Day 4: Bedfordshire to Derbyshire

The previous post in this series on our visits through Britain detailed our family history calls for the Fenn family in Billington and Leighton Buzzard. In our travel northward through Bedfordshire, we created a few other memories, however.

Villages of Aldwincle & Wadenhoe

The beautiful small towns between the day’s first and final ports of call were numerous, and we made stops in two of them, Aldwincle and Wadenhoe, for footbound exploration.



Most houses were built of stone and had thatched or slate roofs. The village streets could be walked in entirety in the course of an hour or two (less if you’re Luther). When strolling through Aldwincle, we spoke wistfully of relocating permanently in order to rest amid the beauty, the quiet, and the slower pace of things.

I won’t use the term ‘quaint’ to describe the villages, for that suggests to me a creature living after a simple manner because it knows of no alternative; I rather think that familiarity with the alternatives might drive a person to adopt a way of life offered by such a village as Aldwincle.

Froth ‘n’ Elbow

Because I never saw a pub in London (at least not any that looked like the English free houses I had encountered on the previous excursion), lunch at the Froth ‘n’ Elbow (Dunstable) was our first call to a pub on this visit. The cook and the other guests were polite and helpful, but the tapstress was decidedly unfriendly.


Scattered about the interior were painted quotations. One by Andy Warhol, “Being born is like being kidnapped and sold into slavery,” stayed with me.

Our second pub deserves comment and praise: The King’s Head (Wadenhoe), a beautiful, slate-roofed, grey-stone free house. We only stepped in to use the loo, but the service people were exquisitely courteous, and there were tablecloths and candles on the tables. Full marks.

King's Head Wadenhoe 2011
King's Head Free House, Wadenhoe

Hartington Hall Hostel

The only youth hostels I recall from previous experience had lice or were in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity. Hartington Hall, where we stayed the night, bills itself as a hostel but is actually an opulent manor house with (comparatively) spacious grounds.

Hartington Hall Hostel front 2011

There were animals (rabbits, chickens, goats, etc.) and a garden and games. It appeared distantly akin to a summer camp, but adjacent to a town.

Cait and Brad on grounds of Hartington Hall Hostel  

The only thing that made this experience resemble a hostel stay was that we were to bring our own towels.

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