Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Link In The Chain

The county of Hertfordshire. No mountains, no moorlands and no coastal walks. But it has got The Chain Walk. A series of interlinking circular walks forming a chain. Hence the name.

Lets walk one of the links. Start at Watton-at-Stone. Ascend a stony lane and onto rough grassland.

Stop to photograph a flower and up pops a butterfly. A Marbled White. Once known as the Half-Mourner. Common enough but rather pretty.

By narrow roads between harvest fields. Rabbits nibble the verges. Magpies strut on the tarmac.

Path beside a bean field. Beans bulge in the pods. Crisp, but dry tasting. Warm sun and a cooling breeze. Worries fall away.

By stables and paddocks. Horses graze in a daze. In the day's haze. Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. A sudden field of knapweed and wildflowers.

Then out into wide fields once more. A very English scene. Only thirty miles away people are cheering and shouting for GB at the Olympics. I raise a little cheer for this scenery.

An early stubble field. The golden grain is safely gathered in. Going for gold?

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country garden? If it's a village it should have a pub....

 Ah, thought so! The author wearing his mad butterfly-collector's hat - you've been spared the sunglasses and the shorts!

So on we go. Much refreshed and slightly lighter in the pocket. Down an old forgotten road now just a track through the trees.

Out into the sunlight once more. Buzzards and Red Kite fly overhead. The Kites must have bred near here somewhere. Twenty years ago there were none within two-hundred miles of here. Not many Buzzards either.

Past wheat fields ripening in the long-awaited sun.

And a long, sweeping path back towards Watton-at-Stone. Number of other people seen out walking today. Nought.

Take care.


  1. Very nice. Glad you stopped off for a pint as I was getting rather parched.

  2. The fields just looked like Australia bushland. Not much forests or hills. Just these plain fields to allow natural pests and invasive plants to grow on.

    It looks like home from southern end

  3. You take wonderful walks, my friend. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. I loved the old dirt road through the trees most, but this was a wonderful walk. Thanks for inviting me along!

  5. Thanks for the look at Hertfordshire, John. My early mentor, who got me interested in what became my research specialty, worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station in Harpenden for many years. I've never been there, but it looks much like the American midwest. Jim

  6. What a delightful walk ... Not too hilly ... I like that.

  7. Beautiful photographs John. I particularly like the lane one, which invites you to walk down it - and also the sky in the last one. It is a county I don't know at all - so thanks for those.

  8. Another delightful walk and images. Thanks John, most enjoyable!

  9. Beautiful images, and nice to see YOU, too, John! I especially liked the image of the field of knapweed; is it native there or a nasty invasive like it is here in the United States?

  10. I really like the big views (pic 5, 6). It's wonderful that, even with so much urbanization all around the world, within 30 miles of London such beautiful farmland is still unspoiled.

  11. Thank you John, your words and photographs have perfectly captured the high Summer feel of the countryside just now. Jane xx

  12. I lived in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire for the first three years of married life and there was some nice countryside near there but I don't remember anything like this. That field of knapweed is just gorgeous and so is that lovely ancient trackway through the trees.

  13. The red kite seems to be doing great where ever it's been released in this country. They're spreading up here too - released a few years ago in the Galloway forest they're occasionally seen all the way down in Kirkcudbright - several miles away. I had hardly seen a buzzard until I was an adult and now they're everywhere - I'm sure the Kite will be like that for my children (if they ever get round to looking at things.

    Don't tell anyone I up here I said it, but English beer is the tops and a pint on a summer afternoon has a special taste all of it's own.


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