Length: 23.1 km (14.4 mi) [for shorter options see below]
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]
, walk directions
, height profile
and gpx/kml files
Tea: The Olde Watermill
(17.7 km/11.0 mi) and two pubs in Harlington (one may be shut for the afternoon…). T=swc.229