Conserving natural places for ever, for everyone…
Dunstable Downs has historically been an integral part of the local community. Residents of the surrounding area created traditional events on the Downs over many years, including orange rolling, golfing and kite flying. They have also used the site as a venue to meet up with family and friends.
Our countryside team of staff and volunteers work tirelessly to keep the Downs special for everyone to enjoy for ever.
Today, Dunstable Downs is still open access land and we continue to provide amenity grassland areas, a dog-friendly visitor centre hub and host events, family activities and walks, so that people have many ways to enjoy a visit here.
Without intervention, the Downs would gradually turn into woodland, so the countryside team work hard to remove species such as bramble, blackthorn and elder. These woody species try to out-compete the delicate and rare flowers which are of vital importance to the hundreds of other species that live in chalk grassland.
The Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate is also part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Chalk grassland is the main habitat here; a habitat which is in decline across the UK, therefore it is particularly important to manage.
To help us to keep down invasive vegetation, we allow graziers to keep their flocks of sheep on the Downs, particularly at the Whipsnade end of the estate. To do this, a lot of fence creation and maintenance is required. Last year the countryside team of staff and volunteers put up almost a mile of stock fencing and two miles of top wire.
Dunstable Downs also has significant historical importance, which the countryside team help to preserve. On this site you can discover Mesolithic and Neolithic/Bronze Age worked flint, Bronze Age round barrow cemeteries and medieval rabbit warrens. The history of this site is retold through our guided walks so that their importance may be preserved.
Outdoor items such as footpaths, signs, steps, walking routes and bridleways are maintained by the countryside team of staff and volunteers, alongside benches and picnic tables, so that visitors can continue to enjoy our sites. Large areas of amenity grassland and car parks are mowed and strimmed, and for those large areas specialist equipment is required.
How is this work funded?
As the National Trust is a charity we need to raise as much money as we can to help cover the high costs of looking after this amazing place. Memberships are a wonderful way for you to help us in this and at £5.75 per month this is a good deal for you because it gives you free parking here and free entry to every other NT property.
Please be aware that car parking charges also help with raising money for this excellent cause. Although members park free we do need you to scan your cards as we can then claim an extra £1 towards conservation.