Dunstable Downs. The horror…the horror… The last time I was here it was cold, wet, windy and the hail had not even begun to fall at that point. That was when I ran the Warrior Adrenaline Race and today was very different. It was still windy, and the blue skies above the Downs were filled with kites,
but the sun was out and I was going to be taking a 4.5 mile walk over the other side of the Downs with my children. We were going to follow a route from the pathfinder guide but because I could not find the starting point we did it backwards. What you need to know is that the Visitor Centre seems to have moved since the guide was written, and is now in a higher position, so if you do want to follow the route the correct way round you need to head down the hill along the road from the top car park, and then you will find Robertson Corner on the right at the junction with Isle Of Wight Lane.
We went along a track at the top of the Visitor Centre instead, because I knew a way to get to the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, having run alongside it during the Warrior Adrenaline Race, even if this was another deviation from the published route as we walked close to Swallowspring Wood. It was interesting walking along the pathways rather than running up them in a state of exhaustion, and it was very pleasant walking along in the sunshine. We followed one sign which took us off to the left and from there it was straight forward until we passed the Whipsnade Jubilee Orchard to reach the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral itself.
This was created in 1931 by Edmund Blyth and features a variety of trees and bushes planted in the shape of a cathedral, inspired by the building of Liverpool Cathedral. We came out of there and turned left to bring us to the main road down to Whipsnade Heath, going past Whipsnade’s brick church on our right
and staying on the grass verge until we reached a roundabout. We crossed straight over and took the footpath through Landpark Wood, after meeting a group who were taking the same route as us the correct way round.
The path is enclosed on the other side of the wood and leads to a road, where we turned right and then almost immediately left onto another enclosed path, which eventually led out into open fields.
We went downhill to the right of a barn and then uphill again as we turned left along the hill heading towards a stile in the far corner which would take us into Slough Wood.
This was a very pleasant path through a belt of trees,
and soon it bent to the left to bring us out into the open again and up another hill, keeping to the right and then bending round to the right with Kensworth Quarry very visible on our right.
We passed one path on our left before taking the next one, which continued with trees on our right and a fence and fields on our left, eventually bringing us out at a service road. We turned to our right and very soon crossed to a set of steps to follow a path into more woodland, following the waymark signs as they took us left and then left again, to bring us back to the B4541. We turned left on to this and found the monument at Robertson Corner, to two brothers who were killed in World War I, and a third who gave this land to the National Trust as a memorial.
This had been very different to my last experience on Dunstable Downs in a very good way.
You can see more of my photos from a lovely sunny walk here.