Pegsdon Hills

Pegsdon Hills

SWC Walk 234 Hitchin Circular

27-Jun-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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View from Hitchin Hill to Charlton

View from Hitchin Hill to Charlton

SWC Walk 234 Hitchin Circular

27-Jun-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Two walkers on the alternative descent-route

Two walkers on the alternative descent-route

SWC Walk 234 Hitchin Circular

27-Jun-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Hitchin Waterfall (the millstream overflow)

Hitchin Waterfall (the millstream overflow)

SWC Walk 234 Hitchin Circular

27-Jun-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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St. Mary's, Hitchin in dusk

St. Mary's, Hitchin in dusk

SWC Walk 234 Hitchin Circular

27-Jun-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sweeping fields of cereal and poppies

Sweeping fields of cereal and poppies

along the Chiltern Way

27-Jun-15 • magyardave2002 on Flickr

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This way

This way

Chiltern way

27-Jun-15 • magyardave2002 on Flickr

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Hitchin Circular walk

Grassy lanes and woods across the most north easterly Chilterns ridge to Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe. A motte-and-double bailey and an abandoned medieval village, alder and willow woodland, Oughton (chalk river), Hitchin’s old town with Tudor and Georgian buildings

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 24-Jun-17 13

Saturday Walk - Beds and Herts Downlands: Hitchin Circular or to Harlington (Pegsdon and Barton Hills) [SWC 234] & [SWC 229]

SWC 234 – 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.
Lunch: The Live and Let Live Country Inn in Pegsdon (13.7 km/8.5 mi, food to ) or The Motte & Bailey (food all day) or The Fox (food to 15.00), both in Pirton (17.0 km/10.6 mi into the main walk, 14.4 km if taking Shortcut I). If finishing in Harlington, there is also The Raven of Hexton (15.9 km/9.9 mi, food all day).
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, photos or gpx/kml files: click here.t=swc.234
For the Harlington Ending you’ll find all necessary stuff here.
I should be there let's hope the sun is still shining!
13 overcast clearing to sunny and hot

The weather turned out much better than forecast (resulting in sun burn for some) and 13 enjoyed a fine day out in the countryside near Hitchin. This a particularly lovely walk just 30 minutes from Kings Cross and with a sub £9 return ticket if you have a railcard.

About 9 picknicked up on Pegsdon Hills (a particularly fine picnic spot) looking down a steep slope over the Bedforshire plain. The rest took lunch at The Live and Let Live. After lunch, the walk writer explored the link to another walk finishing in Harlington, but everyone else continued on the circular walk back to Hitchin. Anyone who had done the walk before couldn't resist the route back as it meant a chance to stop at Oughtonhead Farm Garden Gate Tea Room. A delightful place to stop for tea: homemade lovely cakes, tea served in vintage china, with seating outside in a lovely garden.

The walk is simply lovely, maybe especially so at this time of the year. Fields of crops in various shades of green, some beginning to turn golden, gentle hills, footpaths through fields clearly marked, dramatic views from up on the Pegsdon Hills, a pleasant nature reserve on the outskirts of the town and a fine tea stop. Hitchin itself offers plenty of watering holes and 3 of us enjoyed a drink or two at the CAMRA endorsed Half Moon pub. Back to London on the 18:30 train.
Sun, 03-Jul-16 16

Sunday Walk 2: Hitchin Circular

Hitchin Circular SWC walk 234
25.7, 21.3, 18.8 km (16, 14.5 or 13 miles)
Toughness, 7, 6 or 5/10
The full morning route leads to the Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe, and a lunch stop with stunning views. Afterwards the ancient Icknield Way leads to the pretty village of Pirton, with its remains of a motte-and- bailey and abandoned medieval village. Then through the fen woodland of Oughtonhead Common, and finally Hitchin’s old town, which still echos its medieval past.
The 16 mile walk is strenuous and sounds like one for the hardnuts but there’s still plenty to interest the rest of us. It's possible to miss out a few hills and whittle the length down to 14.5 or 13 miles thanks to two shortcuts. Last year, Mr Tiger himself managed the 14.5 mile version, no bother.
Trains
Get the 9:52 Cambridge train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 9:58) arriving Hitchin at 10:22.
Return at xx:58, xx:30 or on the slower xx:34. Get a return to Hitchin.
Lunch:
For the full walk, The Live and Let Live, Pegsdon, (01582 881 739), is recommended. It is 13.7 km (8.5 miles) into the walk.
The pub recommended for those taking shortcut 1 is the the Motte & Bailey (01462 712 730) in Pirton after 9 miles.
If these seem too far, there are earlier pubs in Great Offley, The Red Lion and The Green Man after 4.2 and 5.6 miles.
Tea
The Garden Gate Tea Room at Oughtonhead Farm (07969 621 223) is recommended, usually open till 16.00 in summer. A charming facility 3.8 km (2.4 miles) from the end of the main walk.
No shortage of places in Hitchin – see notes - The Half Moon, 57 Queen Street (01462 452 448), twice voted CAMRA’s Herts Pub of the Year, is specially recommended.
Walk Directions here
A shortcut around lunch reduces the length of the walk by 2.4 km. Another near the end reduces the length by 2.5 km. Taking either of these reduces the effort to 6/10, taking both makes it a 5/10.
T=swc.234
Keen to do this walk, anyone else?
going
we will be joining at finsbury park. looking forward to it.
16 on this walk with 1 making an early start and doing the "Letchworth variation". The weather warm with sunny periods and a light breeze.
This superb stile free outing in the rolling, verdant Hertfordshire countryside provided all with a splendid day out. Just before lunch you have some spectacular hill top views which provides ideal picnic opportunities before descending to the lunch time pub the Live and let Live. The pub was not very full but some still had to wait awhile for food, The picnickers, keen to get to the fabled Garden Gate Tea Room, set off early and by maintaining a steady pace reached the tea rooms in good time and were not disappointed. Tea in proper china cups (little fingers appropriately cocked)and cakes to die for were enjoyed by about 10 of us some pub lunchers arrived with a few minutes to spare. Definitely a highlight and not to be missed. Although quite a long walk the easy trails, lanes and tracks means you can keep up a good pace without feeling unduly stressed. Some of us did a small circuit of Hitchen not covered in the gpx file before catching fast train back to London. A superb day out with most opting for the full walk. The 9.22 train may be a better bet and gives you more time to reach the tea room.
Worth adding that this walk was dry underfoot, despite plenty of heavy rain in the last month. I put this down to the many fields of crops, drinking the ground dry. This was a good time of year to do this walk. The many fields might be dull in colder months and you'd miss the butterflies and wild orchids on Pegsdon Hill.
Sat, 27-Jun-15 13

