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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saturday Second Walk – The North Easterly End of The Chilterns

A hilly walk in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire borders, half an hour from Central London, for less than a tenner (with a Railcard) 

SWC Walk 234  Hitchin Circular

Length: 25.7 km (16.0 mi) [with shortcuts: 20.8 km (13.0 mi)]
Ascent/descent: 394 m
Toughness: 7 out of 10

9.22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (9.28 Finsbury Park), arriving Hitchin at 9.55

Return trains are four per hour until very late, the fast ones are departing on XX.00 and XX.30

First regular posting of this new walk, which was walk-checked to general acclaim last autumn. 

It covers the hilly area west of Hitchin, on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire borders, features two notable climbs over the most north easterly Chilterns ridges, and is centred around the steep chalk downlands of Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe Nature Reserves. Most scenic is the descent through Pegsdon Hills to lunch at The Live and Let Live Country Inn in Pegsdon (13.7 km/8.5 mi into the walk), from whose garden you have stunning views back to the surrounding hills. Before and after that the route follows mostly grassy lanes or the ancient Icknield Way, when it doesn't meander through a few woods. 

The Motte & Bailey Village Inn in the pretty village of Pirton is an option for a mid-afternoon break, before another stretch along the Icknield Way leads to the outskirts of Hitchin. On the way Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve – a mature alder and willow fen woodland  is passed through, where the route follows the Oughton chalk river to its wellhead. From there it is only a few minutes to one of the cutest and quirkiest tea stops: Oughtonhead Farm Garden Gate Tea Room, 3.8 km from the end of the walk. 

After a short ascent to Hitchin's fringes the finish leads down through its old town, which has kept its medieval market town feel and features many fine Tudor andGeorgian buildings, as well as more pleasant tea and dining options (one of the reasons why Hitchin was voted the 9th best town in the UK in which to live in a 2013 poll in The Times). From there just one more short and sharp ascent through a small park lies between you and the station.

For walk directions click here.
For a map click here.
For a gpx or a kml file click here.
To leave feedback after the walk click here.

9 comments:

Thomas G said...

Intend going.

Paul A said...

Intend going. (Quo vadis?)

Anonymous said...

Two girls have every intention of coming along. One promises to keep up, follow the instructions, leave the flowers alone and be good.

DGA said...

I fully intend going and having looked closely at the spider's web of walk directions, the OS map and the GPX downloaded route have some observations:
1. From the station keep EAST, then 2. keep SOUTH until choices of routes at a. Luton Road and later at b. 4-way bridleway junction.
After lunch at Pegsdon (ETA 1pm?) follow line of least resistance back to Hitchin in need of tea and a lie down in a quiet room.

Anonymous said...

I may do the shorter version (still 13 miles) leaving an hour later.

Barbara Dobos said...

I'm just wondering if anyone interested in doing this walk on Sunday as I can't make it Saturday.

Ian T said...

N=13 w=largely_sunny Nice walk for summer with sweeping views. Dry underfoot. One took the early shortcut, missing the hills, but finding a few orchids. At least one took the later shortcut. The garden gate tea stop was a good 'un with big pots of tea and homemade cake and as an added bonus, we got presented with the days leftover cake. It was a hot day and on arrival in Hitchin a massive hydration exercise was undertaken in the Half Moon (Camra Herts pub of the year). Later, some who were still suffering hydration problems had to move on the Bricklayers. Others, made of sterner stuff, headed for home.

Pia said...

Glorious day with great views over the hills and into valleys. Very lucky with the weather which was sunny but with a slight breeze. iIt was one continues celebration of Paul's birthday who must now at least feel two years older. Amazingly, and totally in defiance of normal SWC outings, the group stayed together even after an unprecedented hold up at the lunchtime pub which kept losing orders behind the bar. The service at the tearoom however made more than up for it, see Ian's comment, which not only stayed open for late, slowish-after-lunch walkers like myself, but had still plenty of cakes to give away. The whole day was a complete treat.

Karen said...

I really liked this walk. The countryside was very lovely; I must have counted at least 50 shades of green over the course of the day.

I was one of the unfortunate souls whose lunch order got lost somewhere between the bar and the kitchen, but journalistic objectivity compels me to report that the lunches that arrived on time looked really, really good and everyone else was happy. (To add insult to injury, when my food eventually arrived, it turned out that I'd ordered poorly.)

The walk was long, but not tough. The most exerting part of the day was when the pace really picked up so that we could reach the tea stop in time. But the rush was worth it. The nicest tea stop I've had the pleasure of visiting on a Saturday Walk. Nice people, great cake, gorgeous setting.