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The Ver and Verulamium

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The Ver and Verulamium
Author: NickC, Published: 26 Mar 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Hertfordshire, St. Albans
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
The Ver and Verulamium
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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This short circular route offers a mix of footpath and park walking, offers magnificent views of the city's cathedral, as well as a chance to get up close and personal with some of the old Roman Wall that used to surround the city. These days the River Ver is a modest waterway, but it was once significant enough to encourage the Romans to settle here and to name their city after it. Following it on this walk allows you to explore a lesser known part of the city, as well as the opportunity to spot wildlife on Verulamium Lake.

The walking is relatively easy, using established footpaths and a section of disused railway line, as well as a short stretch of built up path amongst housing. There are some steps, but nothing too onerous. You can park in the public car park for the Museum, but a better option may be to start at the 16th century Kingsbury Mill, famous for its waffle house. Allow an hour and a half for the walk.

Approach the Roman side of the city by the A4147 in the south west (the Hemel Hempstead road), following signs for the museum, where there is an option to park. Kingsbury Mill sits on St. Michael's Street after about 200 yards.

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Walk Sections

Start to The Lake
Start to The Lake

Start point: 51.7544 lat, -0.3522 long
End point: 51.7524 lat, -0.3506 long

Start by the bridge outside the Mill and head up the hill towards the church.
The pond by the bridge is a haven for ducks and owes its existence to the mill.

(Note: If starting in the museum car park head towards the lake.)

Assuming you started at the mill, take the path just after the bridge on the left which takes you into the park. The river is now on your right and will be your companion for the first half of the walk. A pair of lakes soon comes into view, the first of which (the smaller) was once used a a model boating lake. Pause here to read the information board.

The Lake to Ye Fighting Cocks
The Lake to Ye Fighting Cocks

Start point: 51.7524 lat, -0.3506 long
End point: 51.7489 lat, -0.3469 long

Continue with the lake to your right and the river to your left. There is no shortage of birdlife here, primarily various breeds of ducks, geese and swans, and herons have been known to nest on the islands out in the middle. In fact, the sheer quantity of birdlife became a problem and action had to be taken around the turn of the millennium to redress the ecological balance.

Continue to the end of the lake and bear left to take a look at Ye Fighting Cocks, which claims to be the oldest continually inhabited pub in the country - an artful form of words to stand it out from the various other claimants to the 'oldest pub' crown. As its name suggests, this was once a cock pit and if you go in you will be able to make out the circular shape.

Ye Fighting Cocks to Old Swimming Baths
Ye Fighting Cocks to Old Swimming Baths

Start point: 51.7489 lat, -0.3469 long
End point: 51.7458 lat, -0.3358 long

Head back to the lake and continue briefly along its southern edge to the public toilets (sometimes open, sometimes not!). Just after these, take the footpath fingerpost to the left and shortly after bear left into some trees. The river is now freed from its concrete banks in the park and bubbles away contentedly. Stick with the river until you reach an elegant wooden bridge, which you cross.

Cross the busy road with care and bear right, immediately crossing back over the river. Pick up a path on your left and follow this to an altogether more functional metal bridge, taking note of the old waterworks on the left. The river reappears after a short absence and there's a good view of the cathedral to the left, with allotments on the other bank.

Stay with the river along the Ver Valley Walk to reach another road. On the left stands the old municipal swimming baths (an inscription dates it to 1905), now the home of the local sub aqua club.

Old Swimming Baths to Westminster Lodge
Old Swimming Baths to Westminster Lodge

Start point: 51.7458 lat, -0.3358 long
End point: 51.746 lat, -0.3451 long

Bear right and cross over the river and then cross over the road before picking up the path on the other side, going down a set of steps. Follow the clearly marked path until you reach an old railway bridge. Turn left and climb some steps which bring you out onto a disused railway line.

Head right here and you will eventually pass under another bridge, after which you turn right, passing a youth club, following signs for Verulamium Park. You now enter a built up area, head right up Cottonmill Lane and then down the first left, Prospect Road. This will lead you to the busy A-road you crossed earlier, where a pedestrian crossing is provided. Use this to cross the road and head for the Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, the large building on your left, using the path provided.

Westminster Lodge to End
Westminster Lodge to End

Start point: 51.746 lat, -0.3451 long
End point: 51.7544 lat, -0.3519 long

Continue past the Leisure Centre and along the upper part of an athletics track and head towards the lake, which should now be visible. Aim left, crossing over a track, and you will see various sections of preserved Roman Wall, a reminder that the park was once the site of the old Roman City, the more modern city's location being driven more by the sighting of the cathedral to the country's first Christian martyr, which, as was the custom, was placed on top of the hill. Alban himself was in fact a Roman soldier who refused to surrender his Christianity.

Head across the large grass expanse, heading for the bridge between the two lakes. Bear to the left of this and cut across the grass heading back to the point where you first entered the park. From here re-trace your steps. If you parked in the museum car park, head left from the lake. Either way, you will soon regain your starting point.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author NickC and may not be reproduced without permission.

1 comments for "The Ver and Verulamium"

I think one or two lefts and rights got muddled but otherwise a lovely walk.

By colart on 04 Aug 2015

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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