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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Saturday Walk - Marston Vale, the Bedfordshire Greensand Way and Flitwick Moor: Lidlington to Flitwick

Length: 22.0 km (13.6 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 291/276m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours, Toughness: 5 out of 10

Take the 09.15 Rugeley Trent Valley train from Euston, change at Bletchley  (09.50/10.17, there is a cafĂ© in the station) onto the Bedford train, arrives Lidlington 10.38.
Return trains: (basically) every 15 mins on xx.00 etc.
Buy  a Lidlington return.

This Central Bedfordshire walk starts in Marston Vale with an undulating ascent up the (Bedfordshire) Greensand Ridge, mainly through mixed woods. It then follows the waymarked Greensand Ridge Walk to open parkland in Ampthill, now with impressive views down into the Vale. Bedfordshire’s largest remaining heathland is passed through en-route to Ampthill’s delightful historic centre. From there it’s back into the park and on to the picturesque ruin of Houghton House, again with commanding views into Marston Vale. After a stretch through ancient King’s Wood the walk leads to Maulden, at times with panoramic views south to the Chiltern Hills, before finally descending from the Greensand Ridge.
The route to Flitwick is then entirely flat and leads through a couple of moors, including a captivating stretch along a narrow path through the very heart of Flitwick Moor, one of the most important wetland sites in the south east of England.

Walk options:
Three shortcuts are possible, although they cut out some of the best parts of the walk.
·        SC I cuts 2.8 km, 49m ascent (and Cooper’s Hill Heathland) pre-lunch in Ampthill (lunch is then in Maulden);
·        SC II cuts 680m, 17m ascent and a visit to the picturesque ruin of Houghton House;
·        SC III cuts 1.1 km and 24m ascent through King’s Wood.
Frequent buses leave Ampthill from near the recommended lunch pub to either Flitwick or Harlington stations. Some services also stop in Maulden outside The White Hart, 6.1 km from the end of the walk.

Lunch: 4 pubs in Ampthill (about 8 km into the walk). Check the pdf for details (although The Prince of Wales is now ‘A Burger Joint’).
Tea: The White Hart at Mauldon, 6 km from the end, plus plenty options in Flitwick. See the walk directions pdf for details.

For  walk directions, maps, height profiles, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.232

4 comments:

Walker said...

If you think there is something oddly familiar about the trains on the Marston Vale line from Bletchley to Bedford, you are right. They are re-purposed former District Line trains. Rather cute. Unlike on the Underground, you are free to walk through the door between carriages. And they have nice loos, if that coffee you had on Bletchley station has reached the point of no return.

Anonymous said...

Trains look tricky, last night the site said replacement buses, this morning just cancelled between Ridgmont and Bedford therefore not running as far as Lidlington. Any ideas? I was hoping to join the walk from Bedford. Judith

Anonymous said...

Apparently there are mini buses, see you at Lidlington.

Thomas G said...

It was raining cats and dogs - when I got out of bed, but by the time we got to Lidlington, there were just the remains of an overcast sky, which soon broke to reveal lots of blue. And that's how it stayed, apart from a 20 minutes period of an intense hailshower, just before lunch in Ampthill. As per the previous comments, this was Day 3 of an inpromptu part-closure of the Marston Vale-Line, necessitating a bus replacement service between Ridgmont and Bedford. The reason: barriers at level crossings opening and closing randomly, without being triggered by coming or going trains!
2 had come up via Euston, 1 down from Northamptonshire to join at Bletchley, 1 across from Bedford, with the replacement buses from both directions arriving within minutes at Lidlington. So off we strode together and negotiated the steep and slippery paths along the undulating bits of the Greensand Ridge without a fall. The recent rain and driving wind meant fine far views from the ridge, especially in Ampthill Great Park, into the Marston Vale and - in other places - across to The Chilterns. The hailshower started as we entered Cooper's Hill Heathlands but by the time we had settled in and ordered our food at the fantastic White Hart (Hotel) pub, it was all blue skies again!
Back onto the ridge and across to Houghton House's scenic ruin, then through a fine bluebell wood and down to Maulden (where we saw our first lambs of the year) into the Flit Valley. The Flit was very full and muddy brown indeed (for a chalk stream), and the streams in Flitwick Moor itself a sight to behold. At the station for the 17.00 Thameslink train.
n=4 w=sunny-and-windy-with-one-hailshower