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Walk 65: Mimmshall Brook Loop

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

8.4 miles (13.5 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.

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

Map for Walk 65: Mimmshall Brook Loop Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors See the interactive map below the directions for KML and GPX details
Map for Walk 65: Mimmshall Brook Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
See the interactive map below the directions for KML and GPX details

1: Leave Potters Bar station via the westerly exit leading out to the car park. Turn right and walk 100m through the car park to a footpath on your right that runs heads NNW alongside the track. This is Potters Bar footpath 9. Follow it for 1km until you reach the Cranbourne Industrial Estate on your left.

2: Here you leave the path and drop down to your left to Cranbourne Road and take the footpath diagonally to your left. This is Potters Bar footpath 15. Follow it for 160m as it heads SW with Potters Bar Brook on your left before emerging on Cranbourne Road. Cross the road and the continuation of Potters Bar footpath 15 is slightly to your right. Continue along the footpath heading W for 600m with Potters Bar Brook on your left until you reach Warrengate Farm.

3: Turn right at Warrengate Farm on Potters Bar footpath 14 NNW for 400m to a junction in the path. Take the left fork,  Potters Bar footpath 12, and head NW and then N for 710m 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, WSW, along a lane with a bungalow on the right and a field with horses on the left. After 80m you reach Swanland Road. Cross with care and take the footbridge, North Mymms restricted byway 83 over the A1(M). On the other side you reach a junction in the track. Turn right and follow Love Lane, North Mymms restricted byway 3 for 160m NNW. Here your track becomes North Mymms BOAT 4 (byway open to all traffic) and bends to the left and then right as NW for 430m to a junction in the track shortly after you pass an old wind pump on the left. There is a bench at the junction if you need a rest. Here you take the left fork, now on North Mymms bridleway 4, and head NW for another 270m to a crossing in the tracks.

5: Turn right, now on North Mymms bridleway 1 and head NE for 770m until you reach the A1 (M). Here you turn left and follow North Mymms BOAT 5 NNW for 170m until you reach the footbridge.

6: At this point you can cross the motorway and visit The Woodman Inn at Water End. If not, turn left and climb the steps up to the footbridge looking out for a footpath on your left set back in the hedgerow. This is North Mymms footpath 6. Go through the wooden gate. Straight ahead you will see North Mymms Cricket Club. Veer right and walk WNW for 490m heading for St Mary's Church in the distance.

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, which is also North Mymms bridleway 2, and head SSE for 440m until the metalled road turns to the right. At this point you will see a gate and a track straight ahead. This is still North Mymms bridleway 2. Follow SW uphill for 770m as it goes through Cangsley Grove (look out for Purple Emperor butterflies in July and August) and emerges at Potwells, a quiet valley with open views (see picture at the top of this walk). Continue heading S for 1.3km through Redwell Wood and Hawkshead Wood and downhill until you reach Blackhorse Lane.

8: Head SSE on Blackhorse Lane for 880m, past The Black Horse pub and on to the B554, St Albans Road. Turn left and head SE for 210m passing The White Hart pub on your right and continue to the roundabout. Turn right at the roundabout head S on St Albans Road for 30m looking out for a footpath sign on your left.

9: Take this path, South Mimms footpath 33 and follow it SE across fields for 550m. 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 footbridge where the path continues and heads SSE along the west side of the A1 (M) for 330m to St Albans Road.

10: When you reach St Albans Road turn left and head SE for 130m crossing the bridge over the A1 (M) to Swanland Road. Turn left on Swanland Road, then cross and walk along the east side heading NNE for 150m past the entrance to Wash Lane. Soon after, look out for a footpath on your right. Take this path, Potters Bar footpath 9, and follow it ENE for 400m 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

11: 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 E and SE along Bridgefoot Lane for 780m until you emerge on Dugdale Hill Lane.

12: Turn left and head NE for 150m passing the school, and looking out for a footpath on your right, Potters Bar footpath 38, heading through woods. You emerge on a housing estate. Turn right and head SE for 90m looking 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 E to Baker Street. Turn left on Baker Street and head NE for 350m 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.”

Interactive map