Length: 23.1 km (14.4 mi) [shorter options outlined below]
Ascent/Descent: 352/378m; Net Walking Time: 5 hours
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.
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.
: The Raven of Hexton
(10.1 km/6.3 mi, food all day), or – opposite – The Lavender Tea Rooms
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.
, height profile
, some photos, walk directions
and gpx/kml files