This tour is by car, although there are many places en-route where you could follow numerous footpaths through the Mid Bedfordshire Countryside. We will begin at the crossroads at Silver End Haynes and take the route to Northwood End, passing the community centre on your left and The Greyhound Pub on your right.
At the junction on the A600, where cyclists park to test their skills in the wooded trails opposite, you drive straight on. This is a difficult junction so take care. Ahead the lane winds towards the village of Old Warden. Continue slowly, taking the corners carefully as you pass the disused railway bridges and then converted station house before the village sign comes into view.
Old Warden is a quintessentially English village with its thatched houses and cottage gardens, unspoilt by the passing of time. If the time is right the The Hare and Hounds is a pub and restaurant well worth visiting, whether it is to have a coffee or cold drink in their well laid out gardens or a light or more substantial lunch. In the photo the Mk2, which features in ‘Murder, now and then’, has decided to do just that.
At the end of the village you will pass the gated entrance to Shuttleworth College and The Shuttleworth Collection, although the entrance to the aviation museum is a mile further along the road. The lane continues with two sharp right angled bends where, on a Sunday, you might be charmed by the site of cricketers at play, completing the perfect English village appeal. There is a track opposite on your left up to the church, where you could pause and take a circular walk through surrounding countryside and village – there’s a handy map in the church car-park, which you can use at a discretionary charge.
Back on the lane, as you leave the village, you can enjoy the best views of Shuttleworth College, a Jacobean style Victorian building with a tall tower and imposing chimneys. The entrance to the aviation museum, which will have a post of its own on my tour, is further down the hill, but if you take the next turn on the left your route will continue through arguably some of the best preserved villages of Mid Bedfordshire. First there’s Ickwell Green famed for its gatherings on May Day with Maypole and Morris Dancers. Next is Northill and if you take a left turn here it will wind its way to Cople, another charming village. Turning left again towards Cardington along the Cople Road you can continue until you are suddenly in awe of the Shortstown Hangers in front of you. (You will have seen these at a distance in my last post) I do not believe that anyone could be unmoved by the sight of these vast structures, which speak of aviation vision in times gone by and of the R101 airship, when so many lives were lost. (Shortstown will also feature in an individual post at a later date.)
Continuing along this lane you might spot the entrance to Warden Abbey Vinyard, a local community winery now run by volunteers – its sparkling wine chosen by the Queen Mother I believe! Rumour has it that this year’s harvest has been so good that there might be a 2014 sparkling. I do hope so!
This lane runs parallel to the A600, but it is a much more pleasant route for an afternoon’s ramble amd it will lead you back to the Old Warden Road. A right turn will take you to the crossroads on the A600 and Haynes, the start of this circular tour.