Walks Around Shefford

Walks Around Shefford

A series of eight circular walks around Shefford varying in length from 1¼ - 9 miles in length. You can either print out the maps and directions for all eight walks, or select one route and its map and then choose the option to 'Print Selection' on your printer.

The walks commence at the Town Meeting Room (A) on the maps. Wherever the walk leaves the road the footpaths are marked by finger posts. Thereafter you will find posts with arrows on discs leading you on your way.

Walk 1 - The River Walk

The walk runs from the centre of Shefford along the course of the old canal. You can see ducks and moorhen on the river and you will be able to study a wide variety of bird life and wild flowers.
Length: 1¼ miles (2 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is between 1:6-1:9 at the entry into Bellcote Green between C and E on the map. There is also a gradient of between 1:10-1:13 between points F and G.
Cross Falls: The steepest are between 1:10-1:15 at the riverside between points C and F. Elsewhere, there are cross falls of 1:26 or less.
Width Restriction: There is a width restriction of 840mm on the footbridge at point C.
Steps: The maximum step height is 240mm on the footbridge at point C (there is a total of 16 steps here).
Barriers: There is one staggered barrier with a minimum restriction of less than 950mm and 2 kissing gates with a restriction of between 100-1500mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are 5 seats on the route.

Route Directions Walk 1


Leave the Town Meeting Room A, by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street until you reach the bridge B, over the river Flit.
You take the signed footpath on the right of the bridge. This path runs along the old tow path. In the days when barges came up the canal they moored at the wharf (where a block of flats now stands). The wall of the original wharf still abuts the river. You follow the path beside the river, cross a small footbridge C, and turn left.
This bridge is known as The Swing Bridge' because it stands on the site of an old swing bridge which allowed barges up as far as the South Bridge.
You continue along the well defined footpath. The river bears left and at this point you can see Shefford Mill D, which used to be a watermill, and close to it is the brick tower of the old windmill.
The old watermill was severely damaged in one of many flooding episodes, from which Shefford suffered, and had to be demolished. At this point the canal used to run alongside the path and what is now the main river was the mill stream.
Further along the path the river comes in from the left E. Follow the waymarked path beside the river until the hedge on your right finishes. At this point turn right along the waymarked footpath with a hedge on your left F, until you come to a wooden bridge G, across the original course of the river. Cross the bridge and bear left along the path with the small river on your left.
At this point you may prefer to stroll round Bellcote Meadow, on your right, before continuing on the footpath which brings you to Ashdown Road. Walk up Ashdown Road to the main road H, (Clifton Road) and turn right.
As you follow this road, you will pass on your left an old school on which is a bellcote from which Bellcote Meadow takes its name.
Continue until you come to a mini-roundabout I, where you bear right. This takes you back into Shefford through the traffic lights and back to the starting point.

Walk 2 - Cockshoot Hill

This walk takes you up a hill giving splendid views of the area both on the outward and return journeys.
Length: 1¾ miles (2.8 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 between points F and G. Elsewhere, there are linear gradients of between 1:6-1:9, 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are between 1:10-1:15 between points C and D and between F and G. Elsewhere, there are cross falls of between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is no width restriction of less than 1000mm.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: None recorded.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There is one seat adjacent to the bridge over the River Flit and one located at the view point at point F.

Route Directions Walk 2

Leave the Town Meeting Room A, by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street to the roundabout B, with the Baptist Chapel in front of you and bear left along the Bedford Road.
Just past the speed limit sign you take the signed path C, to the right. The name of the hill up which you are going to walk is Cockshoot Hill - surely a memento of the medieval requirement to improve archery skills by 'shooting at the cock'. This was not a real bird but a feathered target.
Follow this path along the track up the hill and, where it emerges through the hedge onto another track D, look to your left along the field track and you will see a low mound covered by brambles. This is the base of an old water tower which once served Shefford. The land in front leads to Southill House, the home of the Whitbread family of brewery fame from whom The Samuel Whitbread School in Clifton takes its name.
At D, turn right and follow the main track for about 200 metres and then you turn right at a signed path E.
You follow the path keeping first the hedge and then the wood on your right. Whilst following the hedge look to the left behind you and you will see the TV transmission mast at Sandy Heath - the main source of television signals in our area.
The wood itself supports a wide variety of wild life including bluebells and wood anemones in Springtime. At the bottom corner of the wood F, stand and appreciate the view of Shefford and surrounding areas. To your right you can see the Chicksands Intelligence and Security Centre, until a few years ago RAF Chicksands, which with the help of its 'Elephant Cage' aerial helped to decode the German Enigma signal code during World War II.
Also to your diagonal right you can see on a clear day the distinctive outline of the Sharpenhoe Clappers - a wooded hill towards Barton and the site of an Iron Age settlement.
You now turn right keeping the wood on your right and follow the path where it bears left down the hill.
Where the footpath joins the road, (Lucas Way), turn left and at the T junction G, turn right and follow the road to the junction with Northbridge Street and the Bedford Road B.
Turn left and pass the 'White Swan', a riverside pub which used to serve the canal when this was its terminus.
Continue to your starting point, passing on the way the former home of the poet Robert Bloomfield H, indicated by a wall plaque, from whom the middle school in Shefford takes its name.

