- Start: Markyate High Street
- End: Markyate High Street
- Country: England
- County: Hertfordshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Markyate High Street – the Swan, Red Lion and Sun plus cafe, sandwich take away, general stores and bakers; The Packhorse Inn in Watling Street; and Farmers Boy and village stores in Kensworth
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 182
- Difficulty: Medium
Explore the beautiful rolling countryside of this river valley as the Countryside Management Service shares one its new walks through Markyate and Kensworth
THE River Ver is a chalk stream which runs from Kensworth Lynch, on the edge of the Chilterns, southwards via St Albans to join the Colne near Bricket Wood. The upper Ver is a winterbourne, flowing only after heavy rainfall or in the winter, but from Redbourn southwards it is generally a permanent chalk stream.
The River Ver is groundwater fed and relies on winter rain percolating through to the chalk below the Chiltern Hills. This means that the water in the river is of a constant temperature and high mineral content. This supports particular plants and wildlife and makes chalk streams important habitats. Throughout time man has relied upon this clean, clear fresh water for domestic use, livestock and, in the past, local industry.
The river has suffered from low flows as a result of over-abstraction.
A river rescue scheme has helped
to restore flows but with increasing pressure from new housing and a growing population we all need to ensure we conserve water.
Despite low flows, the Ver still supports some important wildlife communities. Kingfishers can now regularly be seen along the river, as can herons, indicating that fish populations are good. Bats use the river and meadows for drinking and feeding and use landscape features such as old barns, mills and trees to roost in.
Highlights along the way
St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church and ‘old’ Kensworth lie tucked away in the cosy folds of their discrete landscape along the line of the top-waters of the River Ver.
View of Markyate Cell
Lady Katherine Ferrers, the notorious female highwayman known as The Wicked lady, lived in Markyate Cell. There remains stories of the sighting of Lady Katherine’s ghost riding on her horse in and around the Cell and of her ill-gotten gains being buried
in the grounds.
Source area at Corner Farm
The embryonic River Ver has its origins in the dramatic tucks and folds of the high landscape west of Kensworth Lynch. It begins at the point where two valleys merge, occupied on the surface by Lynch House and Corner Farm.
A witch and a headless milkmaid are said to haunt the footpath across the dry valley from the village, over Bury Hill towards the church.
Markyate High Street
Markyate means ‘Gate at the boundary’ and the High Street used
to be the county boundary between Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Linch is derived from Old
English ‘Hlinc’, meaning rising ground or a ridge, ledge
1 Walk to the north end of High Street. (To see the River Ver exiting Markyate Cell, detour right, under the bypass, into the spur of Luton Road.) Turn left after the War Memorial, up the metal track to the small village cemetery. There, turn right, left, then right again onto the footpath towards Kensworth.
2 At Lynch Hill, cross the road to
The Lynch. At the footpath at the corner of a small wood turn left to the top of Lynch Hill.
3 Walk through Kensworth on Common Road for one mile.
At the second footpath, turn right. Head down the wooded track, then across the arable fields to Hollicks Lane and Churchend.
4 Turn right, past St Mary’s Church. Follow the course of the River Ver ‘topwaters’ down the lane towards Kensworth Lynch.
5 At Lynch Hill follow the path left, through the hedge and over the infant River Ver. Walk up and over the Lynch.
6 Cross Watling Street – take care – and take the path up the slope beside the nursery. Follow this through the small wood and on to Millfield Lane. Turn right, then right again into Caddington Common.
7 Turn right at Luton Road. At the footpath turn left back towards The Ridings and Markyate.
8 Cross the footbridge over the A5 and into Hicks Road, back to Markyate High Street (see the open culvert/River Ver here).
Start and Finish Markyate High Street
Distance 6.7miles (10.7km)
Time Approximately 2½ hours
Refreshments Markyate High Street – the Swan, Red Lion and Sun plus cafe, sandwich take away, general stores and bakers; The Packhorse Inn in Watling Street; and Farmers Boy and village stores in Kensworth
By road Markyate High Street can be found off the A5/Watling Street. There is a public car park in Hicks Road. Markyate is approximately 3 miles south of Dunstable or 5 miles north of Hemel Hempstead.
By public transport Markyate High Street is served regularly by buses from St Albans and Dunstable.
For details contact Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit www.intalink.org.uk
Map OS Explorer 182
Find out more
Discover the River Ver is a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access to the River Ver and its Valley. This and other walks will be waymarked and promoted as part of it. Leaflets should be avalailable from the autumn. For lots more photos, memories, information and copies of the other walks go to www.riverver.co.uk, www.hertslink.org/cms or contact the Countryside Management Service on 01727 848168 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org