Lavender fields and sunflowers in Hitchin
You don’t have to go to Provence in France to see beautiful sunflowers and lavender fields. There are many dotted around the UK. This 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 and The Cosy Traveller too. The very end of July/start of August is the perfect time to visit but be quick as the season is a short one. 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. It has 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. Sunflowers are certainly a lovely, complimentary addition to the dozens of rows of lavender.
How much does it cost to get in?
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.
Late night Tuesdays and Fridays until 9pm
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.
If you’re from further afield and need some accommodation nearby then check out these local hotels below
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.
I was drawn to the sunflowers for most of my photos
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. This time around I wasn’t able to take any sunburst photos. However 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.
There’s a gift shop and a café too
I didn’t buy anything from the café/shop this time round. But I did take a look to see that there’s an array of food to choose from. Enjoy this sitting on their comfy chairs (both inside and out). You can also buy plants and a whole assortment of different lavender products. These ranged 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.
Don’t forget to take some lavender home with you!
As the evening drew to a close I noted that I’d taken over 50 photos. It was time to put my camera away. Instead I turned filling up my paper bag with lavender. Finally closing out the evening by walking 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‘.