Visit Watton-at-Stone: Places to stay, things to do

Looking for a quiet weekend away in the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside? Nick Peers discovers the perfect retreat


Why go there?
Watton-at-Stone lies between Stevenage and Hertford, sitting on an old Roman road that forded the River Beane at the spot where the village subsequently established itself. Watton was mentioned in the Domesday Book, with references dating back to the mid-10th century. Today the oldest surviving building is the 15th century parish church, although a number of buildings dating from Tudor to Georgian times can be found in the village. If all you want is a quiet weekend away, you’ll find two walks within walking distance of the village: Watton Green is a fine example of ancient common land, and has been designated an important County Wildlife Site, while the Lammas gives you a variety of habitats along the back of the Beane itself. A sizeable number of Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves are just a short drive away, most found in a triangular area between the neighbouring towns of Hoddesdon, Hertford and Ware. The Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust has details of Balls Wood, Amwell Nature Reserve, Rye Mead – which is jointly run with the RSPB – and King’s Mead (look under Flagship Reserves), plus Hertford Heath (under Local Reserves). If it’s historical interest you’re after, sadly Hatfield House has just closed to the public for the winter, but you can head west through Welwyn to visit Shaw’s Corner, home to George Bernard Shaw for 40 years.
Where to stay
None of the pubs in Watton offer accommodation, so you’ll need to head south of out the village on the A602 towards Ware. Look out for a roundabout where you turn right on the B158 that will lead you to the hamlet of Chapmore End, where you’ll find Chapmore End Farm, which offers B&B from just £65 per couple (£50 single occupancy), plus easy access to the local pub, the Woodman, for no-nonsense bar food should you need it.
Where to eat
The George and Dragon might be the youngest public house in Watton – its 17th century building served a variety of purposes before settling on being a pub, but its award-winning food is presented a rich and varied menu with starters, mains and sweets to suit all budgets and tastes. All ingredients are freshly prepared and sourced locally where possible.
Tell us a local secret
Watton-at-Stone has proved a treasure trove for Iron Age artefacts – a collection of ancient armour and weaponry was discovered in the village in the mid-19th century, and since then the Aston Mirror was found between Watton and neighbouring village Aston. There’s also a tenuous connection to wizardry: Harry Potter star Rupert Grint was born and bred in the village.