Eight Awesome Autumn Walks!
Muddy loves a good stomp (obvs), so we’re thrilled to present to you (drumroll please) our pick of the prettiest walks in Herts & Beds and beyond - all with dog-friendly pubs
WALK 1 / BEACON VIEW WALK
Photo: Peter O’Connor/Flikr
Distance and difficulty: A 6.5 mile circular route (with a shorter 2 mile option) across a mix of easy terrain from farm tracks and woodland footpaths to canal towpaths and tarmacked roads. Takes 2.5 hours (or 1 hour for the short cut). View walk here.
Good for: Families after a decent stomp, which can be adapted for those with little legs and less stamina.
Why we love it: If it’s variety you’re after, this one takes you from open farmland, through the 18th-century woodland landscape of Tring Park (which might be ringing a bell for being the home of the famous Performing Arts School), with fab views across Tring towards Ivinghoe Beacon, and on to the Grand Union Canal, where you can look out for wildlife, spot the most colourful barges and let the mind boggle over the engineering feat that is the lock (or is that just me?!)
Handily, this one starts and finishes at The Greyhound pub in Wigginton – a trad village Inn where you’ll find real ales, log fires and decent home-cooked nosh. You’ll be in good company amongst the local hikers and cyclists who can often be found propping up the bar here.
The Greyhound, Greyhound Pub, Chesham Road, Wigginton, Tring, HP23 6EH, 01442 824631
WALK 2 / THE CHILTERN HILLS WALK
Photo: Peter O’ Connor/Flikr
Distance and difficulty: A moderate 3.8 mile loop along well-trodden trails (which can get marshy in wetter months), fields and country lanes with some gentle up and downhill sections (some steeper than others) and the odd kissing gate thrown in. View walk here.
Good for: Getting muddy.
Why we love it: It’s well off for wildlife and wild flowers round here (Heizdin’s Wood is awash with bluebells in the spring), and you’ll be rewarded with lovely views across the valley at Potten End. Plus the route passes a Buddhist monastery (not something you see every day!)
The Alford Arms in Frithsden won the Muddy Award for Best Destination Pub 2019, so it doesn’t need much more of a sell than that, but I can vouch for the fact that dining here is a real treat (and definitely worth the three courses). There’s a real community feel here too, but unlike some pubs which serve fab food, there’s no pomp and ceremony – the more muddy boots and dogs the merrier. Make sure you plan ahead though – it can get booked up weeks ahead especially on Sundays. Told you it was popular!
The Alford Arms, Frithsden, Nr. Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP1 3DD, 01442 86 44 80
WALK 3 / THE ALBAN WAY
Photo: Jason Rogers/Flikr
Distance and difficulty: A 6.5 mile walk which connects Hatfield and St Albans, along the former Great Northern Railway Line. From one end to the other it takes around 3 hours. It’s flat, traffic-free, and accesible to all users. There are various places to park along the route and multiple access points. View walk here.
Good for: Those looking for a more more urban interactive walk which takes in a bit of everything.
Why we love it: This purpose-built trail is ideal for dipping in and out of if you don’t fancy doing the whole thing in one go. There’s loads to see and do en route, including some specially commissioned artworks, a nature reserve with a butterfly meadow and wetlands, Grade II listed former railway stations, kids’ play areas and it even passes right by the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield. Plus you’re close enough for a pop in to Hatfield House if you plan to make a day of it.
Just off the mapped trail is Dylan’s The Plough at Sleapshyde – definitely worth a well-earned pit stop, with its menu of pimped-up pub classics and craft beer ‘wall’. It’s about 45 minutes’ walk from Hatfield or an hour from St Albans depending on your starting point, just don’t forget you’ll have to get back to your car afterwards though, so you might want go easy on the dessert!
Dylans The Plough, Sleapshyde Lane, St Albans, AL4 0SE, 01727 823720
WALK 4 / EASTERN CIRCULAR WALK, CHIPPERFIELD COMMON
Photo: Peter O’ Connor/Flikr
Distance and difficulty: 10 miles along riverside paths, commons and fields with one stile, some kissing gates and a few short stretches on country lanes. View walk here.
Good for: Those after a good hearty stomp in the countryside.
Why we love it: It starts and finishes at Chalfont and Latimer train station (first tick – you don’t need a car, but you can also park at the station! win, win). Ok so it’s just over the border into Bucks, but the Eastern trail tips the majority of the walk into Herts territory, taking in part of the Chess Valley Walk, the Frogmore Meadow Nature Reserve, Chipperfield, Commonwood and Dawes Commons, and the picturesque village of Sarratt (claim to fame: some scenes from Four Weddings and a Funeral were shot here!).
Near the start of the trail you’ll pass through the village of Flaunden, home to The Bricklayers Arms. Don’t miss it mind – you’ll just need to take a slight detour from the route that the map in the above link suggests, making sure you stop off at point 14 (at the wonderfully named Hogpits Bottom). It’s got proper chocolate box appeal, a Michelin-trained chef and it’s been named Dining Pub of the Year in Herts multiple times on the trot. Need we say more?
