Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City walk

Knebworth Hall, Ayot St Lawrence, and gently undulating woodland and fields.

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Wed, 02-Jun-21 Wednesday Walk Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City - Knebworth House, Ayot St Lawrence and Brocket Park 4 hot with hazy sunshine
Sun, 13-Oct-19 Sunday Walk - Knebworth Hall, Ayot St. Lawrence and gently undulating woodlands and fields: Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City 5 rain to lunch then dry
Wed, 19-Jun-19 Wednesday walk: Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City - a new map-led walk - Knebworth Hall and Ayot St Lawrence 8 overcast and humid in the morning after lunch turning to steady drizzle then wet wet wet
Wed, 02-Jun-21
Wednesday Walk Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City - Knebworth House, Ayot St Lawrence and Brocket Park
SWC 340 - Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City

Length: 20.8 km (13 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10
London Kings Cross: 10-22 hrs Thameslink service to Letchworth Garden City Finsbury Park (for links to LT Victoria and Piccadilly lines): 10-31 hrs
Arrive Knebworth: 11-04 hrs
Return

Welwyn Garden City to Kings Cross: direct trains at 22 and 52 mins past the hour
Rail ticket: buy a day return to Knebworth
Covid-19 Compliance: please note the current guidance on this website and observe social distancing. You should all come prepared to exchange contact details for track and trace purpose. You can either pre-register for this walk (not essential ) by e-mailing me at swc-marcus@walkingclub.org.uk or, if you prefer, please write your name, e-mail address and contact 'phone number on a small piece of paper for handing to me on the train or when we assemble at walk start. Thank you.
This is a companion walk to SWC 69 -Welwyn Circular walk and shares some sections with SWC 353- Knebworth Circular walk. Leaving Knebworth station we start with a bit of road walking before we cross fields to enter the grounds of Knebworth House. On then through this large estate to enter woodland - Graffidge Wood - whose paths might be a tad muddy today after May's rainfall. Exiting this wood the walk continue along field edges and over some vast agricultural fiends to the edge of the village of Codicote. From here the way heads over more fields then down along a woodland path before crossing the River Mimram then in and out of a woodland strip to the outskirts of the village of Ayot St Lawrence. Picnickers should stop by the 18th century Grecian style Palladian church. Those seeking a pub lunch should head for the Brocket Arms in this village, which has a good size pub garden if the inside is fully booked.
After lunch the walk continues along enclosed paths and farm tracks to Sparrowhall Bridge, then beside the River Lea to enter the extensive grounds of Brocket Park, to pass Brocket Hall on your right. From here we reverse the route of our Welwyn Circular walk, by heading up through the Melbourne golf course into the village of Ayot then down through Sherrardspark Wood into Welwyn Garden City via the Ayot Greenway, a disused railway line. The recommended tea stop in Welwyn is Simmonds, which serves delicious cakes. The railway station, entered through the Howard Shopping Centre, is nearby.
This walk might be slightly longer than our usual Wednesday outings but it is stile-free (a bonus for oldies like me) and there are no steep hills, so the walk is well within the capabilities of all our regular SWC mid-week walkers.
T=swc.340
Walk Directions are here. L=swc.340
  • 03-Jun-21

    Just 4 of us on today's walk - but that did include the walk author - on her first SWC walk back after lockdown. The day was hot with hazy sunshine , becoming a little humid later in the day as cloud cover increased. Lots of buttercups, speedwell and cow parsley were on display and the bluebells in Graffidge Wood, although well past their best, were still showing good colour. After this wood two hares were spotted, with the more inquisitive one coming up close to us to check us out.

    On then through the lovely green countryside to the village of Ayot St Lawrence where a table indoors, out of the sun, had been booked for our luncheon. The fare on offer was more down market than in previous years, when I recall this pub was quite posh, but the staff were welcoming and the beer was excellent.

