This walk begins and finishes at Gordon Hill (National Rail - TfL Zone 5) Station, one stop after Enfield Chase on the line from central London to Hertford North. The route operates from King’s Cross at weekends and from Moorgate on Mondays to Fridays. It is often easier to take the Tube to Finsbury Park (Piccadilly and Victoria Lines) and change to a Hertford North bound train there.

The walk quickly enters real countryside and encompasses some wide views. It penetrates some way into Hertfordshire until the old centre of Cheshunt is reached, then uses the New River to take the walker back into Greater London. The extensive grounds of Forty Hall, where there are refreshment opportunities, are visited and the route finally goes via Hillyfields Park back to Gordon Hill.

Some of the walk is over unsurfaced paths where mud can be encountered, especially after rain. For this reason, stout footware is essential. A number of moderate hills are negotiated and there is a steep flight of steps to use the outward bound footbridge over the M25 motorway.

 


 

1. From the station, cross Lavender Hill and a patch of grass, then turn left into Lavender Gardens, following this until the entrance to Lavender Hill Cemetery is reached by the lodge gates. Enter and turn right to the chapel, passing to its left, then forking left to the T-junction (Bosenquet Memorial). Turn right here for 40 metres, then sharp left at the next path (Short Family Vault). In just 20 metres, take the narrow path on the right, following this all the way to an exit at Cooks Hole Road, where turn left. The cemetery is pleasantly landscaped and there are good views out into the surrounding countryside.

Should the route through the cemetery not be available (NB: dogs not allowed here), then continue along the length of Cedar Road, passing an estate of tall flats to take the second left, Cooks Hole Road, rejoining the route coming out of the cemetery after about 150 metres.

2. Continue downhill then, just as the lane rises again, turn right on a surfaced footpath to enter Hillyfields Park. At the bottom of the slope, cross the Turkey Brook and continue uphill with a hedge on the right and a field on the left. We have momentarily joined the London Loop, a circular 245km (152-mile) long-distance footpath around London, and will explore a further part of this towards the end of the walk.

3. The path emerges by St John the Baptist’s Church, built 1857, at Strayfield Road. Bear right and cross the end of Theobalds Park Road to enter Flash Lane. Note the white weatherboarded Fallow Buck former pub to the right, which dates from the sixteenth century. Follow Flash Lane, a fine view towards Whitewebbs Wood soon appearing. Ignore a footpath off to the left and go past a metal gate. The lane’s surface soon becomes rougher as we wend our way into the wood. Before long an interesting industrial monument appears - the Cuffley Brook Aqueduct, built in 1820. This carried a now-bypassed section of the New River over the brook; an information panel here explains its history.

Cuffley Brook Aqueduct 
Cuffley Brook Aqueduct
Whitewebbs Wood 
Whitewebbs Wood

  

4. Continue through the wood, ignoring side paths into Whitewebbs Nature Trail. Just before reaching Whitewebbs Road, turn right to closely follow it on a bridleway just inside the wood. On coming to the entrance to Whitewebbs Park, turn right for 50 metres, then left on a narrow path by rhododendron bushes to a pond. Don’t curve around with the pond, but go forward 15 metres to the road, then turn left (keeping an eye out for cars), to reach the bridleway again, where turn right, still in proximity to Whitewebbs Road. Follow the path, keeping by the fence, soon reaching the back of the King and Tinker pub.

Recommended pub: The King and Tinker takes its name from a supposed encounter between King James I and a local tinker, after the king had become lost in the woods while hunting and sought refuge in this alehouse. As is usual in these royalty-meets-commoner stories, an equable time is had by both, the tinker not realising the identity of his royal companion. The pub itself is 16th or 17th century, has a large garden and a children’s play area. Food and real ale are available.

5. Go through the pub’s carpark to a point where Whitewebbs Road becomes Whitewebbs Lane and cross with care. Go over the stile, signposted to Cheshunt, and skirt stables. Go over two more stiles into a field and bear left, following the field boundary, then cross into another field left of a hedgerow in front of you. Maintain direction, following the fence line, the pylon ahead being a useful marker. Descend to a bridge over a stream, then up the field to the tall bridge crossing the M25 motorway ahead. Once at the top, pause for a moment to enjoy the views back into central London, with the Shard and the skyscrapers of the City of London and the Canary Wharf complex both clearly visible. The M25 forms the county boundary here with Hertfordshire.

