Walk in the steps of history giants at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

Walking trail

On this walk with the National Trust, begin and end with elevated views from Dunstable Downs. See how people from prehistoric times to the recent past have lived in this unique landscape. Visit the Armada fire beacon, Pre-historic mounds and site of the Admiralty Signal station.

Suitable for active families.


Route map for walk in the steps of history giants walk


Chilterns Gateway Centre, Dunstable Downs, grid ref: TL008193


The first section of the walk is on the easy path with a hard, smooth surface that is suitable for both wheelchairs and buggies. There are six numbered trail marker posts, these indicate historic points of interest and give you a little information. If you are unable to continue after the end of the easy path, you can see the remaining features of interest from points along the path. From the Gateway Centre look for the first trail marker in the courtyard facing the car park.

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Walking the path towards the windcatcher turn right, follow the path until you reach trail marker 2. Near here was an Armada fire beacon.

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The Windcatcher on Dunstable Downs provides ventilation for the visitor centre.


Trail marker 3 points to the Icknield Way, possibly the oldest road in Britain.

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Section of the Icknield way


Moving on along the walk, after a short distance you will come to trail marker 4 and the pre-historic mounds.

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Continue along to trail marker 5 reaching Pascombe Hill, close to this marker are two pillow mounds.

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A view of Pascombe Hill on the Dunstable Downs Five Knolls walk


Carry on walking until you reach the end of the easy path, Five Knolls is on your left.

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Head down the slope through the metal gate, follow the slope down the road and carefully cross the B489/Tring Road into Green Lane, also known as Drovers Way. The walk here can again be shortened by turning left before reaching the road onto the path that runs parallel to the road. After a short walk along the road you will see Well Head road on your right with a path opposite. Turning left here you will rejoin the trail at the metal gate with the gliding club on your right. If continuing along the orignal trail continue along Drovers Way.

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Image of Drovers Way Dunstable on the Walk in the Steps of History Giants walk


When you reach the second crossroads on the track, turn left onto the Houghton Green Highway, a track leading you south-eastwards towards the village of Totternhoe. On reaching Dunstable Road, turn right and walk a short way passing houses and a barn before turning left onto a track. With a hedge on your left follow the track as it curves to the right then passes through an allotment area. You are now on the edge of the village of Totternhoe.

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Totternhoe Knolls near to the Walking in the steps of History Giants walk


Follow the footpath and turn left into Wellhead Road. Follow this road with care as it lacks a separate paved path in places.

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Well Head road leads you towards the Tring road. Cross the road with care and follow the track opposite towards the Downs. On your right you will see the London Gliding Club.

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An aerial view of the London Gliding Club


At the end of the bridleway, turn right and follow the footpath at the bottom of the slope through a fence until a track is reached on the left. Follow this track up the slope to the Gateway Centre. Alternatively at the end of the bridleway, turn right and follow the path at the bottom of the Downs until you reach the B4540, turn left and walk a little way up the road until your see a path to the left. Turn left onto this path and follow along untill you reach the Gateway centre.


Chilterns Gateway Centre, Dunstable Downs, grid ref: TL008193

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Walk in the steps of history giants at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire


A trail which begins with an easily accessible concrete path with gentle slopes. The walk then includes grassy, undulating terrain as well as stone tracks and concrete surfaces. The walk incorporates some moderate slopes and a steep gradient towards the end of the walk. Whilst there are opportunities to shorten the walk, the full route crosses the busy B489 Tring road and care is needed while crossing. The grassy parts of the walk may be wet or muddy, so sturdy footwear is advised. Please keep dogs under close control.

Walk in the steps of history giants at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

Contact us

Walk in the steps of history giants at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

How to get here

Chilterns Gateway centre, Dunstable Road, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 2GY
By train

Luton, 7 miles (11km). From here, take 61 bus (see By bus)

By road

On B4541 between Dunstable and Whipsnade

By foot

Footpaths from West Street and Tring Road, Dunstable

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 bicycle

Public bridleway from West Street in Dunstable and Whipsnade. Cycle parking at Gateway Centre

Walk in the steps of history giants at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

Facilities and access

  • Parking : 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)