Step out into rural Bedfordshire on waymarked paths that will lead you around the historic villages of Cranfield, Salford and Hulcote. Discover contrasting landscapes, where scenes of ancient woodland remnants are intermingled with glimpses of modern agriculture.
Exhilarating views complete this countryside picture.
A good rights of way network provides the means for you to explore this area easily, and to tailor the length of the walk to meet your needs; 5 different route lengths can be followed.
Brogborough Hill Picnic Site in west Bedfordshire is just off the A421, about 1 mile north-east of junction 13 on the M1. Situated on the crest of a ridge overlooking the Martston Vale, the picnic area has parking, toilet facilities, picnic tables and excellent views. Limited car parking space is also available in Salford and Cranfield.
Waymarking: Look out for the circular walk waymarks which indicate the direction of the route. Yellow arrows are used on public footpaths, blue on public bridleways. Short cuts are waymarked with blue and yellow waymark arrows, without the ‘CR' lettering.
Footwear: Some of the paths can be wet and muddy, particularly after heavy rain. Strong, waterproof footwear is essential.
The Starting Point: Brogborough Hill Picnic Site is the suggested starting point. The walk is described in a clockwise direction from there. However, you can begin at any other point and walk in either direction.
Grid Ref 965387
Distance: 10 miles with options for 8, 7, 5 and 2½ mile routes.
Time: 5 hours
Surface Types: Range from hard and firm without stones to cultivated ground.
Linear Gradients: The steepest linear gradient is 1:10 - 1:13. Maximum linear gradient on the 2½ mile route is 1:14 - 1:17
Cross Falls: There are cross falls of 1:26 or less.
Width Restriction: If you choose the 2½ mile route you will not encounter any width restriction less than 1000mm. The other distances have a minimum width restriction of 780mm.
Steps: None recorded
Barriers: No barriers on the 2½ mile route. You will encounter a maximum number of 5 kissing gates, 5 two-step stiles and 2 squeeze stiles on all other routes.
Refreshments: There are two public houses in Salford; The Swan and The Red Lion.
Public Toilets None available on route.
Picnic Tables: There is a picnic site at the beginning of the walk (Brogborough) and at Lodge Road in Cranfield.
Seats: There is a seat by Hulcote Wood.
POINT 1. Leave Brogborough Picnic Site and walk down the drive toward Brogborough Manor Farm.
Brogborough Manor Farm is a conservation link farm, which shows practical examples of how landscape and wildlife conservation can be combined with modern farming. The main enterprises here are wheat, barley, oil seed rape, and a suckler herd of South Devon cattle. Hedgerows, ponds and woodland are well-managed and already 11,000 trees have been planted and 14 ponds dug out.
PLEASE KEEP DOGS ON LEADS BECAUSE OF NESTING BIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE.
Point 2 Continue straight ahead on the waymarked bridleway keeping the farm pond on your right. Follow the track until you reach the wood.
The existing farmhouse at Manor Farm is an interesting chequer brickwork building, owing much to the 18th and 19th centuries but with origins in the 17th century. It may possibly be the original farmhouse on the site.
The Duke of Bedford had the property between 1703 and 1882.
Point 3. A permissive footpath leads you around the back of the wood into Reynold Wood. Follow the permissive path to the southern boundary of Hulcote Wood,(you will cross a cycle way on route), and then turn left along the gravel cycle way to reach the corner of the wood.
The countryside surrounding Salford, Hulcote and Cranfield was once much more heavily wooded. Today, this heritage is indicated only by a few remnants of ancient woodland, and several surviving place names. The names "Wood End" and "Cranfield", which means 'a clearing in the forest occupied by cranes', provide clues about the extent of woodland cover which once existed in this area.
Hulcote Wood is an intricate mixture of both ancient and recent woodland. A cluster of small woodlands in 1820 had developed into a single large woodland block by 1911. Ash and oak dominate the woodland canopy, with field maple, hawthorn, dogwood and hazel growing beneath. Bluebells, dogs mercury, wood anemone, and yellow archangel occur on the woodland floor.
Point 4. To continue the 10 mile walk turn right and walk along the western edge of Hulcote Wood. For a shorter 2½ mile walk turn left over the horse trap and return to the picnic site.
