Dunstable - Walking in the steps of wooden giants
Chilterns Gateway Centre, Dunstable Road, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 2GYRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Starting at the the Gateway Centre in Dunstable Downs, follow the bridle path that leads towards Whipsnade Village to discover the surrounding countryside of the downs, and the peace and tranquillity of the uniquely designed Tree Cathedral.
- Bus stop
Start: Chilterns Gateway Centre, grid ref: TL008193
From outside the Chilterns Gateway Centre facing the downs, walk left picking up the bridleway, walking past the wind catcher. Once you pass the hedgerow on the left hand side turn immediately left (keeping hedgerow to your left).
The view overlooking the Bedfordshire countryside from Dunstable Downs.
Go through the gate into a long grazing area. There is a belt of conifers to your left. Continue walking until you reach a gate. Leave the grazing area through the gate and immediately turn left continuing along the bridleway until you reach the beginning of a housing area. Turn left through a gate following the path alongside a housing boundary until you reach a kissing gate, and walk through into a field with fencing on the right. The next gate leads into the lawns around the Tree Cathedral.
The Tree Cathedral (directions 1 and 2) is laid out to look like a medieval cathedral. The best view at ground level is from the Nave. From the car park follow the Avenue of Hornbeam where you will reach the cathedral porch made of oak trees. Each area of the cathedral is distinguished by a different tree species, for example the Christmas Chapel is made up of norway spruce and the Easter Chapel of cherry. The area is designed as a place for peace and relaxation, but also to encourage wildlife with a particular rare species of lichen in this area. More information about the Tree Cathedral is found at the site and by visiting the Dunstable Downs Gateway Centre.
After enjoying the tranquility of the Tree Cathedral, walk back to the entrance and head towards the car park. Leave the car park out into Whipsnade Village.
The village of Whipsnade (direction 3) is home to the Tree Cathedral and the Zoo.
Crossing the road ahead follow the road towards Kensworth, past the old church on the right and down the hill. The Hunter Lodger public house will be on your left. You will eventually come to a small roundabout. Cross the road with care towards Whipsnade Heath car park. Follow the tarmac path and then follow the footpath straight ahead through a small woodland. Continue through the woodland reaching the kissing gate and cross into pasture, cross the field to the roadside opposite Greenend Farm, following the footpath indicated to the left. This fenced footpath leads down to Coding Bank.
Coding Bank (direction 4) at the valley bottom.
At the valley bottom turn left into kissing gate and walk diagonally up hill until the hill flattens out. The footpath will continue straight until you reach a kissing gate in the corner of the field. Following the track with the fence to your right, join the gently rising headland path along the left hand field edge where the track will go slightly up hill. There is a tall aerial in the skyline and a mixed plantation to your left. At the way-marked post to your left, follow the path into the plantation, and continue until reaching the roadside. Turn right onto the Isle of Wight Lane and continue walking to the junction with the B4541 to Robertson Corner where you will see the Gateway Centre straight ahead of you.
Make time to stop in the Gateway Centre; visit the shop or have a bite to eat and something to drink in the cafeteria.
End: Chilterns Gateway Centre, grid ref: YL008193
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2km)
- Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 165 Aylesbury and Leighton Buzzard and 166 Luton and Hertford Explorer series: map 181 and 192
A walk covering a variety of terrain including heathland, chalk grassland and downland with an opportunity of seeing wildlife. If taking your dog please keep it under control at all times.
- How to get here:
By bus: Arriva 60 from Luton, Centrebus 327 from Hemel Hempstead railway station and Red Rose 343 from St Albans railway station, all Sundays only; otherwise Arriva 61 Aylesbury to Luton railway station to within 1.5 miles
By cycle: Bridleway from West Street, Dunstable, and Whipsnade. View local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website.
By road: On B4541 west of Dunstable
By train: Luton 7 miles. Luton Airport Parkway 7 miles
On foot: From West Street and Tring Road, Dunstable
- National Trust car park - closes 6pm in summer and dusk in winter
- WCs, café & gift shop open daily 10am - 5pm (10am - 4pm in winter). Closed on 24 & 25 Dec.
- Telephone: 01582 500920
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunstable-downs-chilterns-gateway-and-whipsnade-estate/