6. Carry on between a wood and a field, climbing gently uphill. After the wood ends, pass between two fields to metal gates — the buildings over to the right are Theobald’s Stud Farm. Ignore the left curve at the top of the field, but walk forward into the lane (Oldpark Ride), almost opposite Theobalds Manor, a fine Queen Anne style house. Turn left along the lane then, after 60 metres, turn right past double gates onto a broad track, and follow the right edge of Home Wood. At a corner, the path swings left to follow the wood’s edge. Where the wood ends, turn right along a field edge with a hedgerow on the left. On approaching a dividing hedgerow, turn left through double gates to descend into a valley, crossing into a second field and making for the gate ahead.

7. Go forward and take a now-rising track, skirting right to pass between the buildings of Broadfield Farm and a main road. On reaching a concrete drive by a wooden barn, turn right on a track towards glasshouses to arrive at Barrow Lane. Turn right here to take a bridge over the main road. Once over this, turn right again to arrive at a hedge corner, behind which is Cheshunt Cemetery. Turn left to follow its edge, a new extension to the cemetery eventually appearing on the right. Continue until a housing estate is reached (Woodside). Turn left, then right, to follow the estate road, dropping on a short footpath at its end to Bury Green Road.

8. Turn left along the curve into Dark Lane, with parts of the cemetery on either side. Continue along this straight road for 700 metres, passing Cromwell and Franklin Avenues on the right, until arriving at Goff’s Lane at the T-junction. Turn right here, walking between a dipped verge and playing fields. When a children’s play area is reached, go half-right across grass to cross a culvert near a pavilion. Continue forward to the path ahead, where turn right, passing a row of beech trees, then take a left turn to arrive at the parish church. Currently (November 2016) there is a diversion to avoid a construction site, bringing walkers left of the churchyard.

St Mary’s Church is medieval and, although subject to much Victorian restoration, still retains several interesting monuments. Building can be dated between 1418 and 1448, The church stands at the heart of the old town of Cheshunt, although the focal point of the town has now shifted some distance to the east towards the railway.

Drop-out point: Bus 242 from Churchgate can take you to Cuffley Station, which is two railway stops from Gordon Hill Station. Please note that both Cuffley is outside the Transport for London Area; however, walking east along College Road and Windmill Lane for about 30 minutes will get you to Cheshunt Station from where a London Overground route is available.

9. Walk the length of the churchyard, where there are some old tombs, and cross Churchgate to the Green Dragon, a coaching inn dating from the 16th century. Turn right, past council offices and around a left bend into College Road. Cross this, soon finding an entrance to the New River Path on the right-hand side of the bridge.

As is often remarked, the New River is neither new nor a river. It was constructed between 1609 and 1613 by Sir Hugh Myddelton to supply London with drinking water, originating from springs at Great Amwell. It still fulfills this purpose and is now under the ownership of Thames Water. The river was originally constructed as a contoured waterway with a fall of about five inches per mile. Later changes straightened parts of the river and some of the original course was bypassed, as we saw at Cuffley Brook Aqueduct earlier in this walk, and we meet the old course again later on.

10. The next section of the walk is very straightforward as we follow the New River for the next two miles (3.5km), ignoring all side paths. Initially the river is on our left. After passing the capacious playing fields of a new school, the river changes bank and goes under the main road we passed over earlier, and then across a drive. New roads and buildings are a bit of a distraction — the Travelodge and News International obtrude, but these soon merge into the background, and there are good views beyond towards Epping Forest.

11. Eventually we approach the M25 motorway again, where the river is taken over in a concrete trough, with our path above. On the other side, we are back in Greater London. The river, back on our left, twists to the right to reach Bullsmore Lane, from where a visit to the 12-hectare Capel Manor Gardens can be reached (admission charge).  Cross the road to rejoin the river on the opposite side.

