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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The Lea, in Limbury Meads

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.

Updated: Wed, 23-Oct-19

Date # Post
Sun, 09-Jun-19 6

Sunday Walk: Leagrave to Harlington (shorter walk)

Leagrave to Harlington, via Sharpenhoe Clappers
Length: 17.3km (10.7 miles) Toughness: 3/10

This fine walk in central Bedfordshire starts near the source of the River Lea and runs through meadows, solitary hills, ancient woodlands, steep chalk escarpments and Neolithic hill forts to the hilltop village of Harlington.

Since today’s other walk is a lengthy one, I’m posting the shorter version of this walk, which omits the Barton Hills but goes instead through the Sharpenhoe Clappers chalk escarpment, with superb views over the plain below. Those with an urge to do the full walk (23.1km) can, of course, do so.

The only lunchtime pub on the Sharpenhoe Clappers route is The Chequers Inn (01582 882072) in the village of Streatley. As always on a Sunday, it’s advisable to ring ahead to reserve a table.

Trains:
10:19 Bedford train from St Pancras (West Hampstead 10:26), arriving at Leagrave at 11:01. Due to track works in central London today, northbound Thameslink trains are starting from St Pancras and are not serving London Bridge, Blackfriars, etc.

Return trains direct from Harlington to St Pancras are at xx:06 and xx:36. (journey time 48 minutes). Buy a Super Off-Peak Day Return to Harlington.

You can find further information and a link to the walk directions
here.

T=swc.229
5 got off the train and started the walk. Weather was nice and sunny, and we opted for the short walk. 4 went for lunch into Chequers Inn, 1 brought sandwiches and opted for the church courtyard.
At the end of the walk 4 of us stayed for a drink (and some very nice chocolate cheesecake) in The Carpenters Arms. At the station met another walker who missed the morning train, so 6 in total.
6 nice and sunny
Sat, 18-May-19 11

Saturday Walk - The Source of The River Lea and the magnificent Barton Hills: Leagrave to Harlington

Length: 23.1 km (14.4 mi) [shorter options outlined below]
Ascent/Descent: 352/378m; Net Walking Time: 5 hours
Toughness: 5/10
Take the Thameslink service to Bedford arriving Leagrave 10.31, this departs East Croydon 09.21, London Bridge 09.35, …, St. Pancras 09.51, West Hampstead 09.59.
Return trains from Harlington are on xx.04 and xx.34. Buy a Harlington (Bedfordshire) 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, 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.

Walk options:
Two – mutually exclusive – pre-lunch shortcuts reduce the length of the walk by 5.8 km and 57m ascent/descent, and by 6.5 km and 85m ascent/descent respectively.
Shortcut I cuts out Barton Hills, arguably the best part of the walk, and leads through the NT-owned Sharpenhoe Clappers Hills and through the Sharpenhoe Hill Fort site instead (this walk is rated 3/10).
Shortcut II halves the time spent in the Barton Hills (this walk is also rated 3/10).
There are several bus services from opposite the late lunch stops in Barton-Le-Clay to Luton, terminating at Galaxy Centre, close to Luton train station, which is closer to London on the same train line.
Lunch: The Raven of Hexton in Hexton (10.1 km/6.3 mi, food all day), or – opposite – The Lavender Tea Rooms.
Tea: Plenty of options en route in Barton-le-Clay, especially The Olde Watermill in the Dickensian Village, plus two pubs in Harlington. See the pdf for details.
For summary, map, height profile, some photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here.
T=swc.229
Most of the walkers had not done this one before so we added the diversion to The Source of the Lee, in the process getting more of an out and back than we had bargained for, as we tested a return on the other side of the young river, meaning a nice little detour through a wood and across two early Lee tributaries.
The 'urban' bit through Luton's suburbia was about to wear out the patience of one or other walker, when we reached the Warden and Galley Hill Nature Reserve and our first hill. The route along the ridges was pleasant as always with fine views, and with plenty of skylarks making themselves heard. Also further along, on the Icknield Way, through the woods and along the fields we were rarely without birdsong for the rest of the day.
Lunch at The Raven was a solid affair as always, the sandwichers joined us for a drink, the two first timers moved on before us and we belatedly proceeded along field boundaries to Barton, up the Barton Hills and back down to the springs and along the nascent stream. Everyone seemed to love it and we then turned left into the Olde Watermill 'Dickensian Village' cornucopia of strange shops for a tea outside its cafe by the (artificial) pond. Pushing on in the later stages, we got to Harlington just in time for the 18.04 train.
Plenty of colours out there at the moment, all shades of green in the foliage, bright new green in the half grown cereal fields swaying in the wind, still some yellow in the many rape oil seed fields (practically any sloping ground), many buttercups, swathes of cow parsley, blooming thorn bushes, dandelions and even a few (discoloured by now) bluebells. Early on we had 5 10 minutes of the finest drizzle, not enough to even bother with getting jackets out, later the clouds broke at times to let the sun through and provide for some fine cloudscapes.
9 off the train, incl. 1 first timer missing her delayed friend, who caught up at lunch. And then in the afternoon, on the path we found a pristine, dry, printed A4 page with pages 7 and 8 of the walk directions on the one side and a bank's letter on the reverse to a certain Mike Powell, Northampton, so the Sherlock Holmes in me deducts that our recently moved to Northampton SWCer was on the walk, but ahead of the group. 11 overcast later breaking with some sun
Well done Holmes! I got to Leagrave from the other direction a few minutes later, fully expecting to catch the group early on, but I guess you were exploring the source of the Lea! I enjoyed the Barton Hills, though I got a bit confused approaching Barton le Clay both times (second time probably alcohol induced) and near the finish. Only once did the sun come out properly, in the garden of the Raven.
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.

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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