Cuckolds Cross and Whitwell from St Paul's Walden

This Hertfordshire walk mainly uses old green lanes to go through a varied landscape of fields, woods and hedgerows to arrive at the Holt and then by footpaths to Cuckolds Cross. After that there is a section of larger arable fields where you join the Hertfordshire Way to reach Whitwell, an expanded village with an interesting older centre. The final leg passes through a rare breeds farm and The Bury, birthplace of the late Queen Mother.

Technical sheet
No. 293231
A St. Paul's Walden walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 04/08/16
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h25[?]
Distance Distance : 6.86mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 259ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 262ft
Highest point Highest point : 472ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 305ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : St. Paul's Walden
Starting point Starting point : N 51.885889° / W 0.268516°
Download : -


(D/A) The walk starts from St Paul's Walden, a small hamlet on the B651 between Whitwell and Hitchin. It has associations with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who was born at The Bury just north of Whitwell which, although now a much larger village, is within the parish. The church itself (where the Queen Mother was baptised in 1900) dates from the 14th Century and is notable for an English Baroque chancel. It can be reached by turning off the B651 up the side of the Strathmore Arms PH. The walk is described from the parking place opposite the church (Grid Ref TL193222).

Having parked, start the walk by continuing up the lane, past the church, past a lane on the right and continuing on gravel past a 17th(?) century redbrick house to the tarmac drive to the Sue Ryder Home at Stagenhoe. Turn left towards the house, but on reaching the gates go to the right to follow the iron fence on your left. Where the fence bends left go straight on through a gap between bushes to reach a waymark at a cross path. Turn left and follow this enclosed green lane which soon becomes more open. Where it descends into a dip turn right on a broad path to continue downhill towards a prominent white house. The path swings to the left and joins a gravel track from the right. When you come level with the white house, turn right to go through an iron barrier and past the house to a lane.

(1) Turn left and at the next T-junction turn left again. After passing the charming Stagenhoe Bottom Farm and a group of comparatively modern rural cottages, turn right on Public Restricted Byway 15 to Bendish Lane. After going over the headwaters of the River Mimram the track swings right and left before following the field edge, hedge right, to the lane. Turn right and then, after a right bend, turn left down another green lane signed as a "Public Highway" to Long Lane. Follow it through a hedge gap (where we watched as three kestrels soared and glided gracefully over the fields) and along a field edge, hedge right. Level with the outlying buildings of Bendish (and a dump for old farm machinery) the track swings left and then through a hedge gap to continue along another field edge, hedge left. Where the hedge finishes, the track swings right over an open field, and then after going over a cross track, continues - now more grassy - over a second open field.

(2) When it comes to a T-junction, turn left through a hedge gap and continue down a field edge (hedge right, and vistas right of traditional fields over Whiteway Bottom) to reach a lane (here the track is signed as Public Restricted Byway 19). Turn right and walk along the lane to The Holt. Just past The Holt turn left over a stile on a footpath signed to Pancake Wood. Three more stiles take you across small paddocks, and after the last cross the next larger pasture, aiming to the left of an obvious hole in the hedge ahead. As you approach you will see that a stile leads into the woods. You quickly emerge to follow the field edge, hedge right, as far as a waymark. Here turn left along an unploughed grass strip, heading first for the corner of a wood and then a large cream painted house.

(3) This is at Cuckolds Cross, one of only two houses, on the B651. There must be a story, a legend, some sort of old English usage behind the name, but I have been unable to find it. (There is an explanation for a similarly named place in another county, that it was given in compensation to the wronged husband by the cuckolder; but there is no apostrophe here so, fancifully, perhaps the derivation is that it was here that two cheating husbands would meet, exchange friendly greetings, and then each, unsuspected and unsuspecting, hasten to enjoy their assignation with the other's wife.) There is possibly another more recent story to be unearthed. Not so long ago when one drove along the B651 there was a place name "Cuckolds Cross" as one approached. This has now gone. Why? A new oversensitive resident, a PC council official? What's next? Removal from the OS maps? And obliteration of a traditional place name?

At the B651 turn right and after 20 yards left down a footpath along a field edge, hedge left. The next section may be rather tricky. The farmer(s) here apparently do(es) not believe in restoring footpaths - leastways, when we walked the route, crops were already showing and the paths were still not restored - so it is a matter of luck how many walkers have trod them before you from ploughing through spring and shown the way. Along the field edge you find a waymark post. Here turn right over an arable field aiming downhill for the corner of a hedge. When you arrive here there turns out to be at a waymark on a cross path. Turn left at right angles (going NE) across the same arable field aiming for a gap in the hedge ahead.

(4) Here you join the Hertfordshire Way and continue (still NE) about 1/3rd diagonally right across a large arable field; if there have been no previous walkers, there is nothing to aim for until a large cedar comes into sight - aim well to the left of this - and then, when you get to the brow of the hill, you should be able to spot a hedge gap as you descend into the "bottom". A waymark at the hedge gap with a Hertfordshire Way sign on the opposite side confirms you are on track. Here the route, still apparently unrestored, changes direction to go uphill (almost due N) slightly diagonally left from the hedge gap. Again there is nothing to aim for until reaching the brow of the hill when another hedge gap comes into view ahead. Cross a "Public Highway", go through the hedge gap and diagonally towards a power line pole where you turn right. At the fence turn left and in a few yards right down an enclosed path to the B651 opposite The Old Brewery in Whitwell (the core High Street is interesting but much else is new development).

