Totternhoe walk

Today I decided to do one of my regular local walks, from Kensworth to Totternhoe and back. I took loads of photos with the intention of putting the walk on my web site, but as it was such a grey and mirky day I’m in two minds about doing so – the conditions meant that the views from Dunstable Downs and Totternhoe Knolls were nowhere near as good as usual.

I started by going down Hollicks Lane to Church End, the old part of Kensworth. I then followed Beech Road a short way towards Dunstable, before following the long path around Kensworth Quarry to Dunstable Downs. The views here were very restricted, maybe 10 miles rather than the usual 40 miles, and the top of the downs was rather untidy as the National Trust are putting in a new path. I descended into Dunstable, and followed Green Lane back out into the country, before turning right on  a track towards Sewell (following the route of the Chiltern Way and the Icknield Way).

Instead of turning right into Sewell, I continued ahead on a good track between hedges – to my left was a former quarry, now partly a nature reserve where I enjoyed looking for wildflowers this summer. The track took me to the cement works at Totternhoe, from where I followed paths that took me to the top of Totternhoe Knolls. This is a prominent hill, the site of a motte and bailey castle and now another nature reserve (where again I looked for wildflowers this summer). It was still a grey and misty day, and so again the views here were disappointing compared to normal.

I followed the path from the Knolls into the village of Totternhoe, then took Wellhead Road back towards the Downs. Nice views as I walked the road, along the Downs from Five Knolls to my left all the way to the White Lion at Whipsnade Zoo to my right. I crossed the main road at the foot of the Downs, and continued on a path beside the London Gliding Club (there were just a couple of gliders in the air today). I then turned right, and followed a path for about a mile along the bottom of the Downs, before taking a rising path that took me up to the car park on Bison Hill (so called because of the large enclosure containing Bison, part of Whipsnade Zoo).

I had lunch sitting on a fallen tree near the car park (I watched a ‘dogfight’ between a jackdaw and a black-headed gull as I eat my sarnies), then took the path from the car park towards Whipsnade. I turned left to go past the Tree Cathedral, then crossed the large green in Whipsnade and took the path through the churchyard. This took me to Holywell, where I took a path that ran parallel to Buckwood Road (the minor road between Markyate and Whipsnade), then turned left down Dovecot Lane. I could have followed the narrow lane all the way back into Kensworth, but as usual I turned off it to cross a couple of fields, then turned right along the road from Whipsnade to get back home that way.

I got home about 2.30, having walked about 12 miles or so.

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