Hitchin is a small town in Hertfordshire, around 50 km north of London. The pretty town centre boasts cobbled streets, fantastic independent cafes, a one thousand year old church and a market square that hosts a variety of interesting events.
Just outside the centre though is Hitchin’s most popular attraction, one that draws in day tripping tourists from all over the world. That attraction is Hitchin Lavender.
In this post, we’ll tell the story of our most recent pre-pandemic visit to Hitchin Lavender, before then going on to tell you how you can visit yourself. We also have details on our visit during the pandemic in 2020.
Enjoying the sights & smells at Hitchin Lavender
Please note: This section of the article was written pre-pandemic. Find out what a visit during the pandemic was like.
Jade and I live a short drive away from the lavender fields, so we try to visit at least once a year to soak in the tranquil atmosphere and to enjoy the sea of purple flowers. We always try to coincide our visit with the best blooming time, which is normally late June to mid-July and sure enough, we were there at just the right time.
Word had seemingly spread and we were joined by a hundreds of fellow lavender fans keen to experience this stunning, colourful natural show. Visitors strolled through the long stems, taking deep breathes of the sweet, herbal aroma and running their hands over the sturdy flower tips. Despite the numbers, the fields were a tranquil, happy place. Some had brought a picnic and blankets and had set themselves up for the day around the field’s periphery.
The visitors weren’t alone. Thousands of bees, hypnotised by the purple radiance were busily flying from bloom to bloom collecting nectar.
Help yourself to as much Lavender as you can carry
Please note: To help visitors keep a safe distance from one another, cutting was not permitted in 2020. We’re awaiting details on whether it will be possible in 2021.
The wonderful and unique thing about visiting Hitchin Lavender (apart from the jaw-dropping scenes) is that you can harvest as much of it as you like.
With your entrance ticket, you can claim a pair of scissors and a paper bag, which you can then use for cuttings. We dutifully snipped away, not really knowing what we were going to do with our freshly collected purple loot, but enjoying it all the same.
Others were making immediate use of their spoils, fashioning elaborate headdresses and bouquets on the spot. Most though, like us, were content with selectively harvesting the best blooms and worrying about what to do with them all later.
What’s a visit to Hitchin Lavender like during the pandemic?
We visited Hitchin Lavender in July 2020 in the midst of their COVID-19 precautions. Visitors were only permitted to enter if they had pre-booked on the website and were allowed to stay on-site for up to two hours from the slot’s start time. Visitor numbers were restricted and slots particularly around weekend lunchtimes were selling out fast. To ensure a steady flow through the rows of lavender, picking was not permitted.
Upon our arrival at Hitchin Lavender, a masked and visored team member scanned the barcode on my phone. There were perhaps a few more people on-site than I expected, but the field is large and it was very easy to maintain a 2 metre distance from other visitors. We strolled through one of the rows – which was thick with unpicked lavender – and rolled out a blanket at the top of the slope to relax on for the remainder of our visit.
A small outdoor shop and outdoor refreshment stand was available whilst the main barn (which usually houses a cafe and shop) was closed. We can highly recommend the Blueberry and Vanilla cake alongside a lavender lemonade.
There were toilets available, with clear safety instructions on their use and plenty of hand sanitiser available.
Plan & Book your visit to Hitchin Lavender in 2021
The 2021 season at Hitchin Lavender begins on 26 June. Tickets must be pre-booked and are now available on the official Hitchin Lavender website.
Getting to Hitchin Lavender by car
The lavender fields are outside the town centre, so getting there by car is the easiest and best option. There’s plenty of free on-site parking.
How to visit Hitchin Lavender from London
Day-tripping from London by train is really easy! Thameslink and Great Northern services call at Hitchin, departing from London Kings Cross and St Pancras International all day, every day.
Both stations are across the road from one another. If you’re not sure which service you’re taking, head to Kings Cross first as departures from St Pancras International are displayed on the electronic boards alongside those from Kings Cross.
You can buy your tickets from vending machines at the station right before travel or you can buy them in advance online. Buying in advance can bring down the cost of your fare, so if you’re certain about when you’re visiting, it’s definitely worth checking the prices before you go.
To check train times and fare options, we recommend Trainline*.
Upon arrival at Hitchin station, you’ll find a taxi rank outside the entrance. Make sure you grab a business card or a phone number from the driver so that you can call them to collect you when you’re ready to head back to the station. If you forget, staff at Hitchin Lavender will be able to help you out.
Alternatively, Uber drivers are increasingly operating in the area, so it’s worth checking your app to see if anyone’s close by. Uber rates are normally cheaper than regular taxis.
When is Hitchin Lavender open until in 2021?
Hitchin Lavender typically stays open for as long as the lavender is flowering. That’s usually until the end of August. We’ll update this post with a date as soon as we find out.
When is the best time to visit?
Flowering is obviously weather dependent, but the main field is normally looking its most photogenic from late June to Mid-July. Blooms typically last until August. The official Twitter account is normally a good place to check how things are developing.
Why not visit Hitchin itself too?
Hitchin is a fabulous place to visit at any time of year. We recommend coupling a visit to Hitchin Lavender with Hitchin itself. The town centre boasts more than its fair share in independent cafes, restaurants and shops and the pretty, cobbled streets are lovely to explore.
You might like: See our complete guide to Hitchin to start planning your visit.