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New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House

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New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House
Author: Thames Water, Published: 07 Mar 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye Housestar1 New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye Housestar1 New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye Housestar1 New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye Housestar0 New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House
Hertfordshire, Hertford
Walk Type: River or lakeside
New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House boot New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House
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A 5 mile waterside linear walk along the first stretch of the New River in Hertfordshire. This is the most rural and perhaps the most picturesque section of the New River Path with chance to enjoy lots of wildlife plus several of the impressive brick-built pumping stations that continue to operate the river. The New River has an unhelpful name, being neither new nor a river! It is a water supply aqueduct, completed in 1613, to bring drinking water from Hertfordshire to North London. Before this time, London’s water supply was limited to the Thames, local streams and wells which were often contaminated. Thames Water has worked with partners to create a 28 mile long-distance path that follows the river’s course.

The walk is relatively flat and follows some paved paths, but mainly unmade paths which can be fairly muddy after periods of rain and in winter. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates along the way plus two stiles (with fence surrounds which should be open enough for most dogs to pass through). You will also need to cross the rail line at an unsignalled crossing so take care to look and listen for trains and take care with children and dogs. You will find a few large benches along the route which make a great place for a family picnic. The return leg can be completed by train (see the ‘Getting there’ section for details). Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours (plus a bit longer to walk to the start point from Hertford East station).

As this is a linear walk, you will need to arrange for both your journey to the start point, as well as your return journey from the end of the walk. You could use two cars, but we would recommend using trains. The start point of the walk is just a 15 minute walk from Hertford East Rail Station (which has a small car park), and the end point is Rye House Rail Station (note: this station does not have a car park). The trains between the two stations run about every 30 minutes and the journey takes less than 15 minutes.

Leave Hertford East Station via the main station entrance (under the arched brick canopy) and turn right along the pavement. Follow the road (Mead Lane) as it bends sharp right with a new housing development to the left. Follow Mead Lane for some distance, passing a range of industrial estates on the left. Some way along, ignore Merchant Drive off to the left, simply keep ahead on the narrowing Mead Lane. Continue as the lane swings left to become a gravel track and you will come to a choice of two paths ahead. Take the right-hand path, passing through the kissing gate into Meads Nature Reserve (a beautiful flood meadow which creates a rich wetland habitat). Follow the stone track heading directly for the New Gauge building which marks the start of the New River Path. Just before you reach the building, follow the track as it swings right to cross the bridge over the New River and then turn left to reach the building itself – your starting point for this walk.

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Walk Sections

Start to White House Sluice
Start to White House Sluice

Start point: 51.8067 lat, -0.0577 long
End point: 51.8069 lat, -0.0447 long

(Note: You will find directions from Hertford East Station to this start point in the ‘Getting there’ section of this walking guide.)

The walk begins at the New Gauge building. Constructed in 1856, this gauge regulates the intake of water from the River Lee (behind the building) into the New River to a maximum of 102 megalitres of water per day.

Walk away from the New Gauge, with the course of the New River running to the right. Ignore the first bridge off to the right (the one that led you from the rail station), simply keep ahead on the grass flood meadow to reach an arched bridge ahead. Go through the kissing gate, cross the bridge and then turn left, with the river now running to your left. Keep ahead on this grass path which leads you under the A10 road and then swings right to reach a stile at the railway line.

Note: this is an unsignalled crossing so take proper care to look and listen for trains before you cross. Cross the train line via the pair of stiles and then go though the kissing gate on the left to continue on the grass riverside path. After just a short distance you’ll reach the timber-clad White House Sluice.

White House Sluice to Viaduct Road
White House Sluice to Viaduct Road

Start point: 51.8069 lat, -0.0447 long
End point: 51.8057 lat, -0.0263 long

Follow the path left (in front of the White House) and then right through the kissing gate to continue on the grass path with the river to the right. You will pass a stone structure set across the river, Marble Gauge, which was built in 1770 to control the former intake of water from the River Lee. On the opposite bank is Chadwell Spring, the original source of the New River in 1609.

Ignore the wooden bridge out to the road in Ware, simply use the steps to keep ahead on the riverside path. On the left you’ll pass Broadmead Pumping Station. Constructed in 1885 and Grade 2 listed, this beautiful building has distinctive circular gable windows.

