Dunstable Downs countryside walk

Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2GY

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The Downs are an ideal place to fly a kite © Fisheye Images

The Downs are an ideal place to fly a kite

The burial mounds were excavated in the 1850s and 1920s © Jenny Angliss

The burial mounds were excavated in the 1850s and 1920s

Maiden Bower is a Neolithic Hill fort near Dunstable Downs © Brian E. Clark

Maiden Bower is a Neolithic Hill fort near Dunstable Downs

Vale of Aylesbury from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon © Peter Collins

Vale of Aylesbury from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon

Route overview

Enjoy the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside on this exhilarating walk across the Dunstable Downs. Along the way, discover diverse wildlife, Iron Age hill forts and burial mounds. Don’t forget to pop into the Chilterns Gateway Centre for some delicious food and a browse round our gift shop.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map for Dunstable Downs walk
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Visitor Centre car park, grid ref: TL008195

  1. From the car park, walk slightly downhill over the grass area, then turn right following the path along the top of the slope, past the site of the Medieval warren as far as the five knolls tumuli.

    Show/HideKite flying

    The Downs are an ideal place to fly a kite. Choose from an excellent selection of kites in our shop, from beginners to stunt kites; we even have a 3D pirate one! And if you need help constructing your kite, or advice on how to fly them, we're happy to help.

    The Downs are an ideal place to fly a kite © Fisheye Images
  2. Continue downhill to West Street, which runs along the line of the Icknield Way.

    Show/HideFive Knolls

    Lying on the edge of the Downs, this Scheduled Ancient Monument is the largest round barrow cemetery in Bedfordshire. Visible as bumps against the skyline, the burial mounds were excavated in the 1850s and 1920s, revealing that they originated in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age and were re-used for burial in the Roman period.

    The burial mounds were excavated in the 1850s and 1920s © Jenny Angliss
  3. Cross West Street on to Green Lane opposite, known also as Drovers Way. This is part of a network of tracks and paths in and around Dunstable, traditionally used by drovers to take livestock to market in Dunstable, but now popular with walkers and horse riders.

  4. Continue as far as the crossroads. In the field diagonally to the right, the line of trees mark the rampart of Maiden Bower, an Iron Age hill fort. At the second crossroads, turn left along the Houghton Green Highway into Totternhoe village.

    Show/HideMaiden Bower

    The remains of Maiden Bower, a Neolithic hill fort - between points 4 and 5 on the map.

    Maiden Bower is a Neolithic Hill fort near Dunstable Downs © Brian E. Clark
  5. Cross Dunstable Road and follow Furlong Lane, turn left onto Church Road and left again on to Well Head Road. Follow this as far as the Icknield Way near Well Head.

  6. Cross the road and follow the bridleway opposite as far as the base of the Downs.

  7. Turn right at the end of the bridleway. Follow the footpath at the bottom of the slope, through the fence, until a track is reached on the left. NOTE: for a shorter walk, follow this track uphill and back to the starting point along an ancient hollow way.

  8. Pass through a gate, turn left uphill for 50yds (45m), then turn right onto a sunken way. This path is an old cut way which would have offered travellers an easier way up the slope. Follow this path as it climbs up the Downs and then back to the bottom.

  9. Join the footpath that follows the bottom of the Downs.

  10. Just before the road, join the bridleway which climbs uphill, looking back at views of the Vale of Aylesbury and Ivinghoe Beacon.

    Show/HideVale of Aylesbury

    Enjoy views from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon across the Vale of Aylesbury. The surrounding chalk grassland supports a wide variety of wildlife, including rare wild flowers, such as the bee orchid, and butterflies such as the chalkhill blue and the Duke of Burgundy.

    Vale of Aylesbury from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon © Peter Collins
  11. With the car park on your right, carry on uphill and turn left into a large grass field. Please keep your dogs on a lead in this field as there may be sheep grazing.

  12. Follow the hedge line at the top of the field, with more views of the Vale of Aylesbury on your left. You're following the Ridgeway Link which joins Dunstable Downs to Ivinghoe Beacon. After walking under a number of beech trees and passing through a bridlegate, the Chilterns Gateway Centre soon appears on the right.

End: Visitor Centre car park, grid ref: TL008195

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.5 miles (10.4km)
  • Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 166; Explorer 181 and 193
  • Terrain:

    Circular walk. Parts of the walk can become muddy and slippery after wet weather, sturdy footwear is advisable. Some stiles and gates. Dogs welcome under close control.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: footpaths from West Street and Tring Road, Dunstable

    By bike: public bridleway from West Street in Dunstable and Whipsnade. Cycle parking at Gateway Centre

    By bus: Arriva 61, Luton station to Aylesbury, alight West Street, Dunstable. Daily, except Sundays. From here, join walk at point 2 on map

    By train: Luton, 7 miles (11km), from here take 61 bus service (see By bus)

    By car: on B4541 between Dunstable and Whipsnade

  • Facilities:

    • National Trust car park - closes at 6 in summer and dusk in winter.
    • Toilets, café and gift shop open daily 10am - 5pm (open 10am - 4pm in winter, closed on 24 and 25 Dec).

  • Contact us