One of the best walks in Hertfordshire can be found by starting out at the sleepy village of Kimpton and following a circular trail through the surrounding countryside.
We walked this route on a sunny day in April, one of the first days of the year that felt like spring. Signs of bluebells were emerging, and the weather stayed pleasant from start to end.
The route is just over 5 miles long, so it only takes a couple of hours, with fairly easy terrain that includes few strenuous inclines.
Where to start out
The starting point for this walk is in Kimpton, and you can find free parking at the Parkfield Sports Ground. Just follow the small lane off the B651 just past the church.
From here, you can either follow the path back to the road, but we recommend taking a detour through the village to see the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is especially picturesque on a sunny day.
Cross the B651 and you’ll see a sign for a footpath taking you east.
Heading away from Kimpton
The path takes you up a gradual incline as you pass through open farmland. Further up this hill, you’ll have great views down over the valley to your right.
On the other side of the valley is where you’ll be walking later on as part of this route when you’re returning to Kimpton.
Winding through to Rye End Farm
Keep following the path as it takes you off the farm track, through a paddock, and through a small section of woodland.
The trail keeps taking you eastwards before bending slightly north before taking you downhill, where you’ll be able to spot Rye End Farm.
Wander around the farm, continuing east, and you’ll head over the River Mimram, a small chalk stream.
Along the river
You can then follow the river south downstream along a quiet country road. Eventually, it will join Green Lane, which subsequently meets with the larger Kimpton Road.
The stream flowing under the building at the corner of this road makes for a picturesque spot for a photo.
When it’s safe, cross Kimpton Road, heading south, and you can follow the signs that lead you along a footpath back uphill.
Towards Ayot St Lawrence
Continue uphill and you’ll eventually join a path that takes you towards Ayot St Lawrence, a very small village nestled in the heart of Hertfordshire.
You pass by a manor house before joining Hill Farm Lane, the main road through the village.
Looking around Ayot St Lawrence
This is the rough halfway point of the walk, and if you’re in need of somewhere to stop and rest with a pint at the Brocket Arms.
It’s worth having a quick look around the old St Lawrence church. These ruins would be a creepy place to visit at night, but in the day they have a serene and oddly beautiful atmosphere.
Another option is to visit Shaw’s Corner, an Edwardian country house that was home to George Bernard Shaw. Now run by the National Trust, it’s open to the public a is one of the nicest places to visit in Hertfordshire.
As you leave the village, you can also stop by the new St Lawrence church. Dating from the 18th century, the classical Greek design makes this building really stand out as you wander by, so it’s worth taking a closer look.
Continuing the walk
From the new church, the path is easy to follow as it takes you northwest along the edge of a woods before taking you briefly into the trees.
You’ll then follow a straight path that will take you downhill then back up, where you’ll emerge onto an open field.
As you cut across this field, you may be able to see Kimpton in the distance.
You’ll then be led to a road, Ballslough Hill. Cross it onto a field on the other side.
Back to Kimpton
First head north then west, following the edge of the field.
Along the northern border, you’ll get a great view of Kimpton through the foliage.
The path will soon lead to an opening where you can emerge into the village near a bowls club and playing field. Head through here and past a playground, after which you’ll be back on the High Street in the centre of the village.
From there, head up Church Lane. This will take you up towards the church in Kimpton, and from there it’s easy to continue following the paths north and back up to the car park.