Roman remains and modern forest

St Albans to Harpenden

9 miles / 14.5 km

HIGHLIGHTS

St Albans Cathedral| Verulamium Park | Childwick Green | Heartwood Forest | Harpenden Common

St Albans Cathedral

About this walk

St Albans was one of the first major towns along the Roman road of Watling Street (which also features in our City of London walk). There’s evidence of human settlement here dating back to the Iron Age and quite a few landmarks to visit, if you want to stop here for a while. Otherwise, this walk takes you via the Cathedral, past Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub (one of many that claims to be the oldest in England) and the remains of the Roman city of Verulamium, and then out into the countryside.

You’ll pass by picture-perfect Childwickbury and the gates of Childwickbury Manor (the former home of Stanley Kubrick) before heading through Heartwood Forest, a ‘new’ forest of over half a million trees, planted by thousands of volunteers. Crossing a golf course, you’ll come out on Harpenden Common, with a great choice of pubs, cafés and restaurants to round off your walk.

Route details

This is a linear walk, through St Albans and then out onto rural paths and tracks. The footpath crosses golf course near the end so take good care when crossing fairways. Once into Harpenden, it’s a straightforward walk to the station.

Start St Albans City  Thameslink
END Harpenden Thameslink
OS Route  WALKING POST St Albans to Harpenden
Difficulty Easy
Length 9 miles /14.5 km
Average time 4-5 hours
Total ascent 472 ft

The Clock Tower, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Verulamium Park

Heartwood Forest

Childwickbury Manor

Harpenden Common

Along the way

St Albans Cathedral

The oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, St Albans Cathedral is estimated to have been founded in the 6th century. It was once an abbey (hence locals often referring to it just as ‘the Abbey’) but, following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a cathedral. The site is free to enter.

Verulamium Park

Covering 100 acres (0.4 square miles) of parkland, the Verulamium Park is named after the city which once stood there. There are still remains of the Roman city walls and you can see hundreds of artefacts found in the area at the nearby Verulamium Museum. Also worth a detour is the amazing Hypocaust Mosiac, which once covered 1,800 year old underfloor heating and was discovered by archaeologists in the area during the 1930s.

Heartwood Forest

Opened in 2018, Heartwood Forest is the largest continuous new native forest in England. It’s made up of patches of ancient woodland interspersed with around 600,000 new trees which were planted over a 10 year period by some 45,000 volunteers.

 

Useful info

TRANSPORT

St Albans City and Harpenden are on the same Thameslink line, running through St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge to East Croydon, Greenwich and beyond. There are regular services to and from London, seven days a week.

TOILET OPPORTUNITIES

There are toilets at both St Albans City and Harpenden stations. There are also public toilets by the Verulamium Museum (if you choose to go that way).

FOOD & DRINK

Lots of options in St Albans and Harpenden. The Inn on the Park  in Verulamium Park serves hot & cold drinks and light meals and you’ll pass by Ye Olde Fighting Cocks on the route. In Harpenden, there are lots of restaurants and cafés along with a choice of four pubs. We chose the Inn on the Green – which had a classic pub grub menu, a good selection of beers and a friendly barman.