Today’s post will focus on one of my favourite go-to easy walks which takes around 40 minutes (with an option to extend to just over an hour) and is especially good if you want to avoid the mud! It’s a flat circular route which takes you through a sheltered woodland and a short field path section.
Hatching Green, originally named Hatchen End, possibly after John Hacche who was resident there in 1610, is a special place. I’ve fond memories of walking with my Grandma as a child along the tree lined avenues playing ‘stepping stones’ on the raised curbs. You feel a sense of history walking along the avenue of lime trees, planted in 1880, which lead to Rothamsted Manor in one direction and Rothamsted Park in the other.
The land forms part of Rothamsted Estate managed by Rothamsted Research which is made up of 400 hectares of land including the Manor house and experimental farm. The fields around the route are used for agricultural experiments, some of which are home to the oldest continuing agricultural field experiments in the world, so its important dogs are not allowed to freely roam into the fields for obvious reasons.
Your Starting Point:
To find your starting point, travelling from Harpenden along Redbourn Lane (B487), turn right into Hatching Green just after The White Horse Pub (AL5 2JP). You’ll see the narrow road wraps around the green and a row of thatched cottages. You can park anywhere along the road and there are no time restrictions.
- From Hatching Green head for the small red brick gate house (Rothamsted Park Lodge) and follow the public footpath signposted Rothamsted Manor (notice the dog poo bin on your left– this is the only one on this route). This private road is restricted to 20 mph for authorised vehicles only, however, it can still be busy so I tend to keep Benji on the lead along this stretch. The fields on both sides of the road are used for agricultural experiments. On your right you’ll see the Field Phenotyping platform (large metal gantry structure), the worlds first for automated measuring of crop growth and health, which was installed in 2015. Also look out for the flock of very vocal parakeets which have taken up residence here, the bright green birds soar around the skyline at a fast pace and have a very distinctive squawk.
- You’ll eventually come to a T junction, rather than turning right towards the Park, look for the small metal gate on your left leading into a field. This is a good point to let dogs off to have a run around. Follow the trodden path through the field, bearing right in front of the Manor. This beautiful Grade I listed building and surrounding garden has a rich colourful history dating back to 1212. In 1814 John Bennet Lawes, the founder of Rothamsted Experimental Station was born in the house and during WWII it was used by the military as a listening post, recording and feeding messages to Bletchley Park for decoding. Nowadays it’s used as venue for special events and some areas are open to the public in the summer months for afternoon tea.
- You’ll eventually come to the entrance to a small woodland, turn left and follow the permissive footpath which takes you around the perimeter of the Manor grounds. You’ll pass the Park Grass meadow on your left which is home to the world famous Park Grass Experiment which started in 1856.
- The woodland is beautiful and peaceful, covered in bluebells in early spring and you can often hear the drumming of the resident woodpeckers.
- Exit the woodland through the metal gate and bear right along the track. Pass through the next set of metal gates and continue straight towards the farm entrance (don’t take the left turn signposted Bridleway), turn right where the track turns into a single-track road, passing the sign for the Broadbalk Experiment on your left.
- This road is generally quiet, but farm vehicles do come and go so keep an eye out. Continue along the road passing a left turn and after approximately 100 metres you’ll see a signpost where you have two options:
- The shorter option is to follow the sign back to Hatching Green, passing through the metal gate into a field. Follow the diagonal track through the field towards the next metal gate to re-join the private tree lined road leading back to the start.
- For a longer option (which will add approximately 25 minutes) follow the gravel track signposted for Rothamsted Park. When the track comes to an end, take a sharp right and head up the tree lined avenue, when you come to the junction turn left and follow the road back to Hatching Green.
Remember there’s only 1 dog poo bin at the start/finish and there are no toilets. However, if you’re looking for refuge before or after your walk the dog friendly White Horse is worth a visit.
This lovely pub dates back to the 17th century and dogs are welcome in the cosy bar and snug area which is a great spot for warming up after a cold winters walk. There’s also a large outside seating area at both the front and rear which is perfect for cooling down in the summer. They serve a good selection of food which can be eaten in the dog friendly areas, which always gets the paw of approval from our 4-legged companion!
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org so appropriate amendments can be made. Thank you and Happy Walking.