The Cole Green Way - on foot or by bike
14:02 20 March 2011
THE Cole Green Way and Hertford to Ware towpath offer something for everyone.
An old railway line, canal towpaths, open spaces and quiet roads create a green route from Welwyn Garden City to Ware via Hertford. It also forms part of Route 61 of the National Cycle Network.
The Cole Green Way proper runs from the outskirts of Welwyn Garden City at the Black Fan Road / Cole Green Lane junction to West Street in Hertford. This rural section follows a former railway and is suitable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
This part of the route is also accessible for disabled visitors at various points although motorised scooter wheelchairs are probably the best option due to the nature of the surfacing.
There are links at both ends that take walkers and cyclists into Welwyn and Hertford town centres. The link through Hertford joins the towpath along the River Lea, taking you to Ware and beyond, and is signposted through the town centre.
The walk has access from Panshanger through Rolls and Blackthorn Woods, from Station Road in Cole Green and Chapel Lane in Letty Green.
Along the way
Stanborough Park: A half mile diversion down the path alongside Stanborough Road will bring you to Stanborough Lakes. Here you can visit the two lakes, hire a boat, go fishing, learn to sail or roam through 126 acres of parkland. www.finesseleisure.com,
Sherrardspark Woods: A stones throw from Welwyn Garden City town centre, this 200 acre wood has many footpaths and bridleways to be explored amongst the oak and hornbeam trees. You can follow the old railway line through the woodland as part of the Ayot Greenway to Wheathampstead some three-and-a-half miles away. Access is off Digswell Road, the Campus West car park or Bridge Road.
Rolls & Blackthorn Woods: A great link exists for walkers who wish to access the Cole Green Way from the residential area of Panshanger, connecting the local footpath network via a pleasant walk between the trees. Within the woodland there is a circular path and several ponds.
Cole Green: When you arrive at the old Cole Green station take a break for refreshments at the Cowper Arms pub or bring your own food and use the picnic area. There is also a short, easy woodland walk that includes carved statues and a pond. Car parking is available if you wish to start your walk or ride from this point.
The old railway: The branch line opened in 1858 connecting Hertford with the main line junction at Welwyn prior to the construction of the Garden City. It was closed in 1966 as part of the Beeching cuts. Today, the Victorian brick bridges and the platform at Cole Green remain as the only reminders of its past.
Hertford Castle: The site has been occupied since the Normans built their first fortification of the River Lea. The 15th century gatehouse is all that remains of Hertford Castle which is surrounded by an 11th century stone and flint curtain. www.hertford.gov.uk, 01992 552885.
Hertford Museum: Set at the heart of the town, the museum is in the old market area of Bull Plain in an early 17th Century town house. It is enhanced by a charming recreated Jacobean Knot garden of intertwined hedges of box and lavender. Free entry. www.hertfordmuseum.org, 01992 582686.
Hartham Common: In addition to the leisure centre there are football pitches, tennis courts, a play area and trim trail.
St Leonards Church, Bengeo: Claims to be the oldest building in Hertford and is a fine example of Norman architecture with an unusual wooden spire. The simple interior includes a Norman font, a 13th Century wall painting and an Anchorites cell where a religious recluse once lived.
Jacobs Island: This natural island is managed as an otter habitat, providing the dense, undisturbed riverbank vegetation that they need for breeding.
Kings Meads: The largest remaining area of grazed riverside flood meadow in Hertfordshire. The rivers and ditches which criss-cross the site traditionally flooded the flat land; but because of falling water levels this now happens less often. A rich wetland habitat that is becoming rare in Britain.
River Lea gazebos: These 18th century summerhouses in Ware were built in the gardens of former High Street Coaching Inns.
Ware Museum: The museum houses permanent displays including a timeline of Ware's social, industrial and archaeological history from
pre-historic times through to the Second World War.
Free entry. www.waremuseum.org.uk, 01920 487848.