Local ‘figure-of-eight’ walk

It didn’t start out that way, but this morning’s local walk evolved into a ‘figure-of-eight’ route.

I could only walk locally today as my car  is in for a service and MOT, and the weather forecast indicated there would be showers this afternoon. So I started off intending to repeat a walk I did recently – Whipsnade Heath, the Downs, Bison Hill, Whipsnade, Studham Church, Holywell and back to Kensworth. But the route change As I went along, and the walk ended up quite different to what I’d intended.

I walked up the road, and took the path on the left that crosses a couple of fields to reach the woods at Whipsnade Heath. I turned right here, and soon noticed that the path was very muddy after the recent rain. When I reached the road to the Downs, I decided on the spur of the moment to alter the route slightly and go a way I hadn’t been for ages. I followed the road to the right for about quarter of a mile, ignoring the bridleway I usually take here, then took a field path on the left. In the field corner, the path goes half-left across a couple of fields to join the usual bridleway route. A short distance to the right I came to a bridleway junction where I again turned right. This follows a very shallow valley, passing the Sallowsprings mobile home park on the left.

Just before reaching the huge meadow on the downs, I again varied my usual route – I turned right on the drive to Chute Farm, as I’d never actually followed this footpath before.  I passed a group of about 20 ramblers coming the other way. The drive took me to the entrance to the Chiltern Gateway Centre on top of Dunstable Downs. I turned left passed the visitor centre, and made my way to the huge meadow, following the path below the fence at its bottom. This eventually led downhill to the foot of Bison Hill, where I took the steep path back uphill parallel to the road.

As I started along the bridleway to Whipsnade from the car park on Bison Hil, I met the same group of ramblers again. Near the end of the bridleway, I turned left and took the path to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. I had intended to now continue the walk by followiing the path beside the zoo to Studham church, but while on the Downs I’d realised  I’d forgotten to bring any water with me, so I decided to do a shorter route, have a glass of water at home, then continue on along a short loop the other side of Kensworth.

As I crossed the green at Whipsnade it started to rain slightly. There was an ominous grey cloud overhead, so I sheltered under the yew trees at the entrance to the church and donned my waterproof jacket and put the rain cover on my rucksack. The rain stopped virtually as soon as I set off again. I took the very familiar field path from the church to Holywell, continuing on to Dovehouse Lane and the field path back to the Whipsnade Road. Turning right along the road, it was just a few minutes before I was back home.

I had a quick glass of water (the weather wasn’t too warm this morning, but walking is thirsty work!), and set off again down the road. I turned left into Malmes Close, and took the pleasant field path that led down and up a steep valley to reach Hollicks Lane. I followed the lane to the right for a short distance, but just before reaching Church End I took a footpath on the left. The path followed a hedgerow on my right for quarter of a mile or so, before switching to the left of the hedge line. In the field corner I followed the path to the right, with a small wood on my left, and then turned left at the corner of the wood. Not long after reaching the end of this side of the wood, I turned left through a kissing gate.

As I descended quite steeply I now had the gaping hole of Kensworth Quarry to my right. Halfway down the slope I went left through another kissing gate, and followed a path through a couple of meadows, gradually descending to the valley bottom, and then continued on the path as it rose up the opposite side of the valley. The path passed between a small industrial estateand Green End Farm to reach Common Road, Kensworth, leaving me with a quarter mile downhill walk back to my home.

This was a very pleasant 2.5-3 hour walk, despite the generally grey skies.

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