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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, 19 March 2016

Saturday Third Walk – A varied walk in an unfashionable county

Extra Walk 231 – Flitwick Circular
Length: 24.4 km (15.2 miles), with shorter option (see below). Toughness: 5/10

09:34 Bedford train from St Pancras (or City Thameslink 09:27), arriving Flitwick at 10:23.

Short Walk / Late Start Option: 17.8 km (10.7 miles), 3/10. This has a much shorter morning so take the 10:48 Bedford train from St Pancras (or East Croydon 10:08, Blackfriars 10:38, etc), arriving Flitwick at 11:37.

Trains back are at 04, 20, 34 & 50 minutes past the hour to 19:20, then half-hourly. Before 19:00 the 20 & 50 past terminate at City Thameslink.

A flurry of new Bedfordshire walks made their débuts in 2014 but haven't had many SWC outings since. In fact this one hasn't even been posted on a Saturday yet, so here's your chance to see if it's been unjustly neglected. It looks like a nice mix of river valley, rolling fields and quiet villages on the way out (plus several interesting buildings), and the Greensand Ridge, Maulden Wood and Flitwick Moor on the way back.

To fit all this in the main walk is well up to its author's preferred length, but he's slipped up by inserting a substantial short cut in the first half of the walk. I've chosen a late train for this option with the idea that the late starters will seek out the preferred lunch pub on the main walk (the Stone Jug in Clophill, “popular with ramblers and dog-walkers”) and meet up with the main group. Food is only served to 2pm but both groups should be there by 1.30pm. At the end of the walk you might be too late for Flitwick's coffee shops but there are a couple of pubs near the station, one described as “the perfect place for a last drink before heading home”.

You'll need to print the directions from this pdf document.


Anonymous said...

Sounds very promising. Thanks for putting this on.

Thomas G said...


Thomas G said...

n=17 w=overcast-and-mostly-dry
7 walkers off the posted train for the full walk, one more descending the stairs to the platform to declare that there had been two other walkers off an earlier train, making it ten, and later 1 other overtaking the backmarkers, having missed the train through it departing from the Southbound platform at City Thameslink. The 2 early walkers were of the 'follow a line on a screen'-variety (one of them anyway), and took the wrong turn where the out- and back-route intersect, resulting in them walking the majority of the walk in reverse, to much hilarity (they will claim that it opens up Wrest Park as a tea venue, but that's just an attempt to camouflage their error, don't be deceived).
At the lunch pub we met 5 short walkers, incl. the walk poster, meaning we had both SWC-'ghost walkers' on this walk: the one that often disappears w/o trace after lunch, and the one that often appears w/o former trace at lunch.
Then there was the one sandwiching long walker that popped in to the pub to proclaim that 'Christine' had arrived and they would now move on independently. So if 'Christine' is a real person, that makes it 17. Else 16.
As for the walk: some early drizzle was barely perceptible but real. Overcast for the rest of the day. Sun? None. Mud? None.
The morning part admittedly has some indifferent parts (most of which are better in spring and summer) and plenty of tarmac (which is why it's the morning part, and not the afternoon), but everyone seemed in good spirit at lunch, which was cheap but tasty in a friendly family-run pub, The Stone Jug.
The afternoon part is more interesting, first along and through Maulden Wood, with some Chiltern Views and then through Flitwick Moor, which seemed to entrance everyone, incl. the SWC resident fungi-expert, who gave us backmarkers some interesting insights into what we could see pathside.
One more drink at The Crown. 18.20 train for the slowcoaches, 16.04 for the fastest ones, so I hear...

The Lady who took the right turn said...

Indeed the early birds caught tea and brownies and cut off, illegally I admit but then why change my lifelong habits, a boring triangle just before the glorious Wrest Park which was sadly closed due to a wedding. The hall and reception rooms are well worth visiting but the most splendid part is the glorious landscaped garden: full of sculpture and 'fake ruins', a deep bath etc. think Rome and you are almost there. And of course, don't ever forget the Cafe loaded with scrumptious cakes inclusive gluten free, which those who erroneously claim to have taken the right turn/route completely missed.

Remember, fellow walkers, there is no such thing in the SWC, or in life, as a right or a wrong route: as long as you are in the right company, have plenty to banter about, lovely vistas, loads of fresh air, no mud or rain IT IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT WAY TO GO. I for one had a splendid day.

Culture vulture with gps said...

I felt pleasantly surprised when I opened the travel supplement of The Guardian last Saturday which featured a large photo of one of the follies in the garden (to illustrate their offer of free English Heritage subscription if you join the Guardian). So one option would be to reverse the route, going clockwise instead, make it shorter by doing part of the shortcut and then going south-east via Silsoe to WP. You would need at least 1 to 1.5 hour to visit the 90 acres of wonderful gardens and house properly ( house 30 min is plenty and if not EH member expensive). Just an idea for the landscaped garden and follies lovers amongst the walkers.
Look at

I also noted that the Sunday walkers at Tonbridge were rescued by following a line on a handheld device. It's great if you have some walks stored up on the gps failing which you will have a map showing the paths provided you have the OS map on it. An old fashioned map also does wonders in case of cancelled trains, provided it covers the area of your station. Walking instructions on their own become suddenly quite worthless.
GPs: You can walk anytime, anywhere. What more could I desire!

PeteB said...

Taking a "wrong" turn on a SWC walk is not a mistake; its an adventure. (The philosophy of Nicholas Albery, our founder.)

Thomas G said...

right turn, wrong turn and N. Albery apart...
I'm not a big buyer of routing walks specifically to lead past stately homes, sculpture parks, NT/English Heritage properties etc. to enable visits, unless the best route leads past them anyway, for the simple reason that - in my experience - only a very few walkers are actually interested, unless there's a decent cafe involved and it's close to the finish (which WP wouldn't be): the only walk I can think of where more than a handful of people turned up and paid up (rather than walk past) was the first two times we posted a walk past the Henry Moore Sculpture Park... But correct me if I'm wrong.
So - in this case - as the pub comes much too early if walked clockwise, and as the shortcut taken by the 2 on Saturday is actually a Private track, not a footpath, the walk will stay as is.
Generally though, there's nothing stopping any of you from asking in the appropriate place (the 'Walk Requests' section of This Weeks' Walks) for a special routing of a walk to be posted as a garden/stately home/sculpture park/birdwatching/airshow/nostalgia train/folk festival/morris dancing etc. pp. outing, part map led or otherwise.
I'm sure you'll find a walk poster happy to post it if there is deemed to be sufficient interest (me, for one).

The Lady who took the right turn said...

What a relief to be in the good company of the great Nicholas. I am a great protagonist of adventures; life would be very dull without them and I am lucky enough to go on another one tomorrow, walking and camping in the desert.