Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire

Walking trail

There's a chance to rest and admire the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral before climbing up through Whipsnade Heath and returning to the Chilterns Gateway Centre. The view northwards from the Chilterns Gateway Centre is a good place to start and finish your walk.

Suitable for the more energetic families.


Route map for Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk


Chiltern Gateway Centre car park, grid ref: TL008195


From the car park, walk down past the Chilterns Gateway Centre towards the windcatcher, then turn left at the waymarker post onto the bridleway that runs alongside the hedgerow.

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Dunstable Downs


Continue along the bridleway, which runs along the line of the Icknield Way, into the long grazing area and continue toward Bison Hill car park. The 'oldest road' in Britain, stretching from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire through to Kettishall Heath in Norfolk, the Icknield Way consists of a network of pathways which date from Neolithic times and links the Ridgeway in the west to Peddlars Way in the east.

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Bison Hill on Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk


On approaching Bison Hill car park, turn left and continue along the bridleway with hedgerows on both sides. This is a good example of a holloway - a track deepened by centuries of use and occasional clearance. It's believed to be a medieval route between Whipsnade and Eaton Bray.

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A Duke of Burgundy butterfly resting on a leaf


Continue along the bridleway as it opens out, passing the Whipsnade Zoo car park on your right. As you proceed along a housing boundary to your left, look out for the footpath sign to the left.

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A glider in the air over Dunstable Downs


Turn left at the footpath waymarker and follow the path through a kissing gate, with a field on one side and fencing on the right. Follow the footpath through to the next gate, which leads to the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral.

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Whipsnade Tree Cathedral


Continue along the footpath with the Tree Cathedral on your left. Walk through the car park and keep to your left as you approach the B4540. Cross the road with care and proceed past the church and downhill, past the Old Hunters Lodge pub to the roundabout.


Cross the roundabout with care and head towards Whipsnade Heath car park on your left. Follow the tarmac path and then take the footpath straight up through the woodland.


Continue through the woodland and follow the footpath straight on to the kissing gate. Keep to the path as it runs alongside pasture and into a field, where it comes out onto a quiet road opposite Green End Farm.


Cross the road and follow the footpath signs to the right of Green End Farm, then walk along the footpath, which traces a route round the edge of the field. Continue downhill and through to the kissing gate on your left. Walk diagonally uphill across Codling Bank and through to the kissing gate in the chain link fence.

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Codling Bank on Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk


Turn immediately left and follow the footpath down through the wooded area, past a small brick shed and onto the footpath by the quarry fence.


Continue along the footpath and bear right to join the rising headland path along the left hand field edge, in the direction of a mixed woodland and tall aerial on the skyline.


Follow the path into the copse and out onto the roadside, turning right to join Isle of Wight Lane. Proceed along the lane with care to the junction with the B4541 at Robertson Corner. Cross the road with care and return to the Chilterns Gateway Centre with its café and toilets.

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A view of the Dunstable Downs Visitor Centre


Chiltern Gateway Centre car park, grid ref: TL008195

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Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire


Parts of the walk can become muddy after wet weather; sturdy footwear is advised. Stiles, gates and some moderate slopes and steep gradients across grassland and woodland floors. Please keep dogs under close control, particularly around livestock, and don't let them foul on paths and around picnic areas.

Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire

Contact us

Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire

How to get here

Chilterns Gateway Centre, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2GY
By train

Luton station 7 miles, from here take Arriva 61 bus service (see By bus above)

By road
On B4541 west of Dunstable and Whipsnade. Post code for Sat Nav: LU6 2GY, or LU6 2TA for older equipment.
By foot

Footpaths from West Street and Tring Road, Dunstable

By bus
Centrebus runs a service from Dunstable to St Albans, via Dunstable Downs, Mondays to Saturdays (number 34 and 35). There is no service on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Please check bus services with Centrebus before travelling.
By bicycle
Public bridleway from West Street in Dunstable and Whipsnade. Cycle parking available at the Gateway Centre.
Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire

Facilities and access

  • Parking at Dunstable Downs off B451 (£2.50); Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, B4540 (off the village green); Bison Hill off B4540; Whipsnade crossroads, junction of B4541 and B4540
  • Dogs welcome under close control, on leads near livestock
  • Cycling - public bridleway giving cyclists shared access. Route is part of Icknield Way Trail
  • Baby-changing rooms available at the Chilterns Gateway Centre during opening hours
  • Mobility parking in main car park, 20 yards
  • Grounds partly accessible on multi-user route
  • Level access to Chilterns Gateway Centre