Walk 3 - Rowney Warren

This walk takes you initially near the River Flit and goes out into the countryside along a very old track where Roman coins have been found. The return journey takes you back through Rowney Warren Wood.
Length: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 on the walk around Rowney Wood. Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper, again on the walk around Rowney Wood. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is a width restriction of 480mm at the exit of the forest walk in Rowney Warren, at point E on the map.
Steps:None recorded.
Barriers: There is one 1-way opening gate with a width of greater than 750mm and one staggered barrier with a minimum restriction of greater than 950mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables:There are three tables at Rowney Warren picnic site.
Seats: There are 8 seats on the route – 4 at Rowney Warren picnic site and 4 on the riverside in Shefford.

Route Directions Walk 3

Leave the Town Meeting Room A, by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street. Immediately over the river Flit bridge B, turn left along a narrow tarmac path which passes in front of a row of bungalows on the right. You will see the river running parallel on your left. At the end of the path turn right and walk uphill to the main road. Turn left and walk along the pavement until you come to a roundabout C.
Follow the signed bridleway to cross the road, through a gate D, and down a track towards the wood E. ahead of you. This lane is marked on the old Ordnance Survey maps as Gresham Lane. When the Shefford Bypass was constructed a number of Roman coins were found in the field on your right.
When you reach the wood, continue along the bridleway with the wood on your right. At quiet times you can see numerous grey squirrels in this part of the wood. You pass behind the buildings of Lodge Farm F, with its attractive commercial development. Note on your left the Parripak complex G, - dedicated to the preparation of vegetables for the catering trade, so continuing the Bedfordshire tradition of onion preparation.
At the road (leading to the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre) you turn right. This road is called Sandy Lane after the sandy nature of the soil in the wood. The soil also contains nodules of ironstone. Can you find samples on your way around? It was used in the original buildings at Lodge Farm.
Walk up the hill until you come to a wide entrance H, to the wood. Here you turn right and enter the wood. The name of the wood is Rowney Warren but in the past it was used by the commoners of Shefford and was known as Shefford Common. They had grazing rights and were allowed to collect the bracken for bedding for their animals. Then it must have been more heathland than wood and occasional heather plants can still be found in odd corners - although the increasing tree cover is gradually smothering them.
From here there are several rides through the wood and you have a choice of walking clockwise or anti-clockwise inside the wood. Follow the ride until it reaches the far right hand corner of the wood where it meets the bridleway along which you travelled earlier E.
Pass through the fence and turn left retracing your steps to Shefford.

Walk 4 - Chicksands Wood

This walk takes you out along open roads and tracks through the quiet Chicksands Wood where you are likely to see small deer grazing. The walk returns though Rowney Warren Wood which comprises mainly conifer trees.
Length: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 in Rowney Warren Wood. Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper, again on the walk through Rowney Warren Wood. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is no width restriction of less than 1000mm.
Steps: The maximum step height is 100mm on step onto the bridge at point K.
Barriers: There is one 2-way opening gate with a width of greater than 750mm, 2 kissing gates with a restriction of less than 1000mm and one 1-way opening gate with a width of greater than 750mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There is one seat at North Bridge Street in Shefford near to the river bridge.

