the Candlestick pub at West End. Facing the pub, take the footpath, Essendon Footpath 13, to the left of the building which heads SE and leads to a stile. Cross the stile and walk downhill, keeping the hedge on your left and the field on your right until the path goes through the woods and reaches the byway open to all traffic (BOAT).

2: Turn right at this point and head S following this byway, Essendon BOAT 14 for 520m downhill and then uphill until you reach the top of a hill where you will see a sign on the left with a yellow arrow pointing to a footpath and a gate.

3: Go through this gate and head SE following Essendon Footpath 16 as it leads to an open field. Continue with the hedge on your left and the open field on your right. After 330m you reach a footbridge over Essendon Brook. If you are lucky, you might see a heron at this point.

4: Cross the bridge and continue straight ahead heading E through the woods. Keeping the brook on your left. The brook on your left cuts through sand banks, so look out for flashes of blue because this is kingfisher country. After 450m you will reach a point where two footpaths cross. To your left, the path drops down to a footbridge, don't take this path. Instead, your way is straight ahead as the path continues to climb slightly, and then drops down to another footbridge across the brook.

5: Cross the footbridge and climb some wooden stairs cut into the bank until you reach some more steps leading to the B158.

6: Your next path is directly opposite. Take care crossing the B158, because it can be busy at times. Enter the footpath on the opposite side, which is still Essendon Footpath, signposted Berkhamsted Lane ¾ miles. Continue heading E along this fenced path with a field on your right and a hedge on your left. Take care through a patch of nettles. The path veers right until you reach a bungalow on your right and the path opens into Cucumber Lane.

7: Cross Cucumber Lane and head NE down Berkhamsted Lane opposite. Unfortunately, this part of the walk requires 1.4km of lane walking, however the lane is pleasant and we met one car and two horses only on the day we mapped this walk.

8: When you reach the outskirts of Little Berkhamsted you come to a 30 mph sign and a welcome sign. Soon after, you will see a bridleway sign to the left by two white gates and a lodge. (At this point you could make a short diversion into the village of Little Berkhamsted village where there is a pub, The Five Horseshoes, and shop). If you don't need a break, turn left here and follow the track until you reach a sandy, gorse-lined bridleway, Little Berkhamsted Bridleway 17.

9: Continue heading NW for 1km along a ridge-route path with excellent views to all sides. This sandy path drops down through woodland to a small cottage on the edge of the golf club.

10: Keep the cottage to your left, and follow the yellow arrowed sign posts W up the track, Essendon Bridleway 4, through the golf club.

11: After 200m the path leads to a wooden-faced building. At this point turn right, keeping the wooden building on your left and a series of water features on your right. Continue round the building following the yellow arrows. The path climbs NW uphill and crosses a fairway. Watch out for golfers teeing off to your left. Cross the fairway and, at a point where a golf club path turns right, continue straight ahead, leaving the golf course and walking past a white gate and into the woods. This footpath eventually leads to School Lane, Essendon.

12: Turn left on School Lane and then turn left again at the junction with the B158.

13: Walk on the right hand (west) side of the B158 for 70m until you come to a footpath sign and a gate on your right. Go through the gate and you will now be in the grounds of Essendon Cricket Club. Keep walking SW along this footpath, Essendon Footpath 13, with the cricket pitch on your right and the wall on your left, until you reach the club house. Keep to the left of the club house and go through a gate.

14: The path now drops downhill with a hedge on your left and a field on your right. After a few yards you will see a sign and gate on the right, ignore these and all other paths off as your way is straight and downhill heading SW through the woodland. Near the bottom of the hill this path becomes fairly steep and care is needed as it weaves down in a zig-zag until it reaches the valley bottom and a wooden footbridge crossing the stream.

15: Cross the footbridge and keep going straight through another gate and then straight on heading W up the hill with fields on either side.

16: 240m beyond the footbridge you will reach the byway open to all traffic which you walked earlier, Essendon BOAT 14. Turn right and head NW to West End Lane.

17: Turn left on West End Lane and head SW back to your starting point at the Candlestick pub.

Interactive Map