Sandy to Biggleswade or Circular walk

Greensand Ridge Walk along grassy tracks, woodland trails, and 2 pretty villages with pubs - Northill and Old Warden

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 # Weather
Sun, 19-Jun-22 Sunday Walk – Sandy to Biggleswade 12 sunny cloudy dry
Wed, 04-Aug-21 Wednesday Walk: Sandy to Biggleswade 10 hot sunny
Sat, 06-Apr-19 Sandy to Biggleswade 3
Wed, 27-Dec-17 Wednesday Walk - Sandy to Biggleswade or Circular 8 wet start then dry with a bracing wind
Sun, 18-Jun-17 Beautiful Bedfordshire and the country's poshest bedsit! 2 very hot sunny
Sun, 09-Oct-16 A Bedfordshire ramble 12
Sun, 19-Jun-22
Sunday Walk – Sandy to Biggleswade
Extra Walk 264 – Sandy to Biggleswade

Length: 19.6 km (12.2 miles). Toughness: 3/10

10:12 Peterborough service from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:18), arriving Sandy at 10:58.

Trains back from Biggleswade to Kings X are hourly at xx:19. Buy a return to Sandy.

I haven't done this Bedfordshire walk myself but it's pleasingly described as a mix of grassy tracks and woodland trails; “no slogging through crops or over ploughed land”. There's just one gentle climb halfway round, so although it's not a short walk it doesn't look at all strenuous.

The walk passes through “two lovely villages, both with excellent pubs”: Northill after 5 km and Old Warden after 12 km. That means they're not ideally placed for a regulation lunch stop but you could opt for a two-stop strategy; perhaps a starter in one and dessert in the other, each washed down with something reviving. Biggleswade has a plentiful supply of watering-holes but it's becoming quite rare to find a café that's still open at the end of a Sunday walk, so you'll probably have to hang out in one of its pubs if you've got a long wait for the hourly train.

† Before anyone asks the walk document doesn't list any short cuts, but if you had a map you could try to follow the North Bedfordshire Heritage Trail south from Northill via Ickwell, intersecting the main route near Shuttleworth Aerodrome; that would reduce the walk to 12.2 km (7.6 miles).

You'll need to bring the directions from the L=swc.264

  • 11-Jun-22

    Sandy to Biggle sounds great. I will go to that one!

  • 20-Jun-22

    12 on a day that was w+sunny-cloudy-dry with a cool breeze to moderate. Early on, we had a choice between a broad path and a narrow riverside one festooned with nettles. Guess which one we took. And me with my bare arms as well.

    A little further on, a footpath was spotted that would have avoided the short stretch along the A1 (yes A1).

    Eventually, Northill was reached. The Crown was already busy at 12 and we decided not to eat there. However, this didnt stop us drinking there. Wey-hey!

    On and on we went, eventually reaching Old Warden. The church there is quite a sight. Even grumpy old Mr Tiger had to agree.The interior is stuffed with carvings - panels, pews, you name it. Nothing had been spared the chisel.

    And so to the Hare and Hounds, where a man had a parrot on his shoulder. Called Henry. Here people had a late lunch . Seemed OK. Mr Tiger had a late cider.

    Then, the only climb of the day (unless you count the one to the beer garden).

    Approaching Biggleswade, the sky was getting greyer, but still no rain. The Surfin Cafe was still open when we passed 4:30 but was surrounded by a funfair. I think we all gave it a miss.

    And so to the station, where we got a train.

    Group Cohesion Factor 99% (A little separation approaching Biggleswade).

    A fab day out. If only someone could move the station nearer the Hare and Hounds 'sigh'.

