|Length||23.1 km (14.4 mi), of which 5.4 km (3.4 mi) on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 352/378m. For a shorter walk, see Walk options. Time: 5 hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7 hours 45 minutes.|
|Toughness||5 out of 10|
|OS Maps||OS Landranger Map: 153 (Bedford & Huntingdon) and 166 (Luton & Hertford) OS Explorer Map: 193 (Luton & Stevenage). Leagrave station, map reference TL 061 241, is in a north westerly suburb of Luton, 121m above sea level. Harlington station, map reference TL 034 302, is 11 km north of Luton and 95m above sea level. Both are in Central Bedfordshire.|
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, by 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.
|Transport||Leagrave and Harlington stations are on the Brighton to Bedford-Thameslink line, stopping at East Croydon, London Bridge (or Elephant & Castle), Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St. Pancras International and West Hampstead Thameslink. Journey times from St. Pancras to Leagrave are between 34 and 41 minutes Mondays to Fridays (five trains per hour), 40 minutes Saturdays (one train every 15 minutes) and from 52 to 60 minutes Sundays (2 to 3 trains per hour). Harlington is one stop further along the line and journey times from there are from 43 to 50 minutes every day (up to 4 trains per hour). Buy a return ticket to Harlington (Beds).|
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Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk