Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Hilly Lilley

Monday's walk started at the village of Lilley in Hertfordshire. It wasn't till recently that I realised that it was served by a bus service and therefore opened up new possibilities for walks. 

A short sharp climb from the village led up onto the ridge known as Lilley Hoo. It was pleasant enough walking but views were largely blocked by hedges and plantations till I reached Telegraph Hill. The name is nothing to do with modern communications but dates back to the Napoleonic Wars when it was part of a network of signalling stations across the country. Men were stationed atop prominent viewpoints and passed messages from hilltop to hilltop with astonishing speed - as long as it wasn't foggy!

We're now in the Chiltern Hills, or at least an outlier of them. Most people know the Chilterns in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire, bit few realise there's this little bit to the east of Luton. The whole ridge is formed of chalk which is composed of microscopic marine life which died and sank to the bottom of ancient seas some 65 to 95 million years ago. We should get some super views once we've passed through this beech wood.

This little section is Pegsdon Hill. Quite apart from the views it's also rich with wildlife, especially during summer when there are many orchids and butterflies to be seen. Expect a visit here next year!

It's easy walking along the top and was used as a major routeway by Iron Age people making their way across the country. We don't know if they had a name for it but at some time it became known as the Icknield Way.

This is one of the best places in the country to see birds of prey. Red Kites and Buzzards, which were once noteworthy sightings, are now common along the ridge. The sight of 50 to 60 birds, all Kites and Buzzards, wheeling around in the blue sky, was just one of the rewards of my walk.

There are many ways to read a map. With practice you can almost envisage the landscape from a detailed map, but how about reading it as poetry? Place names on today's map include: Mazebeard Spring, Tingley Wood, Brogsdell, Cloudhill Farm, Muzzleford Wood and Knocking Hoe.

That's Tingley Wood....

And here's Knocking Hoe, a dry valley which also has interesting plant life in spring.

The rest of the walk, undertaken in perfect conditions for walking, would have seemed splendid if not for comparison with what had gone earlier.

The only sight marring the prospect was this heap of rubbish left inexplicably in the middle of a pretty meadow. Why?

Finally I made my way by Lilleyhoo Lane - now there's a name - then over the hill back to Lilley. ("Lilley in the valley" you might say!)

Take care.  


  1. I don't understand the mentality of people who dump their rubbish and despoil our beautiful countryside. I live on a Common owned by the NT and people drive across it throwing their crisp packets and bottles out of the windows - why can't they take it home and dump it in their own rubbish bins!!!
    Lovely photos of a place that I know well - we very nearly bought a thatched property in Lilley.

  2. Spectacular scenery John, with some very silly names ๐Ÿ˜€ Not that I can say anything, we have some corkers here too ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. What lovely views on this walk :)

    The lanes I used to drive to work very often had old sofas and matresses fly tipped on them. I can understand it though as the local tip charges quite a lot for you to take things there now and people don't want to pay for that, on top of the council tax! The local council here do seem quite good at clearing up as whatever was dumped was always removed in a couple of days but it's still am annoyance and a problem that needs addressing.

  4. Lovely views, and I think I would really enjoy knowing I was stepping in footsteps of Iron Age ancestors.

  5. What a lovely walk. I always wonder when I'm reading your posts about these long beautiful walks, how it is that it is all open to the public. These are not private lands? Is it all public lands connected by trails? You do see such beautiful sights. How far did you walk on this trip? It is grand!

  6. Beautiful views! I love to think about walking those paths trod by so many. I think the old names are great!
    Appreciate the mention of birds. Looking forward to orchids๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Hi John - well you certainly chose a good day to visit - stunning photos ... landscape, woodlands et al. Flytipping is just so destructive and costly to clear up. Delighted you gave us magnificent views and stories to go with your delightful names that are found in the English language ... describing areas millennial years old ... cheers Hilary

  8. That was anicei walk with lots of interest pity about the flytippers a blight we all have to put up with from time to time

  9. Fly tipping is a massive scourge in our area, folk advertising "tip runs" for local people.

  10. The countryside is such a great place for a wander and the photis are exceptional!

  11. The landscape in the countryside is gorgeous. I like the different names you have for certain places and it's a shame someone felt the need to litter the landscape with their rubbage. Unfortunately it happens here too.

  12. Hilly indeed! Bit different from Cambridgeshire, isn't it. Love those names.

  13. What beautiful views. I bet you will be back when the autumn colors are blazing.

  14. I love the names for things there! They all sounds like they belong in fairy tales.
    I never understood people dumping garbage wherever...happens here too.


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