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Hertfordshire walk: Verulamium Park Circular, St Albans

Verulamium Park Credit @jubear79 Julie
Verulamium Park Credit @jubear79 Julie

Embrace the autumnal charm of St Albans, a city steeped in history and significance. This captivating circular route combines serene footpaths and scenic park trails, providing enchanting vistas of the city's cathedral and a close encounter with remnants of the ancient Roman Wall that once embraced this city. Follow the tranquil flow of the River Ver, which once played a pivotal role in Roman settlement, and discover the hidden delights of Verulamium Lake teeming with wildlife.


● Today’s walk begins at the bridge near the Mill, or if you're starting from the museum car park, head toward the lake. From the Mill, ascend the hill toward the church, passing a charming pond that owes its existence to the mill. Choose the path on the left just after the bridge, leading you into the park. The river now accompanies you on the left, guiding you for the first half of your walk. Admire a pair of lakes coming into view, with the first one historically serving as a model boating lake. Pause and read the information board.

● Proceed with the lake on your right and the river on your left. Abundant birdlife, including various ducks, geese, and swans, graces this area. Keep an eye out for herons nesting on the islands. The surplus of birdlife necessitated ecological balance restoration around the turn of the millennium. Reach the end of the lake and turn left to glimpse Ye Fighting Cocks, the acclaimed oldest continuously inhabited pub in the country.

Great British Life: The lake in Verulamium Park Credit Benjamin Brewty @brewtyphotographyThe lake in Verulamium Park Credit Benjamin Brewty @brewtyphotography

● Return to the lake's edge and briefly follow it southward to the public toilets. Beyond the toilets, a path leads you into the woods, where the river meanders freely. Soon, you'll come across an elegant wooden bridge to cross. After crossing the bridge, carefully cross the busy road, veer right, and immediately cross the river again. Follow the path on your left to a functional metal bridge, noticing the old waterworks on your left. The river resurfaces after a brief hiatus, offering a lovely view of the cathedral to your left, accompanied by allotments on the opposite bank. Stick with the river along the Ver Valley Walk until you reach another road. To your left stands the historic municipal swimming baths, now home to the local sub aqua club.

Great British Life: Autumn colours Credit Soph & Jen @thealbanwayAutumn colours Credit Soph & Jen @thealbanway

● Turn right and cross over the river and road, then pick up the path on the other side leading down steps. Welcome to Sopwell Nunnery Green Space. On your right, observe a break in a brick wall, leading to the remains of the old nunnery—a fascinating diversion. Follow the well-marked path until you reach an old railway bridge. Turn left, ascend steps, and find yourself on a disused railway line. Head right, passing beneath another bridge, and then turn right again, passing a youth club and following signs for Verulamium Park. Enter a built-up area, veer right onto Cottonmill Lane, then take the first left, Prospect Road. This leads to the busy A-road you crossed earlier, where a pedestrian crossing awaits. Use it to cross the road and proceed toward the Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre via the provided path.

● Continue past the Leisure Centre, along the upper part of an athletics track, heading toward the visible lake. Aim left, crossing a track, and catch sight of preserved sections of Roman Wall—a testament to the park's history as the site of the old Roman City. Traverse the vast grassy expanse, approaching the bridge between the two lakes. Keep to the left of the bridge and cut across the grass, retracing your steps to the park's entry point. From here, return along your path, whether it's back to the lake or the museum car park. Your starting point awaits, completing today’s circular, historic hike!

Great British Life: One of the many bridges in Verulamium Park Credit - Jessica BodfordOne of the many bridges in Verulamium Park Credit - Jessica Bodford

Steps, stats & stiles

With a length of just over 3 miles (5 km), this route takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete at a comfortable pace. It's an accessible route, perfect for families to enjoy, offering a blend of path and park walking.

Make a day of it

If all that Roman history has you fired up to learn more about St Albans’ colourful past, there’s no place better to head post-walk than Verulamium Museum. Built on the site of one of the largest Roman cities in Britain, Verulamium Museum is filled with ancient treasures and some of the finest mosaics outside of the Mediterranean. Bring the entire family and explore the wonders of Roman life, immerse yourself in recreated Roman rooms and admire the craftsmanship of the intricate large-scale mosaics on display.

Perfectly-placed pub

To complete your historic hike, perhaps a trip to a traditional English tavern? Situated on George Street, in the Cathedral Quarter of St Albans, walkers can expect an especially warm welcome when they visit Dylans at The Kings Arms (the team are winners of the Top 50 Gastropubs 2022 Best Front of House Team after all!) Simple food, excellent ingredients, and a focus on small family producers, make this thriving pub and restaurant a must visit whilst in town!

Route followed: For this month’s route we followed the ‘Verulamium Park Circular’ map on the AllTrails app.


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