At the end of Gypsy Lane, Great Amwell, the council has signed a "Roadside verge path" along the Stanstead Road. I have walked a fair amount of road this year without pavement, but none which has official recognition in this way. It seems that the council's responsibility ends with the sign, since this verge is no wider, less overgrown, or in any way friendlier to the pedestrian than any other in the county, and though it is now relieved by the parallel A10, it's still busy enough that I'm glad to turn off.


Behind Leafy Oak Farm I take care to walk as close as I can to the field edge. Not because it harbours rare or interesting plants, nor do the cattle look particularly fierce, but because right here I cut---just---across the corner of this grid square. Cut in half by the bypass, without pedestrian through routes and uncomfortably situated in the debatable land between Hertford, Great Amwell and Ware, it is an important tick. Imagining the grid lines emerging from the hedge and meeting a few yards into the field, I pause at the appropriate spot. Maybe I am wrong. The cattle won't tell.


Rye Meads is an unwelcoming place for the square bagger. The New River Path and the River Lea towpath both cross it, separated by the railway, but without any side turnings for the whole distance across. The other option is the road walk from Rye House up to St James's, Stanstead Bury, and to drop down to Roydon Station. But I have covered over thirty kilometres today and cannot push any further. I pick up this square with a wiggle through a housing estate, and leave the others for another day.

The New River


I pass Roydon station at the end of a meandering walk some months later. There is a train back to London in a few minutes, but I cannot take it yet: as the evenings draw in, the two unvisited squares beyond Rye Meads are becoming more of a risk. In the faltering light I make a loop up to St. James's and look over the marshes where the Lea and Stort meet. I imagine them flooded, as would have been a regular feature when the church was built: once harnessed, the river proved the greater attraction and the village left St James' isolated on its knoll. The congregation being elsewhere through the godfearing Victorian age, there was never a need to replace the Georgian box pews, and they are now a rarity; but late autumn attracts few antiquarian visitors and today the church is locked and silent.