Walks And Walking – Hertfordshire Walks St Albans Ver Valley Walking Route

Walks And Walking – Hertfordshire Walks St Albans Ver Valley Walking Route

The purpose of this walk was two-fold; to meet up with my good friend Jez for a walk in his neck of the woods and to also test out my free trial of ViewRanger that promised to turn my SmartPhone in to an outdoor GPS. I will write out the walking route first and then add my ViewRanger review at the end of this post.

It was a great walk, mainly along well country road, tarmacked lanes and only a few slightly muddy tracks so kept to the usual walking clotheswalking boots,  waterproof jacket in my rucksack with a few walking essentials in case of rain as the clouds were looking bruised overhead.

You can view all of the photographs from today’s walk here: St Albans Ver Valley Walking Route

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - St Albans Cathedral

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - St Albans Cathedral

We started our walk from the car park at St Albans Waitrose on Mayne Avenue walking down to King Harry Lane with the school on our right we then crossed over the road to a gap into open fields, through the spur of woods and straight ahead into the open parkland with St Albans cathedral in the far distance on our right hand side. We kept on the same direction until we reached the Roman Mosaic and Hypocaust where we then continued straight ahead passing the Inn on the Park crossing over the bridge at the lake. We then turned left at the river and then right onto St Michaels Street by the ford.

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - St Michaels Street Ancient Ford

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - St Michaels Street Ancient Ford

We then walked left into Branch Road turning left to cross Verulam Road to the recreation ground crossing over the main road to the drive where we then walked along the pathway turning left onto a bridleway following the edge of the golf course where we picked up the Number 5 Ver Valley Walk Blue Waymarkers and The Hertfordshire Way. We followed this pathway all the way through Ladies Grove Wood to the Childwickbury House estate and Childwick Green Church before crossing over Harpendon Road A1081 following the footpath signposts and waymarkers to Ayres End Lane. At the lane we turned right and then left at the waymarkers to pick up the white bridleway signposts that were clearly signposted all the way up to Cross Lane where we then turned left to rejoined Harpendon Road at the St Albans Road signpost.

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - Red Kite

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - Red Kite

We then turned left and walked down the main road turning right down Beesonend Lane keeping left following the blue waymarkers all the way down this lane to the end. We then turned right crossing over two footbridges and fords to Redbournbury Mill before turning back on ourselves and heading down the River Ver Trail following the blue waymarkers. As we meandered along the water meadows we then passed by Shafford Mill to Redbourn Road where we then crossed over to the footpath opposite entering Gorhambury Estate. It was here that we were lucky enough to see a Red Kite in full flight above us. We then continued to follow the blue waymarkers by the mill stream until we reached the Pre Mill building taking the estate road over the river turning left at the t-junction all the way down the tree-lined avenue to the Roman Theatre.

We then crossed over Bluehouse Hill back into St Michaels Street and straight into the Six Bells pub for a pint of the local ale and some very decent pub grub. We then ended our walk by continuing down St Michaels Street to the ford retracing our steps into the park, passing the Hypocaust and back to the Waitrose car park after a good 8 miles and leisurely 4 hours.

Now, the View Ranger!

I’m not going to list a step by step guide on how I set it up, mainly because I can’t remember exactly how I did it. The View Ranger website isn’t very easy to navigate and you never really know if you have completed the steps correctly. I thought mobile applications were supposed to simplify such complex web operations but it really is a case of doing what you think is right but not really knowing if it is. I registered online, just about managed to set up the Beacon thing, downloaded the app from my Android SmartPhone Market and did what I thought looked about right. In the application I went to Create, Create Route, OK, then went back to Beacon & Tracker and set Beacon Repeat On, went in to Trip View and pressed Start and off we set on the walk. Every so often I went in to Beacon & Tracker and pressed Send Beacon Now just to see if it made any difference and at the end of the walk I pressed Upload. I then went onto the View Ranger website and was amazed to see my walk mapped out…. et voila!

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - ViewRanger

Walks And Walking - Hertfordshire Walks - St Albans Walking Route - ViewRanger

So, how does this compare to how I would normally plan a walking route? Well, I go on to the internet and check out the area I want to walk, buy the appropriate Ordnance Survey Map, map out the walk so I know exactly where I am going, see if there is anything else worth checking out on the route, do the walk, take photos, video if there is something exciting to watch and then write it up and post it on this website.

