Tuesday 27th August 2013
7 miles approx
Toilets: Upstairs at platforms 1-4 at Watford Junction (change here for St Albans Abbey); large supermarket on Hatfield Road/Sutton Road (direct access from Alban Way); Three Horseshoes, Smallford; Hatfield Galleria shopping centre; two pubs near Hatfield Station (note: no toilets at Hatfield Station itself).
The Alban Way was the last of my walks along the five disused railway routes in Hertfordshire, having already done the Ebury Way, Nickey Line, Ayot Greenway and Cole Green Way. As with the others, this really was the type of walk that should be done in summer, as the route was largely shaded by trees. The whole path was paved, so I wore trainers instead of walking boots. Train services ended in 1968, the track was lifted in 1969, and different sections of the new Alban Way footpath were opened between 1985 – 1988.
At Watford Junction I made my way over to the isolated platform 11 to reach the single-track Abbey Line branch, which had a rural feel to it. Trains only go every 45 minutes, so check the timetable first.
After a few minutes of road walking, the Alban Way started in a corner of Cottonmill Lane. I soon had views out over some allotments and towards St Albans Abbey.
I passed this arch shortly before reaching the A1(M) motorway.
The path reached the Galleria shopping centre where I stopped for a quick break, before going down some steps outside to continue the walk. As it was late August, there were lots of people out picking blackberries, so I helped myself to a few.
As with most other disused railway walks, this wasn’t necessarily the most exciting walk in the world – they do get a bit samey after a while. However, it was a great way of getting some outdoor exercise while staying mainly in the shade.