It was a dry somewhat dull day with a fresh breeze when twelve Polyramblers gathered at Hadley Wood station for a walk to Brookmans Park in Hertfordshire.  After the usual safety briefing, we set out across wet fields crossing over two busy roads taking traffic out of London to the M25.  After walking under the M25, we started to leave behind the constant drone of traffic and the landscape became more peaceful and countryfied.  It also became more wooded as we entered into Northaw wood, part of an ancient wood stretching back to Norman times.  From here it was a short walk into the village of Northaw where we stopped for lunch.  Most of the party decided to have lunch at a pub and restaurant called Judges.  I had been a little unsure of Judges as a suitable venue for a group of walkers with muddy boots because it was more of a gastropub serving proper sit down meals restaurant style, rather than the pub grub we are normally used to.  And of course the prices were more than we usually like to pay.  But I need not have feared as everyone enjoyed their food, which was good and tasty, and the service was efficient and friendly.  We were unable to use the pub just down the road as I had originally intended as it had closed over the Christmas period, but we were lucky there was a second pub alternative, even if it was a gastro pub and things worked out just fine.  

Refreshed and full, we joined those who had had packed lunches in the bar, reunited ourselves with our boots and set out on the rest of the walk.  There was still no sign of the sun but at least the weather was remaining dry, something to be grateful for after all the recent rain.  Our route took us along the main road out of the village until, on a bend in the road, we reached a footpath sign for the Hertfordshire Way.  We took this path, glad to get off the main road.  It took us into another wood with a fast running stream running alongside our footpath.  Eventually after crossing over another main road, and walking along a lane, we reached a famous local landmark, the Folly Arch, so called because its function was a gateway and not a castle which it gives the appearance of being.  It marks the entrance to the former extensive grounds of the Gobions Estate house and ornamental gardens built in the eighteenth century.  These have long since disappeared with the arch and lake in Gobions Woods all that remains.  From here we had our first encounter with serious mud as our footpath took us across a ploughed field into Gobions woods.  By the time we came out of the wood and into Brookmans Park our boots were caked.  This did not stop some of us from stepping into a lively pub for hot drinks and beers before going to get the train to take us back to London.  

Mary King
Walk Leader

Photos by Mary, Melida, Nita and Chris