Local walk to the Downs again

This morning I repeated my favourite short local walk yet again, from Kensworth to Dunstable Downs, returning via Whipsnade and Holywell. Although the route was very familiar, there was an inch or so of snow on the ground making the conditions quite different to usual.

I walked up Common Road, Kensworth, and took the footpath on the left, opposite Green End farm, which led across a couple of fields to the wood at Whipsnade Heath. I followed paths through the wood, and crossed over the road to the Downs to the start of a bridleway. This soon took me to a bridleway junction where I turned right, following the lengthy bridleway past a Mobile Home park on my left, then through a small wooded area and eventually to the top of the huge grasy field on top of the Whipsnade section of the Downs.

Unfortunately it was now very foggy, with visibility down to 200 yards or so. I’d been photographing the route to put it on my web site, but may not bother now because I was unable to get any of the views from the Downs. I turned right, along the top of the huge field, went through a kissing-gate in the corner, and turned left, following the fence surrounding the field downhill. At the bottom corner of the field I turned left again, and followed the path next to the fence along the bottom of the field. I took some photos of the snowy conditions, but in the fog there wasn’t much to see.

After quite some while, the path left the fence and started heading gently downhill, cutting across the steep slope. At the bottom of the hill, I turned left and took the very steep path back up to the top of Bison Hill. I’d almost taken a short cut to avoid this steep path because I was a bit worried what it would be like in the snow, but it proved to be no problem – footprints showed that several other people had already managed it.

I stopped for a break near the car park on Bison Hill, to eat an Alpen bar and drink some coffee. I then took the bridleway from the car park towards Whipsnade, but soon took a path on the left. This followed the boundaries of two fields and took me to a private drive near the Sallowsprings Nature Reserve. I followed the path through the tiny reserve, briefly rejoining the drive before turning right and following a path next to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral.

I crossed the large village green in Whipsnade, and took the path through the churchyard. In the second field I came to, I saw a Wren in the hedgerow, but as always completely failed in my attempts to photograph it. Across the Studham Road, the path continued alongside a wood on my left, where some Redwings teased me by continuously perching just ahead of me and then flying off just as I focussed my camera on them.

I then walked through Holywell, and took the path parallel to Buckwood Lane. I then turned left along a very snowy  Dovehouse Lane. Just as I was about to turn left by Shortgrove Manor Farm, I saw two male Bullfinches. I crossed two fields to reach the Whipsnade Road, and got home about 12.40pm.

It was enjoyable walking in the crisp snow (it was only about an inch deep!), it made a change and was preferable to walking through mud. It was a shame that it became so foggy – I’ll have to look at the photos and decide if it’s worth putting them on the web site.

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