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Jay Walking

Icknield Way: Streatley to Baldock

I reached Streatley at around 9:45 am and quickly set off through the church grounds and via a footpath to the fields surrounding the village, from there it was about 3km South to the edge of Luton where the route turn Eastwards. On the way I met a few dog walkers and a couple of other walkers but not many. After crossing a busy road I headed on passing through a golf course and then contouring round Galley Hill, before heading off to the North East. After stopping for a break and misreading a sign I headed off in the wrong direction, though realised it fairly quickly and cursing myself got back on the right route. My navigation woes were not over as it hard to find the correct trail, there were a lot of waymarked paths and other paths not on the map, eventually I resorted to using the OS app to locate myself and set off on the correct course.

The church at Streatley, showing a large stone tower.
A small pond on the outskirts of Streatley
The path crossing a large wheat field and heading towards a distance wood.
The path followed a road for a short time

After crossing another part of the golf course, there was a long period of walking on bridleways, complete with the occasional horse and occasional walkers, though the bridleways were broken up by a short period of road walking. It was a nice day with great walking conditions, not too hot and the bridleways provided plenty of shade. The route was generally flat though after entering a wooded area, there was a gentle ascent to around 180 metres. There were a few people around, mostly heading to Pegsdon Hills Nature Reserve, and once past that I was along on the path for a long while.

View of the path heading through some woodlands with large plane trees to the left
A bridleway lined with bushes and trees continuing on into the distances

After crossing a road and having another small break, it was an easy walk to the village of Pirton, an old village with plenty of bunting hung out for the Queens Jubilee which was being celebrated today and over the next few days. I passed the Motte and Bailey pub, and found my way though the churchyard to the pubs namesake, an actual old Normal motte and the visible remains of the ditches and banks that formed part of the bailey. There were no signs here and I forget check my bearing so it took me a little wandering to get on the correct path out of town.

Leaving Pirton on another wide bridleway which I had to myself for about 3 km apart from meeting a dog walker at each end, the route headed directly East and continued to the village of Ickleford where there were a lot of things going on for the Jubilee. The most interesting one for me was a beer festival but the pub was full so I passed by, though was glad to see an old steam roller called Brenda outside the pub. I headed to another pub and got a nice pint of IPA and a packet of crisps and spent half an hour reading my book and resting.

The Normal style church at Pirton Village, a stone church with a square tower towards one end

After Ickleford the route heads towards Letchworth Garden City which I was not looking forward to as the route goes right though the town. In the event I was pleasantly surprised it seems like a nice place with well maintained houses on both side of the road, there were also some very old prefab buildings on the edge of the town. I did however manage to get lost again, following a sign that either pointed in the wrong direction or that I read wrongly, I found myself to the North East of the town. I was fuming at this mistake, I had not taken the chance to check I was heading in the right direction when I should have.

It did not take me long to get on the right path, now on the Eastern side of Letchworth, there was a wonderful bit of walking through industrial estates and then along side a motorway, which could be heard but not seen until it was crossed after a few 100 metres. Crossing the motorway brought me to the town of Baldock which seemed a little older than Letchworth, indeed it was founded in Roman times so if pretty old. It was short walk to the station and a short wait for the train. The day had been good, apart from getting lost the trails were easy, there were few people about, the weather had been great and the views were fine.