Point 5. At the edge of the wood bear left and follow the waymarked footpath along the headlands, eventually reaching a sleeper footbridge.
Point 6. To take the 8 mile walk do not cross the bridge but follow the field headlands down to Salford village where the main route can be joined.
To follow the 10 mile walk, cross the bridge, turn left and follow the field headland, before crossing an old green lane, and finally reaching Hulcote Church.
The landscape changes enroute, as the walk passes from the high ground around Cranfield and Brogborough down to the villages of Hulcote and Salford, are fascinating. The high ground has an open landscape with large and mainly arable fields, whilst on the lower lying ground, traversed by streams around Hulcote and Salford, the fields are smaller and several remain as pasture.
Little is now left of the medieval village of Hulcote which existed around Church Farm and Rooktree Farm. The medieval appearance of St Nicholas' Church is misleading, as it was rebuilt around 1590 for the Lord of Hulcote Manor.
Point 7. If you wish to follow the 5 mile walk turn left at the road and left again, following the road to Rooktree Farm. From there follow the waymarked bridleway back to Hulcote Wood. To stay on the 10 mile walk cross the road and follow the footpath across the field in front of Hulcote Manor. The path passes through small pasture fields and a nursery before reaching the road near Aspley Hall Farm.
Hulcote Manor was built originally as the Rectory House in the early 19th century. Two interesting buildings exist where the footpath emerges on the road near Aspley Hall Farm. The circular brick building (The Round House) is the truncated remains of the tower windmill dismantled around 1880. It stands opposite the watermill, now converted to a house. Aspley Hall Farm was partly built in the 18th century. Its name reveals that until recent boundary changes it lay in Aspley Guise Parish, not Hulcote and Salford, as it does now.
Point 8. Turn right and follow the road, passing through a gate into Aspley Hall Farm. Opposite the gate, a signpost indicates three rights of way. Follow the public footpath which bears slightly right across the field.
Point 9. Cross the kissing gate and follow field boundaries passing through a kissing gate to a footbridge. Follow the footpath to the road.
Point 10. Decision time again! To follow the 7 mile route, turn right at the road, and then take the footpath on your left which follows field headlands before rejoining the circular walk.
If you would like to walk the total route length, turn left at the road and walk along Broughton Road, past Rectory Farm and College Farm. Take the footpath just west of Mill Lane, which leads up to Salford Wood and Valentine Spinney.
The name Salford comes from the Saxon 'Seathford' meaning Willowford. The Parish Church of St Mary is open to visitors and dates from 1200. The footpath to Salford Wood follows an ancient green lane which was once the main route from Salford village to the ancient parish woodland. Salford Wood lay along the boundary with Cranfield, and is now largely grubbed up, though a remnant remains to the left of the route. Valentine Spinney is a small ancient coppice wood. In spring its floor is carpeted with bluebells and several overgrown coppice stools can be seen within.
Point 11. Take the footpath running at the side of Valentine Spinney and then follow the field headlands to reach a road. Cross the road and a footbridge and continue following headland paths to the junction of the Cranfield and Moulsoe Roads. Take special care to follow the waymarked route here.
Cranfield airfield was opened in 1937. Initially there were only grass landing strips, but in the winter of 1939-40 new tarmac runways were laid in time for Cranfield to play a full part in the Second World War. Today a variety of planes use the airfield, and you may see parachutists practising.
The south facing pillbox near the footpath dates from the Second World War defence of the aerodrome.
Point 12. Follow the road towards Cranfield and turn right along Lodge Road. Turn right along the public footpath in front of 'The Lodge', and follow it until the bridleway which leads back to Hulcote Wood is joined.
PLEASE KEEP DOGS ON LEADS SO WILDLIFE IS NOT DISTURBED.
Cranfield - a village has existed here since Saxon times. The first known mention of Cranfield was in 918, when Ailwyn Niger gave the Manor of Cranfelding to Ramsey Abbey, which means that the village was here even before that date.
The Lodge was the entrance lodge to the park which surrounded the now demolished Cranfield Court, built for the Reverend George Gardner Harter, Rector of Cranfield and a major landowner in the parish. He also created the 60 acre wooded park around the Court which still partly survives, and whose north-western and south-western boundary is followed by this walk.
This leaflet was produced by Bedfordshire County Council.