Lavender is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time, and had an enjoyable visit there last weekend. Situated on the outskirts of Hitchin, this is the northern-most area of the Chilterns and is often overlooked as the Luton sits right in-between it and the Dunstable Downs.
This lovely market town has long been one of the few centres for lavender growing in England and this tradition has been revived on Caldwell Farm.
In the 1760’s Hitchin’s association with lavender grew when Harry Perks established a pharmacy.
His son Edward started commercially growing the plant in the 1800’s and in the latter part of the 19th century Harry’s Grandson Samuel forged a partnership with Charles LLewellyn.
As “Perks & Llewellyn” they established a countrywide reputation for their lavender products.
At its peak over 100 acres were grown and Hitchin became renowned nationally as they won a series of awards. The industry went into decline but a replica of the shop survives at the Hitchin Museum.
There are around 25 miles of lavender rows which you can walk through and pick your own fresh flowers and I have never seen so many butterflies! T
hey were competing with numerous industrious bees and I wonder who has the hives and what the honey tastes like? I didn’t spot the hives, but they can’t be far away.
The views back towards the Chilterns are lovely, and a visit can be easily enjoyed along with a walk through the surrounding hills.
Dogs are welcome too (with well behaved owners), and inside the 17th century barn lunches and home made cakes are available.
Hitchin Lavender is open to explore between May and September each year and the best time to visit is now.
There are lots more summer ideas and inspiration to be found on www. VisitChilterns.co.uk and for visitor information http://www. hitchinlavender.com