Watford – Leavesden Loop Walk – 22.03.2015

With white fluffy clouds in the sky and blue sky peeking through it was definitely decent enough for a morning walk. Starting out mostly along pavements, walking in an urban environment on a Sunday did not really invigorate my senses too much. I wandered past the large houses until I reached a small footpath taking me to a small open space, once known by the locals at the “Dumps”. I am not sure why as it really looks a very inviting and lovely green space to me and not a rubbish dump in sight! Instead of walking through the dumps, I followed a footpath just nearby to take me onto the Hempstead Road. Upon reaching the roadside, I realised it was extremely noisy and quite busy, even for a Sunday. I was not going to enjoy walking alongside it, so I took the opportunity of crossing it as soon as possible to walk Ridge Lane just opposite! As I started to climb uphill, I spotted a sign to “Cheslyn Gardens”, just off the lane, and I could not resist to take a look!

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

It was only a few minutes along the road, to see a hidden gem, along a tucked away gravel pathway, “Cheslyn Gardens and House”. I could peer through a gap that hid the gardens away and all I could see was a small garden with a mass of plants. Cheslyn Gardens is in fact 1.41 Hectares (3.5 acres) in size, and I could only see a a tiny section of it. The gardens have grown substantially since they were first opened in 1965 by the Colbecks the original owners of the gardens and house. The Colbecks were travellers and were keen to share there knowledge of exotic plants and opened up the gardens to the public in conjunction with the council, the council now fully run the property and have added many new features! These gardens are definitely worth a visit some time!

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

I left the beautiful gardens behind, and started climbing back up Ridge Lane once more. Along my way I passed by an entrance to the North Watford playing fields, where the sign post was surrounded by a mass of daffodils. At once I was immediately reminded of a beautiful poem

When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
© William Wordsworth, 1804

Although these daffodils were dancing below a post rather than along any lake and certainly not below any tree! I tore myself away from this beautiful sight, to continue my walk upwards and onwards. Eventually the lane leveled out, only to reach a junction,and I had make a decision where to go. I took the route which was to take me over a bridge across a large motorway, I made sure that I did look downwards as I did not really want to see lorries and cars rushing beneath my feet! Luckily my attention was caught by some strange looking construction and scaffolding that was in the distance.

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

The solution to my conundrum of the scaffolding soon all became clear when I reached the other side of the bridge when I realised I was walking past the “Warner Bros Film Studios”. Obviously the scaffold was a film set of some sort, would very intriguing to know what they were filming though! The very studios where the Harry Potter films were lovingly created, so much so, you can visit the studios themselves! As I walked past, I was not able to glimpse anything at all, shame I was hoping to see at least something, I really needed a broomstick (would be handy for the rest of my walking actually!!) to take a peek!

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

I decided to follow a cycle path past the Studios, which seem to go on and on for quite some time! I eventually spotted a footpath across the other side of the road from the cycle path, which was to lead me into “Leavesden Country Park”. The park was a breath of fresh air after the walk through a business park and crossing a large motorway, and was it was wonderful to encounter such a rich riot of colour in the trees as well.

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

The origins of the park, are quite interesting, as it has only been a country park since the mid-90s. The grounds themselves have a darker history, when several hospitals the Leavesden Asylum Hospital (1870 – 1946), St Pancras Orphanage (1870 – 1932), Canadian Hospital (1939-1946), Abbots Langley Hospital (1946 – 1995) were located here. It was only in 1995 when the last hospital closed the local District Council redeveloped the site and made the park as it is today. The park is dedicated to all the volunteers, nurses and staff that worked in any of the hospitals and the following quote has been left on a plaque –

“The simple Act of Caring is heroic”

At first I thought the park was not that big to be honest, but the country park is split in two halves, the north and south side and my walk took me through both. I followed the path to the Tennis courts, where I spotted a footpath sign to a “Wildlife Area”, which followed round into a woodland. Whilst walking through the trees, I looked up and could see how the woodland made such beautiful shapes against the skyline :). further down the path I spotted a gate which was take me out onto a public footpath outside of Leavesden country park entirely.

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

The trail lead me behind the park and past old rural buildings and out into farmers fields. I was surprised to find that my route had joined up with the “Hertfordshire Way”, a way I had encountered in the past. I started to follow the way, but my experiences of this route returned so I decided against following it! I took a lovely footpath uphill, hopefully taking me further out in the countryside as the view was promising! However, it had taken me to back into suburbia and I was now in “High Elms Lane”. I followed the lane around and saw a sign to “High Elms Manor”, which I really hoped to see a glimpse of. Sadly I did not as it had the words “Private” on the entrance.

Shame, as I would have loved to looked into the manor, as it is a Grade II listed Georgian Country House, built in the C18th. It was described by Stafford Bourne, son of the founder of the London store Bourne and Hollingworth, whilst he lived here in the early C20th, thus –

“One of the finest and most dignified medium-sized estates in the county of Hertfordshire”

What a beautiful building it must have been then, it has been now restored by its current owners. It is used in films and tv for example Midsomer Murders has been filmed there! I would loved to have had the chance to have taken a peek!

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

I walked past the manor entrance and found a footpath to “Boundary Way”, where I walked past an rotten gate post. Was this a left over from the manor just next door? I walked through Boundary way housing estate and I was back onto a large roadside once more. I continued my way on until I reached the Woodside leisure Centre. I found yet another footpath that was too take me onto “Albans Woods”. When the path reached the woodland it was quite dark and dense but it quite small in size. The woodland it is actually “ancient woodland” and if I had been quiet and spent time I may have spotted some Muntjac Deer!

From 2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

I left the woodland behind, only to join up with pavement and roads once again. I did not really manage to locate any more Woodlands or public footpaths to walk. I was a little disappointed to be honest as I was really enjoying the variety of woodlands and parkland. The rest of my stroll was considerably taken up with pounding the pavement for quite some time! I soon discovered that I had walked in a complete loop when I walked back across the large motorway that I crossed right at the start of my walk! I decided then to finish my walk and head home for some lunch before I got myself confused as to where to walk next!

Please click on the photos below to look at all the photos from my walk for the morning –

2015 – 22.3.2015 – Watford Walk – 2015

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