Car-free adventures aroundHertford and WareHertfordshire

Two scenic market towns beside the pretty River Lea that make a fabulous hub for car-free adventures. You can stroll between them along the water and go on to visit Amwell Quarry Nature Reserve, with its reed-fringed, flooded gravel pits. You can take a bus through the Hertfordshire villages and walk to the sculpture-filled grounds of the Henry Moore foundation at Perry Green.

  • County: Hertfordshire
  • Great for: arts | birds | historic houses | riverside walks | scenic bus | sculpture |
  • Refreshments: lots of lovely riverside pubs
  • Please note: researched/updated April 2018. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. Henry Moore by bus

    Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures, scattered across 70 acres of rolling countryside at Perry Green, are one of Hertfordshire’s cultural highlights. Hoglands, the house where sculptor Henry Moore lived for nearly 50 years, and the studios he worked in are open to the public too and the Henry Moore Foundation have recently added a new visitors’ centre and cafe.

    • Henry Moore’s studios and gardens are open from Easter to the end of October every year, Wednesdays to Sundays, 11am – 5pm.
    • This twenty five-minute walk from the nearest bus stop takes you on public paths around some of the most scenic parts of the estate and definitely adds to the pleasure of visiting. And the bus ride itself is a delight, running alongside the New River, through some lovely villages and winding wooded lanes. You could also catch the bus from St Margarets station.
    • Turn left out of Ware railway station left again over the railway, and right without crossing the road ahead to find the bus stop opposite the college. The 351 bus leaves this stop every couple of hours, Monday to Saturday. The 10.22 or 12.22 buses are probably best.
    • Get off the bus after twenty minutes at the stop called Bourne Lane, cross over and walk along Bourne Lane (ignoring Woodland Road). After about 150m, fork left through a gate onto a track that says private property (don’t worry – it’s a public path).
    • Keep straight on a surfaced path through trees, fork right up to a kissing gate and follow the posts with arrows across a huge rolling sheep field towards Moore’s Large Reclining Figure on a hill on the horizon. Before reaching the gate near the figure, turn sharp right and left at a way mark to a fenced post through trees and a gate.
    • Head diagonally right past the bronze Upright Form near a pond, through one more gate, and then left at the lane along the edge of fields (with tantalising glimpses of the sculpture garden to your left). Keep straight for ten minutes to emerge in Perry Green near the Hoops Inn. Turn left on the lane to reach the entrance. There are lots more sculptures (and often exhibitions too) to see inside the grounds.
    • To get to the Henry Moore studios and garden without any walking, catch a train to Bishop’s Stortford station instead (trains from Liverpool Street towards Cambridge or Stansted Aiport) and take a taxi from outside the station, which will cost about £15.
    • Buses back to Hertford and Ware from Bourne Lane, where you arrived, currently run at 1.40pm, 4.26pm and 5.36pm on weekdays (fewer on Saturdays). Or you could choose the lovely two-mile stroll to Much Hadham (see 4 below), following signs for the Hertfordshire Way (OS Explorer map 194 will be very handy). It’s especially beautiful in Spring, when the woods are full of bluebells, or Autumn, when the beech trees all turn gold.
  1. 4. Much Hadham and other pretty places

    Hertford is a great hub for bus journeys into the surrounding countryside. You can catch the 724 from stop 5 at the bus station: east towards Harlow or west towards Hatfield and beyond. Bus 351, which passes close to the Henry Moore foundation at Perry Green (see 3 above), takes a 1½ hour scenic tour through the rolling Hertfordshire fields on its trip to Bishop’s Stortford. On the way it passes through lovely villages like Widford and Much Hadham.

    • Much Hadham village also has Henry Moore connections. He carved stone heads for the door of St Andrew’s church and the west window there is based on his tree designs.
    • Don’t miss the Forge Museum. Housed in a medieval hall, with a new cafe and changing exhibitions, it has a working forge, a collection of local finds, and amazing Elizabethan murals. Revealed in the 1990s, under layers of paint and wallpaper, these rare domestic wall paintings include a lively Judgement of Solomon, complete with curved sword, dangling baby, and figures in classic Elizabethan outfits.
    • With distractions like this, Much Hadham is a great place to wait for a bus – it has a pub, the Bull Inn, and a shop. The popular cafe at Hopley’s garden centre does fabulous food too and you can wander around the ornamental gardens too, admiring the flower-fringed pond and red-leaved maples.
    • The last bus back to Hertford leaves soon after 4.30pm (or later on weekdays) and there are bus stops throughout the long village, with its half-timbered houses and Georgian mansions.
  1. 5. Have a wander around town

    Don’t overlook the centre of Hertford itself. Hertfordshire’s county town has centuries of varied history. The tourist office has town guides that can lead you to the castle and its riverside grounds, the stag-topped war memorial, and the town museum.

    • The museum, in the middle of town, is five minutes walk from Hertford East and three minutes from the bus station. As well as some great collections of local pots and stuffed birds, the museum has Britain’s biggest collection of toothbrushes  – relics of the old Addis factory nearby. It’s open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday and is housed in a 17th-century building with a Jacobean-style knot garden.
    • Two doors down from the museum, look out for the Hertford Coffee Lab, serving irresistible cakes, hot chocolate and – yes – great coffee.
    • Follow the Hertford Historic Walk to discover the Georgian Shire Hall, the 15th-century, orange-painted Verger’s House on St Andrew Street, with its half-timbering and carved figures, and the world’s oldest purpose-built Friends’ Meeting House in Railway Street.
    • Ware has its own museum and treasures too, including the open-air Priory Lido in summer or – if it’s a summer Saturday afternoon – the shell-covered underground passages of Scott’s grotto, an underground labyrinth built by an 18th-century poet. It’s free and less than ten minutes walk from Ware railway station.
    • There’s a trail round local sites relating to the famous Great Bed of Ware, on show in the Victoria and Albert museum; or you can follow the sculpture trail constructed by a local primary school.
    • And don’t forget the pub crawl possibilities of all those riverside pubs, like Waterside Inn, just over the bridge from Ware station, with a garden overlooking the river.
    • The last train back towards London leaves at 11.43pm.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!