Walkers encouraged to get in the HOOP

A new orbital path to encourage exploration of a town’s history, countryside and wildlife has opened.

The Hitchin Outer Orbital Path (HOOP) begins in Hitchin’s medieval Market Place and takes in Oughton Head Common, Purwell Nine Springs Nature Reserve, the prehistoric Icknield Way, the hamlet of Charlton and Cadwell Farm lavender fields.

The route was officially opened on Friday by members of North Herts Ramblers Association, Countryside Management Service and North Herts District Council, which together funded a guide to the walk.

David Levett, NHDC chairman, who was at the launch, said: “Walking is a healthy way to enjoy our beautiful countryside and can be enjoyed by people at most levels of fitness. This exciting project will make the lovely area around Hitchin easy to explore.”

The 12-mile route, which uses established rights of way, can be tackled in one go or in sections and is marked with special signs.

Ian Knighton, portfolio holder for leisure at the council, said: “The HOOP takes in some wonderful scenery and wildlife, as well as the fascinating history of the area. It’s another excellent example of what can be achieved when people in communities work together.”

It is the second outer orbital path to be opened by the Ramblers Association in as many years after the Stevenage Outer Orbital Path was opened in 2008.

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The Walk The HOOP leaflet is available from libraries, the Hitchin town centre manager’s office on Churchyard, museums, church halls and community centres.

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