St Albans Walk – 11.04.2010

What have the Romans ever done for us?! Aqueducts! …. Hypocausts! Mosiacs? Er thats not how the movie quite goes… Well I found out the last two when I was on my latest training walk this week!

We were off to St Albans – famous for Romans and Cathedrals – and we had decided to try out one of the “Abbey Flyer Walks” – (The Abbey Flyer refers to the Abbey Flyer Train Line from Watford Junction to St Alban Abbey)

To Verulamium Park first – It became apparent very quickly that the park was littered with Roman History. Signs to Roman Gate & Walls, Roman Theatre and Hypocaust all in one park seem to give it away! As we walked up the hill to see the Roman wall, which was surprisingly still standing since it was built around 270AD (roughly 1,500 years ago?) I think we would be lucky these days if half anything that gets built these days last 10 years!!

From 2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

Unfortunately there was a little of the Roman Wall still standing to actually see, but you could still see the outline of what London Gate would have been like at least – 2 miles long at the base along with a surrounding a defensive ditch of 6 meters deep! The biggest reason for the London Gate no longer being around is Queen Boudicca’s Army laid waste to the towers in AD50 in attempt to free Britian from the Romans!

Leaving the Roman Walls behind we then found our way to the Roman mosiac and Hypocaust. Hypocaust? What is that? Underfloor heating… Great idea! The Roman Mosaic has been wonderfully preserved. I must admit it looks like it had only been laid the day before and not over a 1,000 years ago.

I was stunned to find out the floor was made up for around 220,000 tesserae (tiles) – imagine if you were to try and tile your bathroom and not use spacers?! That is incredible workmanship. The hole on the second side of my picture just shows the “hypocaust” system or under floor heating system. Hidden on the other side of the room is a stoke hole where the fire was created and the heat was sent throughout the floor – flues were built at the edge of the room, rid the room of the smoke – how ingenius those romans were!

From 2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

Having left the lovely mosiac behind and walking into the bright sunshine again, we had to walk past the Verulamium Museum but didn’t go in since it was a lovely day and had seen all to many Roman things already! So then made our way along the River Ver and around the Lake. It was nice to see so many of the ducks nesting – particularly as it is now Springtime – despite the area being so crowded!

Leaving the lovely lake and river behind, we spotted our very first Abbey Flyer walk sign (having walked 1/2 of the route already!) and then found an even more intriguing sign appeared. “Ye Olde Fighting Cocks”. A very old Pub – in fact it holds the title in the Guinness Book of Records for being Britian’s Oldest Pub! Tales that monks ran between the Cathedral and this pub by tunnels, Oliver Cromwell stayed here, and cock fighting in 18th Century (until it was made illegal) – amongst others – and now the pub just serves a good pint!

From 2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

Walking on from the pub, we reached the Cathedral itself (or abbey as it is sometimes known) Once inside the cathedral tea shop, it is quite cosy and serves a lovely cup of tea (and if we were to stop longer as far as I could see a some quite nice tea cakes mmmm) We stepped inside the cathedral for a brief moment. From inside the cathedral which was busy and was actually quite lovely with evidence of Easter everywhere – a particularly well decorated cross of flowers was still standing.

After leaving the Catherdral we walked on up hill to the Clock Tower which stands in St Albans Town Centre. This had been built in the 15th Century and was still standing (I have to admit most people were most perplexed as to why I was taking a photo of an old clock tower!?!) The fact that it had been standing for so long, even surprised me – it beat the Roman Wall – as there had been a bloody battle around the tower a French occupied troops had been surrounding it at one time – I think they may have thought very differently if people realised a battle had been around them they may have felt a little differently Read on here – 1st Battle of St Albans

From 2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

We left the little tower behind which held even more history about a Queen Eleanor, had a cross here (when her body was laid to rest on her journey back to Westminister) once but no longer as this has been replaced over the years. We left the clock tower behind to see a little shopping Arcade which looked something out of Victorian London! St Albans is just so quaint in so many ways!

It was time to meander down the hill to the train, but only more surprises around the corner. A haunted pub – The White Hart actually is a 600 year old Coaching Inn and very popular! Continuing down the hill we also found out that the Duke of Malborough and his Wife Sarah Churchill had his favourite residence in St Albans – Holywell House – It no longer stands.

As we wandered to the bottom of the hill, and we were early, we wandered of route slightly to look at the footpath which followed the River Ver. But we did not follow it very far is we did not have much time. Pity really as it seems like a nice public footpath worth persuing at some point…

From 2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

So it was time to go back to our starting point at the station and back for Sunday lunch yum!

If you want to look at the sort of the route that we did please click here for the Route Map. Otherwise lookup the “ABBEY FLYER WALKS” for the correct route. Thank you. All My photos are –

2010 – 11.04.2010 – St Albans Walk

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