Today’s walk is another of my favourite, easy, flat circular routes. It follows a mixture of partially surfaced waymarked trail paths and small woodland trails. There are small sections of minor road to walk along or cross (single track in places), they generally have low traffic and have wide grass verges which can be used to walk along for safety but need care when crossing if dogs are off leads. There’s plenty of free parking, off and on-lead areas, and lots and lots of poo bins (hooray!).
The route is approximately 2.3 miles (3.8 km) and takes roughly 40-50 minutes depending on your pace (and if you decide to take a detour to The Engineer pub). Information boards around the common provide details of 3 colour coded walking trails which span over and around various sections of the common. This walk follows some of the permissive horse riding route (waymarked by white topped marker posts), and some of the red trail. In the winter months some sections of the route can get muddy but it’s still walkable. The council requests that dogs are kept under control on the golf course and humans and dogs keep to the paths.
Alternatively click on the following link https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1048183 – to view the directions on the map, select ‘menu’, ‘directions’.
Your Starting Point
To find your starting point head to the old Three Horseshoes pub car park in East Common (AL5 1AW) – this lovely 18th century Grade II listed building was converted into a private residence in 2013. The adjacent car park is located on common land so is open for public use and there are no restrictions, other than the common byelaws.
The common stretches almost 2 miles south of Harpenden’s centre and covers over 96 hectares. Originally Rothamsted Manor’s wasteland, the common was used by villagers as a source of firewood and grazing for their cattle. Throughout the centuries it’s remained a vital part of Harpenden life and a hive of activity hosting everything from horseracing, ice skating, circuses and fairs.
The grassland and meadows on the common are a hugely important haven for wildlife and have been designated a County Wildlife Site. The council works closely with Hertfordshire Countryside Management Services, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Natural England to conserve and protect the land for future generations.
The common is home to a few long-established sport clubs including Harpenden Cricket Club, Harpenden Rovers Football Club and Harpenden Common Golf Course. Golf has been a fixture on the Common since 1895 however the original club outgrew its location and relocated to Hammonds End in 1931. A small revolt followed and a handful of golfers decided to stay, and so Harpenden Common Golf Club was formed.
Today’s walk takes you around sections of the open course so it’s important to keep an eye out for flying golf balls! With 12 holes being played on common land, some of which cross over public roads, it’s always wise to see if you can spot golfers teeing off in your direction. Benji and I have had a few close shaves!
- From the car park turn left onto East Common road, with the golf course on your right, follow the road for approximately 30 meters (you have the option to walk along the wide grass verge if you prefer).
- On your left you’ll see the entrance to the tee for the 4th hole, if there are golfers teeing off, I wait for them to finish before making my into the woodland. Look for the narrow woodland path with a wooden signpost which states that this section is only a permissive footpath (not accessible for horses).
- Follow the path that takes you around the inner edge of the woodland, turn right before the path leads onto Ayres End Lane and loop back towards the golf course, walking on the edge of the 4th hole.
- Cross over the road to re-join the perimeter track (look for the poo bin). Continue to follow the tree-lined track, some of which is surfaced, some not. Dogs are nicely contained on this path but there are sections where they could access the golf course.
- You’ll eventually come to a road – Cross Lane, with care cross the road and turn left, walking along the road (or grass verge) for about 10 metres before re-joining the bridleway around the edge of the course.
- You’ll come to another road – Limbrick Road, cross straight over and re-join the bridleway.
- Turn right down Cravells Road- it’s possible to walk along the grass verge in places, alternatively you could cross over onto the common, turn right and continue parallel to the road, passing Harpenden Rovers club house – this is also a good option if your dog wants an extra run around off the lead.
- As you turn right into Limbrick Road look for the narrow path through the trees leading back onto the perimeter of the golf course.
- Cross Limbrick Road and re-join the bridleway following the avenue of trees.
- Cross over Cross Lane and follow the marked trail along the edge of the golf course all the way back to the car park.
There are numerous poo bins around the golf course – at least 6 directly on the route or nearby.
Toilets & Refreshments
There are no toilets on route but The Engineer Pub & Restaurant (12 St John’s Road, Harpenden, AL5 1DJ) is nearby just off Cravells Road. You could either make a small detour during your walk (continuing down Cravells Road rather than turning right into Limbrick Road to re-join the golf course) or drive and park in the pub car park for a post walk refresher. Dogs are welcome in the Sports Bar and outside terrace. They serve a good selection of food which can be eaten in the dog friendly areas.
Disclaimer – This route was correct at the time of writing. It is a walker’s own responsibility to be adequately prepared and assess the safety and suitability of the walk for your needs. If you notice any inaccuracies during your walk please don’t hesitate to contact My Dog Life firstname.lastname@example.org so appropriate amendments can be made. Thank you and Happy Walking.