Cople Trail - two walks of 7 and 4 Miles

The Cople Trail - 4 and 7 Mile Walks

Two pleasant walks of seven or four miles, centring on the village of Cople. A short cut is available which reduces the length of the longer walk to four miles. The route follows village paths, a section of the Greensand Ridge Walk and the ancient "Park Lane".
The majority of the paths used for this route cross agricultural land and in the case of "Park Lane" can be very muddy during winter months. It is strongly advised that if the route is used during these months appropriate clothing and footwear is worn and difficult conditions expected. A shortcut and alternative to using "Park Lane" is included in the trail.
The walk is clearly waymarked with the special Forest of Marston Vale circular waymarking; blue on public bridleways, yellow on public footpaths, and white on permissive footpaths.
If you wish to walk the shorter route follow the discs with the green background. (Points A to E in the walk description). Follow the white background disc for the longer route.
Please remember the Country Code. Most land within the Vale is private, without open public access, and provides the livelihood for many of our farmers. Care for the land in the Vale, and keep to the waymarked paths.

How To Get There by Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Cople is on the bus route between Bedford and Sandy. Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN – Bedford St John's station, on the Bedford to London Thameslink line, is approximately 4 miles from Cople. For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website

How to Get There by Car

Cople is situated four miles to the east of Bedford, just off the A603. The suggested starting point of the walk is from All Saints Church, Cople. The church is situated in the centre of the village, and a limited amount of off road parking is available adjacent to the church grounds. Further car parking is available at the Five Bells Public House opposite the church.

Start/Finish Point

The suggested starting point is All Saints Church in Cople. Grid Ref TL102485

Access and General Information 7 mile walk

Distance: 7 Miles
Access Information
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with some loose stones but none larger than 10mm, to cultivated ground.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 (a short ramp down to a 3 plank bridge over a drain, also in the woods there is some churned up earth and exposed tree roots). The linear gradients for the remainder of the walk is between 1:14 - 1:17 and 1:18 or less.
Cross Falls: The steepest cross fall is 1:6 in places whilst the majority is 1:9.
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 550mm.
Steps: There are steps located by a horse gate by the Sports Hall; the maximum step height is 250mm.
Barriers: There are two two-way opening gates with a width restriction more than 750mm. There are two staggered barriers with a minimum restriction less than 950mm.

Winter Alternative
Linear Gradient: This alternative path will take you across grassed land or uncultivated earth; with ruts or mud.
Linear Gradients: It has gradients of 1:6 or steeper, 1:10-1:13 and 1:18 or less.
Cross Falls: Its steepest cross fall is 1:9 or steeper.
Width Restrictions: There are no width restrictions less than 1000mm.
Steps: There is a step at the first field edge, step height 250mm.
Barriers: None on this stretch.

Refreshments: The Five Bells Public House is close to All Saints Church in Cople.
Public Toilets: None recorded
Picnic Tables: None recorded .
Seats: There are three seats on the route, one at Waterend corner (point 2 on the map), a tree trunk seat with views across to Cardington Hangers, Bedford & the Vale(close to point 9) and in a glade between points 14 and 15.

Access and General Information 4 mile walk

Distance: 4 Miles
Access Information
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard, firm with stones no larger than 5mm to grass or uncultivated earth path with ruts/mud to cultivated ground (farmland).
Linear Gradients: The route has linear gradients no steeper than 1:18.
Cross Falls: None recorded
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 800mm (this is a gap in the hedge at point A on the map).
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: There are four one-way opening gates, width greater than 750mm.

Winter Alternative
Surface Types: This alternative path will take you across grassed land or uncultivated earth; with ruts or mud.
Linear Gradients: It has gradients of 1:6 or steeper, 1:10-1:13 and 1:18 or less.
Cross Falls: Its steepest cross fall is 1:9 or steeper.
Width Restriction: There are no width restrictions less than 1000mm.
Steps: There is a step at the first field edge, step height 250mm.
Barriers: None on this stretch.

Point 1.

From the village church, All Saints, follow the Northill road past Clare's Garage, the site of the old forge. After passing Woodlands Close, which stands on the site of the Old Manor House, take the turning right marked 'Water End'.

All Saints Church, Cople

Dates back to 1450. Within the church is a 15th Century traceried screen leading to a chancel where the stalls are decorated with poppy heads. The church contains an excellent gallery of brass portraits. Included in the church monuments is one to Sir Walter Luke, one of the judges of the King's Bench, who married Anne, daughter of and one of the heirs of Launcelyn of Oxenbridge. She was nurse to the young Henry VIII.

Point 2.

Follow Water End Lane for a short distance (350 metres), leave the lane by the sign posted footpath immediately after the thatched cottage on your left.

Point 3.

Straight across the small grassed enclosure and through the gap in the hedge adjacent to the garden fence. A waymark post is situated at this point.

