Footpaths around Radlett

The footpath/bridleway network in Aldenham Parish totals about 21 miles, most of it within the Green Belt and much of it pleasantly rural although here and there affected by noise from Elstree airfield and the M1 motorway. The quality of the footpaths varies considerably – some are easily walkable throughout the year while others are poorly marked and apt to become impassable quagmires in winter. This latter condition applies particularly to the paths beside the River Colne in the north of the parish and those alongside the railway in the east. Some paths depart significantly from the line depicted on the Definitive Map published by the Hertfordshire County Council, partly because landowners have taken the liberty of directing users round the edges of fields rather than across them, and partly because users themselves have been unable to see the correct line across overgrown land on setaside and have taken the path of least resistance. Some of the best paths do not appear on the Definitive Map and are not strictly rights of way but only routes to which landowners have provided access. Among these are those in Berrygrove Wood, including the heavily used Wendy Way, and some in the vicinity of Wall Hall, soon to be extended on the completion of the new housing estate.

The Radlett Society organises a survey of the local footpath network each Summer with a view to providing the Parish Council and County Council with data on the state of the footpath network and facilitating funding for its repair and maintenance. It is also responsible on occasion for drawing the attention of the County Council to those who seek to obstruct the normal use of the footpaths by the public and for requesting that appropriate action be taken. Obstruction can be brought about deliberately by landowners or fly tippers, or by carelessness or neglect on the part of farmers. However, it must be emphasised that most of those who own and work land in the neighbourhood are highly cooperative and will seek to remedy most problems of access when requested.

In 2005 the network was significantly improved by the ending of the long standing dispute affecting FP31A near Letchmore Heath. This footpath, part of the Hertfordshire Way, is now quite unobstructed and fully open to the public owing to action taken by the HCC following a Public Enquiry conducted by the DfE. Also FP55, a popular path running from the outskirts of Radlett to Woodhall Farm, was most effectively upgraded owing to the good offices of the landowner and is now easily walkable even after periods of heavy rain. Prior to resurfacing it was unusable for most of the winter.

In the autumn of 2002 the Society published a map of footpaths in the Aldenham Parish and neighbouring areas. About 450 copies have were sold and a further 50 or so provided to Local Authorities and others who helped with its preparation. It is notable that, since the map became available, the interest in walking the footpaths in the area around Radlett has significantly increased. The society is considering the possibility of printing further copies to meet demand, and also proposes to update the map in due course.

In cooperation with the Local Authorities and other user groups, notably the Bushey and District Footpaths Association and the Ramblers Association, the Society keeps an overview of the footpath network and seeks by such means as are available to it to maintain the rights of those who wish to enjoy walking in the tranquility of a countryside that, with its arboreal beauty and wild life, remains a rural oasis in the midst of encroaching urban noise and desolation.

Geoffrey Smyth

Click here to go to the Bushey and District Footpaths Association

Click here to go to the St Albans & District Footpath Society

Click here to go to the Ramblers Association