(5) Turn right and in 100 yards or so turn left on a public footpath, signed as the Chiltern Way Extension. At R V Restorers turn left through a kissing gate, across pasture, over the River Mimram, through a second kissing gate, over a track and then up an enclosed path which takes you to the drive leading to The Bury, birthplace of the late Queen Mother. The enclosed path goes between paddocks belonging to a rare breeds farm so look out for unusual breeds: the view of The Bury is surprisingly unrestricted. When you reach the drive to The Bury, it is tempting to cross over and continue through the open gate and along the clear track opposite, but this goes into the private parkland. Instead turn right down the tarmac drive (the left hand one of the two) and follow it until it turns sharp right. Here go straight on a gravel drive past a house with ornate windows, ignore a track forking right, and soon arrive back at St Paul's Waldon church(D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 443ft
1 : mi 1.35 - alt. 335ft - Turn left
2 : mi 2.81 - alt. 472ft - Turn left
3 : mi 4.5 - alt. 400ft - Cuckolds Cross
4 : mi 4.78 - alt. 381ft - Turn left
5 : mi 5.96 - alt. 305ft - Turn right
D/A : mi 6.86 - alt. 440ft

Useful Information

There are pubs in St Paul's Walden and Whitwell. At times when footpaths have been ploughed and not restored a compass may be useful, but is by no means essential.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.67/5
Number of opinions : 3
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 4.33/5
Walk interest : 4.67/5

on Tue 19 May 2020 06:23:40 CEST

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 18/05/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Average
Walk interest : Very good

We were very impressed with this walk
The description was spot on and easy to follow
Beautiful scenery and so much of interest
Thank you

on Sun 26 May 2019 14:21:17 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 26/05/19
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Excellent! Hertfordshire at its very best!
We enjoyed it so much! thanks very much for sharing this walk.

on Mon 07 May 2018 09:31:38 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 07/05/18
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Good

We did this walk on a beautiful sunny early May day and would definitely do it again. After heavy rainfall I would think this would be a very muddy walk but it was totally dry underfoot which was great. The scenery is beautiful and it is a lovely area of countryside. Very pretty. Would recommend.

Other walks in the area

distance 6.21mi Vertical gain +217ft Vertical drop -240ft Durée 3h05 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Harpenden - Hertfordshire

A pleasant walk from Harpenden Common down to Redbournbury Mill, along the River Ver and then up to Childwickbury Manor and back to Harpenden.

distance 4.98mi Vertical gain +407ft Vertical drop -417ft Durée 2h40 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Hexton - Hertfordshire

Starting from Hexton this walk on the borders of Befordshire and Hertfordshire includes the attractive downland between Telegraph and Deacon Hills and a section of the Icknield Way.

distance 11.76mi Vertical gain +610ft Vertical drop -623ft Durée 5h55 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Hexton - Hertfordshire

The northern end of the Chilterns almost seem to be a geological afterthought as they straddle the Bedfordshire Hertfordshire border. Starting from Hexton this walk offers mile after mile of beautiful countryside with the hilltops steeped in ancient history.

distance 11mi Vertical gain +525ft Vertical drop -538ft Durée 5h30 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Hexton - Hertfordshire

Starting from Hexton this walk on the borders of Befordshire and Hertfordshire offers mile after mile of beautiful countryside with the hilltops steeped in ancient history. The route includes sections of the Icknield and John Bunyan Ways.

distance 6.37mi Vertical gain +128ft Vertical drop -128ft Durée 3h00 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Aspenden - Hertfordshire

A pleasant circular Hertfordshire walk starting from the village of Aspenden near Buntingford. The route featues an abandoned village, a Roman Road and a moated house. Aspenden has pub for those requiring refreshment at the end of the walk.

Great Gaddesden from Jockey End
distance 5.13mi Vertical gain +226ft Vertical drop -240ft Durée 2h35 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Great Gaddesden - Hertfordshire

This short Hertfordshire walk explores the pleasant countryside to the south east of Jockey End and follows the Hertfordshire Way to descend into the Gade Valley and the village of Great Gaddesden. The return route leaves the valley following the Chiltern Way for the return to the start.

distance 6.45mi Vertical gain +305ft Vertical drop -315ft Durée 3h15 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Great Gaddesden - Hertfordshire

This walk is over the undulating plateau of the Chiltern dip slope, through the parklands of some of the 18th Century mansions which dot the Chilterns. Although the land is now more given over to arable agriculture, the landscape is still greatly influenced by the great designers, including Capability Brown. A walk with great views over the Gade valley and a revelation of the life style of baronets and local squires in the 1700s and the lesser houses of their tenants.

distance 7.29mi Vertical gain +515ft Vertical drop -528ft Durée 3h50 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Great Gaddesden - Hertfordshire

This walk explores some of the hamlets of the Chilterns which, although close to Hemel Hempstead retain their remoteness in their quiet locations. It goes over the typical chalk uplands of the Gade valley and up to the beechwoods of the National Trust Ashridge estate. It passes charming 17th century cottages, a vineyard, a Buddhist Temple and long established churches. The country truly merits its AONB designation.

For more walks, use our search engine.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.