    Fed and watered, we set out on the afternoon leg now in the heat of the day. We soon left a companion behind, not to be seen again, although we paused at times to let him catch us up: we hope he made it safely to Welwyn Garden City. My remaining two companions opted to take the direct, shaded route from Sparrowhall Bridge to Welwyn along the Ayot Greenway, leaving me to complete my book checking of the main route via Brocket Park.

    On Welwyn G C railway station a few drops of rain fell, but much more was needed to clear the hot, muggy air. The 18-22 hrs service sped me back to Kings Cross.

  • 03-Jun-21

    The fourth walker got a bit lost (or as we say “went astray”) having missed a turn somewhere or other. On he wandered, across field, through woodland, wondering if he’d ever see his beloved London again. Then like a mirage, a bridge appeared out of the summer haze. Readers, it was the Greenway. The helicopter of fate had plucked him from the sea of lostness.

    Having progressed some distance, I heard a commotion behind me. The two short-cutters had caught me up. (I guess I’ll never know how I came to be in front).

    Our troubles were not quite over. At Ayot Green, the Greenway petered out leaving us without an obvious onward route (this stretch needs explaining if offered as a shortcut). Eventually, we turned right to cross a field and re-join the official walk’s end across the motorway bridge, along the remainder of the Greenway and into Welwyn. We didn’t stop for tea. We got the 17:52 Nice walk, nice day out.

Sun, 13-Oct-19
Sunday Walk - Knebworth Hall, Ayot St. Lawrence and gently undulating woodlands and fields: Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City
First Weekend outing of this new walk, original idea for which came from a non-group walker (I believe)
Length: 21.2 km (13.2 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 278/287 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 ¾ hours
Toughness: 3 out of 10
Take the 10.02 Cambridge train from King’s Cross (Finsbury Park 10.08, change from the Victoria Line), arrives Knebworth 10.39.
Return trains from Welwyn: xx.52 (fast, to KGX) and xx.58 and xx.28 (slow, to Moorgate). Buy a Knebworth return.
This is a companion walk to SWC 69 (Welwyn Garden City Circular) but covers new territory before lunch to visit the beautiful Knebworth Hall and its extensive grounds and deer park. You can also visit the beautiful church of St Mary and Thomas of Canterbury. After you leave the motorway behind it is a quiet ramble through attractive and gently undulating woodland and fields. There are no stiles on this walk.
The beautiful village of Ayot St Lawrence will be familiar from the Welwyn Circular walk and is a perfect spot for a picnic at either the Palladian Church or the ruined old St. Lawrence Church, or lunch at the Brocket Arms. After lunch you reach perhaps familiar territory around Brocket Hall before crossing a golf course en route to Ayot Green and then through woodlands to Welwyn.
Lunch: Brocket Arms in Ayot St. Lawrence (11.7 km/7.3 mi, food served to 14.30).
Tea: A fine coffee kiosk at the NT’s Shaw’s Corner in Ayot St. Lawrence, and cafés, pubs and bistros in Welwyn, see pdf for details.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.340
  • 13-Oct-19

    5 in rain to lunch then dry weather.

    Nice route, with few if any annoying bits. Some beautiful country piles and lesser houses, quiet lanes, pretty woods, well kept field verges (i.e broad grassy and unploughed), soothing rolling fieldscapes, very little overlap with SWC 69 (just Brocket Park really, which is a very fine golf course to walk through), a fair few impressive churches, some streams, the mighty River Lea and not very muddy at all, despite the recent rain. We saw some deer gambolling across an arable field, loooooots of different fungi in the morning half, with the ones at the Palladian St. Lawrence Church especially impressive, and then fewer in the arvo (but they were the deadly red ones). The leaves have started to turn in the woods (but also lots have already fallen), the ivy on the facade of Knebworth Hall was especially pretty. Autumn...

