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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.

Blog Archive

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Wednesday Walk - Bedfordshire Chalky Downlands: Leagrave to Harlington

Length: 23.1 km (14.4 mi) [for shorter options see below]
Ascent/Descent:   327/353m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours
Toughness:  5 out of 10 

Take the 10.04 Thameslink Brighton to Bedford service from St. Pancras (West Hampstead 10.11) [also stopping at East Croydon, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon], arriving Leagrave 10.44.
Return trains: 4-5 an hour. Buy a Harlington return.

The start to this walk in Central Bedfordshire with a long urban stretch may sound inauspicious, but most of that actually leads through meadows along the early beginnings of The Lea River. And the rewards are many and varied: far views from solitary North Chiltern hills, ancient woodlands, steep chalk escarpments, two of the largest Neolithic hill forts in the South East and an exceptionally fine and steep chalk down land: Barton Hills, as good as any other.
All this is linked by ancient track ways like the Icknield Way and the Chiltern Way and with rolling grassy fields and fine views up to the escarpments in the afternoon. The finish is in the tranquil hill top village of Harlington.
Shortcuts reduce the effort to 3 out of 10. One of them omits the Barton Hills downland and routes through the Sharpenhoe Clappers chalk escarpment instead, with fantastic views down into the plain. [see pdf for details]

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: The Raven of Hexton in Hexton (10.1 km/6.3 mi, food all day); or on Shortcut I The Chequers Inn in Streatley. For the options on Shortcut II see the pdf.
Tea:  The Olde Watermill in Barton-le-Clay (17.7 km/11.0 mi) and two pubs in Harlington (one may be shut for the afternoon…). T=swc.229


Marion said...

I'd like to do the shorter option with a quality pub lunch. if the weather looks reasonable. Any other takers?

Thomas G said...

n=10 in w=on-and-off-rain, about as much on as off, with very occasional sightings of that recently quite rare phenomenon: the sun.
Tis walk's strong sections are w/o doubt in the middle section of the walk: Warden and Galley Hills, the Icknield Way, Barton Hills with its steep downs and plenty of springs, and some fine-ish views of surrounding hills and hillfort sites. The rest is suburban river meadows (The Lea), residential roads and grassy field boundaries, some of which were quite muddy today.
Lunch was perfectly good for a large pub, and certainly quickly delivered. Not quick enough for the picnickers though, who sped on. Us lunchers then got split into fast and slow group when descending from the magnificent Barton Hills (quite a refreshing breeze on the top there), and the faster ones lept into The Olde Watermill compound (always a thrill: there are not many other spots with so many quirky and ridiculous shops in such a small space) for tea at their cafe, as it just started to chuck down for real (previous 'rain' was more drizzly than serious). Alas, the slower walkers overtook us while we were in there and we therefore finished last. 17.48 train.