Caddington and Blows Down, Chilterns

A walk along quiet country paths to Caddington and the ancient woodland of Badgerdell wood before emerging at the top of the steep hillside above Dunstable. Enjoy the extensive views from Blow's Down.

Technical sheet No. 29286393

A Dunstable walk posted on 13/12/22 by Chiltern Society. Last update : 13/12/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h05[?]
Distance Distance : 9.93 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 86 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 84 m
Highest point Highest point : 209 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 164 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Chiltern Hills
Location Location : Dunstable
Starting point Starting point : N 51.880241° / W 0.501316°
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Start & finish: Oakwood Avenue, Downside, Dunstable (LU4 4AT), Gridref TL032212

(D/A) Walk through the gate and go straight ahead of you up the side of Blows Down. You cross the remains of some cultivation terraces, then, as you are under the electricity cables, turn onto a path climbing to your right.

(1) As you near the top of the ridge, where the track swerves left between hedges turn right off the track, following a path to the right of the fence on the brow of the hill. As you near a hedge ahead of you bear a little to the right on a path down to a kissing gate. Pass through the gate and continue along the top of the field above grass downland with a view across the valley to the ridge leading to Dunstable Downs.

After around 170m you will see a kissing gate in the hedge on the left. Pass through the gate and turn right along the edge of a field with a hedge on your right. The path soon veers left across the field to the left-hand edge of a wood and continues along the left-hand side of the wood to meet a road. Turn right on the road for 100m.

(2) Take the footpath on the left along a grassy field edge path with a hedge on your right. Where the path meets a wood it curves to the right and follows the left-hand side of the wood. 70m after the end of the wood the footpath passes through a hedge to the right.

The path continues in the same direction across the next field. If the line of the path is not visible, aim a little to the left of the electric cables overhead. Pass through the gate in the next hedge and follow the path across to the narrow strip of woodland on the left of this field. Follow the hedge and after 500m at the corner of the field pass through a kissing gate and drop steeply down a couple of steps to a stony track.

(3) Turn left and almost immediately right along the sunken track. Follow this track for the next 600m to reach a road on the outskirts of Caddington (A). Cross the road and turn left on the pavement into the village. At the village green cross back over the road on the pedestrian crossing and continue in the same direction past the church.

(4) Take the footpath left off the Luton Road through the East end of the churchyard. Leave the churchyard through a hedge on the opposite side. For the next kilometre you head North across fields. At first you have a hedge on your left. Shortly after the last houses of Caddington the path passes through the hedge and continues with the hedge on the right.

At the corner of this field you pass through a hedge ahead of you. Continue straight across an open field to the right hand corner of the wood (B) you see ahead of you. Walk along the right hand edge of the wood until you come to the point where the wood juts out to the right.

(5) Turn left into the wood and almost immediately bear left to follow a sunken track through the wood. You may need to walk to one side of this track to avoid the water that gathers in the bottom. The sunken track becomes a broad-level path. As you leave the wood, you join a track and continue in the same direction with the edge of the wood on your left. You soon come to a bridleway running along the fence around the former Vauxhall facility at Chaul End.

(6) Turn right along this bridleway. Where the fence turns sharp left you meet a crossing path. Turn left and continue along the fence. Pass through a gate near a house to meet a road. Bear right on the road and almost immediately left on to a public footpath. This runs on the drive to a couple of houses and then becomes a grassy track which soon descends steps to Chaul End lane. Cross the road via the island and climb the steps opposite up to the golf course.

(7) The next section is across a golf course. Look out for yellow-topped waymark posts and keep an eye on your position and direction on the map screen. Ignore the footpaths to the left and right - you continue in the same direction as you walked before crossing the road.

When you come to the brow of the hill you will see a lake in the valley with a stream which you need to cross. Do not aim for the bridge near the lake, keep to the right as you go down the hill and cross on a grass covered bridge around 50m to the right.

After crossing the bridge, keep on in the same direction aiming for a gap at the left end of a tree lined bank.  Pass through this and shortly after you should see a waymark post in front of a concrete track. Just before the track, turn right and walk on the grass between a hedge and a narrow strip of trees. After 100m you should see another waymark post to your left by a plank bridge to the concrete track.