Point 4.

Take the south-easterly of the two paths waymarked which diagonally crosses an arable field and takes you over a small field drain. There is a waymark post at this point.

Point 5.

Follow the waymarked path for over a mile to the southern end of tree belt. This point is waymarked on an old fence post. Following this section of path you will be able to see the Cardington Hangers.

Point 6.

Turn sharp left at waymarked junction and follow the headland path down to the road. (For a short cut turn right after the waymarked junction and follow the route A - B - C - D - E).

A. Follow the headland path, with a hedgerow on your right, past the waymark post at point A, proceed straight ahead until you meet a stile at the next field junction.

B. Proceed over the stile to your right, carry on straight ahead through an avenue of trees, on your right is a hedgerow and to your left a small plantation of trees. Follow this tree lined track, which is gated at its northern end.

C. Proceed through the gateway between two fenced off fields to the waymark post at point D.

D. Proceed directly ahead through a gateway, to your left is a pond with trees growing around its edge, keep to the right of this. You will pass Wood End Farmhouse which is on your right, follow the field edge path to your right, eventually coming out at a signpost junction adjacent to Wood End Farm.

E. Carry on straight ahead along a narrow road with wide verges and hedges either side. This lane - "Water End Lane' - eventually comes out at Cople. If you wish to rejoin the Cople Circular Walk at point 14, this is possible by turning left at the sign posted bridleway before you meet the first cottages on your left on Water End Lane.

Point 7.

Turn right at the road and follow for a distance of some 680 metres uphill past Sheerhatch Wood, the top of the hill offers fine views across the vale. Past Oak Farm take the bridleway on your right indicated off the end of the farm track.

Point 8.

Follow the sign and waymarked bridleway that is treelined for nearly a mile. The Greensand Ridge Walk joins the route halfway along its length. Leave the treelined bridleway at the point the Greensand Ridge leaves it, turning right and crossing a wooden footbridge.

Point 9.

Crossing the footbridge, follow the waymarked headland path for a distance of a third of a mile to the waymarked junction with the Old Warden Circular Walk, Greensand Ridge Walk and a public footpath. If good ground conditions prevail continue straight ahead to point 11.

Point 10.

Winter alternative to using Park Lane - turn immediately right and take route waymarked "Public Footpath", follow the field edge with a line of trees to your left then follow the waymarked path across the next two fields, with a pond on your left over the first field and on your right over the second. This path joins the Cople Trail "short-cut" at point B - a waymarked stile.

Point 11.

Turn right at the Bridleway Crossroads, leaving the Greensand Ridge Walk and follow the waymarked field headland for a distance of 600 metres past a small treelined reservoir and then follow the path into what becomes "Park Lane".
PARK LANE OR PORK LANE?
In historical documents the lane is known variously as Park Lane or Pork Lane.The former may have been the original name, deriving from the adjacent deer park created in the 12th Century. The latter name may have been acquired in more recent centuries from a gentleman known as Porke, referred to in a 17th Century document. The lane's antiquity is demonstrated by the deep hollow which has been worn as it runs up the hill south of Wood End Farm boundary.

Point 12.

The route now follows the length of the bridleway known as "Park Lane" for a distance of some 1.5 miles - the path is quite narrow and muddy in parts and is tree-lined.

Point 13.

At the end of "Park Lane" turn left at its junction with Water End lane and follow the lane for 500 metres. Turn left at the signposted bridleway before the cottages on your left.

Point 14.

Follow the signed bridleway for 20 metres and turn right. Follow the waymarked footpath that diagonally crosses an arable field, coming out onto a headland bridleway.
A winter alternative to this section of path is to continue for 240 metres along the bridleway rather than turning right along the crossfield footpath. Then turn right to follow the waymarked headland bridleway.

Point 15.

Follow the bridleway straight ahead back into the village. Turn left and right and follow the path adjacent to the sports field. The path exits onto Grange Lane.

Point 16.

Turn right at the bridleway's junction with Grange Lane and follow the lane back into Cople village to the Church. Note the Bedford Estates cottages on your left.

Wood End Farm

Formerly a "Link Farm" demonstrating practical examples of how landscape and wildlife conservation can be combined with modern farming.
The present farmhouse and field boundaries date from the 1850s, following the purchase of the land by the Duke of Bedford. The medieval manor of Wood End was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The present farm, which is situated on higher clay land away from the better river gravel', was probably opened up in the 12th century. The manor building with its moat would have been established during this or the medieval period.

Acknowledgements

The leaflet was produced by the Forest of Marston Vale. The Forest covers over 60 sq miles between the M1, Ampthill, Woburn and Bedford. It is centred on the 'Brickfields', an area of existing and former clay pits stretching between the M1 and the southern fringe of Bedford.