Jan Kraus
28 August 2022photo story5 min read
Outdooraholics group hiking through the field of Hertfordshire, England, UK
Outdooraholics group hiking through the field of Hertfordshire, England, UK

Hiking the Rolling Hills of Hertfordshire

Just a week later, after my last hike, I joined another one with the Outdooraholics group. This time the hike called for exploration of Hertfordshire: a walk through the western area of Hitchin and the North Easterly ridge of Chiltern Hill.

We departed around 8:30 from London’s Kings Cross station. The train ride took about 30 minutes and took us to Hitchin, a small town north of London, along the train line towards Cambridge.

After about a 2km walk from the station, we left the town buildings and entered paths leading us through the golden fields of Hertfordshire.

Summer view of harvested grain fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Summer view of harvested grain fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Start from Hitchin

The distance planned for this hike was quite challenging, around 31 km. To cover that in a reasonable time, the group set a pretty fast pace from the beginning.

Outdooraholics hike leader sharing details about the hike
Outdooraholics hike leader sharing details about the hike

Initially, everyone was feeling fresh and energetic, so we moved fast. We’ve made occasional stops for regrouping and updates from Lee, our hike leader.

Crossing some pasture with cows, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Crossing some pasture with cows, Hertfordshire, England, UK

The surroundings felt a bit monotonous. Most of the time, we walked across or alongside grain fields. Harvests already have happened, so it was mostly stubble or ploughed fields.

Outdooraholics hikers walking through the path through the fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Outdooraholics hikers walking through the path through the fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Pirton village

We stopped for a few minutes, just outside Pirton village, to listen to some fascinating yet useless historical facts shared by our group leader.

Arriving at The Bury park, Pirton village, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Arriving at The Bury park, Pirton village, Hertfordshire, England, UK

In the beginning, it was completely flat. After some time, the terrain slightly changed and fields with hedges separating them showed some gentle, rolled shapes.

Gently rolling fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Gently rolling fields, Hertfordshire, England, UK

It was a welcomed break from the monotony as we strolled, climbing a gentle hill. We kept a brisk pace, so there wasn’t much time to enjoy the views. However, we kept short breaks to allow the group to consolidate, allowing me some time to capture the scenes.

Our group stopping to catch a breath and admire views over Knocking Hoe National Nature Reserve (right side of the picture), Hertfordshire, England, UK
Our group stopping to catch a breath and admire views over Knocking Hoe National Nature Reserve (right side of the picture), Hertfordshire, England, UK

Curiously shaped shrub in Knocking Hoe National Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Curiously shaped shrub in Knocking Hoe National Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve

As the time approached noon, we walked towards our lunch-break spot at Deacon’s Hill in Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve.

We’ve seen the hill straight in front of us, but the path leading on top was taking some detour down through Pegsdon hamlet first only to climb the hill from the north-western side.

View towards Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
View towards Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Walking through dry meadows, we approached the hill and slowly climbed to the top.
As we climbed up, the area revealed some excellent views.

Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

It was the most significant ascend of the whole hike, and I must admit, I had to stop the conversation trying to keep my breath in check!

Outdooraholics group climbing Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Outdooraholics group climbing Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

After conquering the climb, the rest was easy. We walked over the gently curved hill towards Deacon’s Hill for some time.

It was a gentle stroll and relaxed pace, allowing us to admire panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Walking towards Deacon's Hill at Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Walking towards Deacon's Hill at Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Views of Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Little Offley and Great Offley

Refreshed after a lunch stop, we continued the hike. We didn’t reach the midpoint yet, so there was still a significant amount of walking ahead of us.

A view of buildings from Little Offley hamlet, Hertfordshire, England, UK
A view of buildings from Little Offley hamlet, Hertfordshire, England, UK

The journey became again a little monotonous. The field looked similar to the one we’d passed earlier, and my memories had already blurred. There wasn’t much share or wind, so the walk felt quite strenuous at times.

More ploughed fields somewhere near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK
More ploughed fields somewhere near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK

We passed at the side of small woods, which offered a bit of shade from the afternoon sun and some great views of lush and dense fern thickets.

Dense fern thickets near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Dense fern thickets near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Charlton fields and back to Hitchin

Marching back towards Hitchin, we’ve passed many golden, stubble fields. Some still had straw cubes left after the harvest.

Stubble fields with straw cubes near Charlton hamlet, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Stubble fields with straw cubes near Charlton hamlet, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK

The gently rolled fields revealed from the road offered interesting perspectives for photos, and I stopped a couple of times to capture them.

Stubble fields with straw cubes near Charlton hamlet, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Stubble fields with straw cubes near Charlton hamlet, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Passing more fields, we approached Hitchin from the south, sightly encircling it towards the eastern side. The length of the route, combined with the heat of the day, was definitely noticeable, and the group stretched a bit in the final miles of the hike.

Motivated by the prospects of grabbing a cold pint at the local pub, we pushed through the last hour and shortly after 4PM arrived at The Millstream, where indeed we indulged in some refreshing beverages.

That was our final stop, and after resting for a bit, we left for a brief walk towards Hitchin train station and a train back to London.

Hike highlights

Like always, I quite enjoyed the hike with the Outdooraholics group. It was again a great occasion to meet and exchange with interesting people.

Hikers from Outdooraholics group on the public footpath, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Hikers from Outdooraholics group on the public footpath, Hertfordshire, England, UK

I could complain that the pace was a bit challenging. While manageable, it didn’t leave much time for enjoying the views or picking some blackberries just waiting to be eaten. But I understand that this is the nature of this kind of “tough” hike and the time limitations we had.

Definitely, I’m looking forward to more experiences like that!

As always, there isn’t enough space to share all the photos I took. Below I selected a few more highlights from my captures. Enjoy!

Curiously shaped tree at the outskirts of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Curiously shaped tree at the outskirts of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Green "tunnel" somewhere in Hertfordshire, England, UK
Green "tunnel" somewhere in Hertfordshire, England, UK

Old tree stump captured at the road near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Old tree stump captured at the road near Big Offley, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Dry thistle weed close-up captured during the hike, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Dry thistle weed close-up captured during the hike, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Small, yellow flowers with shallow depth of field, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Small, yellow flowers with shallow depth of field, Hertfordshire, England, UK

A public footpath waymarker, Hertfordshire, England, UK
A public footpath waymarker, Hertfordshire, England, UK

A pretty house outside of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK
A pretty house outside of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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