The Icknield Way Path carried one of my favourite sections of the Hertfordshire Border Walk, as I could hardly avoid expressing on the first ‘Herts Embraced’ walk (on Day 3). The path carries a heritage with it that connects you to the walkers of ancient ages, for it follows a road that was ancient even before the Romans came, and which in Anglo-Saxon days was noted as one of the Great Roads of Britain.
Much of the ancient Icknield Way is now tarmacked road, but other parts are remarkably left as footpath and bridleway, as they would have been in ancient days. It runs roughly along the chalk ridge of the Chilterns, above the scarp, and the Icknield Way Path follows the ancient road, or close by it, from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and thence in an east-north-easterly direction across into Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, for much of its length forming the borders of counties. (It was in the latter capacity of course that it recommended itself to the Hertfordshire Border Walk.)
That is not quite the end either – Ivinghoe Beacon is the beginning of the Ridgeway long-distance route, and the north-easternmost end at Knettleshall Heath is the start of the Peddar’s Way.
To describe the walk is beyond a single, brief post. I have walk long, lovely stretches, but not the whole thing. The rest of it is bookmarked for later explorations. I’ll take a picnic: those chalk grasslands looking out far over the lower land below the escarpment are as if created for picnics.
- The Icknield Way Path– the Icknield Way Association
- The Icknield Way Trail (a longer trail, for cycling and horses)
- The Icknield Way Path on Wikishire
Maps and books
The route is long, stretching across several maps. It might be done with standard Landranger maps, though the additional detail of an Explorer map can be very helpful.
In the Ordnance Survey Explorer, 1:50 000 series:
- Explorer 181 (Chiltern Hills North)
- Explorer 193 (Luton and Stevenage)
- Explorer 182 (St Albans and Hatfield)
- Explorer 195 (Hertford and Bishops Stortford)
- Explorer 209 (Cambridge)
- Explorer 210 (Newmarket and Haverhill)
- Explorer 229 (Thetford Forest in The Brecks)
- The Icknield Way Path: A Walkers’ Guide
- 100 Outstanding British Walks
- Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire – Pathfinder