An ancient mill grinds flower. A market stall sells bread and cakes.
Down the valley a horse paddles in the river ford, while over the water meadows rare wild fowl roam free.
No, it’s not the Cotswolds: we’re only 20 minutes north of Watford, at Redbournbury Watermill.
A mill has probably been on the site since the 11th century, and from 1841 was held by the same family – the Hawkins – for almost the whole of the next 140 years. Ivy Hawkins -the “only lady miller in England” – ran the mill until her retirement in 1985 (aged 89), after which it was bought by the present owners. A fire in 1987 devastated the building, but most was saved and the mill restored. You can read the full history here.
We popped in on our way to St Albans. We found the tiny car park busier than expected, as many locals were dropping by to pick up their fresh breads (made with stoneground organic flour) and cakes from the stall outside.
Needless to say, we were more than happy to sample the produce!
We then ventured inside the mill. The four restored floors are full of working mill machinery, and you climb between them via steep ladders. It’s perfectly safe, as long as you’re careful, and our toddler was able to explore under our supervision.
Most of the key bits of machinery and equipment are well labelled, such as the sack hoist (above).
Once we’d looked around the mill we ventured outside. There’s a small garden in front next to the mill stream, and once you’re across it you can walk out through the wetland meadows.
The pathway around the back led to a ford – as we got there a couple of horses were trying (reluctantly!) to come across. We’ll definitely go back and do a longer walk around the Ver valley next time – and come back to the mill for our picnic cakes!