Wheathampstead to Shaws Corner circular walk, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire
A circular walk through the glorious Hertfordshire countryside, starting in the pretty village of Wheathampstead, following in the footsteps of the playwright George Bernard Shaw and stopping off at his home of 44 years, Shaw's Corner.
Wheathampstead East Lane car park grid ref:TL178371
Starting in Wheathampstead East Lane car park, turn right onto East Lane, then right again onto Station Road. Follow the road up hill until you come to the site of Wheathampstead station platform. After a visit to the platform, bear right, and then take the first lane on the right (past Harpenden Recovery), before taking the footpath to the left (signposted Ayot Greenway).
Wheathampstead station platform
Take time out to have a look at the recently excavated and restored platform of the old station at Wheathampstead (direction 1), where Bernard Shaw used to catch the train to London.
Follow the footpath until you reach a set of steps which lead down onto Sheepcote Lane. Head left, under the underpass, before taking the first path on your left, up the slope, through the iron gate. Follow the path across the field, then cross the path of the disused railway, and up the bank again on the other side, through the metal kissing gate. Follow the path until you reach the Codicote Road.
Cross the Codicote Road with care, then take the path that follows the line of the drive. When you reach the gates of the former golf course club house, take the path that runs to the right of the fence. When you come to a junction, turn left onto the Hertfordshire way.
At the silver kissing gate, take the right hand path and follow until you reach the drive for Lamer House - (marked Private Road, footpath only). Keep heading straight until you reach the gates of Lamer Park Farm. Take the footpath to your right, through the avenue of limes.
As you walk through the beautiful avenue of limes in Lamer Park (direction 4), imagine that you are walking with Bernard Shaw back to Shaw's Corner, after a visit to Lamer House, home of the Shaws' great friend, and author of The Worst Journey in the World, Apsley Cherry-Garrard.
At the end of the avenue, take the footpath to your right and follow for approx 200 yards, before taking the steps up to your left. Follow the path alongside the hedgerow and exit onto Bibbs Hall Lane. Turn right, and follow the lane for 200 yards until you reach Shaw's Corner on your right. Spend time at Shaw's, and/or continue to direction 6.
At the half-way point (direction 5), take the time out to visit Shaw's Corner, set in a quintessentially English garden. See Bernard Shaw's famous revolving writing hut, the Oscar that he won for the screenplay of Pygmalion and the bust of him by Rodin.
Whilst in Ayot St. Lawrence you might like to look at Ayot Old Church, or just continuing from Shaw's Corner, turn right onto Bibbs Hall Lane, then right again onto Bride Hall Lane, and after 100 yards, take the public bridleway on the left hand side of the bend. Follow the path alongside the woods until you reach the Codicote Road.
Enjoy beautiful views over the stunning Hertfordshire countryside. In springtime, look out for snowdrops, and cherry blossom. In May, these woods are famous for their bluebells, and in autumn, bring something to carry back - blackberries, damsons and sloes!
Cross Codicote road with care, then take the path on the other side, signposted Hunters Bridge. After 100-200 metres, carefully look for a waymarked path across the field to your right, up the hill towards a copse (Three Groves Wood) This path may be ploughed at certain times of the year. At the top of the hill, bear left across the field, heading for the next copse.
Follow the footpath (look out for the little yellow arrows on posts), until you cross Sparrowhall Bridge. Keep straight on, then head straight across the next field. At the bottom of the steps, turn right onto the Lea Valley Way.
Follow the path, across the bottom of the river valley for approximately 1 mile, until you reach steps down to Sheepcote Lane. Head back under the underpass.
Keep walking up the lane, and cross the ford. After 300 yards take the footpath on your right, between the hedges. When you reach the playing fields, bear right, keeping the football pitch on your left.
When you reach the river, bear left, towards the forge. Pass the forge and head out onto the lane beyond. Follow until you reach a T Junction, and then turn right.
This part of Hertfordshire is rich in wildlife. As you walk along the river valley keep an eye out for herons and dragonflies. As you get nearer to Shaw's Corner, count how many different types of birds you have seen - you might even spot a red kite!
The entrance to East Lane car park is 100 yards on your right and you have reached the end of the walk.
Wheathampstead East Lane car park grid ref:TL 178371
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