Below are a selection of articles archived from the Friends of Hertfordshire Way newsletter
Origins: in 1995, as part of the Ramblers' Association's 60th anniversary celebrations, the Hertfordshire and North Middlesex Area organised a series of 12 linked walks. A few of the 60 or so walkers who completed the circuit were motivated to develop the route into a properly way-marked long-distance path. They formed an action group which researched and modified the original route, wrote and published a guidebook, and raised funds (primarily from local businesses) for way-marking the entire route with distinctive finger-posts and roundels. The action group became known as the Friends of The Hertfordshire Way. Although originally inspired by the RA, the Friends of The Hertfordshire Way is an autonomous group. It is now financed mainly by fund-raising activities of its membership, from its very modest subscriptions, from donations and from the sale of the guidebook.
1998 - July
Waymarking: thanks to the generosity and support of some of the county’s major companies, some non-profit-making organisations and the County Council, we have been able to buy enough waymark signs to mark out the entire route of the Hertfordshire Way. The choice of a logo for the waymark signs caused some debate amongst the Committee members. Although there was agreement that a hart would be appropriate, we had difficulty in choosing a representation that would be distinctive without looking too much like the animal on road traffic signs or the County Council’s own symbol. In the end we left matters largely in the hands of the firm which had undertaken to produce the signs for us, and the preferred design met with the approval of the County. Members of your Committee, together with some volunteer helpers, have already fixed the distinctive waymarks on roadside finger-posts along the route. The machines for tensioning and crimping the metal bands proved to be quite cumbersome to operate, and the job of fixing the signs took about 30 person-days (and caused minor bruises, strains and some very bad language). We have tried to put these signs on most of the existing footpath or bridleway signposts at places where the route crosses roads; however, some of the posts proved to be unsuitable (for example, some were very insecure) and in a few places we have fixed signs to lamp-posts. We still have a few signs in reserve to replace any that get vandalised, or to fill in places that we might have missed. A complete record of places where we have fixed the signs is being kept on file and a copy has been sent to the County.
1998 - December
The Opening Ceremony: the Hertfordshire Way was formally opened on 31st October, at a brief ceremony in Royston Parish Church. About 80 people were present in the church to hear a speech by the Chairman, in which he explained the circumstances which led to the creation of this long distance footpath and implored those present to preserve the County’s rights of way. Cllr. F. John Smith formally ‘opened’ the walk and the Rev. Leslie Harman gave a non-denominational blessing. A photographer from the Hertfordshire Mercury took a picture of a group of the main participants, which appeared in the paper for 6th November. Those attending the ceremony were then treated to sandwiches and home-made cakes. The ceremony itself had been preceded by an inaugural 5-mile walk along the Heath, led by David Allard. Some 28 brave souls (though not the Chairman, who felt it his duty to stay behind in the church to organise the refreshments) completed this walk in the pouring rain. For those who came from the south of the county, it was a good introduction to the chalky soil of northern Hertfordshire; we took quite a bit of it home on our boots.
1999 - June
Waymarking: early in the year we designed and purchased 1,000 distinctive green and white ‘Hertfordshire Way’ roundels. Then, with the help of a number of volunteers, we systematically waymarked almost the entire 166-mile route by fixing roundels to stiles, gates and posts. The roundels, together with the ‘Hertfordshire Way’ signposts that we placed at road intersections last summer, mark out the complete route and serve both to advertise the walk and to augment the instructions in the guidebook.
Shafford Farm Mill on the River Ver near
St Albans Leg 5 of the Hertfordshire Way