Sometimes the last minute, least planned walks are the best ones – as this walk near Flitwick proved to be. I had arranged to meet a friend for a walk in the Harlington locality but been busy and not really planned anything when I found the Flitwick and District Heritage Group’s leaflet for the Two Moors Heritage Trail. A five minute train trip from Harlington took me to Flitwick Station and after grabbing a quick coffee in the town centre we wandered down to the start of the walk by the Old Flitwick Mill on Greenfield Road. Extensive works were being undertaken to it.
The traffic in Flitwick seemed unusually busy and it was great to be very quickly away from the cars and following the line of the River Flit through woods and pastures. Autumn has seemed so late this year . (I am not complaining – the day was unseasonably mild), but the trees were still hanging onto many of their leaves and although the weather was dry the ground had not yet reached that stage of being covered in the rich coloured crisp leaves which I so love.
Autumn, to me always feels like a season of memories and mellow nostalgia and I have a very special childhood memory of kicking through leaves with my Nana on Bernard’s Heath in St Albans. I will have to save that pleasure for a few more weeks when I imagine Sharpenhoe Clappers will be knee (or maybe, ankle) deep in beech leaves.
I berated myself for not having visited this area sooner. It is so near to where I live and difficult to believe that there was so much wildlife and farm animals just five minutes away from Flitwick. The highlight was the sight of a fox just peeking through the trees across the River Flit. We sat and watched each other for a good five minutes whilst I tried to get a good photograph of him. He did not seem in a hurry to be going anywhere.
This area is really very pretty. The river quite wide in places, twisting and turning and making gentle bubbling noises as I walked alongside it.
The walk continues following the site of the old Greenfield Mill and the old course of the River Flit until arriving opposite the 500 year old Church at Flitton with the de Grey mausoleum. Unfortunately the Church was locked, which was a pity because the mausoleum is said to be one of the most important in England. I will hopefully return when it is open sometime.
When walking through rural areas and pretty villages my friend and I often fantasise about living in some of the beautiful houses we pass. Again we indulged in this fantasy when walking through Flitton. I love the thatched cottages and the small terraced dwellings. The idea of living very simply is one that appeals to me and in a small dwelling I can imagine I could put into practice that William Morris saying:
We also liked some of the more modern houses that had been built with some distinctive features and character. For both of us the peace and quietness is attractive. Our conversation, however, then usually reverts to “how would we manage without a local shop?”; public transport?; train station? – and we count our blessings and are grateful for our current homes. Flitton does however still have a pub – The White Hart. – details here.
After leaving Flitton, we found ourselves in the area known as Flitton Moor, which I had not visited before. What a lovely surprise this was! There was a shelter and very interesting noticeboard giving a wealth of information about the various Wetland, Grassland, Trees, Woodland and Wildlife in this Local Nature Reserve.
The barn was named after local artist and technical illustrator Jack Crawley who had been a WW2 spitfire pilot and his story was also told in the exhibits.
I was particularly drawn to a printing of the moving writing of Clement Clifford who had lived in the area from 1915 onwards for many years giving his description of how he used to walk and fish in the area. The writing captured how a place can have a certain “spiritual quality” or indeed even a “spirit” itself. It was a fairly long piece of writing and so beautiful that I will try and obtain a copy of it. But at present internet searches have proved fruitless. In fact, I think I will probably return there with pen and paper and write out a copy. Here is just the heading.
A leaflet which was available in the shelter tells how the area used to be part of the common land extending from Maulden to Flitton. It was used for grazing and peat cutting.
Following the enclosure acts some of the land around Maulden was removed from common ownership. However, the people of Flitton resisted the enclosure and close on 200 local men threatened to riot. Apparently the intervention of the local vicar was needed to calm matters down! It does seem so strange to us nowadays to think of so many men living in the area. After enclosure in 1825 the area was drained, the river straightened and land turned over to arable usage. More recently it had been used by Silsoe College for agricultural experiments. Now it provided a wide range of habitats for a diverse selection of wildlife. However, as has been mentioned in many of my other posts…………………… I am still looking for a kingfisher!
The trail carries on to Ruxos Farm where there are the remains of a monastic grange and moat and then crosses the Maulden Road. A slightly less pretty part of the walk is traversed here over a field and turning left through part of the industrial estate before crossing back over the road and into the Site of Special Scientific Interest of Flitwick Moor. This was a pretty part of the walk across a wet woodland environment. I was surprised to read about the “famous” (!) medicinal “Flitwick Waters” which used to be produced from the springs rising here.
It is only a short walk back into the Town (Village?) centre from here where there are plenty of places to stop for refreshment if one wishes. This is an easy five mile walk; taking a couple of hours and a really pleasant way to spend part of a morning. It would be possible to extend the walk into the Georgian town of Ampthill if one wanted to visit more of the area. The terrain is flat. I would imagine that after heavy rain it would be pretty muddy but the day on which we walked was dry. Apart from the Mauden Road, there are no main roads to cross, the walk was easily accessible by public transport and the signposting was good…………… a world away from the hustle and bustle of Tescos!
Please add your e mail details in the box at the foot of the page to receive further details of my walks in Beds, Herts and Bucks, including my ongoing trek of the Hertfordshire Way. I have also written about walking in Dorset and walking the Ridgeway National Trail as a lone woman. My book “The Woman Who Walked Through Fear” about my gratitude walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury will be published shortly. The blog post 100 Things to Do in England quotes Canterbury as a “must visit” City and my experience on reaching it after walking 180 miles is described in my book.