(8) Don’t cross this but instead turn half-right to recross the golf course. Walk out of the strip of trees and across the grass aiming to the left of the large clump of trees ahead of you. Walk along the left-hand side of the trees and as you get to the end of the trees you will see a waymark post in front. Continue in the same direction, using one of the bridges across the drainage ditch, until you see a yellow post on the horizon just in front of the hedge.

Head for this post. When you reach the post go straight ahead through a gap in the hedge and continue in the same direction along the left hand side of the hedge ahead of you.

Keep straight on past a wood. As you near the brow of the hill views start to open up over Luton and Dunstable. The path starts to descend and becomes a sunken, hedge-lined track which brings you out on top of the steep hillside above the houses.

(9) Take the footpath left along the top of the hillside, initially along a broad grassy terrace. Our route follows the top of the steep slope West along the downs for over a kilometre. Most of the route is through open access land so there are several paths. You should keep close to the fence on your left at the top of the slope.

In places the best route diverts away from the fence for a stretch, but as long as you are not drawn too far downhill you will be OK. The top fence finally turns sharp left. Here you pass through a gate onto the open downland with the edge of Blow's Down (C) ahead of you. We are aiming for a small knoll on the edge. To reach it, climb a little to the left onto a grass terrace. This will lead you to the knoll.

(10) From the top of the down there are extensive views across Luton (East), Houghton Regis (North) and Dunstable (West) with Chiltern and Greensand hills beyond. You should be able to see your start point below you to the South.

The easiest descent is to take the winding path that continues in the same direction that you followed to the knoll until it meets a gentle path heading to your start point.

Note that if you started at Caddington, you do not need to descend. Keep to the top of the slope and rejoin the walk at the Waypoint (1). (D/A)

We hope you have enjoyed your walk. Please remember to rate the walk and add comments. We are interested in how we could improve the instructions or the route and would like to hear about any issues with paths on the walk.

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 177 m - Oakwood Avenue, Downside, Dunstable
1 : km 0.25 - alt. 198 m - Near the top of the ridge
2 : km 1.21 - alt. 209 m - Road
3 : km 2.84 - alt. 170 m - Stony track - Caddington, Chilterns
4 : km 4.13 - alt. 178 m - Church
5 : km 5.42 - alt. 190 m - Badgerdell Wood
6 : km 5.83 - alt. 181 m - Bridleway
7 : km 6.65 - alt. 188 m - Steps - Golf course
8 : km 7.18 - alt. 188 m - Golf course
9 : km 8.27 - alt. 190 m - Top of the hillside
10 : km 9.75 - alt. 190 m - The knoll
D/A : km 9.93 - alt. 179 m - Oakwood Avenue, Downside, Dunstable

Useful Information

Start & finish: Oakwood Avenue, Downside, Dunstable (LU4 4AT), Gridref TL032212
Alternative start point : Addington village centre. Join the walk at point Waypoint(4).

Parking: At start. Oakwood Avenue, Downside, Dunstable (LU4 4AT, Gridref TL032212)

Local transport: Centrebus B from Luton and Dunstable centres to Mountview Ave, Downside.

Terrain: Good, well waymarked footpaths, bridleways and lanes.

Food & drink: Pubs: The Chequers, Caddington. Cafes and shops in Caddington village centre.

Find more information and walks at Chiltern Society here.

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

(A) Caddington: Caddington is now a large commuter village. Despite this, the centre of the village around the green still has a rural charm with its shops, cafe, pub and church.The church dates from the 11th or 12th century. It has a fine Norman doorway and inside there is some nice carving in the local stone on capitals and font.

(B) Badgerdell Wood: This is one of the finest pieces of ancient woodland close to Luton and Dunstable. There is a wide variety of trees - look out for beech, oak, sweet chestnut and cherry. It is well worth visiting for bluebells in late April.

(C) Blow's Down: From the top of the down there are extensive views across Luton (East), Houghton Regis (North) and Dunstable (West) with Chiltern and Greensand hills beyond. It sits in the middle of an extensive Nature Reserve of flower-rich grassland - look out for orchids and butterflies in summer. You should be able to see your start point below you to the South.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.