STOOP Walk 7. 6.0 miles.
This walk to the West of Stevenage is over land likely to be developed and for ever urbanised sometime soon. Look for the resting place of local historian, Reginald Hine, in the ruins of Minsden Chapel as you pass by, before you make the gentle climb back to Stevenage. There is one stile. You can follow your route on OS Explorer Map 193.
Stevenage to Link Path 6:
Note: About twenty minutes easy walking
From Stevenage Bus Station: Look for signs ‘To Trains’ and go over the footbridge, on through the station and turn right to walk straight down the ramp alongside the railway to the finger post pointing to the ‘Business Link’. Turn left into Argyle Way. Keep straight on, crossing over Fulton Close. Continue in this direction to steps and go under the underpass. Cross the cycleway and go through the opposite underpass. Turn right then left into Bessemer Drive and continue straight ahead, passing under the motorway to join the Link Path 6.
Turn right and follow the road round to leave the noise of the motorway behind you. You now continue up this road/track for ten minutes or so ignoring footpaths to right and left. Where the track goes downhill and curves to the left, carry straight on down a narrow path with the hedge to your left. This takes you through a patch of woodland, over a footbridge and across Dyes Lane. Continue on the signed Public Bridleway slightly on your right ahead. Cross over the footbridge and continue on the path to reach a farm building. Negotiate your way through the yard to emerge on to the road. (B656) (212232). Cross with very great care.
Turn right and follow this busy road for about 100 yards and then turn left into the unsigned byway. Follow this up the hill, eventually to emerge at a prefab bungalow, on your right (205229). Turn right here. Follow the metalled road round to the junction. Turn right and follow this tree-lined road for about half a mile. Where the road begins to go downhill and to bear round to the left be on the look out for finger posts on left and right. These mark the end of Link Path 6.
You now join STOOP (199234)
Turn right to follow the waymarked sign and continue on this path until it meets a broad farm track. Turn left and follow this track round until it bears to the right. At the bend you continue straight ahead, past a waymark post and over a stile to reach the next finger post. Bear left and walk on, passing between two large houses and follow the signed public bridleway ahead, steeply downhill. Bear right when it forks. Go on to meet the road, the B 651 (198241). Turn right on to it and walk on for about ten yards.
Choose a safe spot and cross with care to a Public Bridleway opposite. Turn right here and continue along a field edge for about 100 yards then bear diagonally across the field to the corner of a wood. Follow the path, keeping the wood to your left (do take note of the ruins of Minsden Chapel in the plantation to your left as you pass) and continue in the same direction across the open ground. Your route forks to the left of the hedge for a while. Then, with the hedge on your right, you follow down a sunken lane. This brings you to the walker-welcoming Royal Oak (199254).
With the pub behind you, turn right and walk back along the road on a well defined footpath for about 50 yards. Cross the road with very great care here, to a footpath opposite. This is signed Footpath 22 and points your clear route across the field to Almshoebury (207253).
At the farm, you leave STOOP Seven.
Link Path 7: Almshoebury to Stevenage (Symonds Green). 1.1 miles.
Turn into the farmyard and follow the footpath signs on the farm buildings, bearing right to leave on a clear track between barbed wire fences. Follow this track ahead until a broad field track crosses your path. Here, take the path diagonally across the field, bearing slightly left towards a line of trees. Go through the kissing gate and cross the field to the underpass under the A1 (M) (220251). Go through and continue straight ahead, between hedges. Bear right round a pond on your left to emerge opposite the Crooked Billet Pub 221250).
This marks the end of Link Path 7.
Symonds Green to Stevenage Bus Station:
With your back to the pub, take the road diagonally to the right across the green and ignoring the No-Through-Road Sign, walk down Symonds Green Lane to the junction with Eastbourne Avenue. You now have a choice whether to return to Stevenage by Link Bus or on foot.
1. Link Bus: SB 8 to Stevenage Bus Station
Turn left into Eastbourne Avenue, left again and round to the end. Just before the underpass turn right up the footpath ramp to the bus stop. The SB8 bus returns via Lister Hospital.
2. Or on foot to Stevenage: This adds about two more miles to the walk and takes about 40 minutes at an easy pace.
Stay on Symonds Green Lane, passing the Meadway Playing Field on your right. At the T-Junction bear left, downhill to reach Gunnels Wood Road. Turn right here and go under the underpass ahead. Turn left to pass under Gunnels Wood Road.
Cross the footpath/cycleway and walk straight on between industrial buildings, then bear right to meet Fairlands Way. Turn Left and follow the footpath cycleway route. Turn right under the next underpass, continue up the hill, turn left on to Argyle Way and continue straight ahead, passing Fulton Close on your right, until your get to the end and turn right and on the footpath ramp up to the station. Go through the station, and on over the footbridge to Stevenage Bus Station.