First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
St Andrew’s Church stood alone in its green ‘God’s Acre’, well away from the traffic in Much Hadham’s high street. The stone heads of king and queen that guarded the south door were blurred and disfigured by centuries of weathering. But they provided the inspiration for the modernistic, pouting faces under regal crowns on either side of the west doorway, carved by local resident and world-acclaimed monumental sculptor, Henry Moore.
More humours and expressive stone carving enhanced the interior, monarchical and knightly figures crammed up and contorted like playing card royalty. The stained glass of the west tower window, created by Patrick Reyntiens, showed a bleak black winter tree against a sky glowing with exterior light. As we left to start our walk, the text over the door admonished us, ‘Go and Sin no More’.
Our way rose smoothly from the valley of the River Ash, up through meadows still sweating off the morning dew. The distinct rumble of a Stansted-bound jet formed a backdrop to the insistent trilling of a robin from a blackthorn bush. On the path lay lime-green fruit casings like little paper chestnut trees, fallen from a wych elm in the hedge.
Near Green Tye, a big green dome stood in the fields like a Hollywood spacecraft – an anaerobic digester producing eco-electricity for Guy and Wright’s tomato farm. Beyond the hamlet we walked the curvilinear margins of huge fields ploughed a foot deep, the furrows speckled with flints, and with pebbles rounded by an ancient river long vanished.
At Perry Green stood the old white-faced farmhouse of Hoglands, sculptor Henry Moore’s home from 1940 for nearly fifty years, now the centre of the Henry Moore Foundation. The excited chatter of visiting children came from the grounds.
In a sheep pasture beyond the house stood a bronze sculpture, a hollow cloaked figure embracing a child, tall and calm in its stance, beside a lily pond. A mound like a Bronze Age burial barrow in the neighbouring field held a recumbent female form, all curves and arches, its highly polished bronze mirroring the afternoon sun. Echoes of these shapes in nature were reflected in the sinewy limbs of hornbeams in the woods along the homeward path beside the river.
How hard is it? 6¼ miles; easy; well-marked paths
Start: High Street, Much Hadham, SG10 6BU (OS ref TL 428193)
Getting there: Bus 351 (Hertford-Bishop’s Stortford)
Road: Much Hadham is on B1004, signed from A120 (Bishop’s Stortford–Puckeridge)
Walk (OS Explorer 194): Opposite Bull Hotel, down Oudle Lane to church (430197). Back along Oudle Lane; at corner by Two Bridges, through gate (429193, ‘Hertfordshire Way’)/HW, ‘Stansted Hill’); fork left. In 200m left uphill (430191, kissing gates/KG, yellow arrow/YA). Dogleg left/right across Hill Farm drive (433191, YAs) and on. In 600m cross Danebridge Road (437190) and on (‘Green Tye’). In 100m, left (‘footpath’); follow HW black arrows. Before domes, fork right (441188) across footbridge. In 300m at arrow post, left (440185) to road in Green Tye (441184). Left; at Prince of Wales PH, right (444184) down lane. At thatched house, ahead. Follow HW to Perry Green opposite Hoglands (439175). Left along road; in 50m, right (‘footpath 32’); ahead to road (434170). Right (fingerpost) past sculpture; cross field; through hedge (433171). In rough pasture, half right at YA post to fence (432172); then half left across pasture to KG/YA (429170). Down to valley; right on HW to Much Hadham.
Lunch: Hoops Inn, Perry Green SG10 6EF (01279-843568, hoops-inn.co.uk)
Accommodation: Tarras B&B, Ware GH11 2DY (07476-686061)