A funny thing happens when your train leaves London, you get to see open green spaces and the countryside. After years of navigating the historic streets of London and walking along the Thames multiple times, I’ve rarely had a chance to leave the city other than my first visit eons ago when I did the whole touristy bus thing (visiting Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford on Avon, Windsor Castle and Oxford). It’s easy to forget that England (and the United Kingdom) is more than London. There is so much to see outside of the city and I’m starting to look further afield to find the England I’ve read about, the one I’ve watched over the years and heck maybe just the lovely estate that they film The Great British Baking Show (a new favorite PBS addiction) or Downton Abbey. This exploration led me to the Hitchin Lavender Farm (fields) in Hertfordshire.
The stress of the city quickly melts away as the train speeds past fields with horses and through tunnels (so quickly that my ears pop). I was staying with a friend outside of the city (a quick 35 minute train ride) and he was prepared to show me all the attractions in the area (there aren’t many although the villages do have many signs saying otherwise). Knowing that I love to take photographs of nature, he waited for the perfect day to surprise me with the lavender fields in the nearby town of Hitchin.
Hitchin Lavender Fields
Arriving at the farm in the late afternoon on a weekday, we easily parked and walked toward the fields. There is a gift shop on the property (of course, selling all things lavender) as well as a snack shop with lavender infused foods like gelato (interesting), homemade cakes and lunches. Walking toward the lavender field, we saw a small patch of flowers not available to be cut just yet.
At the field, we encountered the ticket booth (there is an entry fee of to cut your own lavender) which was empty, the fallen rules sign and a box of shears to cut the lavender. The flowering season is mid-June to the end of August so our July visit was literally picture perfect. We saw a few folks in the field leaning over to cut their lavender as well as a professional photographer arranging his shots. We continued to look for someone who worked there and with no joy we just entered and began to walk up the row to admire the purple flowers and watch the winds blowing through the fields on the blue sky puffy cloud day.
It had rained the prior two days and this day was almost too perfect for this to be England! We didn’t cut any flowers, instead opting to just wander and enjoy the gorgeous views as far as the eye could see (they have nearly 20 acres of flowers which is almost 25 miles of lavender!). I was in a relaxing dreamlike state until my serenity was disturbed by a familiar buzzing. The bees were flying around the lavender so I stayed on the outside bumpy path rather than walk (or run scared) among the rows because once you start up the row you can’t exit until the end.
The smell of the lavender was faint for me, my friend said it was not as overwhelming as we expected but quite fragrant and questioned my sense of smell! Leaving the main cutting field we walked the perimeter to see the other flowers, sunflowers and wildflowers, on the property. I didn’t get to cut any flowers (maybe next time) but I loved the photos and the calming experience. We left the farm, turned left and then stopped at the first pub we found to enjoy drinks outside (can’t get anymore British than a pub in the afternoon).
Hitchin Lavender Farm
If you want to cut your own lavender, the cost is £4.50 adult (£1 for kids up to 14 with under 5 free) which is much cheaper than flying to Provence in France to see their lavender fields. The Hitchin Lavender farm is open in 2016 from May 2nd – September 18th. They sell their lavender products online domestically and internationally.
Lavender in England, who knew? I do now and can’t wait to go back!