Pete's Walks - Kensworth to Ivinghoe Beacon (part 1)

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If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

This is another of my long local walks, from Kensworth to Ivinghoe Beacon and back, which I have done several times. It covers a distance of about 15 miles. Most of the route coincides with various other walks I've recorded on this site, but hopefully the unusual weather conditions shown in the photographs will make up for the repetition! I took so many photographs, I have spread this walk over 5 web pages.

I did this walk on Saturday, 10th January 2009. There were quite extraordinary weather conditions. There had been 1-2 inches of snow about five days earlier, and as the temperatures since had rarely risen above freezing there were still remnants of snow on the ground. It had been particularly cold overnight, and so there was a severe and very attractive hoar frost covering everything. Sunny intervals had been predicted but they failed to materialise - the skies remained pale grey and overcast, and it was also misty or even foggy at times. The combination of the gloom and the beautiful hoar frost was very photogenic, and I took 222 photos during the course of the walk - many of them look as if they were taken in black-and-white! (To see the walk in more usual conditions in April 2017, click here).

I had difficulty getting my boots out of my car, where Iíd left them - it was so cold the tailgate was almost frozen and it took several strong pulls before I could get it open. The laces on my boots were quite stiff, almost frozen, and I had a bit of trouble tying them up.  Eventually I managed to set off at about 9.45am. Almost straight away I spotted some Redwings on Ďthe Commoní, a small piece of rough grass and trees between the fork of the Whipsnade Road and the western part of  Common Road.

I followed the Whipsnade Road for a few hundred yards, then turned left by an ornate metal farm gate and crossed a very large pasture (the sheep that had been here on Wednesday were now gone, as was the electric fence that had surrounded them). I passed an old Dutch barn and continued along an overgrown farm track beside a small meadow. Here I noticed a single set of footprints in the snow heading in the opposite direction - the tracks Iíd made on my walk on Wednesday (see my 'Kensworth-The Downs-Whipsnade' walk). As on that day, I spotted two male Bullfinches as I reached the end of the path, opposite Shortgrove Manor farm.

The start of the walk, heading out of Kensworth along the Whipsnade Road


Nearing the end of the path from the Whipsnade Road to Dovehouse Lane.

I turned right down Dovehouse Lane. There was less snow here than there had been on Wednesday, but instead there was a lot of ice on the road. I had to take great care with my footing, as I would throughout most of todayís walk - the footpaths, as well as lanes and drives, were iced over in places. At the end of the lane, I went right for a few yards along Buckwood Lane, then took the footpath on the opposite side. I went left at a junction after a few yards, the new path soon running alongside the garden boundaries of part of Holywell on my right, with a hedge initially on my left. Where the hedge ended I continued on past a ploughed field, soon reaching a wood. I went past the junction where a path goes left (through the wood and across a huge field to reach Byslips Road - a route I use on many of my walks), and soon after passed the end of a residential street on my right.

Dovehouse Lane


The path along the edge of Holywell, approaching the wood

The wood on my left and the gardens on my right both ended at the same point, and the path continued between wire fences (though there was little wire left in the left-hand fence, just the wooden posts). The field to my left was ploughed, while the one to the right was rough grass. So far Iíd been wearing my waterproof gloves over my fingerless woollen mittens, but I now took the right glove off as I canít press the shutter on my camera with it on, and Iíd grown tired of taking it on and off - I probably then looked stranger than usual with my mismatched glove and mitten! I reached a small wood, the path continuing on just inside itís right edge, with a paddock just yards away. The path ended by a few properties on the Studham-Holywell road. I went left for less than a 100 yards, and took a footpath on the opposite side of the road.

The path just beyond Holywell, approaching the second small wood


The path through the small wood

This path followed a right-hand hedge through more ploughed fields, initially rising gently then descending slightly. In a gap in the hedge I had a view of Studham Church over to my right, surrounded by frost-laden trees. I came to a path crossroads, where I went over a stile and continued ahead, now following a wire fence on my right  separating two odd grassy fields that contained several small groups of young trees enclosed by fencing.

The footpath to Studham


Distant view of Studham church


Curious fields with several enclosed groups of young trees, Studham


I then reached a minor road through Studham, which I followed to the right - it almost immediately turned left (at the junction with the lane to the church). It left the houses behind as it descended into a shallow valley. Here, where several paths meet, I took a path going half-right across a ploughed field, rising gently across the opposite side of the shallow valley to reach Common Road, Studham.


The path from Valley Road to Common Road, Studham

I then took the bridleway opposite, initially along a gravel drive where I passed a Cockerel and several hens. The bridleway carried on alongside a mature hedge on my left in a large arable field. It then passed through the left end of a narrow wood - it is usually very muddy here, so I was grateful for the frozen earth today. Beyond the wood was another mature hedge, and a young plantation beyond a wire fence on my right. After a short while, the bridleway switched to the left of the hedge, and followed it steeply down into what becomes the Gade Valley. In the misty and gloomy conditions I could only just see the top of the opposite hillside, and Great Gaddesden was completely hidden from view somewhere along the valley to my left.

The bridleway leaving Studham


The bridleway beside the young plantation


The bridleway across the Gade Valley


The bridleway continued on the far side of the road that runs through the valley, now following a hedgerow on the left. For several hundred yards it rose very slightly, only steepening when a hedgerow came in from the right. I looked along the far side of this hedgerow, and in the far corner of this ploughed field I saw about half a dozen Fallow Deer on the edge of a wood.


The bridleway up the opposite side of the valley, approaching Hudnall


Fallow Deer, seen from along the path to Hudnall

Part 2 of this walk

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