I really don’t think that using ViewRanger is worth all the faffing about so I think I will stick to my old school methods of walking until they bring out a mobile application that is simple to use and doesn’t cost too much. On the subject of costs, the ViewRanger prices are even more complicated to work out. When I clicked on the shop link it took me round in circles until I finally found the correct page. From what I could work out the initial charge is quite low, just a few pounds, but you then need to download the maps of where you want to walk which cost “from” £15 to £40. Ordnance Survey Maps are about £8 each, or sometimes 3 for 2, and they are always there in real hard copy format, with mobile applications after a while you get bored and don’t use them anymore making them a waste of money in most cases.

Thoughts please?!

7 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Craig says:

    Thanks for trying ViewRanger. Really enjoyed your walk write up. I just wanted to comment on a couple of points on your ViewRanger experience and feedback.

    1) The ViewRanger app and access to the online route planner and community website (at My.ViewRanger.com) is free. The free app comes with worldwide access to several map layers including opencyclemap (which shows contours and many paths), openstreetmap, satellite aerial imagery, etc. The free app also comes with access to thousands of free trail guides available to download and follow. The free app is fully functional, users simply purchase premium maps and trail guides if they want to.

    2) Ordnance Survey maps can be purchased and downloaded in-app on Android and Apple devices. All the map areas are clearly priced in the product listing within the app. You are right about the issues with our website and we are working to make this simpler and clearer on our website. Individual map tiles (100 sqkm) can be downloaded for 11 pence. You can purchase Snowdonia, Peak District, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors national parks all together as one map for £3.99. And the OS maps that you buy for your smartphone can be used on your tablet and on the My.ViewRanger.com route planner at no additional cost.

    3) The My.ViewRanger.com website makes it easy, we hope, to plan trips – either by browsing the library of more than 10,000 UK guided walking and cycling trails from guidebook publishers, tourism organizations, and local experts from the ViewRanger community (plus more than 12,000 in central Europe and more than 1000 in USA).

    You can also plot your own routes using the route planner at My.ViewRanger.com and then sync these directly to the app on your smartphone and tablet by tapping the “sync” button within the app.

    4) More advanced features such as the BuddyBeacon location sharing do require some additional setup in order to deal with issues such as user privacy. But, once set up once, then the BuddyBeacon can be viewed by your friends in real time on other mobile devices, the web, and through third party web apps such as SocialHiking.

    5) With regard to photos – if you associate your Flickr or Picasa (or Twitter account) with your ViewRanger account (you can do this through the settings page in your My.ViewRanger.com webpages) then when you upload a recorded track wirelessly, the site will automatically place the photos and tweets you have made along your track. See: my.viewranger.com/track/details/MzUzMzE%3D

    Hopefully, you’ll be tempted to give ViewRanger another go!

    Disclaimer: I’m founder and CEO of ViewRanger.

  2. Tim Cooper says:

    I think we need to get together and look through the various smartphone OS mapping options and the best way to use them (for you).

  3. Ian Pond says:

    David, Hi, that’s a shame that you found our app a bit tricky to use, but good in terms of the fact you were able to record and publish your track. We will look into simplifying the process, especially for initial start-up.

    We do think that our app, in conjunction with our online route planner does provide a one-stop way to plan, navigate and then share trails.

    In terms of prices – using your Android, you can use in-app purchasing to buy a UK region (ie SE England) for about the same price as a single OS 1:50K map – so it offers much better value than paper. The web prices you found are for large area maps ie Southern England is £40. Also once purchased, you can switch these to a new phone when you upgrade. And also view them online for route planning.
    Regards
    Ian Pond
    Marketing Director – ViewRanger

  4. Yes please! Gives me the chance to do a new walk and test the other options. Please email me walksuk@gmail.com

  5. Thank you to Ian and Craig at ViewRanger for their responses – it helps give a more balanced view to my initial test. I’ll plan another walk and re-test ViewRanger taking your advice into account. Will let you know how I get on!

    Thanks again,

    David.

  6. You may want to try out a few other apps in the app store that come up under the search of OpenStretMap.

  7. Will have a look, can you recommend any? I’ve got the hang of ViewRanger OK now and they’re support is very good.

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