End of the Chilterns : Pegsdon Hills & Little Offley

This is a surprisingly hilly walk for this general area, being the northern end of the Chilterns AONB, mostly through rolling farmland, with some wonderful views across the flatlands of south Bedfordshire to the north, especially if the air is clear. Most of it is along the edges of/through fields, along grass & hard-surfaced paths & tracks. There are two tree-covered 'alleys'. It passes a large late-Tudor manor house. You will walk part of the Icknield Way & visit Pegsdon Hills Nature Reserve.

Technical sheet
No. 10649530
A Shillington walk posted on 15/06/21 by stickmantoo. Update : 27/09/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h00[?]
Distance Distance : 9.5mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 758ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 741ft
Highest point Highest point : 607ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 233ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Shillington
Starting point Starting point : N 51.960085° / W 0.370471°
Download : -
16. Rainbow not guaranteed 14. A short sharp drop to the next gate 13. A glimpse of sweeping views 12. The start of the tree-covered path towards Deacon Hill

Description

(D/A) Starting from behind the pub on Pegsdon Way, head east with the houses and pub on your right, slightly uphill at the end. Turn left at the sign for Pegsdon Common Farm/Public Footpath/Chiltern Way Extension in front of two red-brick houses. Continue along the farm road for about 500m until you meet a Public Footpath sign pointing right. Follow the path across the field and then uphill using the steps, passing a small copse on the left hand side. Continue to the end of the field and turn left (indicated by a post on the right hand side, Public Footpath/Chiltern Way). Continue along the wide grass pathway as it undulates to the end of the field. Turn right at the way-marker post and follow the path uphill. At the top of the hill, pass the Chiltern Society way-marker on a gate post and immediately turn left in front of the bench seat.

(1) Continue to follow this path for about 800m as it gently descends through a tree-covered ‘alley’ until you reach a bench on the right hand side, set above the path.

(2) Turn right immediately after this, signed Chiltern Way/Icknield Way Trail – Public Bridleway, and continue uphill for about 600m until you reach two gates into a field. Enter the field and follow the Public Footpath/Chiltern Way signs slightly to the right up the hill across the field towards the hedge at the top of the hill. Go towards the hedge just to the right of a break in the tree-line and leave the field through a kissing gate, signed Chiltern Way. Immediately bear slightly left crossing a track, to come out on the edge of a field with the hedge/trees immediately on your right. Go straight down the hill and then up to the field corner. Leave the field at the corner, going into the trees and turning immediately left, signed Footpath to Wellbury/Chiltern Way (not very visible!), and continue along the (probably overgrown) path through the trees, with the field on your left and the road on the right, until it turns sharp right to emerge at the road.

(3) CARE! Cross the road and follow the signs Public Footpath/Chiltern Way through the hedge and uphill towards the left of a small copse of trees. At the way-marker, bear slightly right towards the tree stump and another way-marker in the middle of the field. Follow the Herts County Council sign to the left for about 200m to the field edge. Go down the steps, cross the track and enter the woods, following the way-marker slightly to the right to emerge on the drive to Old Wellbury Barn. Cross the drive to pass the waymarker on the left of an opening to the left of the brick wall. Cross the lawn towards the gap in the fence and cross the field, going towards the corner of the woods. Follow the track immediately to the left of the woods and then go onto the field edge with a hedge on your left. Continue downhill, crossing a track, to the end of the field at the bottom of the hill where the track turns to the right, lined on both sides by hedges.

(4) Follow the track to the right for about 1400m, passing woods on your left, then going through a hedge and continuing across a field downhill heading towards the distant right-hand electricity pylon visible above the trees. Enter the next field through a gap in the hedge, bear slightly right and then slightly left. Keep to the field edge with the hedge on your right, continuing uphill past woods on your right, for about 700m until you reach a road junction at the top of the hill.

(5) Cross the first road in front of you and immediately turn right at the second road signed Little Offley House & Farm. Go towards the gate across the road, passing West and East Lodges on your left and right respectively. The gate is marked Herts County Council Public Bridleway. Follow the road as it bends right, cross a track towards an avenue of trees. The footpath/bridleway is immediately to the right of the avenue along the field edge. Where the driveway bends slightly to the left, continue straight along the bridleway, now signed as Chiltern Way Bridleway until it reaches a track crossing it. Turn left towards farm buildings and follow the track as it passes between two of them: the right one is way-marked with a blue Public Bridleway sign. The track passes the gardens of Little Offley and turns to the right at the corner of a field.

(6) Continue straight past the track marked to the left, going along the field edge, passing a red-topped marker post for a high-pressure gas pipeline in the hedge on your left. The path winds along the field edges, with hedges on your left with occasional Public and Permissive Bridleway signs. When the hedge ends, continue ahead, turning slightly left towards a large oak tree in a hedge on the right. Turn right at the nearby way-marker (Herts Public Bridleway and a walking person). With the hedge on your right continue until you meet a track.

(7) Turn left to cross the field and follow the path for about 700m towards a distant pylon slightly to your left.

(8) Turn right when the path passes under the power lines (Permissive Path sign in the hedge on right hand side) and follow the track downhill until it meets the footpath near the valley bottom.