  • 20-Jun-22

    Weather was sunny cloudy dry

Wed, 04-Aug-21
Wednesday Walk: Sandy to Biggleswade

Length 19.5km (12.2m) Difficulty 4/10
Originally inspired by the Guardian‘s Country Diary, this stile-free walk has only gentle gradients. It follows the Greensand Ridge Walk in the morning. The route is a mix of attractive broad grassy tracks along field edges and woodland trails. Muntjac deer and hares have been spotted in the area. We visit two lovely villages – Northill and Old Warden which both have excellent pubs. Say no more. Optional diversions lead to Queen Anne's Summerhouse and Keepers Cottage (see text).
Trains
Get the Thameslink to Peterborough from London St Pancras (platform B) at 10:15 arriving Sandy 11:04.
You can catch the same train at: East Croydon 9:46, London Bridge 10:01, Blackfriars 10:09, Farringdon 10:11, Finsbury Park 10:24. (They should give me a peaked cap and let me blow the whistle).
Trains return from Biggleswade at xx:00 and xx:30. Get a return to Sandy.
Lunch: Given the late-ish start, the earlier lunch pub The Crown, Northill. (01767 627337) is suggested, 25% into the walk (you do the maths). Should you wish to eat here there is an extensive menu including good vegetarian options.
There is a later option. the Hare and Hounds, Old Warden (01767 627225) 60% into the walk. Maybe just a teensy little second stop here as well.
About 400m before Old Warden, the Abbey Church of St Leonards is recommended as a picnic stop. (Bearing in mind the ongoing pan and pingdemics, you would be wise to carry water and a few snackies anyway).
Tea: Biggleswade has a number of pubs and cafes dotted around the central area. For tea, coffee and cakes, the popular Surfin café in Market Place, en route to the station, is recommended. Only open until 5pm according to their website.

Walk directions here
T=swc.264

  • Anonymous
    02-Aug-21

    Mr Tiger , there doesn't seem to be an easy shortcut on this walk ? apart from the birdwatching v short one ...is that right please? thanks

  • 03-Aug-21

    Not that I know of. You could try doing one of the Biggleswade to Sandy walks in reverse but they’re not written up in that direction . And the longest is only 4.8 miles. If you’re good with maps you may be able to cut across from Northhill to near the end of the walk (Kingshill Farm) but I’ve not tried it.

  • Anonymous
    03-Aug-21

    Okay thanks Mr Tiger, think I'll give this one a miss

  • 05-Aug-21

    10 on a hot sunny day A largely pleasant walk (if you forget crossing the A1 bridge). We reached Northill a bit too soon for lunch. One dropped out here to visit a relly. Most pressed on but two investigated the Crown (purely for research, you understand). They still have a varied menu with vegan options. Neither of us ate but I can attest to the quality of the cider.

    The directions over the next stretch work well for GPS users but I still have misgivings about the written directions, particularly in sections 12-13. I was nearly persuaded to go the wrong way. Again. Luckily, parts of this walk are seared into my memory from before and there was an abundance of GRW signs where it wasn’t.

    No deer were seen but I saw a big fox, someone else saw “dark things moving about, probably hares”, and there were butterflies, dragonflies and other assorted bugs.

    Most picknicked at the Abbey church, followed by snifters at the Hare and Hounds. One, who was hoping to eat there, arrived too late. Again, I can attest to the quality of the cider.

    Section 18/19 desperately needs a sentence adding, advising that on the way to the tarmac road where you turn right, you cross an earlier tarmac road where you DON’T turn right. (That way leads to madness and despair – and a long walk down the B658 to regain the route).

    I reached the station at 17:10 to find the 17:30 was cancelled. How I laughed.

Sat, 06-Apr-19
Sandy to Biggleswade
SWC 264 Sandy to Biggleswade
Length: 19.5 km (12.2 miles). Toughness: 4/10

Catch the 9:16 from London Kings Cross station arrives Sandy 10:04. Return trains xx:00 xx:30. Buy a day return to Sandy.

Although this is an area of large arable fields there is no slogging through crops or over ploughed land. The walk is mainly flat and before lunch mainly follows the Greensand Ridge Walk . The route is a mix of attractive broad grassy tracks along field edges and woodland trails.



T=swc.264
  • Anonymous
    05-Apr-19

    Looking forward to this walk tomorrow, hope to see others there too.

    Judith

  • 07-Apr-19

    A real gem of a walk. Having done the Flitwick Circular two weeks ago I was eager to do another walk in Bedfordshire and this walk didn't disappoint. In fact this walk was considerably better. Saw an array of animals, from a yellow bird we couldn't identify to munjac which we could. Early in the walk we were greeted with the lovely sound of skylarks announcing their intended territory and later on in the afternoon we saw redkites. Visually this walk is really beautiful, even the mobile telephone masts have been designed to look like trees! The buildings deserve a mention as well, with the beautiful interior carvings of Abbey Church of St. Leonard's to the attractive keepers Cottage. However, after diverting up an attractive path we were a bit disappointed with the wonderfully named Queen Annes Summerhouse. It looked like a chopped off 'water tower'. Noticed a pet cemetery behind it. One walker asked me to make a special mention of the great food at the Hare and Hounds. Main menu starts from £13 to £14. 3 Hopefully more people will come next time the walk is posted.