The Bricklayers Arms, The Bricklayers Arms, Hogpits Bottom, Flaunden, Hertfordshire, HP3 0PH, 01442 833322
WALK 1 / CLOPHILL AND HAYNES CIRCULAR WALK
The old church, Clophill
Distance and difficulty: An easy to moderate 6-miler along gravel tracks, footpaths, farmland and lanes. View walk here.
Good for: A romantic ramble.
Why we love it: It starts in the pretty town of Clophill, and takes in views of the 18th Century mansion at Haynes Park as well as farmland and woodland terrain, to keep things interesting. There are plenty of stiles, kissing gates, bridges and hedge gaps to navigate your way over and around, too.
The Flying Horse in Clophill is a contemporary barn conversion nestled within the Maulden, Warren and Clophill Woods, with a varied menu of hearty pub food, vegan dishes and kid-friendly options.
The Flying Horse, 2 The Green, Clophill, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK45 4AD, 01525 860293
WALK 2 / TURVEY CIRCULAR WALK
Photo: Turvey Abbey
Distance and difficulty: This 6 mile walk with stiles can be adapted with shortcuts for those feeling less ambitious View walk here.
Good for: Local heritage buffs.
Why we love it: Fancy a local history lesson? This one starts and finishes in the pretty and historic village of Turvey (look out for the Saxon church) this route takes you through Turvey Abbey Park (the grounds of the 17th-century Abbey), over Turvey Bridge (thought to be the oldest crossing of the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire) and along part of the disused Beford to Northampton Railway line, so there’s plenty to see along the way and swot up on afterwards. The village is also home to Turvey House too – a privately owned Grade I-listed 18th-century manor house which is normally closed to the public, but can be booked out for weddings and special events.
Right on the river bank and bordering the Turvey House estate is The Three Fyshes. The accommodating landlords will happily let you park up there while you go for a walk as long as you call in for a pint (I know, it’s a big ask!), and it would be rude not to have lunch while you’re there, too. And it’s perfect pre or post-walk carb-loading fare, from BLTs and burgers to bangers and mash.
The Three Fyshes, Bridge Street, Turvey, Bedfordshire, MK43 8ER, 01234 881463
WALK 3 / BARTON-LE-CLAY WALK
Photo: Peter O’Connor/Flikr
Distance and difficulty: A circular 6.25 mile walk with one steep ascent and descent. View walk here.
Good for: Wildlife spotters and history geeks.
Why we love it: The Barton Hills are believed to have inspired the Celestial Mountains in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progressso you’ll be walking in the footsteps of one of Bedfordshire’s most famous historical figures. You’ll also pass Barton-Le-Clay manor (which got a mention in the Domesday Book) and Bury Farm, (formerly Sharpenhoe Manor), which dates back to 1197. And the Sharpenhoe Clappers, an ancient woodland and National Trust-owned site, is home to an Iron Age hill fort. Those into wildlife will enjoy wandering through the Nature Reserve, which is awash with rare wild flowers and attracts all sorts of butterflies – you might even spot a grizzled skipper!
Nestled right in the middle of the village itself, The Bull serves food created with only locally sourced produce, including meat from a family butcher, fruit and veg from a nearby farmer and Wobbly Bottom Farm cheese (yep, we just wanted to get that in there). It’s got bags of character, is full of English rustic charm and you can find everything from a doorstep sarnie to a fillet steak on the lunch menu.
WALK 4 / RUSHMERE COUNTRY PARK CIRCULAR WALK
Photo: Rushmere Country Park
Distance and difficulty: 4 miles, which takes around 1.5 hours, or there’s a 1-mile shortcut which takes around 30 minutes. The terrain is easy and flat, across flat footpaths and bridleways. View walk here.
Good for: Families and mini explorers.
Why we love it: Known as the gateway to Greensand Ridge, there are 400 acres of woodland, heathland, meadows and parkland to explore here. What’s more, there’s a fab natural sculpture trail with carved creatures, giant chairs and secret fairy doors, as well as a huge gateway to ‘where the wild things are’ to fuel little imaginations (and keep little legs moving along!). You might also be lucky enough to spot the odd green woodpecker or heron.
This quaint and cosy country pub is just the ticket to warm the cockles after a chilly woodland stomp. You’ll find the Heath Inn in the sleepy village of Heath and Reach, a 10 minute diversion from the Stockgrove entrance, marked on the main trail, or a 5-minute car journey from the Heron’s View visitor centre if you’d prefer to complete your circuit before lunch. Chow down on a homemade chilli or pie of the day (there’s a kids’ menu too) or a hearty roast on a Sunday.
The Heath Inn, 76 Woburn Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 0AR, 01525 237390