Event led by Tom M.
Attendance: 6 people.
Distance: 8.75 miles (14.1 km).
Time: start 11:08, end 15:54, lunch 35 minutes, other breaks included in walk-time.
Speed: moving arithmetic average 2.09 mph (3.75 kph).
Terrain: pavement, field, field edge, woodland track on highway, footpath, bridleway and by-way.
Elevation: low 124m, high 188m (as measured by GPS), start 124m.
Weather: clear skies, pure sun, max 32°C (start 26°C), max 6mph southerly wind, warm without being oppressive.
Number of sewage works: 1.
Number of churches: 3.
Number of golf courses: 0.
This walk was a circular route of 8.75 miles from Markyate, NE to Pepperstock, NW to Caddington, W to Church End nr Kensworth, SE to Markyate.
The route started in the Ver Valley, rose to the valley edges, dipped into a tributary valley at the route’s northern-most point, dipped into the Ver Valley again at the route’s north-western-most point – affording a phenomenal view of the countryside – descending back into the Ver Valley on the return leg to the start point.
The first part of the walk was mainly shaded in full-leaf woodland. The second part of the walk was more exposed. The walk was well-timed for such exposure, because the longer shadows of hedges in full light provided adequate shelter from the unbroken sunshine.
The walk provided glorious views of rolling curves of countryside, a mixture of agricultural land under crop with the occasional abandoned (“re-wilded”?) field, typical of north-west Herts and South Beds. The route included a slice of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, being over half the route from Caddington to Markyate. Most of the route sat in Central Bedfordshire, the minor part (and the start point) in Hertfordshire.
Lunch was at a Caddington. We found a spot close to the village green and All Saint’s Church. It turned out this spot was a good vantage point to observe a lot of traffic passing through the village. Caddington is, in essence, a bridging route running in parallel to both the M1 and the A5183, with particular sources of traffic being the large car park Slip End (long-term parking for passengers of Luton Airport) at the south; Luton, Leagrave, Houghton Regis at the north; and a rat-run to the A5183 (Watling Street, Dunstable) at the west. The maps suggests no space for a by-pass.
Of all of the views on the route, one view stood out as a particularly good example of the Chilterns AONB. This was south of Church End nr Kensworth towards to Kensworth (GoogleMaps, StreetMap, TL0306218729, duck.wacky.audio). This view provided outstandingly beautiful proportionate curves of farmed fields – now in their early green stage of winter cropping – to the north-west and south-east.
Today was also the day of some sort of Bike & Hike Event in which local churches participated, so St Mary’s Church was open and serving soft drinks. One member of the choir acted as host of the church to guests. The church itself was a small and pleasant building.
The final leg of the route to Markyate ran through the graveyard of Markyate church. In this churchyard is a grave to mark the first victim of a hit-and-run traffic incident, William Henry Clifton, who died on 18 Apr 1905, aged 4 years old. A pic of the grave is in the extended pic gallery linked below.
5 members joined the optional pub stop at the end of the walk.
Caddington Wastewater Treatment Works (a sizeable sewage farm set back from the public right of way, with no clue as to its presence; we walked past it without realising it was there).
Optional pub stop
The Swan, a free house, Markyate.
Words by Martin Thornhill. Pictures by Peter O’Connor.