The forecast for most of this week did not look promising. So, on Monday, after I checked WeatherPro and saw that today was likely to be the best day for walking weather, I quickly searched my compendium of walking web sites, packed my camera bag and set off for rural Hertfordshire – it would make a change from a coastal walk.
brave new world
This part of England is another landscape that I’ve only experienced, fleetingly, through the windows of cars and trains as I’ve rushed through on the way to somewhere else. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Mention Much Hadham to most people and you’ll usually get a blank look. Yet it’s less than 30 miles away from where I live (close to the centre of London) and not very far away from trunk roads and major railway lines leading to the capital and points north.
Given its proximity to London and several other largish towns, this part of Hertfordshire is surprisingly rural. There are thatched cottages, half-timbered houses, winding lanes and pleasantly green, rolling countryside – the kind of landscape one would expect to see in distant Dorset, or the Cotswolds, not half an hour’s drive from the Smoke. But here it is and, today, here am I, setting off on another walk in paradoxically familiar, yet unexplored territory.
There’s obviously a lot of money around here. It’s not in your face, like some of the areas I’ve walked through recently, but the signs are there. Large houses sit quietly behind high hedges. Paddocks abound with with well-groomed horses and ponies. Range Rovers, Jaguars and Landrovers parked in driveways bear recent number plates and even the working farms appeared manicured. But it’s not unfriendly. Everyone I encountered, stopped to say good morning, there wasn’t the plethora of “Private, keep out” signs I’d experienced on most of my other walks and there was a general air of cheerfulness about the countryside. Perhaps it was a lot to do with the April sunshine, but it I certainly felt buoyed by the place.
For today’s walk I used a new source (at least it’s new to me) of walking routes. The estimated distance was about 8 miles (12.8Km), which seemed fair. Just under four hours’ walk (allowing for a stop for a quick bite), which seemed expedient given the possibility of rain later in the day.
Off I set, with printouts of the route and maps in hand. For the first half of the walk, the directions were spot on, the going easy and the path simple to follow, with plenty of signposts to confirm the route. But about halfway along things went wrong, when the directions, sketched map and OS map all indicated a path that appeared not to exist, even the signpost didn’t help, indicating somewhat vaguely the existence of a bridleway, but actually pointing in between a couple of roads to a fence at a corner of a paddock. After tramping up and down these two roads for half an hour looking for a way forward, I decided I would take another path, which I knew existed and I would rejoin the planned walk a little further on. I reckoned this would add about 1.5Km to the walk, not a big deal. Unfortunately, the same thing occurred a couple more times, once I’d got back on the original route and, by the time I’d got back to the car, I’d walked almost 20Km. About 60% more than I’d intended, but, fortunately, the rain held off.
and the photos…
I’m beginning to get to grips with bright clouds and deep shadows, I’ve encountered these conditions of often recently, exposure is simply a matter of deciding what’s important in the shot – clouds or shadow detail. In any case, the Kodak’s excellent sensor in the M9 copes with these kind of issues better than any other I’ve come across.
Today’s gallery, is a (now) typical collection of pathways photos. I’m not sure how many more of these galleries I need for my project, but, I’ll continue to shoot them for the foreseeable future.