4. Broxbourne to Cheshunt
Walks along the New River
By Nicholas Blatchley
Click on the thumbnails above for full-sized images
After crossing Station Road at Broxbourne, the path makes a slight diversion to the right across a corner of the large open space and meets the New River again just after the sluice-gate at the transformer station. Running right past the lovely parish church of St Augustine, it comes to the bridge taking Churchfields over the river. Just downstream from this are two more smaller bridges.
The route from here is a lane running right alongside the New River, with playing fields on one side. After reaching the Broxbourne Primary School, the lane becomes a footpath down to a disused bridge, beyond which the river opens out to accommodate an island before reaching the High Road.
The route from High Road, Broxbourne to Church Lane, Wormley, forms the only substantial diversion away from the river in Hertfordshire, although there are one or two in North London. It’s also by far the most confusing stretch; although signposted most of the way, the signs disappear at a couple of crucial points.
It’s necessary to cross the High Road and then turn left along it until you reach Cozens Lane West. A little way up here, the road crosses the river but, though a lane runs off beside it, this soon comes to a dead-end. Instead, follow the signs on up Cozens Lane West to the point where it turns into a footpath. There, although there’s no signpost, turn left along the side of a playing field, with a fence to your left. At the other end, go through a gap in the fence and follow the signs along a footpath, through a short stretch of lovely countryside, which will take you back to the river at the bridge from the end of St Laurence Drive. From there, it’s only a short walk along the right bank to Church Lane, Wormley.
The route is even more confusing if you’re heading upriver from Church Lane. Here, after you follow the sign away from the river, you’ll come to a fork — the righthand path will take you to the signposts and the playing field, which you cross with the fence on your right till you reach Cozens Lane West. Taking the lefthand path (as I did the first time) will take you on a very long walk around fields and a golf course to emerge at last back in Church Lane.
After crossing Church Lane, the path continues on the right bank of the river, with fields to the right and houses to the left. A foliage-covered derelict bridge has been replaced by a modern one.
After passing under the link road from Turnford to the A10, the river flows through the large new estate at Turnford. This is the new stretch, built by Robert Mylne with an aqueduct over a small valley to replace Myddelton’s original loop to the west.
Shortly after crossing Vancouver Road on the estate, the river reaches the bridge where the A10 crosses it. Here, the path on the right bank ends, and a narrow footpath separated from the road by a barrier leads across the river, down onto the opposite bank and then down an underpass beneath the road. Note that, if you’re walking upstream, this route isn’t obvious, and you may find yourself having to navigate your way through the estate back to the river.
A few yards back up the left bank is the Turnford Pumping Station, an impressive structure built in 1850, which contains an 1845 marine-type James Watt steam engine, although the working pump, which raises water from a depth of 1,010 feet, is electric and was installed in 1953. This building serves as the New River headquarters, and it’s around here that the old course of the river joined the present course.
After flowing between houses to the left and Cheshunt Park to the right, the river passes Brookfield Farm — once a nursery (my family knew the owners) but now the Borough of Broxbourne’s main retail park. This is only visible from the path in a couple of places, and the river eventually comes to Brookfield Lane.