Harlington - The Tinker's Trail

Harlington – The Tinker’s Trail

This pleasant circular walk visits many sites associated with John Bunyan and offers opportunities to view wildlife such as stoats and woodpeckers.

How To Get There By Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN – For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website

How To Get There By Car

Harlington is just off the A5120 to the south of Ampthill, and is located about 1.5 miles from Junction 12 of the M1.
Parking is available at Sundon Hills Country Park or at the Village Hall car park. You can also park at Harlington Station car park (there is a charge).

Start/Finish Point

The suggested starting point for this circular walk is Harlington Village Hall car park.

Access and General Information

Length: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud to cultivated farmland.
Linear Gradient: The steepest are steeper than 1:6 and between 1:6-1:9.
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: There is no width restriction of less than 1000mm.
Steps: The maximum step height is 200mm on the bridge.
Barriers: There is one 1-way kissing gate with a width of greater than 750mm and three 2-step stiles. The gate at the school has a restriction of 650mm and the bridge a restriction of 530mm.
Refreshments: There is one pub in Harlington – The Carpenters Arms and a selection of shops.
Public Toilets: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There is one seat opposite Hillcrest House.

Route Description

1 Face the Carpenter's Arms, turn right on leaving Village Hall car park and walk towards crossroads from where you can see Harlington House. Turn right again along Church Road. Before reaching old Village School, now the Parish Hall, look at P3 notice board showing all footpaths in the parish. Cross road and continue past church to the corner of Lincoln Way 2 so named because for centuries Harlington was in the diocese of Lincoln. Passing shops on right take second left into Monmouth Road. At the bottom turn right for 70m and cross road to finger post beside school. Keep between the two fences stopping at 3. Look to right across field showing distinct crop marks - site of a mediaeval moated farmstead.

Continue uphill to stile. Cross and turn left along hedge and follow Waymarkers. Cross field diagonally to yellow marker post (left of large tree). 4 (This is an area of Countryside Access. The scheme allows the public recreational access and its continuance is to be reviewed in January 2001). In the woodland to your left are traces of early 20th Century brick manufacture. For the serious nature lover these fields are home to a healthy population of rabbits and stoats; woodpeckers both green and great spotted betray their presence by distinctive calls.

Walk down middle of field, the path then passes between pond and hedge towards overgrown trackway to railway line. On your right note the ruins of College Farm so called because it was donated to the Cambridge University colleges of Caius and Gonville founded in 1348. This area is still within the Countryside Access Scheme. Keeping railway line to your left, passing solar powered signalling system, turn right into Samshill Road. 5 Climb up steep hill to Hillcrest where fine views of surrounding countryside can be seen, e.g. to the west Toddington Church and to the north Maulden and Flitton Churches with King's Wood on the horizon. The weary walker may like to take advantage of bench on right! Continue down lane to junction of four tracks.

6 The track to the right goes back to College Farm and also to the site of the moated farm where John Bunyan was arrested whilst conducting a prayer meeting in November 1660. His congregation from the neighbouring villages had assembled by using the tracks you are walking today. From here Bunyan was taken by the Constable to Harlington House for interrogation before Francis Wingate the magistrate and thence to Bedford Gaol.

Turn left along road for 50m to footbridge on right. Cross field, over bridge and stile towards Middle Samshill Farm - originally another moated farmstead. (In wet conditions use lane). Pass through gate then turn right into lane towards Upper Samshill Farm. This Westoning hamlet probably derived its name from its location on a sandy hill. The farm is at a junction of four paths - the old road between Harlington and Pulloxhill crossed here. Turn right at five barred gate into pasture. Before walking downhill look right across to the opposite hill and observe ridge and furrow ploughing - remnants of earlier cultivation. Cross stile, sleeper bridge and second stile beside pond passing through a patch of newly planted woodland. Walk through large arable field keeping to left of oak tree until you reach junction of paths.

7 Cross over bridleway, once travelled by Cistercian monks between their properties at Woburn Abbey and Harlington Grange Mill. Keep hedge of old factory to left, formerly the site of an early twentieth century brick works. During World War II The War Ministry set up a factory here to produce tungsten carbide and shell cases. Follow round field edge to plank bridge and stile. Walk through meadow to gateway. 8 The large dead oak on your right was reputed to be a favourite preaching place of John Bunyan. Indeed boughs blown down in the great storm of October 1987 were used to make an altar and feature table for Harlington Parish Church. Nearby is a replacement oak planted in 1988 by the botanist David Bellamy. Climb up steep hill. Careful observation will reveal lynchets - ancient cultivation terraces. On the horizon is the old hamlet of Upper East End Green comprising Upper East End and Horsehill Farms. Cross stile into spinney. 9 Exercise caution as the path stops abruptly on main road. Turn right and bear left into Barton Road, signposted Village Centre, for about 400m. Observe outstanding views of Sharpenhoe Clappers and Sundon Hills.

Cross road at sharp bend and take footpath into Bury Orchard. 10 In winter your eye is guided towards St Mary's Church. One cannot fail to see the line where the original mediaeval nave roof was attached to the fifteenth century tower. Visible in the south wall of the chancel is a window dedicated to John Bunyan in 1929 as shown on the front of the leaflet. Bacchus Pond on the right, as we know it today, is the result of nineteenth century gravel workings but according to an eighteenth century map was sited further north and spread across the road in true village pond fashion. The Village Hall Car Park can be clearly seen on your left. We hope you have enjoyed your walk.