When I was a child my Nana kept a book at her house in Dalton Street, St Albans which had belonged to my Mum and Auntie as infants. This cherished book was called “The Magic May Tree”. Walking on this magnificent May Day I was reminded in so many ways of the glorious fantasyland of the book. The gingham-clad, porcelain-skinned child falls asleep whilst having a china doll tea party and forgets to deliver a letter to a friend. The Fairy of the May Tree casts her magic upon her and she awakens just in time to tumble down the lane, complete her errand and deliver some conciliatory bluebells.
This walk not far from Harlington filled my heart with remembrances of that happy childhood time of doll’s parties, sunshine and spring flowers. For a £3 return ticket from Harlington Station I arrived at Leagrave and made my way to the foot of Warden Hills. The fields around were carpeted with apricot-scented cowslips and I proceeded along the foot of the hills, skirting the golf course and rising up to the top of Galley Hill.
Walking over Warden and Galley Hills
Walking towards Lilley
Following paths edged with blossomed hawthorn I looked up at the sky. The chalky, flimsy clouds were trying to cool the air by edging their way across the jasper blue background but could not succeed. I enjoyed the freedom of walking without the hindrance of a coat.
I can’t use my usual term and describe this walk as “trudging…” because both life and the walk felt easy. Five miles on I reached the pretty village of Lilley with its silver lion adorned houses, duck pond and beautiful blossom laden trees.
I did not have time to look in on the flower festival at St Peters Church, but having seen it in a previous year I am sure it was beautiful.
The birds lively twittering was unfailing as I returned again to walk alongside ancient hedgerows. Completely unexpectedly I came to a surprising delight. A secret and secluded bluebell wood. An assault on the senses on every front. The carpet of flowers in a colour combining the warmth of violet, yet the chill of blue. The intoxicating scent warm, woody and moist, yet spicy and sweet captured for me that quintessentially “Old English” image portrayed in “The Magic May Tree”.
Reaching a secret Bluebell Wood, near Lilley
It was difficult to leave the wood but the magic stayed with me as I strolled across the fields, around Butterfield Green and back to the foot of Warden Hill. Super, enjoyable practice for my walk of The Pilgrims Way in September.
A day to give thanks. A day full of blessings. A May Day to cherish for future memories.
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Total distance: 8 miles Warden Hill/Lilley circle.
15 miles Leagreave – Warden Hill/Lilley – Leagrave circle
O S Survey Map Explorer 193.