Dunstable Downs

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28th January

Dunstable Downs…well, I remember coming here with Dad to fly kites…by which I mean Robert and I watched on as Dad flew the box kite. We were allowed to send messages up but not trusted to hold the line. It’s amusing to see things have not changed and dads are still in control whilst kids make their own fun. Nevertheless, some things have changed. There are now other kites wheeling in the afternoon breeze. The resurgence of the Red Kite has been dramatic and there is enough wind today to encourage them out. We watch them swoop and soar over the Downs as we walk east towards the edge of Dunstable.

Coming off the Downs we turn north west along Icknield Way Trail and the Totternhoe Green Trail. Out of the wind it’s actually pleasantly warm and the rise in temperature has thawed the ground sufficiently to turn the track into a sticky toffee pudding… forcing us to slip and slide as we walk. These are old drovers’ trails and, however bad they are this afternoon, they’d have been much worse in the past as farmers drove livestock to market in Dunstable.

At Totternhoe Knolls we pass medieval chalk quarries. Totternhoe chalk was used for, amongst other things, the interior carvings in Westminster Abbey…we’re living English culture this afternoon!

From here we zig-zag our way across the fields by way of Dolittle Mill and Well Head before arriving back at the foot of the Downs. All the time the clouds have been ominously gathering over Ivinghoe Beacon and we’re caught in a cold, sharp shower as we pick our walk along the footpath. However, as we finish the walk, the skies clear briefly and the late afternoon light is magical, if only for 5 mins. Luckily, we’re approaching the top of the steep climb back to Bison Hill car park. Some of our pictures manage to capture the vivid early evening colours. It’s been a while since we’ve walked in Bedfordshire and this has been enjoyable 7.2 mile walk with some childhood memories thrown in for good measure.

Dunstable Downs picture gallery (more pictures on Flickr):

dunstable-downs-walk-profile

Dunstable Downs walk profile

Distance: 7.2 miles ; Difficulty: Moderate

Coordinates for Satnav: N51° 51.326′ W0° 32.956′

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