    4 had lunch at The Brocket Arms, initially just squeezed into a very tight corner at a miniscule table, but a larger freed up just as our food arrived. The picnicker joined and we had about 80 minutes in the pub, a very fine place indeed. In Welwyn we arrived between the hourly fast trains, so had time for Simmons Cafe or the pub respectively, before taking the 16.52.

  • Karen
    13-Oct-19

    Quite a delightful walk, despite the rain in the morning. Easy walking, no stiles, rolling hills. Pub was efficient and friendly, serving usual pub fare done well. You arrive quite quickly into the commercial heart of Welwyn, no long slog through suburbs. Recommended.

  • 14-Oct-19

    Good to hear that the lunch time Brocket Arms pub has raised its game as far as its service is concerned. Our SWC walk check in the Spring was marred for the pub -lunchers by a comprehensive failure to deliver any meals leading to an epic rant from Marcus. Let's hope they maintain the standard you enjoyed..

Wed, 19-Jun-19
Wednesday walk: Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City - a new map-led walk - Knebworth Hall and Ayot St Lawrence
SWC 340 - Knebworth to Welwyn Garden City

Length: 20.8 km (13 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

NOTE - earlier train now posted


London Kings Cross: 09-51 hrs Cambridge North service Finsbury Park 10-00 hrs
Arrive Knebworth: 10-34 hrs

Return: Welwyn Garden City to Kings Cross: 16-22, 16-52, 17-02, 17-22, 17-32, 17-52 and 18-02 hrs

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Knebworth. Non-senior railcard holders - use your railcard from Finsbury Park

OS Explorer Maps: 182 and 193

This walk was suggested by one of our Wednesday and Sunday walkers, and Pete B has kindly written up basic details for her - and for the rest of us. Today we will test drive the walk on unsuspecting Wednesday walkers - we can all get lost together. But to keep us sort of on piste it will help if a few of us planning to attend the walk have the OS Explorer maps with us.

The walk visits the grounds of Knebworth House and Park of historic interest. We then head for the pretty village of Ayot St Lawrence where we can stop for lunch at the popular Brocket Arms pub (7.3 miles into the walk) which serves good food and beer, although service can be very slow. With reference to SWC Walk 69 - Welwyn Circular walk - you can divert to the village of Wheathampstead, adding 2 km to the walk, where you can take lunch at the Swan pub for a good alternative to the Brocket Arms.

In the afternoon you reverse sections of the Welwyn Circular walk, passing Brocket Hall en route. Arriving in Welwyn Garden City, you have a number of pubs, cafes and bistros for post walk refreshments.
T=swc.340
Outline details of the walk are here: L=swc.340



  • 14-Jun-19

    Map and gpx and kml route files now available on the walk page. Many thanks Andrew.

  • 17-Jun-19

    As it is close to 3 hours from the start to the lunchtime pub, it has been suggested we take the train 30 mins earlier than the one I originally posted - so the earlier train it now is. Younger walkers can use your railcards from Finsbury Park.

    The weather forecast is none too promising, so please bring good waterproofs with you.

  • 17-Jun-19

    Alternatively, you could take shelter and food in the Bell Inn, Codicote.

    There are buses outside at 13.44 back to Knebworth or 14.20 direct to Welwyn Garden City station.

  • 18-Jun-19

    Anonymous, Mon 17 Jun 19, 09:08

    Para 9 "At a T junction......." It's only a T junction if doing the walk in reverse. It's a right turn into Whitwell Rd, as detailed in the previous comment. I walked into Codicote looking for the T junction, but instead soon came to a pub.

    Para 11 "Your route swings gently left and at Abbotshay the path forks......"

    Should read "The path climbs upwards gently to the left and reaches a tarmac lane, where you turn right. Shortly in front of a gate marked private and a three point footpath post, where the lane comes to a dead end, the path forks.

    Para 21 There are directions missing between the first and second sentences.

    Overall a varied and interesting walk, with the GPX spot on. You could perhaps shorten the walk by joining the Ayot Greenway at Sparrowhall Bridge.

