6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today click here

Discover pretty walks in Ash Valley

PUBLISHED: 11:07 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:07 19 June 2017

View towards Albury and the distinctive needle spire of St Mary's (photo: Ray Murdoch)

View towards Albury and the distinctive needle spire of St Mary's (photo: Ray Murdoch)

Ray Murdoch

A new publication, Albury Walks: Discovering the Ash Valley, by the Countryside Management Service takes in the rich wildlife and history of the area. Isabel Crozier is our guide to the routes

Southern marsh orchid flowering in June on Patmore Heath (photo: Ray Murdoch)Southern marsh orchid flowering in June on Patmore Heath (photo: Ray Murdoch)

The Countryside Management Service has teamed up with Albury Parish Council to create three new circular walk routes through the attractive rural landscape of the area near Bishop’s Stortford. The project is part of the legacy of the service’s Year of Walking; working with five parishes to produce leafleted walks to encourage residents and visitors to get out in the glorious Hertfordshire countryside and experience new areas. With an attractive and diverse landscape of farmland, woods, heath and chalk river, Albury is divided into six hamlets linked by a network of ancient footpaths and bridleways: Albury End, Church End, Clapgate, Gravesend, Patmore Heath and Upwick Green. The area has a long and fascinating history dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was recorded as belonging to the Bishop of London. The River Ash, a chalk river, bisects the parish before joining the river Lea near Stanstead Abbotts. Chalk rivers are rare and important habitats that support a rich diversity of wildlife.

Nature

Patmore Heath is the best remaining example of acid grass heathland in Hertfordshire and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest managed as a nature reserve by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Scarce plants such as heath bedstraw, harebells and tormentil thrive here on the dry heathland. In wetter areas, galingale, water avens, devil’s bit scabious, ivy-leaved crowfoot and southern marsh orchid all occur. The reintroduction of sheep grazing has helped maintain the heath and prevent it turning into woodland.

Yellowhammer can be spotted as a flash of gold (photo: ornitolog/iStock)Yellowhammer can be spotted as a flash of gold (photo: ornitolog/iStock)

More than 60 species of birds have been recorded in the parish in recent years. Here are a few to look out for:

• Red Kites. With their distinctive forked tails and gliding over fields in search of carrion, they have become quite common in recent years and can be seen most days.

• Buzzards. A common sight. Often it is their distinctive ‘mewing’ call which first attracts your attention.

• Cuckoo. An annual visitor which can often be heard calling near Patmore Heath in the spring and summer.

Three walks routesThree walks routes

• Green and great-spotted woodpeckers are both resident on Patmore Heath.

• Yellowhammers. Look to telephone wires for a bright splash of gold. They are common in the area.

History

Albury Church, dedicated to St Mary and dating to the 13th century, has a fine tower topped with a needle spire visible from almost every corner of the parish.

Albury Hall dominated the village from the late 1700s. A manor house stood on the site for many centuries but the most recent hall was built around 1780 by John Calvert, MP for Hertford. Early in the 20th century the property was purchased by Maurice Glyn, a partner in a banking firm, and pleasure gardens and a swimming pool were added. The family were generous local benefactors, providing piped water for the village. When war broke out in 1939, the hall was requisitioned by the army and occupied by military staff. An arm of the Special Operations Executive was based here, planning espionage and sabotage missions behind enemy lines in France. Winston Churchill was closely involved and visited Albury Hall on a number of occasions. The building was destroyed by fire in 1950 and the site has remained untouched for over 60 years, its fascinating history now hidden under a cover of trees.

The Glyn family had a penchant for naming their woodlands after major events. A field which had reverted to woodland was named Ypres following the battle in 1914. When the threat of war again loomed in the late 30s another woodland was planted to the east of the hall and named Munich to commemorate a visit by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, following his fateful meeting with Hitler in Germany. A third woodland, created close to the walled vegetable garden around 1956, was named Suez in response to the crisis in Egypt when the key trading canal was blockaded.

Getting there

Albury is four miles north-west of Bishop’s Stortford. All walks start and finish at Albury Village Hall, Clapgate SG11 2JD, where there’s free parking. Map reference: TL442248. A limited bus service visits Clapgate from Bishop’s Stortford. For public transport details visit intalink.org.uk or contact Traveline on 0300 1234050.

Walk one: Patmore Heath is three miles, walk two: Hadham Hall is four-and-a-half miles, and walk tree: Albury Hall is five-and-a-half miles. They are part of a series of Walking in Hertfordshire circular routes. Download these and others from hertfordshire.gov.uk/cms

To keep up to date with walking news and events in the county, sign up to the monthly bulletin at hertfordshire.gov.uk/updateme

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tue, 12:29

From bumble to honey and solitary, Herts-based garden designer Nic Savage looks at ways we can give bees a helping hand in our gardens and by doing so enrich our lives

Read more
August 2017
Tue, 12:07

A new scheme by the British Horse Society is encouraging all riders to get up to speed on safety in a wide variety of environments

Read more
August 2017
Mon, 09:29

The UK’s leading French property show returns to Olympia London from 16-17 September

Read more
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Opulent country houses, perfectly kept formal gardens and sweeping parkland vistas: Hertfordshire’s stately homes make perfect days out

Read more
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lee Valley Regional Park marks its 50th anniversary this year. It’s come a long way from gravel pits and scrap yards to beautiful landscapes and world-class sporting venues. We guide you along the river to some of the best things to do here this summer

Read more
August 2017
Monday, July 31, 2017

Things to do and see in the neighbouring North Herts villages of Barley and Barkway

Read more
July 2017
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Liz Hamilton of Herts Campaign to Protect Rural England walks the woods, hills and fields around Litte Berkhamsted - offering escapism and a connection to the area’s old industries

Read more
July 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July is the perfect time to go in search of Herts’ most colourful residents – dragonflies and damselflies, writes Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust senior reserves officer Jenny Sherwen

Read more
July 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017

Cattle grazing is literally becoming a common sight, as the traditional use of cows on ancient meadows is reintroduced to maintain rich habitats, Countryside Management Service projects officer Andrew Taylor

Read more
July 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017

Each year, the British Horse Society holds Challenge Rides across the globe to raise money for its equine welfare work in the UK. Here, BHS regional manager Andrea Jackman discusses her ‘journey of a lifetime’ ride in Mongolia

Read more
July 2017

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Job search in your local area



Local Business Directory

Hertfordshire's trusted business finder

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search