Preston and Hitch Wood, Chilterns

A short circuit from Preston village through Hitch Wood, one of the finest woods in the North Chilterns. Worth following for spectacular bluebells in spring or as a pre-pub leg stretch.

Technical sheet
No. 28401681
A Preston (Hertfordshire) walk posted on 03/11/22 by Chiltern Society. Update : 03/11/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 1h35[?]
Distance Distance : 5.09 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 35 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 35 m
Highest point Highest point : 156 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 112 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Preston (Hertfordshire)
Starting point Starting point : N 51.908571° / W 0.285589°
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Start : The Red Lion, The Green, Preston, Hitchin (SG4 7UD). Grid ref: TL 180 247

(D/A) Take School Lane from the village green, heading South with the brick wall of the school on your left. You will shortly come to the entrance to the Princess Helena College with views of the college to your left. (A)

(1) Here you cut off a corner in the road by taking a permissive path to your left – head half-left from the road (East) across the field, just to the left of a copse of trees.

(2) You rejoin the road at a T junction. Take the lane half-right signposted to St Pauls Walden and Whitwell, passing to the left of Minsden Farm. The road starts to descend and curve to the left past some houses and you come to Hitch Wood (B) on your right shortly after. You will see a path into the wood from a passing place.

(3) Take this track and turn left at a junction just inside the woods. Follow the path parallel to the road to the bottom corner of the wood.

(4) As you near the bottom corner of the wood you will see a noticeboard ahead of you. Just before you reach it, turn right on a winding, permissive path climbing steadily into the wood for 150m. (Alternative start)

Turn right on a path that traverses across the slope for 350m. The path bears left over a low ridge before swinging right and descending into a dry valley. Cross the valley, turn left at a path junction and ascend up the shallow valley. You pass a bench then in another 150m turn right at a waymark post in front of a holly tree. The signed route leaves the gully and climbs through the wood, curving to the right. As the path starts to level off, you come to a signpost indicating a sharp left turn.

(5) Take this turn onto a fainter path, almost back on the way you've come. In 150m you reach a broad track. Turn left onto it and follow it to the edge of the wood. Turn right along the field edge for 100m.

(6) Turn right again back into the trees. Pass through the wood and continue on the same path for the next 1000m, the path becoming a track then a lane. Where you hit a public road at the edge of the village, keep straight on and take the footpath to the right just past the village school. This passes between gardens and soon brings you back to the village green. (D/A)

We hope you have enjoyed your walk. Please remember to rate the walk and add comments. We are interested in how we could improve the instructions or the route and would like to hear about any issues with paths on the walk.

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 147 m - The Red Lion - Temple Dinsley Preceptory
1 : km 0.26 - alt. 151 m - Permissive path
2 : km 0.71 - alt. 151 m - Hitchwood Lane - T-junction - Hitch wood
3 : km 1.29 - alt. 142 m - Hitch Wood
4 : km 2.01 - alt. 112 m - Noticeboard
5 : km 2.93 - alt. 156 m - Sharp turn
6 : km 3.4 - alt. 147 m - Field edge
D/A : km 5.08 - alt. 147 m - The Red Lion

Useful Information

Start & finish: The Red Lion, The Green, Preston, Hitchin (SG4 7UD). Grid ref: TL 180 247
Alternative Start: There is a small car park at the junction of Hitchwood Lane and the B651 Whitwell Road. From here cross the lane into the woods to join the route at Waypoint (4).

Parking: Parking at the Red Lion for customers only. Otherwise please park considerately in the village

Local transport: Bus 88 runs between Luton and Hitchin on Mondays to Fridays.

Food & drink: The Red Lion in Preston.

Terrain: An easy walk, with steady ascents and descents. Paths are generally good, but the sections through woodland can be very muddy in wet conditions.

Find more information and walks at Chiltern Society here.

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

(A) Temple Dinsley Preceptory was the most important templar holding in England outside London. Temple Dinsley is now a girls’ school - Princess Helena College. The current college buildings were remodelled and greatly extended by Edwin Lutyens in the early 20th century. Lutyens also designed cottages in Chequers lane and Minsden Farm, now known as Ladygrove, visible on this section of the walk.

(B) Hitch wood : One of the finest woods in the North Chilterns, it is a mix of oak, beech and chestnut trees. There are fine displays of bluebells in spring. Look out for the timid muntjac and small herds of fallow deer.The paths in the wood are 'Permissive' - provided voluntarily by the landowner. Please keep to the waymarked paths to prevent damage to plants and to ensure this access is continued.

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