Burnham Green has a more lived-in feel than its near neighbour Harmer Green. It’s got a larger population, and a post office shop and a pub. It’s not a preserve of the well-to-do either though it’s only a stone’s throw from the millionaires’ reserve at Tewin Wood. The larger area of green is bordered on one side by an (I’m guessing) early 20th century housing development. The other side is fringed by a handful of cottages and countryside. Flowers on a park bench were another of the tokens of hope or supplication that we often found on our walks during this corona virus summer.
We passed through as lock down was easing and people were beginning to meet up again – at a safe distance – on the smaller area of green, near a charming village hall, built as a school in the 1840s and used as a mission church for some years after.
Harmer Green stands on high ground above Welwyn North and Digswell. A winding road leads down to the station at Welwyn North and there is a woodside footpath towards Woolmer Green and a dog’s leg route to Burnham Green avoiding the road (both places covered in earlier posts).
Monied is the word for Harmer Green. The older houses on the green itself are large and attractive and sit in their sizeable grounds. Those on the road on the road to Burnham are also large and also sit in sizeable grounds…
We had a look at the village pond, appreciated a show of ox eye daisies, noted a handsome war memorial, and moved on. The building at Barnes Wood nursery looked interesting but a high fence prevented a proper look.
We turned off Cole Green Way and made our way over ripe fields of grain to Birch Green, which has a number of houses built in the last century and a few older cottages. From there we cut through to the smaller settlement at Staines Green. Although the two are distinct and there is no ribbon development between them, they are umbilically linked by the grounds of a plant nursery. The footpath has garden plants along one side while the growing sheds on the other are more like an industrial warehouse complex.
On a hot summer afternoon, the clutch of modern whitewashed villas at the south end of the hamlet at Staines Green transported us for a moment to the Algarve.
We returned to the old railway route by way of rolling meadows with the farm at East End Green in view.
Labby Green is joined at the hip to Cole Green (previous post). Walking down the road from the latter, there’s another exclusive, authentic, original barn-conversion-appearance development underway, looking much like all the rest. Further down there’s a thriving pub doing grub that probably served as little railway hotel because just next to it a track leads up to the site of the railway station which served the Hertford-Welwyn line from 1858 to 1951. The remains of the platforms are still there as are cycle racks and a little car park for users of what is now a footpath and cycle track.
Follow the road and take a right to go through the old part of Letty Green which has a couple of listed buildings, including a deconsecrated church. We followed the Cole Green Way eastwards towards some more greens, popping out on to the residential road that runs almost parallel for a little way. Some sizeable but dowdy between-the-wars houses contrasted with an angular new build that is either inspired or inappropriate, depending on your taste. On balance, we quite liked its challenge to the neighbours.
For those of a certain age, a sign like this still prompts the thought “how many Eye Spy points will I get for that?” We saw this on a former coaching road leading out of Cole Green which is given primacy over its near neighbours Labby Green and Letty Green. The old railway track, now a footpath and cycling route is called Cole Green Way although it runs between the other two. The former train stop was Cole Green station, although it’s in Labby Green. And Letty Green now has a considerably larger population.
Still, we’ll come on to those two presently. Cole Green’s few houses lie around a broad sward crossed by three roads. The Ordnance Survey suggests this is not the green itself, siting that just to the north of the present village. There’s a set of grand gates and a lodge just off the green that’s not the green. A cursory look gave no clue as to what great house it was a lodge for, perhaps the sizeable Panshanger estate – let us know if you know.
Apart from Datchworth Green (previous post), there are several other greens around Datchworth. Painter’s Green is a big barley field in the crook of a little road leading to Bull’s Green and Bramfield, crossed by the footpaths from Datchworth Green to Datchworth church.
The original green at Raffin Green is beyond the current reach of Datchworth but the area known as Raffin Green is the housing extending out of the village towards the old location. We spotted four ladies and gentlemen of a certain age dressed as pirates as we nosed about. A funny period was lock down.
Several of the houses we passed sported union flags with NHS supporting slogans. In the 75th anniversary year of Victory in Europe, this elision of the combating of corona virus with the war against fascism was commonplace.
Not a lot to say about Gover’s Green, a clutch of houses on the Y formed by Bramfield road and a wooded track from Datchworth Green, both of which cross a former Roman road running out to Watton. But a lovely show of ox eye daisies made the walk worthwhile.
Raffin Green Lane is marked on Google Maps but for the other locations you’ll need Ordnance Survey.
Datchworth Green is in one of the clusters of greens to the northeast and east of Welwyn, some two dozen greens in all.
Datchworth itself sits on slightly higher ground, its church steeple visible from miles around, and it looks down towards Datchworth Green some half a mile away. You don’t notice if you take the route across the fields but housing built along a connecting road has now joined the two.
What struck me about Datchworth Green was the number of rugby posts in evidence, also visible from a distance. The pitch in the photo above was untended when we passed as pandemic restrictions were in place. But the several at the club over the road were only missing players.
The trip to Butterfield Green required venturing into Bedfordshire. We got there by footpath from Lilley but the majority of walkers probably come over the hills from Luton. There are extensive walks around Galley Hill and Warden Hill.
The hamlet is clearly marked on the current Ordnance Survey but is absent from some late 19th century and early 20th century maps although Manor Farm, first recorded in the 12th century (nothing of antiquity is in evidence today), is marked. Butterfield Green is now best known for the light industrial estate bearing the same name that happily lies a good half a mile away from the hamlet, on the A505.
A pretty run of cottages stands off a tarmac strip that quickly turns into a broad footpath. Another batch of houses is situated on Butterfield Green Road before that becomes a farm track. One of those houses has an odd tower, the top of which can be seen in the photo above. I initially wondered if it was a nod to an earlier windmill but could find no reference to one. Some marine-related elements around the house then made me wonder if it is a latter day folly, reminding someone of a lighthouse. Let me know, if you know.
And another question: I recall reading somewhere that material for brickmaking was once dug around here. There is still a brick supplier called Butterfield in Luton. Is there a connection?
A reminder of the times, the woman’s walking-aid trolley suggests she may be in a vulnerable to Covid-19 category and her face mask in open air, indicate her concern. She’s sitting on a park bench in Symonds Green, one of the greens subsumed by Stevenage.
Unlike Fishers Green (see an earlier post) a few hundred yards up the road, Symond’s Green has retained something of its earlier character. The remaining green space is surrounded by trees, the grass was uncut, allowing wild flowers to grow. A couple of almost dry ponds claim to support amphibian life.
And there’s a pub on the green, closed by lock down when we passed although the local paper says the brewery promised it would reopen. Behind an embankment, A1M traffic roars past.
The aptly-named Horns pub at Bull’s Green has been there since 1535 although only as an ale house since the 18th century. There’s an excellent potted history – including its moment of notoriety – here, thanks to Camra.
A clutch of houses stands around the sward and that looks to be it. In fact, down the road to Burnham Green, out of sight of the pub and its neighbours, is a string of houses behind which lie the mini-mansions of Tewin Wood, where wealth spends its downtime.
Wander downhill along Coltsfoot Lane instead and there’s what describes itself as a “rustic-chic boutique hotel and event venue” (below). The herd of alpacas in a nearby field had the air of rustic-chic about them.