  • 18-Jun-19

    Anonymous, Wed 22 May 19, 11:53

    A pleasant walk, with straightforward navigation. A couple of stretches across open fields that might not be ideal in summer sun.

    Two small *corrections*:

    Para 7 should say "...continue with Holl Lays Wood on your *left* and open fields to your

    *right*"

    Para 9 should be something like: "...leave the B656 and turn right down *Whitwell Road*. The lane swings

    left and you ignore a path going sharp left. You reach a fork in the road with a small grassy

    area. Take the left fork (*the Grove*) ..."

    Also, there is a footpath that runs parallel to Whitwell Rd on the left (south). This avoids traffic and might be worth a mention.

  • 20-Jun-19

    The unfavourable weather forecast might have dissuaded some of our regulars to stay under the duvet today, but 8 decided to venture forth on this new walk - and what an excellent and enjoyable one it turned out to be.

    As for the weather, it was overcast and humid in the morning after lunch turning to steady drizzle then wet wet wet .

    The morning route took us past the impressive pile of sandstone that is Knebworth House (worth a visit on another occasion) with its extensive grounds. The deer took a rain check and hid from us but no matter, we were soon in woods then on well cut pathways through vast fields of wheat, oats and barley as we made our way to the village of Ayot St Lawrence.

    So far, so good - the route was well waymarked and not difficult to follow. It was getting rather humid by the time we reached the lunchtime pub - for our first hiccup of the day. The pub is known for its slow service but their food when it comes is usually very good and worth the wait. 4 of us opted to dine and having been informed by bar staff that the kitchen was busy, we accepted there would be the usual wait here as we retired to a nice table under a large parasol in the front garden. We waited patiently whilst enjoying some excellent drinks - rhubarb cider, anyone ?. Our 4 sandwichers joined us for a drink then after 30 mins they bade us farewell and set off on the afternoon leg of the walk, now in drizzly rain. We waited another 30 mins then found out our orders had been lost ! So no lunch for us (good for my waistline) and after receiving a modicum of apology and refunds we decided to continue on the walk. I must now fez up to an inexcusable bit of minor vandalism. The pub used to display a certificate of excellence - best pub of the year etc. No more - after the pub's faux pas with us I took some delight in depositing said certificate in a litter bin on the outskirts of the village. Completely out of order on my part, and guilty as charged, but it cheered me up as the rain became heavier.

    The afternoon leg of the walk took us over more vast fields in crop with big vista views - and some wonderful displays of bright red poppies - the best I have ever seen - I should have brought along my opium pipe. We were soon in the grounds of Brocket Hall, familiar to those of us who have done the Welwyn Circular walk - and on through Sherrardspark to Welwyn Garden City. We were a tad wet now as we briefly met up with our sandwichers who had enjoyed an excellent tea at Simmonds cafe. It was closing as we arrived at 5 pm, so as the sandwichers headed for the railway station

    some of us took tea at Cafe Nero's, others elsewhere.

    Weather and dodgy pubs notwithstanding, I believe all eight of us thought this walk to be superior to the Welwyn Circular walk - for content, scenery and interest - so a big thank you to Elsa and Peter B for devising the walk and writing up the sketch notes. We now await with bated breath Elsa's Knebworth Circular walk - and then her Berkhamsted to Whipsnade Zoo walk.

  • 20-Jun-19

    Ha! Marcus reveals his wild side! Criminal damage, yet....

  • 20-Jun-19

    Great report Marcus; sorry you had such a wretched experience at the Brocket Arms - the Brocket needs a rocket! I will be amending the walk instructions and getting some photos up for the walk - including one of the stupendous poppy field which is at least the equal of the one I saw on the South Downs near Newhaven some years ago. A great day out despite the afternoon weather and thanks to Elsa for a lovely well-designed walk. There looks to be scope for other adventures in the area and hopefully we'll get to enjoy these some day.