Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Magic Of Mimram (Part Two)

Travelling by train up to London, as I used to do regularly many years ago, you pass between wide fields, past factories and warehouses, through cuttings and alongside rows of back gardens. Then suddenly, just north of Welwyn Garden City, you seem to be flying. Looking down there's a dainty winding river threading its way through emerald green pastures. I looked it up when I got home: it's the River Mimram.

In part one of this post we wandered in a big loop around Panshanger Park, but now it's time to continue on our way, roughly following the course of the River Mimram. The path is clear enough, though things will get interesting later.

The track led through mixed woodland with occasional exotic trees which presumably date from the landscaping during the heyday of the Park.

Although it was nearly mid-day and the sun was shining there was still ice on the many puddles. I started to get the feeling that the path was deviating from the route on the map, but as there were no junctions there was nothing to be done but follow the clear path beneath my feet. A small sign on a post confirmed my suspicions - the path had been diverted because of quarrying operations.

The same sign recommended a footpath through a wood - not really where I'd wanted to go but interesting enough, especially if you like WW2 bomb shelters.

Eventually I ended up where I wanted to be - in the valley of the Mimram, if not on exactly the path I'd originally planned.

To enjoy the view above you need to be a little bit brave; the path goes through a little white gate which looks as though it leads into someone's garden. A wider gate alongside says "Private", but this is indeed where the path goes.

Field paths lead to the church at Tewin which has a neat little Tudor-style porch.

Inside the porch is an enormous marble memorial, so large that it appears to be holding the roof up. It's impossible to properly view the thing in such a confined space, let alone take a picture of it. It occurred to me that maybe it's here in the porch because it proved to be too big to get inside the church! 

But it's something outside in the churchyard that most people come to see....

This is the grave of Lady Anne Grimston who died in 1713. She was said by some to not to have believed in the existence of heaven. “If indeed there is life hereafter trees will render asunder my tomb”, she is supposed to have said on her deathbed. And, as you can see, they have done just that. 

Other sources say that she was in fact a very devout lady; thereby simultaneously saving her reputation and ruining a good story.

There are few places where you can actually walk beside the river, but here there is a short stretch which is a mini nature reserve.

Our path then goes between the buildings of Bury Farm which is a fairly common circumstance on English footpaths. But this farm isn't a farm at all; it's been converted to serve as a hotel and wedding venue and I was in danger of becoming mixed up in someone's wedding reception! 

Having safely negotiated the wedding party I wandered on through agricultural land beneath increasingly interesting skies, eventually coming to the village of Digswell.

And here we are. The reason why the train seemed to fly high above the little river all those years ago. The Digswell Viaduct carrying the Great Northern Line over the valley of the River Mimram on forty brick arches constructed in 1850. And still doing their job today.

Walker's Log:

    Start: Hertford North Railway Station 10.15
    End: Welwyn North Railway Station 14.30
    Distance walked: 9 miles (14.5 Km) 
    Notable birds: Buzzard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Little Egret, Heron, Mute Swan, Coot, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker,
    Mammals: Grey Squirrel. 
    Churches: Tewin.
    People with dogs: Many in Panshanger Park, a few elsewhere
    Dogs with people: Many in Panshanger Park, a few elsewhere. 
    People just enjoying a walk: 2
    Cyclists: 0
    Horse riders: 0
    People getting married: 2

Take care.


  1. Such a fascinating walk, John. My favourites were the viaduct and the tomb. They don’t build structures like that viaduct any more.

  2. What a very enjoyable four hour walk! Enjoyed the Lady Anne story John ☺ the viaduct is fabulous, they certainly built to last back then. I often wonder how some of the modern architecture will hold up over time.

  3. Delightful walk John with lots of interesting info. Now my arthritis forbids such walks it is lovely to get so much from your blog. Thank you.

  4. Mimram, what a funny name, doesn't sound English enough!
    Love the log.... people getting married - 2, just as it should be. I am envious of the ability to walk the public footpaths through the countryside, can't really do that here.

  5. Beautifully told and photographed, as always. It really is a gentle part of the world. You couldn't wangle yourself a couple of beers from the wedding party, then?

  6. Envy those trails! The name Mimram seems Hobbitt like and magical. We took several train trips from Cambridge to London on my visit there many years ago. I wonder if that is the same train you are tracking.

  7. Another great ramble through history!

  8. So much to enjoy here from ice formations in puddles to tombs rent asunder & statues in Tudor church porches, it's all been a very memorable ramble in Mimram!

  9. Another interesting exploration in the countryside!

  10. I am sitting here almost laughing out loud at the idea of wondering into a wedding party....bet that was fun! I can just imagine Roger...if he was in the right mood, it would have been a fun time.

  11. Wonderful fascinating post. Thanks so much for sharing your walking journey with us!

  12. Such a beautiful walk there. You picked such a fine day for your nine mile journey. The skies were beautiful, the landscape rich, and those leaves in ice stunning.

  13. What a lovely countryside to stroll through. Fantastic photos of some beautiful scenery. You have some pretty places to walk with interesting stories to share.

    Thanks John!

  14. What lovely shots - and a great area for walks.


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