Wed, 27-Dec-17
Wednesday Walk - Sandy to Biggleswade or Circular
Length: 19.6 km (12.2 mi) [26.1/16.3 for the circular walk]
Ascent/Descent: 146/140 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 4 hours [5 ¼ for the circular walk]
Toughness: 3 out of 10
Take the 10.22 train from King’s Cross to Peterborough (Finsbury Park [Victoria and Piccadilly Lines] 10.28, Stevenage 10.47), arrives Sandy 11.08.
Return trains: 15.54, 16.20, 16.54, 17.19, 17.57, 18.32 etc. (from 43 minutes journey time, trains leave Sandy 4 minutes earlier). Buy a Sandy return ticket.

This Bedfordshire walk, although leading through an area of large arable fields, is no slogging through crops or over ploughed land . The walk is mainly flat and before lunch mainly follows the Greensand Ridge Walk. The route is a mix of attractive broad grassy tracks along field edges and woodland trails. Along the way you will see a number of information boards telling you about the animals, trees and plants you may see around you. Binoculars are useful as the area is rich in bird-life and a healthy population of muntjac deer and brown hares. You visit two lovely villages – Northill and Old Warden – which both have excellent pubs. Just after lunch follows a short climb into Warden Warren woods. There are no stiles on the main walk or the long circular walk back to Sandy.
Lunch: The Crown in Northill (5.3 km/3.3 mi) or The Hare and Hounds in Old Warden (12.1 km/7.5 mi, food to 14.30). Tea: Various options, recommended is the Surfin' Cafe .


For walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. t=swc.264
  • Carrie
    24-Dec-17

    hi,

    I have been on a number of these walks with friends before, but haven't joined the SWC group before. I was thinking of joining this walk on the 27th, but would be joining @ Finsbury Park instead of King's X

    I was just wondering if anyone else was planning on doing this walk, so I can try and connect on the train

  • 24-Dec-17

    There will be walkers, no doubt.

  • Carrie
    26-Dec-17

    Weather is looking a tad on the soggy side :/

  • 26-Dec-17

    Id really like to come too so am hoping the rain clears off a bit

  • 26-Dec-17

    the rain's supposed to peter out at the time we're supposed to start walking, i.e.: no excuses!

  • 27-Dec-17

    Hearts leapt with excitement on the train out as somewhere around Welwyn the ground started to have snow cover, apparently thick enough to survive the thaw for a few hours. But somewhere north of Stevenage the white magic disappeared again.

    So the 8 walkers (incl. 2 exiles from the Capital Walkers) were left with just some shlush on the ground and more of the stuff still falling. The precipitation did peter out after an hour or so, so the weather can be best described as wet start then dry with a bracing wind . As the write-up promises, there are no stiles and only one arable field crossing, but plenty of woods, tree-lined tracks and water-filled gravel pits with birdlife and a few pretty villages and churches. We had some far views of snow-covered hill sides, and - late on - a snowy field in the middle of a wood.

    Lunch we had at the second pub, The Hare and Hounds, and the reviews of the food ranged from 'average' to 2/10 (admittedly the pheasant stood no comparison with last Saturday's offering at The Old Swan, but 2/10 is probably a bit harsh). Anyway, we made it to Biggleswade in time to just miss the 16.20, so settled in for tea at the Surfin Cafe, to catch the 16.54 stopping service.

Sun, 18-Jun-17
Beautiful Bedfordshire and the country's poshest bedsit!
Download walk 264 Sandy to Biggleswade

Length 19.5km (12.2m); toughness 4/10;
or complete the loop from Sandy back to Biggleswade for a 26.1km (16.1m) walk ; toughness 5/10
Trains
09.22 London Kings Cross (09.27 Finsbury Park) arriving Sandy 10.16

Return Trains from Biggleswade at xx:20 past the hour. Buy a day return to Sandy.

This stile-free Bedfordshire walk was inspired by the weekly Country diary in the Guardian newspaper where, from time to time, a nature writer, Derek Niemann writes about the flora and fauna around Sandy. Although this is an area of large arable fields there is no slogging through crops or over ploughed land . The walk is mainly flat and before lunch generally follows the Greensand Ridge Walk . The route is a mix of attractive broad grassy tracks along field edges and woodland trails.
You will be too early to eat at The Crown at Northill. (01767 627337) as you will only have done a quarter of the walk when you reach this attractive pub but it still makes a lovely stop for a short break.
Your recommended lunch pub is The Hare and Hounds, Old Warden (01767 627225). When you reach here you will have done over 60% of the walk and so probably in need of refreshments! The pub has an extensive main menu and puddings.
Around 400m before the Hare and Hounds there is the lovely Abbey Church of St Leonards which is a fine spot for a picnic lunch.
After lunch you have the opportunity to visit two Landmark Trust properties which are just off your route. The very posh Queen Anne summerhouse is well worth a look.
See here for further details about the walk and click on the downlad walk tab for full walk directions.
T=3.264
  • Ian T
    18-Jun-17