Route Directions Walk 4

Leave the Town Meeting Room A by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street and bear left along the Bedford Road to the roundabout B. Cross over the bypass and take the bridleway opposite.
This leads towards Rowney Warren Wood C. At the end of this path you emerge between farm buildings on your left and the wood on your right on to Sandy Lane D. Cross this road and walk along the concrete road keeping the farm on your left and continue with the wood on your right for about two kilometres until you come to the end of the concrete road E.
Enter the wood on your left (Chicksands Wood) and take the wide track that leads up the avenue of trees.
Along this track you will pass a monument to Lord Halifax F. Further along the track forks G. At the top of the left fork there is a monument to Henry Osborne H, 'a good neighbour and true sportsman’. The Osbornes were the family who lived in Chicksands Priory and owned this wood. The priory has belonged to the MOD since World War 2 when it was used as a listening post supplying information to the decoding experts at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
However you should take the right fork, passing on your left the old railway workings, a relic of World War 2 when ammunition was stored in the wood.
Follow the track almost to the farm gates I. Turn right and follow the track down the hill. Go through the kissing gate at the side of gate J, and follow the path round the electricity pole to the right. This is part of the Greensand Ridge Walk. You now follow this path, keeping the wood to your right until you come to a road K.
Turn right and follow the tarmac road round several bends up a hill between houses and at the road junction continue ahead, keeping the wood on your right. At the crossroads you turn right and enter the wood by the main gate L. In the wood you walk straight ahead down the main wide track to the bottom of the hill where five tracks meet. You take the second track on the left, where it bears ninety degrees, and then, at a junction of four tracks, take the right hand track.
This brings you to a gate opposite farm buildings. You go through the gate, turn left and you are back on the concrete road along which you passed earlier. Cross Sandy Lane and retrace your steps back to Shefford.

Walk 5 - Stanford Lock

The walk takes you initially alongside the River Ivel Navigation – an old canal – then into open countryside to the only remaining lock available for public view in this area. The return journey can include a walk in Stanford Wood.
Length: 7 miles (11.3 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is between 1:6-1:9 over short distances between point I and J on the map and at point K on the detour around Stanford Wood. Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper at several points on the route. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is a width restriction of 790mm on the second bridge after Stanford Lock, one of 840mm on the footbridge at point C and one of 920mm on the sleeper bridge at The Baulk.
Steps: There are 16 steps with a maximum step height of 240mm on the footbridge at point C.
Barriers: There is one kissing gate with a restriction of less than 1000mm and one kissing gate with a restriction of between 1000-1500mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford, Stanford and Clifton. There are also local shops and restaurants in Shefford.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are six seats located at various points throughout the route.

Route Directions Walk 5

Leave the Town Meeting Room A, by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street and take the signed footpath on the right at the bridge over the River Flit B. You are walking along the brick-built wharf where barges tied up when the canal was used commercially.
Follow the path beside the river; cross a footbridge C and turn left. In summer the banks here are a mass of purple comfrey and occasionally kingfishers may be seen on the river. The water voles - common here twenty years ago - have unfortunately succumbed to the introduced mink, though plans are in hand to re-introduce the native otter.
Continue along the path beside the river. The river bears to the left of the path and at this point you can see Shefford Mill, which used to be a watermill, and close to it are the brick remains of a windmill D. Further along the path the river comes in from the left.
Continue on the footpath along the river bank until you reach a concrete bridge E. This is known locally as the Horse Bridge and is a point at which the canal towpath changed sides of the river. Turn left to cross. Turn immediately right and walk with the river on your right until you come to the Stanford to Clifton Road F. Turn right and walk to the cross roads G, beside Clifton Church. Turn left down Church Street and, after about 600 metres, at a point where the road turns sharply right, you go through the kissing gate and turn left down a well-defined grass track H. The land in this area is known as the Baulk. (As this is a permissive path, if it is closed, follow the tarmac road to its end and then take the bridleway and footpaths to follow the route shown on the map.)
This track takes you to the river again. Follow the track with the river on your left until you come to a wooden bridge by an old lock I which once served the canal. This is probably the best preserved lock in the Shefford area.
Cross the bridge, then another narrow bridge, and where the path emerges on to a track turn left. The track becomes a road and at the junction with the main Stanford to Clifton road J, turn left and follow the road to Stanford Wood K. There is a walk around Stanford Wood which has a large pond in it, which used to be a brick clay pit.
When emerging from the wood, turn right and follow the road to the signed path on your right at point F.
Return to Shefford by retracing your steps along this path.

Walk 6 - Polehanger

The walk takes you out into the countryside where you will get excellent views of the local area. The return journey brings you to a path beside the River Hit where kingfishers can very often be seen.
Length: 4 miles (6.5 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud to cultivated farmland.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 between points I and J. Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper between points F and I. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 600mm on the bridge just after point E. There are also restrictions of between 780mm and 830mm on the various bridges on the route.
Steps: There is one step with a maximum step height of 100mm at point F.
Barriers: There are 4 kissing gates with a restriction of less than 1000mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are two seats on Shefford High Street, two between points H and I and one between points L and H.

