– Hitchin Circular, or
just to Pegsdon, and then combined with SWC 229
(Leagrave to Harlington)
[from Pegsdon follow the Bunyan Trail for an obvious link to Hexton, and on to Harlington, see route map linked below]
Length: 25.6 km (16.0 mi) [with shortcuts: 20.7 km (13.0 mi)] or 28.9 km (17.9 mi) to Harlington
Ascent/descent: 414 m or 476m to Harlington
Toughness: 7/10, or 8/10 to Harlington
9.22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (9.28 Finsbury Park), arriving Hitchin at 9.52.
Return trains: from Hitchin - four per hour until very late, the fast ones are departing on xx.00 and xx.30;
from Harlington (to St. Pancras and all other Thameslink stations) – also four per hour on xx.08, xx.25, xx.41 and xx.55.
Note: you will need two separate singles for the Harlington Ending (both Off-Peak tickets cost £12.70 each at full price).
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 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 café 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.
Hexton to Harlington: the amazing Barton Hills, possibly the most scenic Downs north of the Thames (close to London) with their hillside springs, then rolling fields to Harlington.
Tea: Oughtonhead Farm Garden Gate Tea Room
, one of the finest tea stops on any walk (3.8 km/2.4 mi from the end, open to 16.00 usually, call ahead if running late), and plenty of options in Hitchin
(see pdf). If finishing in Harlington
, there is also The Olde Watermill
(5.4 km from the end) and two pubs in Harlington.
For walk directions
, a route map
files: click here
For the Harlington Ending
you’ll find all necessary stuff here