Hitchin and Pegsdon Hills, Hertfordshire (38179)
A 15 mile circular walk along tracks and lanes towards the Pegsdon Hills, with far reaching views, and across Oughtonhead Common nature reserve.
The start of this route is through the alleyways and lanes of suburban Hitchin, but soon gives way to open countryside once we reach Hitchin Hill, and shortly after the Hiz river, from which the town derives it’s name.
From here we’ll make our way along the Windmill Lane, one of many traffic free lanes that bisect this area, with wide open views across arable fields and on towards the village of Great Offley. Then onwards along the Chiltern Way and bridlepaths across fields and through woods towards Telegraph Hill, and shortly after Pegsdon Hill and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve. This is an area incorporated into the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We’ll break for lunch here and admire the view of Deacon Hill, the flat bottomed valley below, and across Hertfordshire beyond.
After lunch we’ll make our way past through the hamlet of Pegsdon and then uphill towards Knocking Hoe Nature Reserve. Following Wood Lane onwards towards the village of Pirton where we will pause at the Motte and Bailey pub for a drink. After which we turn the corner to pass the village church, and the site of the motte-and-double bailey after which the pub is named.
Crossing open country we’ll start heading back in the direction of Hitchin, this final leg will follow the River Oughton, a clear running chalk stream, fringed by mature alder and willow woodland, and then across Oughtonhead Common to the outskirts of Hitchin. The town centre has some quaint arcades and an attractive market square surrounded by Tudor and Georgian buildings. A location sufficiently photogenic as to appear as the fictional town centre of Parminster in the last series of BBC's Doctor Foster.
To complete this route in daylight we will need to keep a keen pace throughout, although we should arrive at the outskirts of Hitchin before sunset.
The beginning and end of this route are on tarmac paths that can be less than scenic, but on a more positive note will be free of mud!
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
You will need a packed lunch, and enough water and snacks to see you through the day. There is a Tesco Express near the station, but please come prepared so that we can make a prompt start. We will stop for a picnic lunch at a suitably scenic point; for your own comfort you may wish to bring something to sit on.
Meeting & Times
All photos taken by event leader
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