Route Directions Walk 6

Leave the Town Meeting Room A, by walking to the traffic lights and turn right into the High Street. Continue, noting as you proceed, the Parish Church B, and St Francis Court C, (formerly a boys' home). Next to it is the Roman Catholic Church D, and opposite is Tudor House E, (formerly the King's Arms public house).
At the end of the High Street you will see New Street (opposite the Fish Shop). Follow New Street to its end and continue straight ahead through the new housing development and down the signed footpath, turning left at its end F.
Continue, keeping the hedge and wood to your left. At the river turn right, walking beside the river for a short distance. You then cross the footbridge G, and go through the underpass H.
Pass through a kissing gate and turn right, and continue along the path beside the river for about 100 metres.
This is the site of Polehanger Green - a settlement which appears in the Domesday Book. Oddly enough it was, until the last thirty years, part of Hertfordshire - an island in the surrounding Bedfordshire. The name 'Polehanger' is derived from 'Pwyll’ or 'pool' and hanger, a wood growing on a hillside.
Turn left at the wood and follow the path which is signed to take you to a kissing gate on the edge of a field, with Polehanger Farm on your left. You cross the field diagonally to the left on the clearly-defined footpath which emerges on to a track by a large tree. Bear right and follow the track which winds its way uphill.
The wood to your left across the field contains a large rookery which you will see and hear according to the season. At the top of the hill turn round and look at the view over Shefford.
Continue on the track until it meets another track I. You now have a view over Campton and far beyond.
Turn right and continue down the steep track until it meets with a surfaced driveway J to Woodhall Farm.
Here you turn right along this driveway until you reach a hedge on your left K. Turn left, keeping the hedge on your right. Cross over a sleeper bridge and through a kissing gate in the hedge and proceed with the hedge now on your left. Where the path meets the river L, turn right and follow the path keeping the river on your left. You may be lucky and see a kingfisher along here.
This path will take you to the underpass H, from where you retrace your steps to Shefford.

Walk 7 - Campton

The walk is an extension to the Polehanger walk around Shefford and takes you through the village of Campton and on to the eastern edge of the Chicksands Centre. The return journey is through Shefford Hardwicke Farm.
Length: 5.5 miles (8.9 km), including the distance covered by the Polehanger walk.
Access Information:
For Route Information for the first part of this walk, please refer to Shefford Walk 6 – Polehanger.


Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud to cultivated farmland.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 between the A507 and Woodhall Farm and between points O and P on the map (a short distance). Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper between points L and N. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 600mm on the bridge just before you reach the A507. There is a width of 610mm on the bridge at point L.
Steps: There are two steps with a maximum step height of 240mm on the bridge at point L and 2 single steps with a maximum height of 100mm on the bridge between points P and Q. There is also a double stepover at the side of the kissing gate at point P which has a maximum height of 310mm.
Barriers: There are 6 kissing gates with a restriction of less than 1000mm, three 1-way opening gates with a width greater than 750mm, one kissing gate with a restriction of between 1000-1500mm and one staggered barrier with a restriction greater than 950mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford and one in Campton – the White Hart in Mill Lane. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are two seats on Shefford High Street, two between points P and O and four by the riverside in Shefford.

