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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 NE 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 See the interactive map below the directions for KML and GPX details
Map for Walk 97: Ware South-West Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
See the interactive map below the directions for KML and GPX details

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. If using Ware station you can join the walk at point 2, if using St Margarets station you can join the walk at point 16.

The Environment Agency (EA) is replacing a footbridge close to the start and finish of this walk. In the meantime we have created a detour avoiding the bridge close to point 2 on Ware Town footpath 18. 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 SE corner of the car park and cross the River Lea Navigation, turning left on the S side. You then head E along the southern bank of the waterway on Ware Town footpath 18 for 330m until you reach Bridgefoot (A1170). (see detour note in red above).

2: Here you cross the River Lea Navigation and head N for 65m until the road forks.

3: Take the right fork, Star Street (B1004), and head east for 680m until you reach 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 SE for 240m 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 SE for 670m, 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 20m 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. Take Ware footpath 21 and after 90m you come to a footpath crossing. Ignore the path to your left and head NE 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 for 240m 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 NE for 60m across the SE 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 NE 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 ESE, E, and then NE for 620m as the path follows the River Ash (on your left), and skirts Mead Wood, also on your left.  Continue until you reach 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 SE or 640m through Easneye Wood to the top of the hill and then continue SW (here your path becomes Stanstead Abbotts footpath 16). Continue past Chaseway Cottages and North Lodge on your right until you come to a gate. Go through the gate and continue heading S.

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: 240m beyond the gate you reach a T-junction, take the bridleway on the left, Stanstead Abbotts bridleway 18 and head SE 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 SW  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 SE 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 W 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 SW 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 W side of the river. Continue along this path as it heads NW 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 E 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 E to W when you reach Hardman Lock.

When you reach point 2 again you should continue heading E along Ware Town footpath 18 back to the car park. (see detour note in red at the top of this walk)


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

Interactive map