Family Days Out in Hertfordshire: Hitchin Lavender

Last week we had a rather soggy visit to Hitchin Lavender at Cadwell Farm, Ickleford in Hertfordshire.  Despite the rain the lavender was beautiful and very popular.  Unlike our local lavender field at Lordington, West Sussex, these fields are open all summer, and well worth a visit.  Read on to find out how to visit Hitchin Lavender.

The stunning fields of Cadwell Farm's lavender are nestled in the hills of the North Chilterns near Hitchin.  But on a sunny day amidst the 25 miles of lavender rows and a field of sunflowers, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in rural Provence, rather than on a south-facing hill 35 miles north of London.

Cadwell Farm has been family run for more than 100 years and growing lavender since 2000, planted by fifth generation owners to complement the farm’s arable crops.  The lavender is grown for agricultural use, and in recent years the lavender fields have been opened to the public during the summer months.

There is a test field with many different varieties of lavender then rows and rows of lavender to wander through.  Many other wild flowers are allowed to grow too, in a wildflower meadow and alongside the lavender which is just beautiful.

Wander the rows of lavender inhaling the delightful scent and take as many photos as you can.  It does get very busy though, so you may have to be careful with angles and do some heavy cropping when you get home.  (Unless you visit in the rain!)

Once your photos are taken, you can cut bunches of lavender to take home too.  It's included in the entry fee and you will be given a bag and scissors on entry.  You can get regular updates on the website and social media channels to check when the lavender is at its best (weather dependent), but mid-June to mid-August are generally the best times to visit.

The sunflower field flowers during August and is an attraction in itself.  Wonderful opportunities for photos!  Our girls aged 9, 7, 5 and Nanny, aged 80, all loved it, well worth a visit.

The whole place is alive with insects and wildlife, from spindly-legged spiders and beautiful yellow-shelled snails to countless varieties of butterflies and bees.  Be sure to wear sensible clothing and shoes if there has been or is a chance of rain as you are visiting a working farm which can get very muddy.

Keep a close eye on children as there are tractors moving around, heavy machinery etc.  There is also a fast railway line nearby which rather detracts from the peace and quiet, unfortunately.

There is a great children's play outside the tea room which is situated in a beautiful17th-century barn.  A range of hot drinks, delicious home-made cakes, and freshly cooked lunches and snacks are available.  Prices are about average for a captive audience, but the quality of the food is very good.

Alternatively, there are covered picnic benches opposite the lavender field.

There is also a small museum and a gift shop selling a range of products made with lavender oil distilled on the farm, with products as diverse as bath salts, candles and lavender chocolate for sale.  A range of around 60 different varieties of lavender plant are also available to purchase too, the perfect memento to take home for your own garden.

You can also pick up some beautiful lavender prints and lino prints on Etsy, the perfect gift for someone who loves lavender.

Entry to Hitchin Lavender is £6 per adult, £3 for under 14s and £4 for blue badge holders.  Under 5s are free.  Cash only.  Free parking is available on site.

Hitchin Lavender is open 9.30am-5pm on week days, 9am-6pm at the weekend, with late nights till 10pm on Tuesday and Fridays.  Check the website for full details.

Getting up and down the lavender field would be difficult for pushchairs, so pop baby in a sling.  Those with mobility issues or in wheelchairs can admire the lavender in all its glory from the lower end of the field, and get close enough to pick some too.  The ground is not rough or stony, but care is  required.  Disabled parking is on the right just as you drive into the car park, there is nothing closer.

Cadwell Farm in Ickleford is a short drive from Junction 10 of the A1M, or take the train from King’s Cross to Hitchin, then a taxi to the farm.

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