Pete's Walks - Kensworth to Briden's Camp circular walk

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

I did this walk on Monday, 22nd June 2009. I had done the same walk about seven weeks previously, but in the opposite (anti-clockwise) direction - see here.

I left home just after 9.20am and first set off down Hollicks Lane to reach Church End. I then took the lane running along a valley bottom to The Lynch. Three friendly lady joggers passed me along the lane - they laughed when I caught up with them where they'd stopped to chat to another lady in The Lynch, and I commented about the Tortoise and the Hare. They soon passed me again, but stopped to ask about a dead bird on the road near where we'd first met. It was a Red-legged Partridge, I'm not sure if I've seen one as a road-kill before and I'm not sure that I've seen them in Kensworth before either.

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Looking northwest from near the start of Hollicks Lane, Kensworth

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Entering The Lynch, Kensworth

From The Lynch, I took the path running parallel to the Ver valley towards Markyate, the three lady joggers disappearing from view ahead of me. It had been almost cloudless when I set off, but in the hour it took me to reach Markyate it had clouded over and was almost overcast (as the weathermen had predicted). From Markyate I continued on to Flamstead, using the leftmost of three possible routes, the one I used to use regularly but which I only returned to recently. I saw my first Ringlet butterfly of the year, the first of numerous ones I would see today. I also spotted a Hare as I was approaching Flamstead, but was far too slow to get a photo (as usual it took me several seconds to twig it was a Hare and not a Rabbit).

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The path from The Lynch to Markyate

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The start of the path from Markyate to Flamstead

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The path from Markyate to Flamstead

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The path from Markyate to Flamstead

From Flamstead I crossed the valley that I always joke about being Alligator-infested, then turned right to head towards Gaddesden Row and Briden's Camp. There was a short stretch of lane walking, then I passed the cottage intriguingly named 'Nirvana' on the map, before resuming field paths.

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The path from Flamstead to Gaddesden Row, just beyond a cottage called 'Nirvana'

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The path from Flamstead to Gaddesden Row

I spotted some Musk Mallow just before I crossed the road called Gaddesden Row (it's about two miles long, and shares its name with the adjoining scattered settlement) and continued on more paths towards the hamlet of Briden's Camp (if anyone knows the story behind the name, please let me know!). I saw a Buzzard over a wood to my right, and saw some Rosebay Willowherb beside the path.

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The path from Gaddesden Row to Briden's Camp

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Approaching Briden's Camp

I saw a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly just before I reached Briden's Camp, and another one along a farm drive shortly after I left the hamlet (this second one landed at my feet, waited for me to photograph it, then flew straight off - if only they were all so co-operative!). I was now heading back towards another part of Gaddesden Row, on a very pleasant path - part of it was in a tree-lined ride with a number of jumps for horses.

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Near the start of the path from Briden's Camp back to Gaddesden Row

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Horse jumps along the path from Briden's Camp back to Gaddesden Row

Further on I crossed a large pasture in front of the grand house called Golden Parsonage in Gaddesden Row, with some cattle way off to my right. I then crossed a small bit of parkland around the big house, where there were some magnificent Walnut trees - I photographed the leaves to confirm the identification later (Update 8/09/09 - Doh!  A lady called Judith that I met in Markyate told me that they are in fact very old Sweet Chestnuts, and she is correct!). I soon passed a cottage with a small wildfowl collection, where they have recently put up identification notices for the different breeds of duck and geese - I knew the British birds (Pochard, Tufted Duck, Barnacle Goose) and also recognised Red-crested Pochard, as I've seen several of these in the wild that have escaped from such collections.

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Path across the park around the Golden Parsonage, Gaddesden Row

The path was now running parallel to Gaddesden Row, a little distance to my right. I crossed a lane, and continued between wooden fences where some sheep had got out from the surrounding fields. Shortly after I stopped on a stile for lunch, and noticed two more Buzzards off in the distance. It had brightened up considerably now, but would soon return to being almost overcast.

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Path near Gaddesden Row

I passed through Jockey End, the main part of Gaddesden Row, and soon joined a track called Deans Lane. I then had to turn left, and cross a cattle pasture. I was lucky with my timing, the cows and calves were immediately to my right, browsing towards me - a few minutes later, and I might have had to pass between them, something I'd rather not do as I've seen plenty of signs warning about coming between cows and their offspring. I followed the path around the edge of the sports field of Beechwood School (the path has been relocated in recent years, my old map was out of date) and turned left along the drive.

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The drive leading away from Beechwood School

I turned right at a track crossroads to reach Roe End, on  the edge of Markyate, where I turned left along a 'public highway', a long and pleasant path between hedgerows. I left it as it turned left towards Studham Common, continuing through Byslips Wood and then across a huge field of corn to reach the edge of Holywell. It was then the very familiar route along Dovehouse Lane and across to the Whipsnade Road to get back to Kensworth.

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The 'public highway' from Roe End

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Looking towards Kensworth, from the edge of Holywell

The walk took five hours and thirty-five minutes, about quarter of an hour more than when I did it in the opposite direction, probably because I took far fewer photographs. It was a really enjoyable walk - I'd only done the section from near Flamstead to Briden's Camp once before, and the next section to near the Golden Parsonage three times, all in the opposite direction. It was quite pleasant weather-wise too, despite the cloudy conditions and occasionally feeling a bit 'muggy'.