The River Ash is a little darling of a stream. Some years ago I started going to Amwell Nature Reserve near Ware. In those days there was only one tiny hide and a raised area known as The Viewpoint where all the birdwatchers gathered and set up their telescopes. Around lunchtime I'd drift away and stroll a little way along the Ash to enjoy my sandwiches and flask in a sheltered hollow near the river.
I'd long had a wish to explore other parts of the river but until the other day I'd done nothing about it. But first I had to get there. So I hopped off the bus at Puckeridge, then headed across the fields towards Much Hadham.
I approached the village along a wooded, sunken lane thick with autumn leaves.
Into Much Hadham to take some pictures that you may have seen in the previous post. But all the time I was aware that the river was running just behind the houses, so about half way along the long, long village street I ducked down a footpath to cross the river by the footbridge beside a rather deep ford. Unlike some other places there's some justification in owning a big, four-wheel drive vehicle in Much Hadham!
The overcast skies were starting to clear giving rise to ripple-effect clouds, altocumulus undulatus to give them their Sunday name.
But soon I was walking through woodland with just occasional glimpses of the valley down to my right.
As I slowly descended back towards the river I noticed several odd remnants from some former use of the land - an odd earth-bank here, a lump of concrete there - but couldn't figure out what it all meant. Then I found a small area of rather ramshackle land; I don't think anyone is still living in the caravan, though they may just be. It's all very different from Much Hadham, just up the valley.
The river often floods and the village of Widford keeps its feet dry by standing up on a low ridge. Meanwhile the flood plain is mostly given over to grazing land.
The sun was playing an infuriating game of hide-and-seek, lighting the scene beautifully one moment then, in an instant, clouding over again. I missed a lot more shots than I got!
The stream winds around in a series of loops and meanders while the footpath sticks for a while to an old railway trackbed, though it's been abandoned for so long that everything now looks very natural.
The land around Watersplace Farm is so beautiful and well-managed that it makes me proud to live in England!
The path crosses parkland heading towards the Amwell Walkway, another stretch of railway line converted to a footpath.
Crossing the River Ash for the last time today and heading into the Amwell Nature Reserve, an area of old flooded gravel pits which attracts a wide variety of waterfowl and waders.
I went to have a look but, not having my binoculars with me, didn't see a great deal. All that then remained was to walk the towpath of the River Lea Navigation towards Ware.
I hope you've enjoyed our little excursion along the Ash as I've a feeling I'll be doing the walk again before too long.
Start: Puckeridge, Hertfordshire 08.15
End: Ware, Hertfordshire 15.00
Distance walked: 11.5 miles (18.5 Km)
Notable birds: Buzzard, Skylark, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Lapwing.
Mammals: nothing except a few rabbits.
Churches: Much Hadham, Ware.
People with dogs: 5
Dogs with people: 8
People just enjoying a walk: 1
Horse riders: 0