Side Valley in Barton Hills

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The route up Warden Hill

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Galley Hill, from Warden Hill (II)

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Serrated Down, Barton Hills

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sharpenhoe Iron Age Hillfort Site, from near Harlington

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Lea, close to its source

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Warden Hill Summit

SWC Walk 229 Leagrave to Harlington

12-Oct-15 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Leagrave to Harlington walk

Meadows, solitary North Chiltern hills, ancient woodlands, steep chalk escarpments, 2 Neolithic hill forts, Barton Hills (chalk downs), and the hill top village of Harlington.

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
Wed, 04-Apr-18 10

Wednesday Walk - Bedfordshire Chalky Downlands: Leagrave to Harlington

Length: 23.1 km (14.4 mi) [for shorter options see below]
Ascent/Descent: 327/353m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours
Toughness: 5 out of 10
Take the 10.04 Thameslink Brighton to Bedford service from St. Pancras (West Hampstead 10.11) [also stopping at East Croydon, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon], arriving Leagrave 10.44.
Return trains: 4-5 an hour. Buy a Harlington return.
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 and 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. [see pdf for details]
For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: The Raven of Hexton in Hexton (10.1 km/6.3 mi, food all day); or on Shortcut I The Chequers Inn in Streatley. For the options on Shortcut II see the pdf.
Tea: The Olde Watermill in Barton-le-Clay (17.7 km/11.0 mi) and two pubs in Harlington (one may be shut for the afternoon…). T=swc.229
I'd like to do the shorter option with a quality pub lunch. if the weather looks reasonable. Any other takers?
10 in on and off rain, about as much on as off, with very occasional sightings of that recently quite rare phenomenon: the sun.
Tis walk's strong sections are w/o doubt in the middle section of the walk: Warden and Galley Hills, the Icknield Way, Barton Hills with its steep downs and plenty of springs, and some fine ish views of surrounding hills and hillfort sites. The rest is suburban river meadows (The Lea), residential roads and grassy field boundaries, some of which were quite muddy today.
Lunch was perfectly good for a large pub, and certainly quickly delivered. Not quick enough for the picnickers though, who sped on. Us lunchers then got split into fast and slow group when descending from the magnificent Barton Hills (quite a refreshing breeze on the top there), and the faster ones lept into The Olde Watermill compound (always a thrill: there are not many other spots with so many quirky and ridiculous shops in such a small space) for tea at their cafe, as it just started to chuck down for real (previous 'rain' was more drizzly than serious). Alas, the slower walkers overtook us while we were in there and we therefore finished last. 17.48 train.
Sat, 11-Feb-17 10

Saturday Walk - Leagrave to Harlington

SWC Walk 229 - Leagrave to Harlington
14.4 miles/23.1km

An exploration of the northern end of the Chilterns - chalk downs, ancient hill forts, woodlands and meadows.

You can cut this walk to 10.5 miles by taking a bus from Barton-le-Clay to Luton, the service runs roughly every hour.

Trains: Take the 9:24 Bedford service from London Blackfriars (9:34 St Pancras), arriving at Leagrave at 10:14. There are 4 trains an hour back from Harlington (xx08, xx24, xx38, xx54). Buy a return ticket to Harlington (Beds).

Lunch: The village of Hexton is 6.3 miles/10.1km into the walk - The Raven of Hexton (01582 881209) is the village pub, and The Lavender Tea Room also serves light lunches. After 10.5 miles or so you will reach Barton-le-Clay, a much larger place with a range of eating options.

Harlington has two traditional old pubs on Sundon Road - The Carpenters Arms and The Old Sun.

Click here for full walk details.

T=swc.229
Is anyone going on this walk tomorrow?
sure. barton hills: not to be missed. best downs north of the river
Absolutely glorious walk and views with a flutter of snow dusting the hills till lunch.
...so it was, wasn't it?...
8 (incl. 1 first timer) got off the posted train in snow flurries and temperatures just above zero. We quickly embarked on the urban bits to get out of Leagrave (=Luton North) and then up the first ascent of the day: Warden Hill, then on to Galley Hill. The pace was good, despite the snowy surface, and we reached Hexton just after noon, having just before been caught by 1 walker off a later train (deliberately chosen as it provided him with a better connection from his SE London home).
After a quick lunch at the ever efficient Raven, on we marched along grassy field boundaries to the star of the show: Barton Hills, truely stunning downs with a very steep and slippery ascent (by now temps had risen enough to turn any soil into gooey mud), its curving hillocks and great views from the top, with the highlight being as always the springs gushing out of the chalky hill flank.
Onwards through Barton le Clay, where we were all surprised to bump into walker number 10, leaving Pete's Place (a cafe), just as we passed it.
She had taken a train 45 minutes earlier, cheekily taken a taxi to get past the urban bits and then extended the walk to Pegsdon Hills (2nd best downs north of the river). The late starter had left us by then to pursue a different route from Barton Hills via Sharpenhoe Clappers, seeing that he "doesn't come out walking this far north very often, so might as well do two walks in one outing".
Fair enough. We met him again in the pub in Harlington.
A pleasant tea and cake stop was had at the cringe worthy assortment of bric a brac stores that is The Olde Watermill.
The rest of the route was a bit dreary today, admittedly, as the warmer temps meant that all the field boundaries were very muddy indeed. And that's what the rest of the route from Barton onwards is, basically: field boundaries (plus one large arable field, cue massive mud agglomerations on boots).
3 off to the pub, the rest straight to the station.
Sun, 13-Nov-16 11

Sunday Walk 1 – Views from the North Chiltern hills

Extra Walk 229 – Leagrave to Harlington (with Shortcut I)
Length: 17.3 km (10.7 miles). Toughness: 4/10

10:08 Bedford train from St Pancras (Kentish Town 10:12, West Hampstead Thameslink 10:17, etc), arriving Leagrave at 11:02. Buy a return to Harlington.

South Londoners can pick up this Thameslink train at East Croydon (09:34), Blackfriars (09:58), etc.

Trains back from Harlington (one stop further out on the same line) are half-hourly, at 20 & 50 minutes past.

When this walk was last posted on a Saturday a few off us spotted the magic word ‘shortcut’, caught a later train and enjoyed a leisurely walk while the main group were whizzing round the full course. Although apparently missing “the best part of the walk” (the Barton Hills) I wasn't disappointed with the splendid views which this variation offers, along the delightfully-named Sharpenhoe Clappers. I remember a good-value lunch pub in Streatley (after 9 km) and another nice pub in Harlington for refreshments at the end.

With sunset at 4:15pm there won't be enough time to do the full 23 km walk in daylight (unless you catch an earlier train). However, if you forget to break off from the main walk after 6 km then Shortcut II would come to your rescue later on.

You'll need to print the walk directions from this pdf document. T=swc.229.a
Nine off the train and we picked up another two who had caught different trains near the end so 11 in all. Weather sunny.
Nice walk with friendly lunch pub but the best is after lunch with excellent views from the Clappers. Route finding in the woods after lunch can be tricky with drifts of leaves often obscuring the paths before you tackle a steep stepped descent. (Perhaps a few too many route options given here?) Five of us had a drink in the excellent pub near the station before enjoying the almost "supermoon" in the cloudless sky. We met up with those who had gone for an earlier train after theirs had been taken out of service.
Sat, 18-Apr-15 9 Leagrave to Harlington
Sat, 24-May-14 4 Leagrave to Harlington