Saturday Second Walk – The North Easterly End of The Chilterns

A hilly walk in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire borders, half an hour from Central London, for less than a tenner (with a Railcard)

SWC Walk 234 – Hitchin Circular

Length: 25.7 km (16.0 mi) [with shortcuts: 20.8 km (13.0 mi)]
Ascent/descent: 394 m
Toughness: 7 out of 10

9.22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (9.28 Finsbury Park), arriving Hitchin at 9.55

Return trains are four per hour until very late, the fast ones are departing on XX.00 and XX.30

First regular posting of this new walk, which was walk-checked to general acclaim last autumn.

It covers the hilly area west of Hitchin, on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire borders, features two notable climbs over the most north easterly Chilterns ridges, and is centred around the steep chalk downlands of Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe Nature Reserves. Most scenic is the descent through Pegsdon Hills to lunch at The Live and Let Live Country Inn in Pegsdon (13.7 km/8.5 mi into the walk), from whose garden you have stunning views back to the surrounding hills. Before and after that the route follows mostly grassy lanes or the ancient Icknield Way, when it doesn't meander through a few woods.

The Motte & Bailey Village Inn in the pretty village of Pirton is an option for a mid-afternoon break, before another stretch along the Icknield Way leads to the outskirts of Hitchin. On the way Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve – a mature alder and willow fen woodland – is passed through, where the route follows the Oughton chalk river to its wellhead. From there it is only a few minutes to one of the cutest and quirkiest tea stops: Oughtonhead Farm Garden Gate Tea Room, 3.8 km from the end of the walk.

After a short ascent to Hitchin's fringes the finish leads down through its old town, which has kept its medieval market town feel and features many fine Tudor andGeorgian buildings, as well as more pleasant tea and dining options (one of the reasons why Hitchin was voted the 9th best town in the UK in which to live in a 2013 poll in The Times). From there just one more short and sharp ascent through a small park lies between you and the station.

For walk directions click here.
For a map click here.
For a gpx or a kml file click here.
To leave feedback after the walk click here.
Intend going.
Intend going. (Quo vadis?)
Two girls have every intention of coming along. One promises to keep up, follow the instructions, leave the flowers alone and be good.
I fully intend going and having looked closely at the spider's web of walk directions, the OS map and the GPX downloaded route have some observations:
1. From the station keep EAST, then 2. keep SOUTH until choices of routes at a. Luton Road and later at b. 4 way bridleway junction.
After lunch at Pegsdon (ETA 1pm?) follow line of least resistance back to Hitchin in need of tea and a lie down in a quiet room.
I may do the shorter version (still 13 miles) leaving an hour later.
I'm just wondering if anyone interested in doing this walk on Sunday as I can't make it Saturday.
13 largely sunny Nice walk for summer with sweeping views. Dry underfoot. One took the early shortcut, missing the hills, but finding a few orchids. At least one took the later shortcut. The garden gate tea stop was a good 'un with big pots of tea and homemade cake and as an added bonus, we got presented with the days leftover cake. It was a hot day and on arrival in Hitchin a massive hydration exercise was undertaken in the Half Moon (Camra Herts pub of the year). Later, some who were still suffering hydration problems had to move on the Bricklayers. Others, made of sterner stuff, headed for home.
Glorious day with great views over the hills and into valleys. Very lucky with the weather which was sunny but with a slight breeze. iIt was one continues celebration of Paul's birthday who must now at least feel two years older. Amazingly, and totally in defiance of normal SWC outings, the group stayed together even after an unprecedented hold up at the lunchtime pub which kept losing orders behind the bar. The service at the tearoom however made more than up for it, see Ian's comment, which not only stayed open for late, slowish after lunch walkers like myself, but had still plenty of cakes to give away. The whole day was a complete treat.
I really liked this walk. The countryside was very lovely; I must have counted at least 50 shades of green over the course of the day.

I was one of the unfortunate souls whose lunch order got lost somewhere between the bar and the kitchen, but journalistic objectivity compels me to report that the lunches that arrived on time looked really, really good and everyone else was happy. (To add insult to injury, when my food eventually arrived, it turned out that I'd ordered poorly.)

The walk was long, but not tough. The most exerting part of the day was when the pace really picked up so that we could reach the tea stop in time. But the rush was worth it. The nicest tea stop I've had the pleasure of visiting on a Saturday Walk. Nice people, great cake, gorgeous setting.
Sat, 25-Oct-14 10 Hitchin Circular