The path eventually emerges via a kissing gate to Amwell Road in Ware. Cross over and dog-leg right then left to join the pavement along London Road. You’ll see the New River continuing through the railings to the left. Continue along the road for some distance, until you reach the mini-roundabout which marks the junction with Viaduct Road.

Viaduct Road to Amwell Islands
Viaduct Road to Amwell Islands

Start point: 51.8057 lat, -0.0263 long
End point: 51.7952 lat, -0.0125 long

Swing left for a few paces along Viaduct Road and then cross over the road with extreme care. Pass through the kissing gate to take the New River Path continuing on the opposite side. Be sure to glance to your right here to see the tiny metal sculpture of a man and dog which is set on the concrete in the centre of the river.

As you pass a slipway on the opposite bank, look to the far side of the road where you’ll see a pretty white milestone marking 20 miles to London – but don’t worry we’re not walking that far today! Continue for a little distance, passing through a pair of kissing gates along the way, and you’ll emerge through the next gate to the edge of a small road junction. Swing left for a few yards, then cross over the road to rejoin the path via the next kissing gate.

Follow this pretty stretch of riverside path with horse paddocks down to the left. There’s a convenient bench here (the first of several) that would make a good place for lunch. Further along you’ll emerge via the next gate to a road junction, with Amwell Islands ahead.

Amwell Islands to Rye Common Pumping Station
Amwell Islands to Rye Common Pumping Station

Start point: 51.7952 lat, -0.0125 long
End point: 51.7821 lat, -0.0019 long

This pretty lake feature has two islands. On one is a stone monument what has an inscribed poem from 1818 entitled Amwell, and on the other is a pedestal monument dedicated to Sir Hugh Myddelton. Following earlier financially failed attempts to begin the works to bring Hertfordshire’s drinking water to London, Myddelton, a goldsmith and merchant adventurer, was given the authority in 1609 to construct the New River. When the first New River Company was created in 1619, Myddelton was its first Governor. If you look carefully you’ll see another tiny sculpture in front of the Myddelton monument, this time depicting a couple of women sitting on the island bank.

Keep ahead along the road edge, with Amwell Islands to the right. As you reach River Cottage by the bridge, join the raised concrete walkway (via a kissing gate) to continue your riverside journey. Down to the left you’ll pass Amwell Nature Reserve, a former gravel pit which is now popular with wintering wildfowl. Further along on the left you’ll reach the next pumping station at Amwell Marsh, a large imposing brick tower with beautiful arched windows.

There are a few square benches along this section, ideal for picnics. The path finally emerges via a kissing gate to reach Station Road in St Margaret’s (if you glance to the left you’ll see the level crossing). Cross over with care, turn right across the bridge then turn immeidatley left down the concrete slope to join the grass path (with the river on the left). This section of path leads you under the A414 road and then swings left passing Rye Common pumping station on the opposite bank.

Rye Common Pumping Station to End
Rye Common Pumping Station to End

Start point: 51.7821 lat, -0.0019 long
End point: 51.7693 lat, 0.0051 long

Beyond the pumping station, the path emerges via a kissing gate to reach a T-junction with Stanstead Road. Cross over with care and turn left along the opposite pavement. Just before you reach the A414 bridge overhead, turn right through the gap alongside a vehicle barrier into St Margaret’s Community Woodland.

Take the narrow path (between 1 and 2 o’clock) marked with a yellow arrow and follow this to the top of the slope. Keep ahead here, back downhill and you’ll emerge out onto the left-hand bank of the New River. Pass through the next two kissing gates and you’ll see Cranbourne level crossing down to the left.

Turn right over the bridge then swing left through the next gate onto the path with the river now to the left. The path leads you past a long stretch of commercial park on the right and out via a kissing gate onto Rye Road. Turn left across the bridge and you’ll see Rye House Station ahead, marking the end of this first section of the New River Path.

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network New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author thameswater and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "New River Path Part One: Hertford to Rye House"

Gabrielle P @gplala @ifootpath thanks for follow back. My friend and I are walking the #NewRiverPath using info on your site, very helpful so hope to do more!

By Twitter on 18 Jun 2015

Just did parts 1, 2 and three. If you are into industrial heritage then this is an interesting walk. But very noisy, you are never far from a road and while pretty for much of its length there are several grim litter strewn sections.

By drummand on 15 Aug 2016

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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