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 clothes, walking 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
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.
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.
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!
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.