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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, 2 February 2019

Saturday Walk - Hertfordshire Downlands (the easterly end of The Chilterns): Hitchin Circular

Length: 25.6 km (15.9 mi), Ascent/Descent: 348 m
[with shortcuts down to 20.8 km/12.9 mi, also has one bus dropout]
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours, Toughness: 7 out of 10

Take the 09.35 Ely train from King’s Cross (Finsbury Park [Piccadilly and Victoria Lines] 09.42, Stevenage 10.03), arrives Hitchin 10.08.
Return trains: xx.11, xx.41, xx.55.

This Hertfordshire walk covers the hilly area west of Hitchin. The morning route leads along farm tracks, field boundaries, shaded grassy lanes and through a few woods across the most north easterly ridge of The Chilterns, in Great Offley, to the steep chalk downlands of  Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe, dissected by quiet flat-bottomed valleys, which form the scenery around the lunch stop in Pegsdon, where the terraced pub garden provides stunning views overlooking the hills.
From Knocking Hoe the ancient Icknield Way leads to the pretty village of Pirton, with its impressive remains of a motte-and-double bailey and traces of an abandoned medieval village.
On the outskirts of Hitchin, Oughtonhead Common Local Nature Reserve is a mature alder and willow fen woodland, whose diversity of habitats is surprisingly large. From there the route follows the high-quality chalk river Oughton all the way to its wellhead. The final stretch leads past a very charming farm gate cafĂ© to Hitchin’s old town, which has kept its medieval market town feel and has many fine Tudor and Georgian buildings.
Pass St. Mary’s Church, the largest parish church in Hertfordshire and evidence of how Hitchin prospered from the wool trade, and brave a final steep ascent through a park to then re-trace part of the morning route back to the train station at the easterly end of town.
This is a stile-free walk.

Lunch: The Live and Let Live in Pegsdon (13.7 km/8.5 mi, food all day);
or The Motte & Bailey  in Pirton on the short walk (14.4 km/8.9 mi, food to 15.00).
Tea: plenty of options, see the pdf.

For walk directions, map, photos, height profile and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.234

1 comment:

Stargazer said...

After seeing growing amounts of snow cover on the train journey, n=7 eagerly emerged on the platform in Hitchin under w=bright-mostly-sunny-skies. As a Hitchin virgin, I was somewhat apprehensive about tackling this long walk in early February -- but it was a winter delight with good snow cover, particularly on the hills....Two opted for the short version, leaving 5 on the long-haul who had a rather leisurely (but educational) lunch or drinks at the quirky pub just below the escarpment with fine views back to the snow-capped hills. Once finished with lunch, we headed back up the hill with some nice afternoon views. The afternoon route is varied, including a nice section along a very clear chalk stream. Back in Hitchin at dusk, we did a circuit of the charming old town and church before enjoying some bevies in an old style pub with a wide selection of real ales and ultimately catching the 18:11... So, all in all, a really good winter outing....