New River 
New River, looking back to Cheshunt
Near Turkey Brook 
Near Turkey Brook

 

12. At the next footbridge with white-painted railings, cross the river (the forward path is a dead-end), and continue down its lefthand side. Ease to the left of a sluice, down a narrow path between railings away from the river, then over a crossing path with a double set of kissing-gates. Cross a stream — the Turkey Brook — and ascend the slope, turning right at the top.

13. Continue between metal fences, back on the London Loop. Ignore the next turning left, but continue between wire fences. On coming to a road, Forty Hill, turn left by the school, immediately crossing the road to take a footpath on the other side. Go over a cross-path and bear left to reach Turkey Brook, running in a deep gully on the right. This is a pretty stretch, with a large open meadow and a fine selection of trees, together with the brook.

14. Towards the end of the meadow, just before the waterside path dips and becomes more secluded, look for a new bridge crossing the Turkey Brook. Turn left over grass away from this bridge and, in a short while, bear right and walk up a wide grassy slope running uphill between two double avenues of lime trees.  These were cruelly affected by the 1987 hurricane, but the losses have been made good with new plantings. Soon Forty Hall can be seen on the crown of the hill.  On reaching the top, pass through the gates slightly to the left ahead and, on reaching the lake, skirt left around it to reach the Hall.

Forty Hall - Lake 
Forty Hall - Lake
Hillyfields Park 
Hillyfields Park

 

If time is pressing and you don't want to visit Forty Hall, just continue beside the brook until point 16 is reached.

Forty Hall was built for Sir Nicholas Rainton in 1629-32 in the grounds of the demolished Elsynge Palace. Sir Nicholas is also remembered for refusing to supply King Charles I with a list of citizens able to loan him money — for this he spent five days imprisoned in the Tower of London. The house is open every day except Mondays (free admission). It serves as a museum for Enfield, has fine plasterwork ceilings, contains a good furniture collection and has regularly changing exhibitions. Hidden away at the back of the house is a large walled garden with plenty of benches to rest upon. Forty Hall enjoys extensive grounds with much woodland and many footpaths. Exploring the estate fully, which runs to 110 hectares (273 acres), would make a day out in itself.

15. Returning to the lake, turn left along the brick boundary wall, passing the grand arched entrance to the courtyard. Toilets and a café can be reached through here, while over do the right is the newly-restored Garden Mound. Continuing along the line of buildings, take the next right past the houses of Forty Hall Farm, and cross through a gate with fancy ironwork into the field ahead. Keep forward, slightly downhill on a broad grassy track through parkland. Ignore a crossing grass path and go forward into woods, bearing left with the path. We soon find ourselves on the edge of a large lake on the right — the Fishing Lake. Keep close to this and, where the lake ends, turn right to follow its head. Cross over a stream with a landing-stage nearby, soon reaching a broad path alongside the Turkey Brook. Turn left here, rejoining the London Loop, and follow the brook, ignoring any side paths.

16. Go past a footbridge where the Mile and a Quarter footpath comes in from the right. Ignore this and continue to follow the brook. A field is now on your left. Ignore the path coming in over the next footbridge; although this runs parallel to us, we are on the better surface. The path now twists about, generally following the brook. Eventually a third footbridge is reached and again ignored. Instead go up steps to cross the old course of the New River — now little more than a ditch. Ignore the two side paths and walk forward down a dip. On coming into the open, go forward along the length of the clearing, keeping to the lower path. The path emerges at Clay Hill, by the Rose and Crown pub.

17. Cross this busy road with care and enter Hillyfields Park, forking right on the second path after 60 metres. Carry on right along the path, ignoring the cross-path (and the continuation of the London Loop) at the top of the next hill. Just before reaching Phipps Hatch Lane, turn right over grass for 60 metres just inside the park boundary, then cross over the road and turn right towards the high flats. Successively cross Brigadier Hill, an estate road and Blossom Lane, then turn left down Rendlesham Road to Gordon Hill Station.

 


 

© Mike Biggs, Ramblers (Inner London Area), 2016.

If you have any comments about this walk, or notice that it needs updating to take account of changes on the route, then please contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.