Family Cycling towards Redbourn from Harpenden

Nickey Line Route

Start - At Harpenden, the Nickey Line route starts/ends just to the East of the town centre in a quiet residential area on Hollybush Lane by a mainline railway bridge marked with a Nickey Line sign.

There are no designated off-road cycle routes connecting from this end of the Nickey Line.

Ramp or Steps -You may wish to use the Ambrose Lane ramp (c. 200m short of the official end of the Nickey Line and a short distance away by road) to join/leave the Nickey Line, rather than the steep section of steps at the very end but before you go, do check out this impressively deep cutting with its tall trees.

Surface -The surface is coloured tarmac up to the Roundwood crossing, then fairly new crushed concrete before going to a long stretch of beaten earth and stones all the way to Redbourn Lane. You may encounter muddy sections here in wet periods.

Busy Section & Care Required – The Harpenden end is the busiest part of the Nickey Line with more than 1,000 uses per day logged at peak times from all types of users. Please follow the Nickey Line Users’ Code.

Railway Heritage - The Roundwood section has some of the most obvious rail heritage on display including Roundwood Halt platform and the old semaphore signal.

Approaching Redbourn – The route leaves the old Nickey Line to cross two legs of the large roundabout on Redbourn Lane and the B487 Redbourn Bypass. These crossings may be difficult for younger / inexperienced cyclists and other users - care is advised.


Eating - Harpenden town centre offers a range of coffee shops, eateries and pubs.

Adjacent and readily accessible to the Ambrose Lane ramp is the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) centre which has its own coffee shop that is open to the public.

Longer Rides - Harpenden offers a variety of longer cycle route opportunities, for example:

  • NCN 6 North to Luton and beyond or NCN 6 South to St Albans (from where routes run South-west to Watford or East to Hatfield/Welwyn Garden City)
  • Pick up NCN 57 again and go East towards Wheathampstead (where there is a gap in the off-road route) before joining the Ayot Greenway (also NCN 57) to Welwyn Garden City
  • Near Ayot Green NCN 12 (the Great North Way) runs North to Stevenage/Letchworth or South to Potters Bar and into North London
  • Beyond Welwyn Garden City NCN 61 runs to Hertford/Ware and Hoddesdon before joining up with NCN 1
  • There are numerous cross-country road routes North and North-east of Harpenden towards Letchworth and Stevenage.

Circular Rides - Outward from the Harpenden end of the Nickey Line, cyclists have the choice of a variety of circular rides (see Sustrans or HCC map links below for ideas).

Safety Points

The Nickey Line has a number of points where cyclists cross major or potentially busy roads and extra care is advised:

  • Hemel Hempstead: the A4147 Redbourn Road
  • Hemel Hempstead: Maylands industrial estate, a short on-road section between the recycling centre and the resumption of the off-road route
  • Redbourn: B487 Hemel Hempstead Road near the M1 underpass
  • Redbourn: Chequer Lane
  • Redbourn: access road to the travellers’ site off the A5183
  • Redbourn: Harpenden Lane/Redbourn Lane roundabout.

The M1 underpass for the Nickey Line near Redbourn is poorly lit and lights are recommended.

There are also a number of farm and business access routes crossing the Nickey Line. The Line also goes under a quite low bridge at Fletcher Way, Hemel Hempstead.

Useful Sites

Sustrans National Cycle Network Route Map – Scroll down to 'Open the National Cycle Network map’

Hertfordshire County Council Walking and cycling routes