The Etonbury Green Wheel, which aims to connect the many existing paths, cycle routes and bridleways around Arlesey, Astwick, Fairfield and Stotfold into a continuous countryside loop much like the Letchworth Greenway, was officially launched last month. Fairfield resident Silke Gruner got ahead of the game and explored the route back in May. Here she shares with us her experience.
“As an avid user of the Letchworth Greenway, I was excited to walk the recently launched Etonbury Green Wheel (EGW) one sunny weekend in May. My husband and I set off from Fairfield, and walked the full route (including the aspirational sections, which are yet to be signposted).
“I have lived in Fairfield for over 14 years, but my life revolves around the Baldock/Letchworth area, and I do not know Stotfold or Arlesey all that well. The EGW took us along the River Ivel, past the very neat and pleasant Stotfold Mill Meadows Local Nature Reserve (where I’d never been!). The route leads through Stotfold’s many areas of open space (great for dog-walkers), to the quaint hamlet of Astwick, with its pretty church, barns and cottages.
“We then crossed the fields to the west of Stotfold: a section of the path which is open and sunny – take your hat! The route leads to Arlesey, and took us to the hidden gems which are the Arlesey Old Moat and Glebe Meadows, two nature reserves which are located between the railway line and the River Hiz. Here there are benches and dipping platforms, allowing you to get close to the river and the wildlife along it. We then went back home along West Drive.
“The EGW is a long-term project, and the first phase is now open for public use. The councils and groups responsible for the project will continue to develop the route, including to enable cycling along it, and to find and create new paths where there are currently no good routes. One such area is along the A507 bridge over the railway line near Arlesey station. I am an adult and I did not enjoy walking alongside this busy road – imagine having to take escape-artist children along this section! The organisers are keen to stress that, while there may be other ways of crossing the railway line, these cannot be included within the official route without the landowner’s permission.
“The full route took me around four hours to walk, so take a sandwich and water. I also downloaded a map of the route onto my phone – in one or two places we were not perfectly sure of the route, and it also helped us to gauge how far we still had to go. It also shows you the ‘spokes’, or short-cuts, should you want to take a shorter route home.
“I really enjoyed my walk along the EGW, and discovered so many gems around Stotfold and Arlesey, as well as many new running routes! Don’t expect a Letchworth Greenway type path just yet though – in time, this will come, as the organisers continue to expand and improve the Green Wheel. In the mean time, it is a great way to explore the best parts of the surrounding villages and towns.”