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Leaving Higham Ferrers we had a pleasant drive, mostly downhill, to the hamlet of Bletsoe, where we came in sight again of the slow-gliding Ouse, the valley of which we followed on to Bedford. Some short way beyond Bletsoe we passed through Clapham, unlike its ugly London namesake, a pretty rural village by the river-side. Here we noticed the striking-looking Saxon tower of the church, more like a castle keep than an ecclesiastical structure. It forms quite a feature in the landscape, and asserts itself by its peculiarity.
On arriving at Bedford it began to rain, and it was raining again in the morning; but about midday the steady downpour changed to intermittent showers. So, early in the afternoon, we started off for a twenty-mile drive on to Luton, which we did in one stage. In a little over a mile we found ourselves passing through a very pretty village, and on inquiring the name thereof discovered it to be Elstow, the birthplace of John Bunyan, a spot that does not seem to have changed much to the eye since that event, for, if the expression be allowed, it looks still "genuinely Old English.”
After Elstow we had a fine open country before us, bounded ahead by a low range of wooded hills, hills that showed softly blue under the shadow of a passing cloud, a golden green in the transient gleams of sunshine, and were sometimes lost altogether or half hidden by the mist of a trailing shower. Then driving on in due course we reached the hills and had a stiff climb up them, followed by a long and glorious run down through fragrant
scented pine-woods with open spaces here and there given over to a little forest of waving bracken, green, red, and yellow, in all the loveliness of their autumn tints. At the foot of the descent we found a charming little hamlet set in woods, past which a clear stream purled peacefully; crossing this stream we had another climb succeeded by a level winding elm-bound road, with an uneventful landscape on either hand, of flat fields stretching far away to a misty horizon. Now the rounded chalk hills loomed up finely in front of us, the clouds stooping to their low summits, so that it was hard to tell where the land ended and the sky began; and in the fastfading light a sense of mystery and the majesty of space pervaded the prospect. Our road eventually led us along the sides of these hills and into the gathering gloom, then we dropped down into the cheerful lamp-lighted streets of busy Luton. From Luton we drove through picturesque Harpenden to historic St. Albans, with its much-restored abbey, and from St. Albans by Elstree and Edgeware we made our way back to London again. And so ended our most enjoyable wanderings on the pleasant old roads. Ours was purely a pleasure jaunt. We set forth on it determined, come what would, to enjoy ourselves, and we succeeded ! Now, kind reader, the time has come when I must, perforce, bid you farewell.
Of all the words the English tongue can tell
ITINERARY OF JOURNEY
Day's Stages in Miles.
Total Distance in Miles.
Huntingdon to Stamford } .
London to Stevenage . . . . 31
through Stilton Stamford to Spalding
over the Fens and by Crowland | Spalding to Bourn , Bourn to Sleaford
. 18 Sleaford to Boston
by Swineshead and Frampton | Boston to Wainfleet
across the Marshes S Wainfleet to Horncastle
by Spilsby and over the Wolds )
Lincoln to Woodhall Spa
over Lincoln Heath . Round about Woodhall Spa. Woodhall Spa to Sleaford ,
by Tattershall Castles Sleaford to Beckingham
over "the Cliff" } . Beckingham to Grantham . Grantham to Staunton Hall
and back by Bottesford S Grantham to Melton Mowbray ,
by Colsterworth Melton Mowbray to Uppingham
through Oakham Uppingham to Kettering
by Rockingham and Kirby ) Kettering to Bedford 1
through Higham Ferrers S Bedford to Luton Luton to London
through St. Albans S