A slightly delayed fourth day of the Chalk Walk, as I had been unwell earlier in the month. Friends Rachael and Jane had hoped to be with us, but sadly couldn’t make it because they had both picked up a virus too.
So a select group of enthusiasts braved the early morning start: Winnie and I met Bev, Den and Philippa in the car park of Royston Sports Centre at 7am. We drove to Hitchin and picked up my wonderful friend Lucy, who had travelled up on the train from London to meet us. She had got up at 4.45am! Now that’s dedication.
We headed to the start, leaving my car at Ickleford. Another grey day, but luckily no rain to begin with.
Outside Ickelford Church.
Over the mainline railway.
Through the outskirts of Letchworth.
Along the edge of the railway track…. lovely…..
Past the wonderful Grade II listed, Arts & Crafts Spirella Company building – the highlight of our walk through Letchworth. Corsets are no longer made here, but it has been restored to house offices and has manicured gardens.
After a fairly unattractive walk through an industrial area, we left Letchworth, crossed over the A1(M) and headed into Baldock.
We picked up Jean from the train station and after a brief loo stop at the splendid Art Deco building that is now a Tesco, we continued on our way, crossing the familiar A505 and heading off (at last) into countryside.
This was a lovely stretch towards Wallington. I remembered walking along here once with my son, Louis, on a glorious summer’s day, with fully grown crops on either side. Today’s wintry landscape was somewhat different, but the grassy track was still a pleasure to walk along and I was pleased to leave Baldock and Letchworth behind us (no offence to any readers from those towns!).
In the village of Wallington we made a slight detour to take a look at a cottage that George Orwell had lived in. Apparently he had kept the village sweet shop. No sweet shop to be found today….
On to the hamlet of Redhill and then Roe Green.
Arriving in Sandon, we stopped for lunch in the salubrious surroundings of the bus shelter.
After lunch, we met the legendary Sandon goose, who stood territorially in this old phone box, hissing at any passers-by.
Have there been generations of geese ruling this pleasant village?
Bizarrely, the following week, Philippa emailed me to tell me that there had been a mysterious drive-by shooting in Sandon – someone had (allegedly) leaned out of a 4×4 vehicle and shot the famous goose dead. Someone has put up a £250,000 reward in order to catch the culprits!
From Sandon, the weather started to deteriorate. But the route to Therfield was very beautiful and we walked some of the way with a dog walker and her beagle, Bertie. Philippa told her all about Home-Start and later that day, I noticed that there was a donation on the Mydonate website from Bertie the Beagle. I cannot thank Bertie’s owner, but was touched at her generosity (and impressed with Philippa’s powers of persuasion!).
We met up with Linda at the pub in Therfield. Although it would have been lovely to take a break here (and there hadn’t been any pubs since Baldock), we decided to press on, for fear of never wanting to leave the warm and welcoming Fox & Duck.
It was lovely to walk the last stretch with Linda and the time seemed to fly by, despite the murky weather.
Final descent to Royston – Therfield Heath.
We all had a big cup of tea at the Royston Sports Club. It tasted fantastic! The end of the longest stretch yet, but a lovely (if rather muddy) walk.
Winnie, still sleeping the following day…..
Thanks to everyone who accompanied me on Day 4.
I hope to see some of you again next time.
For donations, please visit http://www.mydonate.bt.com and type “Juliet Greer” in the “Sponsor a Fundraiser” box.