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A growing collection of free walks suitable for all ages, from an hour-long potter to half-day hikes. We have walking tips for those new to rambling and a comment box beneath every walk for your feedback - you may need to disable any ad blocker to add comments.

Walk 110: Willows Lakes

Lakes, birdlife, wildflowers and butterflies

4.5 miles (7 km) 50m of ascent


The view S from the path between the lakes after point 10  Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

This is a perfect walk for people who are interested in birdwatching and enjoy native wildflowers. It follows the River Colne and meanders around the surrounding lakes - some created in abandoned quarries. There are still some quarries being excavated, and you will cross a conveyor belt as work continues, but others are now beautiful lakes edged with rushes and banks laden with wildflowers.

If you are a birdwatcher take binoculars because you are in for a treat. And there are loads of butterflies in the summer months. We have marked the maps with the best birdwatching spots with blue camera icons.

We have added an optional detour between points 3 and 6 in order to shorten the walk for those only interested in the lakes. It is marked in orange on the maps below.

Directions


Map for Walk 110: Willows Lakes 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 110: Willows Lakes Loop
Created on Map Hub by Hertfordshire Walker
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors

Click on the interactive map below to download KML or GPX files
1: Find a parking place along the left of Ridge bridleway 2 at the start of the walk (grid reference: TL 19791 05790). Head WSW on the bridleway for 670m. You will cross a gravel track used by quarry vehicles and then a wooden bridge spanning a conveyor belt before reaching a junction.

2:  Turn right on Ridge bridleway 6 and cross the bridge over the River Colne continuing for 80m until you reach Ridge footpath 1 just to the right of the green portable cabins. Head WSW for 310m and take the path on the left, still Ridge footpath 1, and head SSW for 180m until you reach a footpath on the right going through a small parking area.

3: This is Ridge footpath 33. Follow it for 1.1km, first W, S then W again past Blount Spring (woodland) on your right, then SSW, S, SE, and SW past Coppice Wood on your right.

Shorter detour opportunity: If you want to shorten the walk and visit the lakes you can jump from point 3 to point 6 by continuing walking S for 600m. The detour, which is still on Ridge footpath 1, is marked in orange on the maps above and below.

4: When you reach a junction in the track turn left and head SE on London Colney footpath 38 for 400m until you reach another junction in the track.

5: Take the first turn on your left, Ridge footpath 1, through another parking area and up a gravel path heading NNE for 420m until you reach a footpath on the right. There is an alternative and nicer path that runs parallel and alongside the lake, but this is mainly used by people fishing.

The view from Ridge footpath 50 mentioned in point 6 below Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The view from Ridge footpath 50 mentioned in point 6 below
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

6: Turn right on Ridge footpath 50 and head SE across a land-bridge between the lakes for 180m to a junction in the track.

The view from Ridge footpath 2 just before you reach point 8 below Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The view from Ridge footpath 2 just before you reach point 8 below
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
7: Turn left on Ridge footpath 2 and head NNE for 1.4km until you reach the bridge over the River Colne which you crossed in point 2.

8: Turn right here on Ridge bridleway 6, cross the bridge and head SSW for 450m until you reach a track on the left.

9: Turn left here, still on Ridge bridleway 6, and head first ESE, then SSW, then SE for 390m until you reach a track on the left.

The view from Ridge footpath 4 mentioned in point 10 below Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The view from Ridge footpath 4 mentioned in point 10 below
Image by Hertfordshire Walker released via Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
10: Turn left and head NE for 250m on Ridge footpath 4 crossing between two lakes on another land-bridge. This is a great spot for birdwatching. Once across the lakes turn left on Ridge footpath 47 and follow it NW, NE, NW then NE again as it goes behind stables to reach a track on the left.

11: Take this path, Ridge footpath 48, and head NW, N, then NE for 420m until you reach Colney Heath bridleway 32 where you turn right and head NE for 230m before turning right and heading SSE for 220m to a track on the left.

12: Take this path and turn left in the woods heading NW for 440m picking up Colney Heath footpath 35 back to the starting point.

Interactive map