Ampthill and central Bedfordshire

Starting near the site of Catherine of Aragon's house arrest and venturing into the surrounding areas. You'll see some lovely rolling countryside with views to the Chilterns and across Marston Vale to Bedford. The walk takes in a variety of environments : farmland, woods, an ancient meadow, parkland with Capability Brown landscaping, the ruins of a Jacobean/Classical mansion and memorials to Catherine of Aragon and the men of the Bedfordshire regiment who trained in the park and died in WW1.

Technical sheet
No. 2343282
A Ampthill walk posted on 31/07/19 by stickmantoo. Update : 03/10/19
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h10[?]
Distance Distance : 13.43km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 136m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 127m
Highest point Highest point : 136m
Lowest point Lowest point : 46m
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Ampthill
Starting point Starting point : N 52.032708° / W 0.508081°
Download :
Giant ivy All Saints Church, Houghton Regis Memorial cross Houghton House ruins

Description

(D/A) Leave the car park through the gate at the north-west corner by the large information board. Take the path going straight ahead, slightly up-hill, through a short avenue of trees. At the end of the trees, take the path to the right towards the two crosses visible on the hilltop. Walk towards the beacon and then follow the broad path roughly following the hilltop. You will pass 2 groups of pine trees on the right. After the second group of pines, take the left hand fork and pass the information board. Continue along the path, past the 'Grand Lookout', towards and passing three seats on the right hand side. Where the path meets a track coming up the hill from the left, go to the right.

(1) Leave the park to enter the woods through a gate to your left. Take the broad path veering to the right going through an avenue of trees. Follow this path until it meets a path at the edge of the woods. There, go right and follow it until it comes to a gate at the roadside. Leave the woods through the gate and turn left to go up the hill along the roadside. At the top of the hill, where the road turns to the right, choose a safe place to cross the road to get onto the concrete road on the other side. Follow this road (its footpath may be impassable) to where it divides at the row of houses.

(2) Bear left behind the houses, passing the small English Heritage car park on the left-hand side and follow the road to the gate leading to the ruins of Houghton House. After visiting the ruins, retrace your steps back to the gate and turn left, continuing to follow the road downhill between two houses. Bear right after the pond on the right hand side. Go over the stile/through the gate and through the field to a second stile/gate. Cross this field to the bottom of the hill, go through the gate, over the bridge and follow the path straight ahead along the field edge.

(3) At the corner of the field at the Marston Vale Timberland Trail/public footpath sign, turn left. Follow the field edge for about 150m and turn right at the Marston Vale Timberland Trail/public footpath sign again. Follow the field edge/ditch to the field corner. Cross the track and go through the gate slightly to the left hand side at the Marston Vale Timberland Trail sign. Cross the rough grass to the driveway and continue ahead, past the gate at the end of the drive. At the turning place, continue along the drive/track to the right of the way-marked gate (do not go through this).

(4) Turn right at the footpath marker, immediately after the house #7, a dark-red brick semi-detached house, opposite the house #2. At the end of the lane, go through the gate and cross the field towards the church tower. At the edge of the field, go through the gate, turn right and follow the road into Houghton Conquest. Pass the church and immediately after the pub opposite, turn right into a lane.

(5) Follow the path to a road with an old Chapel at the corner. Turn right at the Chapel, cross the road and continue, passing Kingswood Close on your left hand side. Turn left at the public footpath marker after 10m between two houses. Follow the path for about 70m and turn right at the gate when you emerge onto a field edge. Follow the field edge/hedge on your right as it meanders for about 200m. Turn right through a gate on the right hand side and then immediately left, onto Kingswood & Glebe Meadows Nature Reserve. Keeping the field edge on your left, go to the diagonally opposite corner, and leave the field through a gate. Follow the field edge on your left along the woods for about 50m to a gate into the woods.

(6) Enter the woods and almost immediately, where the path divides, follow the Permissive Path to the left up the hill. At the top of the hill, the path takes a very wide turn to the right. Look for a gate out of the woods into farmland on the left. Leave the woods and follow the farm track straight ahead to the right of the hedge for about 200m towards the farm buildings. Keeping to the right of the large building/barn, follow the farm track through the farm onto a tarred drive. At the end of the tarred drive, at a turning place, about 100m before farm buildings, turn right through the gate, following the field edge/hedge on your right for about 500m, going through a gate, a stile and, at the bottom of a small hill, another gate onto a farm track.

(7) Here, go through the gate and turn immediately right. After about 5m pass through another gate to take the path along the field edge up the hill. After about 200m, go through a gate in the hedge. Continue along the path to the left towards radio/phone masts visible at the top of the hill on the right hand side. Follow the path, keeping the masts and reservoir in view on the right and then, behind you as the path bends to the left. After about 400m, pass through one gate and then downhill towards a track with way-markers. Go through the gate at the cattle grid. Go through a gap in the hedge with a way-marker almost immediately after the grid. Go over the ‘bridge’, through the gate and follow the path slightly to the left uphill across the field to a stile. Cross the stile and veer slightly left, following the path across the field to its corner. Leave the field down a lane passing a cemetery on the left hand side to a small informal car park. Take the road on the right from the car park going briefly uphill to a way-marker.

