New circular walk in the Beane Valley
- Credit: cms
The first of five new circular walks takes in the river Beane and the surrounding valley, woods, farms and parkland. Isabel Crozier of the Countryside Management Service says pull on your boots for autumn splendour
The autumn hues and wildlife of the Beane valley can be experienced on a new circular route created by the Countryside Management Service (CMS) and Stapleford Parish Council. As part of a legacy of the county council’s Hertfordshire Year of Walking, CMS is working with five parishes to produce new leafleted walks to encourage us all to get out in the glorious Herts countryside and experience new areas.
The first walk to be promoted is Stapleford Along the Beane. This circular walk starts at St Mary’s church in the village of Stapleford near Hertford and is just under three miles in length, taking about an hour for an average walker. It follows a delightful section of the river Beane southwards, a route which is part of the Hertfordshire Way. The trail then ascends north-east across farmland and into the Woodhall Estate. There is a gentle gradient in the middle section which climbs to the top of Church Lane where there is a rewarding view over the Beane valley and the village below.
What to see
The settlement of Stapleford is here because of the river Beane, which was forded at this point. A popular May Day flower festival is held annually in the village, with an art exhibition and maypole dancing by children from the local school, Stapleford Primary. The church of St Mary’s is particularly pretty.
The River Beane is a chalk stream and tributary of the river Lea, currently undergoing restoration to its water quality and biodiversity. It rises to the south-west of Sandon in the hills north-east of Stevenage and joins the Lea at Hartham Common in Hertford. Here the river is home to grey herons and little egrets. If you’re lucky, you may even see a little grebe or kingfisher. Among the larger species of bird that can be spotted circling above the valley are the common buzzard and the red kite.
Woodhall is an area of historic parkland with ancient trees, historic buildings, a river and extensive woodland and farmland. It has been used as a location for the BBC production of Stephen Poliakoff’s The Lost Prince, and the ITV series Foyles War and My Uncle Silas. The Woodhall Park estate provides additional paths for walker to explore. On this route you can use the permissive path skirting in front of the spinney. The path is sometimes closed by the estate for woodland management, just continue along the footpath to the lane which joins the walk further north.
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The walk isymarked with circular waymarks. Other waymarks you may see include yellow arrows – footpath (walkers only), blue arrows – bridleway (walkers, horse riders and cyclists), white arrows – permissive footpath (walkers only).
Beyond the circular walk
North through Woodhall Estate: Woodhall Estate, to the north and including the farmland surrounding Stapleford, has been in the same family ownership for more than 200 years. It centres on the 18th century mansion, let to Heath Mount School. Walkers can enjoy stunning views from Rights of Way which cross the estate. Some of these are highlighted on the map. They include the riverside path to the north of Stapleford which passes through some delightful woodland, full of bluebells and wild garlic in spring.
South to Waterford: The riverside path south, beyond the circular walk, travels eventually to Waterford, part of the parish of Stapleford, and then on to Hertford via Waterford Marsh. It passes through Waterford Heath along the way, a nature reserve managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
How to get there
Stapleford is located around 2.5 miles north of Hertford, off the main A119 to Stevenage.
There is limited parking adjacent to the main A119 along the High Road at the top (west end) of Church Lane. This is a five minute walk from the church where the walk begins.
Stapleford Along the Beane walk is one of a series of Walking in Hertfordshire circular routes. These and other walks can be downloaded from hertfordshire.gov.uk/cms