There’s only one National Trust property that’s anywhere near me in central Hertfordshire, and that’s Shaw’s Corner, the country home of playwright George Bernard Shaw. It might be relatively close, but there’s no public transport to the door – the nearest bus routes all pass about 2 km away and so the last stretch involves a walk along footpaths. Before setting out on this adventure, some research was required – I used my local Ordnance Survey map to plan the best walking routes from the bus stop and carefully checked the bus timetable as I knew the service would be patchy at best.
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I arranged to meet my mum and her friend at Shaw’s Corner for a tour of the house – this is a new feature this year and it sounded like a chance to learn something new about the house (having visited several times over the years). To see my review of the tour, read Shaw’s Corner – The Tour.
The bus that ventures near to Shaw’s Corner is the 44 service between Stevenage and Luton run by Centrebus. Stevenage and Luton mainline stations are within walking distance at each end of the route. The service is not very frequent – one bus travels back and forth, so the frequency is roughly every two hours Monday to Friday (with a longer gap while the driver takes a lunch break!) and there are only 4 buses a day from Stevenage and three from Luton (the services are even more limited on a Saturday and do not run on a Sunday). If timed well though, it’s doable!
I caught the 10.00 bus from Stevenage bus station, which arrived at Codicote Bottom at about 10.20. The fare for a return to Stevenage is £6.10. Centrebus do have an app, but you can’t get the right ticket on it and it’s not great for tracking services, so I wouldn’t bother with it. They also don’t take contactless payments on board, so make sure you have cash (preferably the correct change). At this point, I have a confession to make… My research had clearly not been thorough enough and I did not have enough cash on me to buy a return ticket – as I thought I’d be able to buy my ticket using contactless. With the only options being to buy a single (knowing my mum could rescue me on this occasion) or to miss the bus, I bought a single (£3.70). Obviously I wouldn’t have had this option if I had been further afield!
There is no bus stop marker at Codicote Bottom – Centrebus operate a Hail & Ride policy here, so the driver will stop if it’s safe to do so (hmm, sounds a bit iffy, I hear you say – read on to discover my preferred route for future visits!). I asked the driver nicely and he stopped right at the bottom of the hill for me.
Once off the bus at the corner I took the lane that turns left off the main road (which turns sharply right), signposted for Shaw’s Corner, and walked about 90 m along the road. When I reached the farmyard on the right, I took the footpath up the hill, waymarked ‘Hertfordshire Way’.
It was a lovely day and the views over the valley opened up as I went up the hill. A red kite flew over as I walked and I even had time to stop for a geocache. The path was well signposted – you follow the Hertfordshire Way all the way into the village of Ayot St Lawrence. It took me about 20 mins to walk to Shaw’s Corner from Codicote Bottom, so I was early for our 11 am tour.
To read about the tour and our visit, see this post.
After a wander around the garden at Shaw’s Corner, a very pleasant and leisurely lunch at the Brocket Arms in the village, and a quick visit to view St Lawrence’s church – the monumental, Palladian-style village church in the middle of a field – my mum gave me a lift back to Stevenage, from where I made my own way home.
Had I returned to Codicote Bottom, I’d have caught the 16.20 bus…. if the bus driver had stopped (I do have it on local authority that they do stop for people quite often).
My recommended route
As a local, who knows the area and the road well, I was happy enough with where I was going on the bus. For non-locals and anyone who doesn’t fancy taking their chances that the bus driver will stop on such an infrequently served route, the following is my recommended route:
The 44 continues on into the village of Kimpton (or if coming from Luton, you’ll reach Kimpton before Codicote), where there are actual bus stops outside the (former) White Horse pub.
Alight from the bus here and walk to the edge of village (from Stevenage, go back the way you’ve just come; from Luton, keep walking in the direction of travel of the bus) and take the turning up Ballslough Hill (no pavement). Near the top of the hill there’s a footpath off to the left. Follow this across the fields, through some woodland and into parkland.
This path comes out in the centre of Ayot St Lawrence, offering great views of the Palladian-style church. This route takes about the same amount of time as the walk from Codicote Bottom, but the path isn’t so wide and the weather might not be as nice (it certainly wasn’t when Mr NTbB and I tested it out!).
So, Shaw’s Corner can be reached by public transport if you plan carefully and don’t mind a bit of a walk. I’ve certainly learnt some valuable lessons about getting around by public transport from my experience too – and I’m glad I learnt them when I was near home and could ask my mum for help!
Please note: All information is correct at time of publication, but please do check – timetables and ticket prices are subject to regular changes.