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Our little black book of enchanting places



Posted in DESTINATIONS By The Travelwrap Company

“Are you here for the yoga?” asks the car park attendant. Puzzled, I reply that no, I am there for the lavender. “You’re in the right place then,” he says with a grin. I am indeed. Cadwell Farm has been farmed by five generations of the same family for more than 100 years. Lavender was introduced in 2000 and nearly 15 years later, the hillside is swathed in clouds of purple. On a sunny day, this perfumed corner of Hertfordshire looks more like Provence than the Home Counties. Not only are visitors welcome, they are encouraged to pick a bunch of lavender to take home.

First stop is the shop and tearoom, housed in a 17th-century barn. Resisting the siren call of a particularly delicious looking carrot cake, I hand over £4 and am given a brown paper bag and a pair of scissors (“only cut from the side, never the top – and don’t cut from the first 5m of the row”). Following the arrows that skirt the farmyard, I come first to the display field containing many different varieties of lavender, in hues ranging from white through pink to deepest purple. Then it’s on to the next field and the main attraction.

Here, billowing towards the horizon, are 75 rows of lavender - Lullingstone Castle, Folgate, Ashdown Forest, Grosso, Maillette, Blue Ice... The air bubbles with the drone of honeybees, and, this coupled with the growing warmth of the sun and the heady fragrance of the lavender, makes my walk up the hill incredibly calming. By the time I reach the top, I’m practically floating. No wonder the yoga class, which is taking place at the edge of the field, is so well attended.

I realise I have forgotten to fill my bag with lavender. Never mind, I’ll do it on the way down. But first there’s time to sit on a bench and enjoy the glorious view. Slowly the field below me is filling with visitors. Time to go and explore the shop, which I have noted sells a variety of products made from 100 per cent homegrown lavender oil, and give in to that carrot cake…

When I get home, I discover fragments of lavender in the roll-ups of my jeans. Fragrant reminders of one of the most soothing days out I’ve had all year.

Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3UA; 01462 434343; www.hitchinlavender.com; open 10am-5pm every day until September 14.

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