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Walk 93: Grotto Wood Loop

4.3 miles (6.85 km)


The Cole Green Way - route of a disused railway track Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Cole Green Way - route of a disused railway track
This is an easy walk along the disused Hertford to Welwyn Junction railway track and through farmland. You pass a lake surrounded by rushes - birdwatchers should take their binoculars. And you can explore the Historic England scheduled monument, the Baroque gardens at Grotto Wood. There are some muddy stretches, so good footwear and a walking stick are recommended.

UPDATE 16 JULY 2021. Sections of the Cole Green Way, including the car park, will be closed for approximately five weeks from 14 July 2021 for resurfacing work.


Directions


Map for Walk 93: Grotto Wood 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 93: Grotto Wood Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors

There is an interactive map below the directions
Those with GPS devices can download GPX or KML files for this walk. We've added What3Words location references for those who use that system. If you print these walks you might want to use the green PrintFriendly icon at the bottom of these directions to delete elements such as photographs.

Park in the public car park to the south of the Cowper Arms pub and restaurant in Cole Green (location - https://w3w.co/debate.gladiators.atomic). The car park is alongside what was the station platform at Cole Green station.

1: Head E along the route of the old railway track for 1km (see image at the top of these directions). Along the way you will cross Birch Green close to the junction with Chapel Lane (location - https://w3w.co/email.plus.pinks). Continue heading E until you come to a footpath crossing the track (location - https://w3w.co/fast.dash.pumps), see image below. This is Hertingfordbury footpath 4.

The footpath leaving the Cole Green Way, see point 2 below Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footpath leaving the Cole Green Way
2: Turn right on the footpath and leave the disused railway, dropping down to a footbridge over a brook (see image below).

The footbridge across the stream mentioned below Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footbridge across the stream mentioned above
After crossing the footbridge head straight SE and slightly uphill for 170m with the fence on your left and the field on your right. Follow this path until you meet a lane called Staines Green (location - https://w3w.co/point.filer.forces). Turn right and head SSE for 40m until you reach a track going off to your left (location - https://w3w.co/regard.fats.adjust), see image below.

Hertingfordbury restricted bridleway 19 Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Hertingfordbury restricted bridleway 19
3: Take this track, Hertingfordbury restricted bridleway 19, and head SSE for 80m until you see a gate and marker post on your left (location - https://w3w.co/wonderfully.perky.splash). This is Hertingfordbury footpath 3.

The gate and footpath marker mentioned in point 4 below  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The gate and footpath marker mentioned in point 4
4: Go through the gate, turn left and follow this footpath as it climbs first NE for 90m then swings SE and continues for 500m past some disused workings which now form a lake (location - https://w3w.co/prove.front.during) surrounded by rushes and frequented by birds. Ornithologists might want to pause at this spot (see image below).

The lake mentioned in point 4 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The lake mentioned in point 4
5: After passing the lake continue heading SSE, still on Hertingfordbury footpath 3 for 150m with Grotto Wood on your right. At the end of Grotto Wood there is an entrance (location - https://w3w.co/shut.wink.skip). It's free of charge to explore the 1.75 hectares containing “substantial earthworks”. The following is from the Historic England site:
“The baroque garden in Grotto Wood is a compact and well-preserved example of this monument class, uncommon in that it was independent of its parent residence. The earthworks, undisturbed by subsequent redesign or changes in land use, will retain buried evidence relating to the former garden buildings, the water management system and the planting scheme, and may provide additional information concerning its period of construction and use. Contemporary documents confirm the functions of the various earthwork features and give a clear and vivid impression of the former structures and ornamentation of the established garden, and chart its abandonment and subsequent descent into obscurity. This garden is unusual in that it belonged to members of a disadvantaged religious minority of the merchant class rather than the landed gentry. As such it provides important contrasts with bigger, more famous gardens and allows significant insights into different levels of 18th century society.”
The sign at the gate to Grotto Wood explains what visitors are likely to see when visiting (see image below).

The sign at the entrance to Grotto Wood Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The sign at the entrance to Grotto Wood
After leaving Grotto Wood continue heading SE for 120m until you reach a gate and a footpath junction (location - https://w3w.co/finger.unwanted.each), see image below.

The footpath junction mentioned above - here you turn left Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footpath junction mentioned above - here you turn left
6: Turn left and head NE along Hertingfordbury bridleway 2 for 1.25km until you reach St Mary’s Lane (location - https://w3w.co/bells.formed.sweep). This bridleway takes you through Southfield Wood where someone has created horse jumps to the left of the path. Because this is a bridleway, some parts can be muddy, particularly towards the junction with St Mary’s Lane.

7: Turn left on St Mary’s Lane and head NNE for 150m until you spot an old railway bridge (see image below). Here you turn right (location - https://w3w.co/sums.fried.gears) on Hertford BOAT 56 (byway open to all traffic) for 10m before taking the path on your left (location - https://w3w.co/panels.fantastic.works).

The railway bridge across St Mary’s Lane mentioned in point 7 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The railway bridge across St Mary’s Lane mentioned in point 7
This path leads to the disused railway and Cole Green Way (see image below).

8: Climb up to the track, turn left, and head WSW following the route of the former railway track.

The path leading back up to the Cole Green Way mentioned in point 8 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The path leading back up to the Cole Green Way mentioned in point 8
Continue for 1.4km crossing a lane called Staines Green (location - https://w3w.co/drums.sharp.lands) and continuing until you reach the footpath junction you encountered at point 2 above (location - https://w3w.co/fast.dash.pumps).

9: Turn right here on Hertingfordbury footpath 4 and head NW and uphill to the outskirts of Birch Green (location - https://w3w.co/ship.secure.shield). Continue straight between the houses, along Foxdells, turn right at Birch Green Lane, and then look out for a footpath sign on your left (location - https://w3w.co/give.guises.socket), see image below. This is Hertingfordbury footpath 7.

The footpath off Birch Green Lane mentioned in point 9 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The footpath off Birch Green Lane mentioned in point 9
10: Follow this footpath as it heads SW down to a stream (location - https://w3w.co/give.guises.socket). This bit can be muddy after rain. We got really messy here. A stick would be handy because it’s on a slope and slippy.

11: Cross the stream and immediately turn right on the footpath that runs NW along the S side of the stream. This is Hertingfordbury footpath 8; another good spot for bird-watchers.

The path and bullrushes mentioned in point 11 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The path and bullrushes mentioned in point 11
12: Head NW then WNW along Hertingfordbury footpath 8 for 375m until you reach the point where a footpath crosses your way. Here you turn right to cross the stream (location - https://w3w.co/labs.bring.both), see image below. Once across the stream turn left and walk W and then SW on the N side of the stream for 450m, still on Hertingfordbury footpath 8, until you reach Station Road in Labby Green (location - https://w3w.co/cups.shots.statue).

The crossing over the stream mentioned in point 12 above Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The crossing over the stream mentioned in point 12
13: Turn left on Station Road, walk past the Cowper Arms (location - https://w3w.co/tunes.lows.broad), and then turn left along the track back to the car park.

Interactive map




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