You don’t have to go to Provence in France to see beautiful lavender fields. There are many dotted around the UK and one just happens to be 35 miles north of London outside the small market town of Hitchin (‘The Travel Bunny’ has a full list of English Lavender fields on her blog). The very end of July/start of August is the perfect time to visit but be quick as the season is a short one and you don’t want to miss out! Hitchin Lavender’s flowering season is between mid-June to the end of August.
The lavender fields in Hitchin are set on a rolling, south facing hill with lovely views across the Hertfordshire countryside as you look down from the top. They have sunflowers on the eastern side of the complex too which right now happen to be in full bloom and are a lovely, complimentary addition to the dozens of rows of various types of lavender.
With the Hitchin Lavender fields you simply park up and pay your entrance into the field which is £5 per adult, with children between the ages of 5-14 being £1. Anyone under 5 gets in for free. Adults get given an A4 sized paper bag and a pair of scissors to pick the lavender, wildflowers and the sunflowers (sunflowers are 50p a stem). Any extra bags you’d like for children or if you fancy a whole load of lavender is another £4. Simply pay in the farm shop, in the museum, or up on the main field itself.
But it’s not just for people wanting to pick lavender. Entrance permits you to “Instagram” and photograph away until your heart’s content, although portrait shooters and commercial photographers are charged a £50 fee. In fact when I was there it was a 50:50 split between photographers and lavender pickers.
I visited on a Tuesday evening as I wanted to take my shots in the setting sun but it’s also open late on Friday’s until 21:00 too. I wasn’t alone in my thinking when I visited but the lavender field covers a large area so there’s plenty of room for everybody.
When I arrived there was an Indian film crew, two “brides” doing magazine covershoots and at least 3 families with small children with their accompanying professional photographers. It was as much fun watching them as it was taking photos myself. It seems that Hitchin Lavender is becoming a nice addition to the tourist trail for visitors to London who want to see and appreciate a bit of the green English countryside.
Before I even got to the main field we stumbled across a group having a yoga lesson as well! I can’t think of a better place to have one, and this particular location has both a large wigwam and outhouse building for various outdoorsy arts and crafts activities too.
Lots of people were either taking arty shots looking down along the rows of lavender, taking close-ups of the bees, snapping photos of other people or simply enjoying wandering up and down with the lavender brushing against their shins. I took the majority of my shots amongst the sunflowers, many of which seemed to be facing the “wrong way”, lagging slightly behind the sun as it swept slowly across the field, but the odd one was bathing directly in the evening sunshine, making for some beautifully saturated yellow colours.
As the evening drew to a close the sun began to set behind a hazy bank of clouds so I wasn’t able to take any sunburst photos but here’s the one I took the year before that happened to win their annual photo competition … and it was simply taken on an iPhone 6 so nothing fancy.
I didn’t buy anything from the café/shop this time round but did take a look to see that there’s an array of food to choose from, comfy chairs to sit on (both inside and out) plants to buy and a whole assortment of different lavender products to purchase, ranging from candles, to bath salts and body oils. A new addition is a little museum that explains some of the facts and figures, and history of lavender farming in the region.
As the evening drew to a close I nothed that I’d taken over 50 photos so I put away my camera, filled up my paper bag with lavender and then walked back down a 150m aisle of lavender, arms out wide touching the tops of the lavender as the sides brushed against my legs. The bees seemed to be far too full on nectar to be remotely interested in what I was doing. You return the scissors back near the entrance and then that’s the lavender fields visited for another year, although with a few weeks to go I might well go back before the Summer’s over.
Who wants to visit? 🙂
Now it wasn’t featured in BBC drama Doctor Foster but did you know the main locations of the show were mostly filmed in nearby Hitchin?
To find out more about Hitchin take a read of Hugh Madgin’s book ‘Hitchin Town Through Time‘.