Dunstable Downs - Jewelled trail
Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire LU6 2GYRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Follow the coloured jewelled way-markers on this pleasant route which forms a loop at the top of Dunstable Downs, taking in woodland, grassland and, as you return to the Chiltern Gateway Centre, open pasture with views of Aylesbury Vale.
- Bus stop
Start: Chilterns Gateway Centre visitor car park, grid ref: TL008195
From the Chilterns Gateway Centre car park look for the first jewel marker. With your back to the Gateway Centre, follow the footpath away from the car park and towards the road which leads to Chute Wood.
Look out for the jewel markers, each one is unique and the colours vary as you proceed along this walk. In spring you'll see bluebells growing in Chute Wood, and as you explore the woodland floor keep your eyes open for different types of fungi.
Following the jewel markers, continue down the road until you come to the start of the wood. At this point you can opt to do a shorter route. If so, turn right and pass through the kissing gate, after which turn right again and walk back towards the Chilterns Gateway Centre, admiring the views across the Vale of Aylesbury.
Stop and take in this view of the Vale of Aylesbury from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.
For the full jewel walk, turn left at the woods and walk along the marked footpath which takes you around the edge of the woodland, passing some residential dwellings on your left.
Walking away from the woodland, look out for the kissing gate on your right. Go through this and follow the path across the field, spotting the jewel marker as you go.
Continue through the next kissing gate and cross the field until you reach the bridleway. Turn right along this ancient sunken pathway with hedgerows on either side, looking out for the jewel markers along the way.
At the end of the bridleway, and as Ivinghoe Beacon comes into view, turn right and pick up the footpath that goes through the kissing gate. Follow this footpath, which is part of the Icknield Way, as it leads you back towards the Chiltern Gateway Centre.
Ivinghoe Beacon is a prominent headland and a high point at the edge of the Chilterns. There are the remains of an Iron Age fort and, along with Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs, it offers one of the largest areas of biological-rich chalk grasslands in the Chilterns.
Continue on the footpath, admiring the views from the Downs, keeping an eye out for the jewel markers which lead you along the edge of the grazing meadow. Follow the footpath ahead as you go through a gate and onwards through a kissing gate at the corner of the field.
Skylarks prefer open countryside and are renowned for their vertical flying display. They are small brown birds, larger than a sparrow but smaller than a blackbird. Although inconspicuous on the ground it's easier to see them when in their distinctive song flight, which you can hear throughout spring and summer at the top of the Downs.
Follow the path up through an area of elder and hawthorn and up towards the Windcatcher, where you bear right and return to the Chilterns Gateway Centre.
After your walk why not take a well-deserved break at the Chilterns Gateway Centre café. Tuck into one of our local specialities, such as the famous Bedfordshire Clanger (a suet pudding with meat filling), or our tasty bacon roll.
End: Chiltern Gateway Centre visitor car park, grid ref: TL008195
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2 miles (3.2km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 166; Explorer 181 and 193
Parts of the walk can become muddy after wet weather; sturdy footwear is advisable. There's an optional shortcut to this route. Dogs welcome, please keep under close control, particularly around livestock.
- 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 available at the Gateway Centre
By bus: Arriva 61, Luton station to Aylesbury (daily except Sundays), alight West Street, Dunstable. From here, you can join the walk at the Chilterns Gateway Centre
By train: Luton station 7 miles, from here take Arriva 61 bus service (see By bus above)
By car: On B4541 west of Dunstable and Whipsnade. Post code for Sat Nav: LU6 2GY, or LU6 2TA for older equipment
- National Trust car park - closes at 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/