Exploring St Albans on foot

PUBLISHED: 11:52 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 February 2013

St Michael's Ford

St Michael's Ford

Take in the sights and sounds of the city on a St Albans and Verulamium Ver Valley short walk

THIS relatively short walk should be taken at more of a stroll to give you time to enjoy the surroundings and there are plenty of places for refreshment along the way. The walk starts at Verulamium Museum which is well worth a visit at the start or end of your walk.
This is one of eight new circular walks exploring the River Ver, which are being launched in the spring by the Countryside Management Service and the Ver Valley Society. More information at www.riverver.co.uk

The Route

From the museum steps, walk past St Michaels Church and school, and on down the gentle slope of St Michaels Street towards the river. At St Michaels Ford (1) turn right into Verulamium Park.
Follow the path ahead between the Abbey Millstream and ornamental lakes. (2) At the lakes southern end turn right, over the outfall, behind the toilets, onto the causeway descend the steps, left from the embankment and follow the grassy path beside the river towards Holywell Hill.
To the right is Westminster Lodge Track and Leisure Centre and amongst low mounds and trees is Mud Lane Pumping Station (3) which in tandem with Holywell and Stonecross pumping stations supply most of the areas drinking water from the chalk aquifer.
At the southern end of Westminster Lodge section cross the river via the footbridge, then bear left to The Duke of Marlborough pub and the foot of Holywell Hill. Further on cross the road via the pedestrian crossing and enter Belmont Hill. Shortly after, bear right down a sloping footpath into the grounds of De Tany Court to view the (misnamed) holywell (4), set in its own railed garden.
Exit the garden, turn right, right then left past a small park, and then through the boundary ahead to regain the riverside path. Continue to walk downstream, past the former swimming baths and site of the Cottonmill.
Cross the road, descend to the opposite bank, and follow the grassy path alongside the Ver (5). The ruins of Sopwell House and Nunnery (6) are to the west. Pass through a small willow wood, then alongside allotments. Ascend the steps, right up to the former GNR railway embankment (now the Alban Way) (7), turn left over the river Ver. Bear left down a sloping path to Riverside Road. (8) The Watercress Wildlife Association grounds are on the left and are worth a detour. They are a former watercress beds and market garden, now a haven for wildlife.
To continue, follow Riverside Road towards town. (9) The path diverges to an alleyway by a scout hall and Henrys Grant. Henry VIII granted Sopwell Nunnery and lands to Sir Richard Lee following the dissolution. This route via Sopwell Lane and Holywell Hill into town, and across the golf course out of town, is the medieval road to London via Barnet .
At the junction with Holywell Hill, turn right, cross the road at the Ryder Seed and Exhibition Hall (10) now Caf Rouge, then turn left into Sumpter Yard and the Abbey precincts (11).
Follow the path past the old cedar tree and the Chapter House; bear left down the steep valley slope to the river at the Abbey Mill and Fighting Cocks pub (12). Cross the footbridge over the millstream, back into Verulamium Park. Walk ahead, across the southern end of the lake, up to the former London Gate of the Roman city (13).
Follow the grassy path inside the city walls, up the slope, beside the sports pitches. At the top follow the line of the Roman wall; there are good views back over the park and river to St Albans Abbey and town (14).
Where the ridge intersects with a path beside a hedge, turn right, back to Verulamium Museum (15).

Start walking

Start/Finish: Verulamium Museum, St Michaels Street, St Albans
Distance: 3 miles (6 km)
Terrain: Easy
Map: OS Explorer 182

Teas, buns, pints and pies

St Michaels Street 6 Bells pub, Rose and Crown pub and Kingsbury Mill Waffle House
Fishpool Street Black Lion pub, Blue Anchor pub
Holywell Hill Duke of Marlborough pub, Caf Rouge and White Hart Inn
Sopwell Lane Hare and Hounds, White Lion and The Goat pubs
Also on route St Albans Abbey Refectory and the Inn on the Park.

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