    Only 2 for this walk, perhaps because of the very hot sunny day. A long walk with big skies and big fields. Having foundered on this walk before, it was handy that my walking companion was none other than the walk’s author, who kindly guided me most of the way. All I had to do was follow the white hat bobbing in the distance. A bit like GPS only with a real person. I had hoped he’d carry my bag as well but no, apparently that was stretching things too far (not his EXACT words, you understand).

    Between us we managed to iron out the vague bit where I had got lost before. And get this – it wasn’t my fault. It WAS vague. But that’s all sorted now.

    The village of Northill very pretty – we rested by the duckpond and watched a baby moorhen. Then on to Old Warden . The church there is astounding with ornately carved box pews, paintings, a balcony and other stuff. And a Norman tower. The pub was friendly. Neither of us ate but I partook of the cider, which was deemed to be good. Then, on to Biggleswade and the Surfing Café as recommended by the author.

    We got the 16:20 train.

Sun, 09-Oct-16
A Bedfordshire ramble
SWC Walk 264 Sandy to Biggleswade
Distance 19.5km (12.2m); toughness 4/10; mainly flat. The walk is stile free.
Trains: London Kings Cross 10.20 (Finsbury Park 10.25) Sandy 11.06
Return trains from Biggleswade at xx:19. Buy a day return to Sandy
This Bedfordshire walk was inspired by the weekly Country diary in the Guardian newspaper where, from time to time, a nature writer, Derek Niemann , writes about the flora and fauna around Sandy. Although this is an area of large arable fields there is no slogging over ploughed land . The walk is mainly flat and before lunch generally follows the Greensand Ridge Walk . The route is a mix of attractive broad grassy tracks along field edges and woodland trails. Just after lunch following a short climb into Warden Warren woods you have the chance to do a couple of short “there and back” detours along permissive paths to see two refurbished Landmark Trust properties; Queen Annes’ Summerhouse and the Keepers Cottage. (The paths to these properties are only open from 1 April to 31 October.) In October the tree colour is particularly vibrant.
Refreshments
The Crown Northill. (01767 627337) You will only have done a quarter of the walk when you reach this attractive pub but it makes a lovely stop. You should reach here about 12.30pm. There is an extensive menu including good vegetarian options. However it will be a long stretch after lunch but you can stop at the next pub for a break and refreshments. There is seating by a pond for picnic lunchers
Hare and Hounds, Old Warden (01767 627225) 8 miles into the walk for a late lunch or a refreshment stop.
For late picnic lunchers the Abbey Church of St Leonards about 500m before the Hare and Hounds is a lovely spot.
The Surfin Café in Biggleswade is a recommended tea stop. Open until 5pm.

Here are full pdf walk instructions and further details about the walk including an option to complete a long circular walk back to Sandy for fast walkers a distance of 26.1km (16.3m)
  • 10-Oct-16

    12 on this walk, including one who first walked with SWC in 1997 and was doing a walk for the first time in a few years. The weather was w= fine-and-generally-sunny-with-one-short-shower-in-the-afternoon.

    This gentle amble looked lovely in the autumn light and has many fine trees, particularly oaks, which unfortunately were not showing much leaf colour and will now probably not do so until November. Three stopped for lunch in Northill and a couple stopped to visit the Church of St Mary Virgin. The rest of us continued on to Old Warden enjoying the mix of woodland trails and huge open vistas along bone dry paths.

    Six of us had sandwiches at the Abbey Church of St Leonard which is well worth a visit as it has some fascinating wooden carvings including a serpent along the back of a seat, something I've never seen before. We stopped at the Hare and Hounds for a warming hot drink and one ate there. After lunch we climbed a hill into Warden Warren and took a permissive path through the wood for a look at the Landmark Trust property, Queen Annes Summerhouse where a couple were in residence.

    We continued at a fair pace and reached Biggleswade station to catch the busy 16.19 back to London. (I had just enough time for a quick tea and cake at the Surfin Cafe.)

    People were complimentary about the walk but there are a couple of places where the instructions need clarification and will have to be re-drafted. I hope no-one was inconvenienced by this.

    an excellent day out in vibrant company.

    Nature Watch: 50 varieties of tree at the Green in Biggleswade. Also spotted; a small muntjac and a common shrew.