Pete's Walks - Kensworth and everywhere (page 1 of 3)

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 15.3 mile circular walk on Good Friday, 22nd April 2011.  his was yet another repeat of my 'Kensworth and everywhere' walk, although it is almost a year since I last did it. Quite bizarrely, considering this was a Bank Holiday, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, blue skies and the temperature reaching about 22C. As I've described the route so often before, I won't say too much about it (here's another description, of when I walked it in snow!).

Today would turn out to be a superb day for spotting butterflies, and as I followed the path beside Hollicks Lane to Church End I spotted the first Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell of the walk. Beyond Kensworth church, I deviated slightly from the route shown on the map by taking a short path going left to join the Quarry path, rather than follow Beech Road for half a mile (this first part of the Quarry path can get very muddy, but that wouldn't be a problem after the very dry April we've had so far). As I followed the path round the enormous Kensworth Quarry, I spotted Brimstone, Orange-tip and Speckled Wood butterflies, and a Jay flew up from the path in front of me at one point. After a couple of miles I turned off the Quarry path and made my way to Dunstable Downs.

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The path beside Hollicks Lane, Kensworth

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Kensworth church, Church End

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The footpath behind the church

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This short path connects the path from the church to the path round Kensworth Quarry

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The path round Kensworth Quarry - this section is frequently very muddy, so I sometimes avoid it by following Beech Road for about half a mile

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The path round Kensworth Quarry

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The path round Kensworth Quarry - Dunstable is downhill to the right

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The path round Kensworth Quarry

I turned right and walked along the top of Dunstable Downs to Orange Hill (it used to be an Easter tradition to roll oranges down the hill for children to chase, but there were so many injuries it was stopped years ago). The views were surprisingly limited on such a beautiful day, there was clearly a layer of haze or mist visible - when I got home, I learned that a smog warning had been issued for much of the country, so I suppose that was what it was. I continued on past the Five Knolls burial mounds and down the steep grassy slope towards the western end of Dunstable, then almost doubled back on myself to take the path along the foot of the Downs. I was really excited to spot a Grizzled Skipper butterfly along here, only the second I'd ever seen, but it flew off before I could get a photo. After about a mile along here I passed a section where the bushes and scrub had all been cleared sine the last time I'd been this way.

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Dunstable Downs

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View from Orange Hill northwards, over Five Knolls to Dunstable and beyond. All the views from the Downs were rather limited today - I think this was due to a visible layer of smog, as when I got home I discovered that there had been a smog warning issued for most of the country

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Looking ahead along the foot of the Downs, towards Bison Hill

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Looking back along the foot of the Downs, towards the projecting 'Orange Hill'

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The path along the foot of the Downs - this section has been cleared of bushes since I last came this way

I then took a steepish path up Bison Hill. I spotted a couple of Green Hairstreak butterflies and then two more Grizzled Skippers (the only other one I'd seen before today was on this same path). I then spotted another couple of small orange and brown butterflies that I thought would be Small Coppers, until I zoomed in on the photo I managed to take of one of them. It looked more like a fritillary, and when I got home my friends on the Wild About Britain web site identified it for me as a Duke of Burgundy! This is one of the UK's rarest butterflies, and something I've wanted to see for a long time - I remember going to the nature reserve at Totternhoe on an unsuccessful search for them, and I know they occur at the Aldbury Nowers reserve as well. It used to be known as the Duke of Burgundy fritillary, as it does look like a smaller version of those butterflies, but it is actually the UK's only member of a different family of butterflies.

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The path I took up Bison Hill

Duke of Burgundy butterfly

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Looking back down the path on Bison Hill - the yellow flowers are Cowslips, which the Duke of Burgundy's caterpillars feed on

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Ivinghoe Beacon from Bison Hill