Where to walk near Harlington on this cold and wet morning? Ah, February, a time of hunkering down, sheltering from the rain but yet, hope. Always hope that Spring will soon be here. I was so grateful that I roused myself from the couch on a damp and dismal day to take this four and a half mile walk just outside the village of Harlington.
The Tinker’s Trail is so named because John Bunyan (son of a tinker) preached and was arrested in the fields of this neighbourhood and was held overnight for interrogation in the village before being sent to Bedford Gaol.
I braved the wet weather and upon leaving the village headed across the fields to the area of Sampshill. The fine views from the top of the hill across to Toddington, Maulden and Flitton Churches were somewhat obscured but as always Sharpenhoe Clappers watched over me on the horizon.
It felt like acupuncture needles were piercing my face as I crossed the fields battling against the ice cold showers but I certainly was roused from my mid-Winter lethargy. Some paths were flooded and my boots became caked in mud as I made my way along the route. Unsurprisingly I passed no-one.
And, yet – it felt great to be out under the open , if somewhat darkened, skies. I plodded on, one foot in front of the other, full of gratitude for the fitness to be able to be out walking in this peaceful environment.
The terrain became firmer for a while as I travelled along an old bridleway. The old bricks and pottery underfoot reminding me of a childhood in St Albans digging in my Nana’s garden imagining I was unearthing bits of Roman treasure.
The pathway eventually turned back towards the village and on the right I skirted Bunyan’s Oak. This large dead oak was reputed to be a favourite preaching place of Bunyan. Boughs from the tree blown down in the 1987 gales have been used to make an altar and feature table for the village church.
Ahead of me was one final challenge – the long hill back up into the village. The rain was getting heavier and something inspired me to try running up the hill – sodden through and with boots caked in mud. I managed about fifty yards before heavy legs forced me back to walking pace. Still there is always the summer to get fitter!
As I passed through the wooded area at the top of the hill before I entered the village proper there was the sign I had been waiting for – Spring bulbs. Soon, soon………………
Despite the weather this was a super walk and one to be returned to in better weather. Good transport links with the mainline station in Harlington. Refreshments at the two village pubs and café at local shops. 4.5 miles. 1 hour 20 minutes.