(8) Turn right along the road to a red-brick cottage on the right hand side of a bend turning left. Take the path marked ‘Holly Walk’ to the left of the road and follow it through a holly-tree alley for about 150m to the main road. Cross carefully the road and turn right up-hill for about 20m to the gate into the woods/Ampthill Park. Enter the park/woods and follow the path uphill and to the right. After a short distance, at a short way-marked post, take the broad marked path to the left until you reach a path crossing: turn left and follow the path through the woods, going to the right near the bottom of the hill and passing the back of a row of houses. After the houses, follow the broad path uphill towards a small house/building partly hidden by fences and bushes on the left at the top.

(9) Go slightly left and follow the path towards the playground just visible over the top of the rise. Continue towards the playground and pass it and the tennis courts, keeping them and the café building to the left. To return to the car park, continue past the tennis courts, following the fence to an entrance gate to the car park after about 400m.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0 - Information board at car-park exit - Catherine's Cross and Ampthill Camp Memorial Cross
1 : km 0.95 - alt. km 0.95 - Entrance to Laurel Wood - Catherine's Cross and Ampthill Camp Memorial Cross
2 : km 2.1 - alt. km 2.1 - Track divides: bear left behind houses - Houghton House ruins
3 : km 3.66 - alt. km 3.66
4 : km 4.63 - alt. km 4.63 - Lane entry immediately after house #7, opposite #2
5 : km 6.05 - alt. km 6.05 - Right turn at road after the old chapel
6 : km 7.21 - alt. km 7.21 - Fence: turn left into King's Wood
7 : km 10.07 - alt. km 10.07 - Turn right to go up hill
8 : km 11.54 - alt. km 11.54 - Turn right towards red brick cottage
9 : km 12.69 - alt. km 12.69 - After small building, bear left to playground
D/A : km 13.43 - alt. km 13.43 - Gate entrance to car park

Useful Information

The path is almost entirely way-marked, usually fairly obvious. A variety of signs for the Greensand Ridge Trail, John Bunyan Trail, Marston Vale Timberland Trail and public footpaths are used both together and separately.
Toilets at the start of the walk are available at the park café, near the starting point, about 5 min walk to the east and after the sports ground.
There are some very uneven paths on parts of the route and after rain parts have the potential to be very muddy. Good supportive footwear is recommended. Parts of the walk are quite exposed and in windy/wet weather especially good protective clothing is advised. There is little protection from the sun in many places along the route.
There have been farm animals in some of the fields every time I have done this walk so dogs must be kept on a lead where the fields are 'occupied'.
The only place to get refreshments during the walk is at the pub 'The Knife & Cleaver' in Houghton Conquest, opposite the church, near (5). There is a café at the Ampthill Park Hub near the beginning/end of the walk.
Crossing the road to get to Houghton House near (1) requires care due to poor views in both directions and the speed of the traffic here. Similarly, there is no pavement to walk along on the road, which is relatively narrow with fast traffic in both directions, into Houghton Conquest between (4) and (5).
The walk can be shortened by taking way-marked paths shown on the map just before (3) and/or on leaving King's Wood at the top of the hill.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Soon after the start, the walk passes close to Catherine's Cross and the Ampthill Camp Memorial Cross is not far away to the right.
There are lovely views across Marston Vale from the hill-tops in the park. The grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown and the view from The Grand Lookout is especially good. There is an information board there.
A short visit to the ruins of Houghton House is recommended and can do for free : information boards in and near the building will give background information. Again, a great view to be had, part of the reason it was sited there.
The All Saint's Church in Houghton Conquest originated in the C14, and if it's open, worth a visit.
Kingswood & Glebe Meadow Nature Reserve has information boards. Some of the trees in the woods, especially near the top of the hill, have enormous tree-sized ivies growing up them.
Views of the Chiltern Hills can be seen to the left from the path along the fields leading to (7).

Opinions and comments

Average

Global average : 4.89/5
Number of opinions : 3
Description quality : 4.67/5
Routemap quality : 5/5
Walk interest : 5/5


Walker
on Tue 29 Oct 2019 22:04:24 CET

Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry to hear that part of the path was ploughed: when I last walked it with a group in mid-October, it was rough but well-defined and unploughed.


Walker
on Mon 28 Oct 2019 21:29:58 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 27/10/19
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Very interesting walk with great views with a nice pub for lunch . Easy to follow instructions and map Thank you


Walker
on Mon 28 Oct 2019 09:21:47 CET

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 27/10/19
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Easy walking though woods and along field edges and farm tracks. Great views after gentle ascents


Walker
on Mon 07 Oct 2019 17:44:02 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 07/10/19
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

all well signed, spoilt by ploughed up footpath frm lale to houghto regis church

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