12 ISSUES FOR £24 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

08:59

We have five family tickets to the Game Fair at Hatfield House to give away, worth a total of £280

Read more
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

After nine years, 560,000 trees and a huge community effort, a project to create the largest continuous native forest in England is nearing completion. Ben Sneath explores the hugely ambitious Heartwood Forest near St Albans

Read more
June 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017

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

Read more
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

It’s bright and cheerful, but ragwort is a potential killer. It’s the responsibility of all landowners to keepit at bay, the British Horse Society says

Read more
June 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017

The large stretch of hilly common to the west of Royston is perhaps the best-used open space in the county, offering sports, walks, festivals, rare plants and animals or just flopping at the café

Read more
June 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

With nature bursting out all over this month, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is calling on us all to do something wild each day

Read more
June 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We round up five top events happening this month in Hertfordshire

Read more
June 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

To the beat of giant drums, teams race in long boats down the Lea while spectators scream support from the riverbank. Welcome to June’s Ware Dragon Boat Regatta

Read more
June 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A pleasure to watch and key for a healthy environment, wildlife in our gardens is as important as the plants. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust gives six easy ways to make yours more wildlife friendly this year

Read more
May 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017

The British Horse Society’s Paths for Communities fund, supported by a Ride Out UK project this month, is helping to maintain rights of way and increase access to the county’s countryside and beyond

Read more
May 2017


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