The Hiz (chalk stream), Chilterns views, the Greensand Ridge, the ‘Cathedral of the Chilterns’ in Shillington, and remains of a bailey and an abandoned medieval village in Pirton, the Icknield Way past lavender farms, and a Garden City.
|| 25.4 km (15.8 mi), of which 6.8 km (4.3 mi) on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 200/156 m.
For a shorter walk, see below Walk options.
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes walking time. For the whole outing allow at least 8 hours.
||OS Landranger Map: 153 (Bedford & Huntingdon) and 166 (Luton & Hertford) OS Explorer Map: 193 (Luton & Stevenage). Arlesey station, map reference TL 190 378, is 8 km north of Hitchin, 39m above sea level and in Bedfordshire. Letchworth station, map reference TL 217 328, is 5 km north east of Hitchin, 84m above sea level and in Hertfordshire.
||5 out of 10
|| This long but not too challenging walk in the Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire borders leads straight from the platform into the wildlife-rich riverside meadows of the Hiz River, a meandering high quality chalk stream, followed for a few km. It then leads west along field boundaries and through RAF Henlow Camp to the linear hilltop village of Meppershall, past its manor house and a motte-and-double bailey. The following stretch offers far views south to the Chilterns and north to the Greensand Ridge, before heading to the imposing hilltop church in Shillington, dubbed the ‘Cathedral of the Chilterns’ by John Betjeman. After lunch green lanes lead to the pretty village of Pirton, with more impressive remains of a motte-and-double bailey and traces of an abandoned medieval village.
The Icknield Way leads you to one of the very few British lavender farms and then to the World’s first and Britain’s best Garden City: Letchworth.
||Arlesey station is on the London Kings Cross to Peterborough East Coast Main Line. Journey times are 35 or 49 minutes Mondays to Saturdays (two trains per hour), and 35 minutes on Sundays (hourly service). Letchworth Garden City is on the London Kings Cross to Cambridge Main Line, the first stop after branching off from the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin. Journey times are 35 to 51 minutes (at least two trains per hour). Buy a return to Letchworth Garden City. You may then have to buy a Hitchin-Arlesey ticket on board the train.