Route Directions Walk 7

Proceed as for walk six until point L, is reached.
Where the path meets the river, turn left crossing a small wooden bridge and then immediately cross a wide wooden bridge and turn left. You follow the path until it emerges on to a lane at the entrance to Campton Mill M, (formerly a water mill). Walk down the lane to the cross roads and turn right into Greenway. Campton Church N, was for many years the church which served Shefford, as Shefford did not have a church of its own - only a chapel-of-ease.
You continue along Greenway and, just before its junction with the A507 road, you fork right to take the underpass 0, which brings you on to Campton Road. Turn right and walk to the end of the cemetery and take the signed footpath on your left. At the end of this path turn left into Ampthill Road and go to the roundabout P.
The wood opposite has a bridleway through it but the entrance is in dispute. If there is no 'Bridleway' sign into the wood walk along the A507 keeping the wood on your right. After about 300 metres you enter the wood by the signed bridleway. Follow the waymark posts until a bridleway comes in from the left and turn left. (If there is a 'Bridleway' sign into the wood at roundabout P, enter the wood and follow the wide track and turn right at the next bridleway.)
Follow the bridleway over two bridges until you come to a junction with a track which runs beside the security fence Q, of Chicksands Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC). DISC is now an MOD property which houses a combined services operation, but for many years it was home to the United States Air Force which used it as a listening post. Before that it served British Intelligence.
At this track you turn right and walk along a track with a small wood on your left. Pass through a gate and cross the A600 road R, then through a kissing gate. Follow the track to Shefford Hardwicke Farm S,.
The name means 'the river meadows for the cattle (or herd) and the present farmer still grazes sheep in his meadows.
Go through the farm by heading for the shed to the left of the farm buildings and follow the signed route to the tarmac drive, where you turn left T.
Proceed along the drive and walk under the old railway bridge. At the road junction U, turn right and continue until you reach Riverside Road on your right V. Walk down this road and turn left to walk along the narrow tarmac path in front of bungalows with the river on your right.
At the junction with Northbridge Street you turn right to bring you back to the starting point.

Walk 8 - Shefford Hardwicke

This walk takes you through Shefford Hardwicke Farm, around the security fencing of Chicksands Centre and back on a bridleway beside Rowney Warren Wood.
Length: 4 miles (6.5 km)
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 for a short distance on the alternative woodland path through Rowney Warren. Elsewhere there are gradients of between 1:6-1:9, between 1:10-1:13 and between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper between points F and G. Elsewhere on the route there are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15, between 1:16-1:20 and between 1:21-1:25.
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 900mm on entering and 480mm when exiting the alternative woodland path through Rowney Warren. Otherwise there are no width restrictions on less than 1000mm.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: There is one kissing gate with a restriction of less than 1000mm, two 1-way opening gates with a width of greater than 750mm and one staggered barrier with a minimum restriction of greater than 950mm.
Refreshments: There are many pubs in Shefford. There are also local shops and restaurants.
Public Toilets: Located at North Bridge Street, adjacent to the start of the walk.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are four seats, one on entering Riverside and 3 in Riverside.

Route Directions Walk 8

Introduction

Leave the Town Meeting Room A by walking away from the traffic lights along Northbridge Street. Immediately over the river Flit bridge B turn left along a narrow tarmac path which passes in front of a row of bungalows on the right. You will see the river running parallel on your left. At the end of the path turn right and walk uphill to the main road. Turn left and walk along the pavement for about 200 metres and turn left onto a tarmac driveway signed footpath C.
This driveway passes under the old railway bridge. This railway once ran from Hitchin to Bedford through Shefford and the station stood near the Bridge Hotel. Continue on this driveway and follow the signs through Shefford Hardwicke Farm D.
The name means 'the river meadows for the cattle (or herd)' and the present farmer still grazes sheep in his meadows. If you are fortunate enough to walk this way in Spring the lambs make a cheering sight as they gambol about in the fields.
You leave the farm by bearing left to cross a small bridge to the left of the wood. Next you pass through a kissing gate, cross the A600 road E and pass through a further gate.
You follow the track until you reach the security fencing of Chicksands Defence Intelligence and Security Centre F. You now turn right and follow the track, which initially runs beside the fencing, until you reach the access road G to the Chicksands Centre.
At this road you turn right and walkabout 100 metres until you reach a signed bridleway which runs behind the buildings H on your right.
If you look at these farm buildings you can see, included in some of the walls, the soft rust-coloured local sandstone. This was very likely quarried in the adjacent wood where you can easily see the remains of small pits and quarries.
At this track, which is called Gresham Lane on old Ordnance Survey maps, you turn right and walk behind the buildings. You can now continue with the wood on your left, or fork left and walk just inside the wood, parallel to the bridleway.
Continue to the end of the wood (rejoin the bridleway) and follow the path until you emerge near a roundabout I.
Follow the signed path across the road and walk towards Shefford along the Bedford Road, where you walk on the pavement past the buttresses of another bridge of the old railway and retrace your steps into Shefford.

Acknowledgements

These walks have been developed by Shefford Town Council P3 Group with support from Bedfordshire County Council Environmental and Economic Department. The design and printing of the leaflets has been supported by the County Council and the Countryside Commission under the Parish Paths Partnership scheme.
Drawings by Stuart Hodgson, Shefford.
If you have any comment to make regarding improving the walks, please write to: P3 Group, Shefford Town Council, Council Chamber, Northbridge Street, Shefford, SG17 5DQ.