Greenway stage one: Purwell to Standalone Farm

We started our walk in Purwell at the point where the Greenway is traversing a series of long, pleasant and often field-edge paths in preparation for skirting the north-west suburb of Letchworth on a roadside section. This is also the point at which the Hitchin Outer Orbital Path (HOOP) and the Greenway start to run side by side, a partnership that will endure as far as Wilbury. Here the path leaves the suburban streets on the eastern boundary of Hitchin to take a short field-edge detour before running on an extremely pleasant path along the edge of Letchworth golf course. This is a cracking spot for foraging at the right time of year, featuring blackberries, sloes and occasionally damsons too.

After dodging down a short stretch of woodland footpath and, coming out on the short but busy stretch of the A505 that runs between Hitchin and Letchworth, you will soon arrive at a tiny but beautiful area on the very outskirts of the Garden City. At the town sign the Greenway takes a sharp left turn through a gate. Here is a little garden made up of plants with local significance such as roses and lavender. Next to it is a triangle of grass that the council keeps largely unmown so that meadow flowers can thrive. Because of the proximity of this area to Harkness Roses the hedges are made up of mature Rugosas (a species that is great for flavourful hips at the right time of year). Through the gate and you are walking along the edges of fields that are often used for rose cultivation before coming in sight of the Cambridge branch line where it crosses Stotfold Road on a viaduct before heading off to Letchworth station.

A clump of trees standing out of the ploughed landscape to your left is a round barrow of late Neolithic/early Bronze Age date. This is the point when you leave the field edges and cut into suburban Letchworth for a long street section. After taking the path between the garages and adventure playground, and navigating through the streets of Letchworth’s Hillbrow area, you find yourself at one of two railway crossings that you will need to navigate on this walk. After threading through these, a point of great interest follows – the prefabricated bungalows in Campfield Way and Highover Road. You can read more about their history in our HOOP path description, which also passes through this area.