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A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St Albans

St Alban’s is first recorded as a Celtic British Iron Age settlement, known as Verlamion.  After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, it grew into Verlamium, the third largest town in Roman Britain.

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Today I’m going to take you on a short walk (2.38 km) alongside the Roman wall, past a Roman gate, around a lake, up to the Abbey and into town.  The route starts on King Harry Lane: there’s a well-signed footpath more or less opposite the Waitrose store.  Turn in here, over a small footbridge and there is the wall, which was built between AD 265 and 270.

Follow the gentle downhill footpath and admire this substantial stretch of wall.  Be sure to look ahead too, to take in the first views of the Abbey.  I made this walk in the middle of March, so there are clear views through the leafless branches, and still a fair number of snowdrops afoot.

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As you approach the park, the Wall ends but there are very clear remains of the London Gate on the floor to your left: the towers and entrance ways can be easily identified.  If you fancy knowing more, there is a model of the gate in the local museum.

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London Gate,  St Albans,  March 2016

Just to the left here are my favourite four trees and we’ll take the path past them and straight down to the lake.  There is another great portion of the Wall to our left, but you can’t get close at the moment as they are doing conservation work on it.

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The four trees from behind

And from in front:

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We’ll turn left and do a figure of eight walk around the attractive lake.  Verulamium Park opened in 1929 and this lake was added in the 1930s, partly to provide employment for the local men during the depression.  When building the lake, they found remains of a Roman cemetery, but we do know that there has been water in this area previously.  There was a fish pond here in Saxon times and it gets a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Now, it makes a very enjoyable walk, with plenty of waterfowl as company.

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Camera shy!

If you’re lucky you’ll spot some of the grey herons that come to the park every spring to nest.  They have been visiting since 1990, and their nests can be seen clearly on the small island in the lake.  Do bring binoculars if you want a good view of them.

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Herons nesting in Verulamium Park,  March 2016

After the lake tour, we will turn left towards the very old pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, turn right in front of the pub and then turn left uphill to the Abbey.

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I’ll take you inside another time, so for now we’ll turn right, around the Abbey and up a little alley right into town, opposite the Clock Tower.  There’s a Starbucks just to your right if you’re in need of a coffee, and there are plenty of other cafes in town.  I’ll leave you here to wander as you like, while I do a spot of shopping.

If you choose to do the return walk late in the afternoon you may be treated to a gorgeous view.

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And a little add on here for Cardinal Guzman’s seasonal challenge: to keep track of the four trees from month to month, here is a slide show:

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aDSC_0636_ppCopyright Debbie Smyth, 21 March 2016



Linked to Monday Walks and Garden Photography


23 replies »

  1. Fun post. Have you read the mystery novels by Ruth Downie set it Roman Britannia? They feature a 2nd century Roman doctor and and at least one is set in Verulamium. The first one is called Medicus (at least in the US) I just finished rereading all six of them. Great books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marie No, I haven’t, but now will! I just finished a more modern one set in St Albans – set during World war II – Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans. I recommend it

      Any photography holidays this year for you? Tempted by Anthony’s Cuba? I am – can’t wait!!

      On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 8:36 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:



      • Hey. Actually, I am doing is April class in Venice, then onto Vienna and Budapest. Wish I was doing the Cuba one, too. I think it is full. It is getting easier for Americans to get into Cuba.


    • Gosh, it’s hard to get over here. Looks like Kindle copy for me. New paperbacks are being sold by independent sellers on Amazon for around £40.

      On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 8:36 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:



      • I have actually listened to them all as audio books. The narrator is incredible. The 7th one is coming out in June. The British versions have different titles. She is from Devon.


  2. I’ve been to St Albans many times to enjoy its Roman connections, but haven’t visited the wall or the remains of the London Gate. I’ve concentrated on the museum, the amphitheatre and the building with the mosaic in it.
    I love those trees!


    • The three bits you’ve concentrated on are all excellent. The mosaic is my favourite I think. I come past the wall and old gate regularly as I live on that side of town and often walk in.

      On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:21 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:



  3. Lovely duck shot, Debs! 🙂 St. Albans reminds me a little of Norwich but I had no idea it was so important in Roman times. Thought I recognised those trees. 🙂 🙂 Thanks for the link!


    • I don’t think it promotes itself as a tourist location. It has amazing remains and is only 20 minutes from London by train. I’ve only been living here 18 months and I’ve been slow to discover everything. Having to walk everywhere post op has been a good way of seeing things!

      On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:14 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:



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