(9) Turn right at the gate on the left and continue along the farm road/track as it follows the field edge until it meets a wide grass path going right, up the hill. Follow this until it divides, taking the left hand fork uphill (signed in orange Icknield Way Trail Byway).

(10) Continue on this path to the top of the hill and continue with fields visible through the trees on the left until you reach a gate set back on the left with a large information board labelled Pegsdon Hills Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

(11) Go through the gate and turn right across the field a short distance to the field corner and another kissing gate with another information board. After going through the gate turn right and follow the path along the field edge and hilltop. After about 500m, at the fence at the corner of the field near a bench seat, go downhill a very short distance (CARE! – can be very slippery: you may prefer to go down over the steep grass slope before this) to go through the kissing gate next to a small group of mature beech trees. Continue to follow the undulating path along the hill crest for about 400m towards the triangulation point on the summit of Deacon Hill.

(12) A choice of routes here continuing east: behind the bushes/trees towards some steps with views towards Stevenage (easier) OR in front of the bushes with more views to the north and east, of Beds., towards Royston and Stevenage. Go down the hill towards the gate in the middle of the fence. Turn left immediately after going through the gate and follow the field edge round the hill, turning right at the corner towards the gate in the next corner near the road. (Or go diagonally across the field when you can see the gate in the corner near the road.)

(13) Go through the gate and follow the path parallel with the road and with the hedgerow on the right. Go through a gate, following the path for a short distance uphill next to the road to the last gate which leads onto the roadside. Cross the road (Care!), turn right towards the pub. Go through the pub car park to reach the road behind.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 266ft - Pegsdon Way, rear of 'The View'
1 : mi 0.99 - alt. 417ft - Knocking Hoe nature reserve
2 : mi 1.51 - alt. 302ft - Right after the bench seat
3 : mi 2.07 - alt. 384ft - Dangerous road crossing
4 : mi 2.87 - alt. 331ft - Hedge-lined path
5 : mi 4.12 - alt. 531ft - Little Offley House & Farm
6 : mi 4.8 - alt. 561ft - Start of permissive footpath/bridleway
7 : mi 5.43 - alt. 577ft - A possible place to shorten the walk
8 : mi 5.88 - alt. 561ft - Under the power-lines, start of permissive path
9 : mi 6.39 - alt. 449ft - Valley bottom at end of permissive path
10 : mi 7.51 - alt. 515ft - Path divides at a beech wood
11 : mi 7.91 - alt. 574ft - Entrance to Pegsdon Hills nature reserve
12 : mi 8.55 - alt. 535ft - Deacon Hill triangulation point
13 : mi 9.08 - alt. 315ft - Look back to the top
D/A : mi 9.5 - alt. 266ft - Pub: 'The View'

Useful Information

Most of the walk is well signed/way-marked with a variety of signs used. Photos have been included to illustrate some of the points along the route.

Parking is available on the house/pub side of the road, Pegsdon Way, which is only accessible from Apsley End Road. Sat nav postcode: SG5 3JX.
If this is full, there is also parking on Apsley End Road before Pegsdon Way, very soon after turning off the B655 Barton-Hitchin Road, and in the sharp left-hand turning off this (TL117302, https://www.google.com/maps/dir//51.9590...). There is no convenient public transport link to this walk.

Most of the walk is well signed/way-marked with a variety of signs used.
There is likely to be livestock (sheep/cattle/horses) in several of the fields, especially in the nature reserve. Please keep dogs on leads and close the gates, securing them with rope if it is provided.
Hitchin Road (B655) is crossed twice: traffic often travels very fast along it and the first crossing (3) is especially dangerous as it is unsigned on the road and is on a blind spot. Listen and look carefully!

Apart from the start of the walk, it is entirely in the countryside, away from any source of refreshments or toilets. Parts of it are exposed, with little/no shelter from the sun/wind/rain. It is strongly recommended you carry at least something to drink. There are a number of spots where you can stop for a picnic but there is no seating between waypoints 2 and 11-12.
If you wish to lengthen the walk and find refreshments in a pub, you can go to Lilley from waypoint 8. Do not turn right, continue ahead, ignoring both the path almost doubling back on the right and the one branching to the left, until you get to the field corner near woods on the left. Go to the right down a steep track and continue ahead until you meet the tarred road in Lilley. Turn left and follow the road for about 250m to the village centre. The pub (The Lilley Arms, tel: 01462 768371) is a short distance of this road on the right hand side on a side turning. To return to the walk route, go back the same way to the valley bottom where two paths cross. Turn left and walk along the valley bottom along the field edges (waymarked path) to (9). This will add about 3.7km to the walk.

To shorten the walk, turn right at (7). when this path joins the main path, you can complete the posted walk by turning right and then, soon after, entering the nature reserve at waypoint 11. An even shorter return can be made by going straight ahead at waypoint 11, keeping the field edge on the right, going through a gate and carrying on along the path, through another gate, down the top of the edge of a steep-sided valley, eventually ending at the main road. Do not go through the gate or cross the road but turn right and continue along the road/field edge to the next gate. Leave the field, cross the road and continue to the right to the pub.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

There are lovely views from much of the walk, especially near the start and towards the end. Depending on the time of year, you are likely to see a good display of wildflowers and sightings of red kites and buzzards are common. In summer there are usually butterflies.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.