Pete's Walks - Kensworth and Whipsnade Downs (page 1 of 2)

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

I did this walk of about 5 miles on Saturday, 30th April, 2011. It was a repeat of a local walk I've done a few times now, and the main reason I did it was to have another look for Duke of Burgundy butterflies on Bison Hill, where I had seen my first one eight days earlier.

I started by walking northwest up Common Road, Kensworth. Just past Old Green End Farm I took a footpath on the left, crossing a meadow then running between a hedge and a fence to reach Whipsnade Heath. After a few yards I turned right on a path through the small trees that cover most of the heath, and where that path ended at a junction I turned right again on a similar path. This took me to the old tree known (apparently) as The Witches Beech, where the path curved left and headed slightly downhill to reach the Studham-Dunstable road.

Picture omitted

The start of the path from Kensworth to Whipsnade Heath

Picture omitted

Path on Whipsnade Heath

Picture omitted

The Witches Beech, Whipsnade Heath

Across the road a narrow bridleway ran between hedgerows - as elsewhere on this walk, the hedges were lined with wildflowers, the most common ones being Bluebells, Greater Stitchwort and Yellow Archangel. The bridleway ended at a junction, close to a corner of the huge green at Whipsnade near the Old Hunter's Lodge restaurant, where I turned right onto another bridleway, again initially with hedges either side. I passed a mobile home park on the left, and then further on the bridleway passed through a wood. Shortly after crossing the drive to Chute Farm I went through a gate to enter the huge meadow or pasture (sometimes it's grazed by sheep) on top of Whipsnade Downs.

Picture omitted

Near the start of the bridleway from the Studham-Dunstable road

Picture omitted

Near the end of the same bridleway

Picture omitted

The bridleway from Whipsnade to Whipsnade Downs

Picture omitted

The bridleway from Whipsnade to Whipsnade Downs

Picture omitted

Approaching Whipsnade Downs

I turned right, and followed a path behind a row of trees that line this corner of the huge meadow. In the field corner I went through a metal kissing-gate, then turned left and followed the fence of the meadow downhill - the fence here seems to be the boundary between Whipsnade Downs and Dunstable Downs (on my right). I then went through another gate and turned left again, now following a grassy path along the downs immediately below the meadow.

Picture omitted

Path along the top of Whipsnade Downs

Picture omitted

View towards Totternhoe from the fence that is the boundary between Whipsnade Downs (left) and Dunstable Downs

Picture omitted

The path along the bottom of the huge meadow on Whipsnade Downs - Ivinghoe Beacon can be seen in the distance

After two or three hundred yards, I forked half-right on to an old drove way that descended the Downs. Over hundreds of years, thousands of feet had worn this into a 'sunken lane' or 'hollow way', a deep groove in the hillside. It was now I started to look for butterflies. It was a lovely sunny day, but there was a stiff breeze and I was worried that it might be too windy for butterflies - certainly, I'd only seen one or two so far on the walk. I was hoping that the sunken lane would provide some shelter from the wind. I was in luck - almost straight away I spotted a Duke of Burgundy very close to the path. It posed patiently for me as I took several photographs - it tried but was unable to fully open its wings in the breeze, so I could really get a shot of the underside of its wings. No matter - as I followed the sunken lane down the hillside I soon came across more Duke of Burgundy butterflies that did let me photograph their open wings. And as on my walk here eight days ago, I also spotted some Green Hairstreak and Grizzled Skipper butterflies.

Picture omitted

Old drover's way descending Whipsnade Downs

The first Duke of Burgundy butterfly I saw today

Green Hairstreak