Kempston Rural Walk

Kempston Rural Walk

The Kempston Rural circular walk is an excellent 4 mile walk within this pleasant part of the Marston Vale Community Forest. The route follows mainly signed footpaths and quiet stretches of road.
Some of the route crosses open arable land which may be muddy during the winter months. It is strongly advised that if the route is used during these months appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear are worn.

How To Get There By Passenger Transport

Click here for bus and train timetable information.

How To Get There By Car

Kempston Rural is accessed by the A5134 which runs from Kempston to Bromham. Kempston is situated south-west of Bedford.
Parking is available at Church End, Kempston Rural, (closes at dusk) close to the start of the walk off Green End Road. Remember to take all valuables with you and ensure your car is securely locked.

Access and General Information

Length: 4 miles
Access and General Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud, to cultivated ground (farmland).
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 for a short distance at Kempston Wood. There are also gradients of between 1:6-1:9 and of between 1:14-1:17.
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: There is a minimum width restriction of 320mm between Points F and G on the map.
Steps: The maximum step height is 150mm at the bridge between Points J and K on the map.
Barriers: There are 5 kissing gates with a restriction of less than 1000mm and 6 two-step stiles.
Refreshments: The Cross Keys public house is marked on the map, at Point I.
Public Toilets: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: These are located at Buttons Ramsey Wood, a short distance from the route at Point J.
Seats: These are located at Buttons Ramsey Wood, a short distance from the route at Point J.

The Main Route

A Begin your walk on the Green End Road, following the signed footpath between the painted cottages. This path follows the edge of the cemetery.
In the distance and to your north you can see the clay ridge that borders the vale and ‘Hanger Wood’, an ancient woodland referred to as far back as 1200AD. Woodlands such as this would have supplied timber to the village nearby.

B Once past the cemetery take the path's route south west (left) and follow it to the signed crossroad.

C At the crossroad take the signed field edge path, follow it north (right) over the next two fields, crossing a bridge and to the road.

D Once at the road turn east (right) and take the signed path on the opposite side of the road. This follows a grassy field edge path that eventually crosses a stile and then diagonally across a pony paddock, coming out on the West End Road over a stile.

There are several ‘ends’ in Kempston Rural, some are descriptive – such as Wood, Church and Box. Kempston, as with many other villages, is characterised by a series of inter connected ‘ends’. Many of these fused together to form the modern urban area. Until the creation of Kempston Urban District of 1894 the historic parish was one of the biggest in Bedfordshire.

E At the road turn west (left) and follow the road taking the fork signed for Stagsden.

F Opposite West End Farmhouse take the signed footpath across the next two fields crossing a very narrow bridge and coming out, via a stile, on Tithe Road. To use the short cut, turn left.

On the end of one of the West End farm outbuildings you will see a Victorian wall post box. Pillar boxes were very costly to provide in rural areas so, to save villagers waiting out in the cold for the mail coach, wall boxes were introduced.

G Once at the road follow it west (right) taking the signed footpath at the first bend.

H This path crosses two stiles and a small bridge. It then follows a field edge path for some distance. This path gives superb views over the surrounding area and offers the opportunity to roam Kempston Wood which is managed by the Woodland Trust. The path eventually rejoins Tithe Road across a sleeper bridge.

The word ‘Tithe’ defines the ancient obligation of all parishioners to maintain their priest from the fruits of the earth in his parish.

I At the road turn south (right) and follow it past the Cross Keys public house and past Wood End Farm.

J Take the signed footpath opposite and to the east of (past) Wood End Farm. This path follows a field edge path, through a kissing gate and diagonally across a large field of pasture. Following a worn path you will exit the field, at the gate, east (to the right of) the quaint thatched 'Rose Cottage'.

K Cross the track and follow the signed path through the kissing gate to the right of the farm gate (behind a tree). This path follows the line of fencing to the north east (right) and comes out on the Green End Road.

The area of land that the path crosses has been planted up with various tree species. Although privately owned, The Community Forest is keen to encourage landowners to enhance their holding with planting schemes. This tract of land has now been returned to what would have been part of the surrounding park land to Kempston House. The building is effectively screened behind planting, demonstrating yet another use of trees!

L Once at the road follow it north (left) back to the start of the walk.

The Short Cut

For those seeking a shorter route a link is available between points X (located between points K and L) and G. This route requires the walker to turn south (left) at point 'G' follow the Tithe Road for a short distance to its first bend. Take the signed footpath, south east (left) across the open field, exit via a stile and though a kissing gate to rejoin the route east (straight ahead) to Green End Road.

The use of this link bisects the main circular walk into two smaller circular routes

Further Information

Kempston Wood (40 acres) was bought by the Woodland Trust in 1997. It is an ancient wood of ash, oak and field maple situated on the West Bedfordshire Clay Ridge within the Marston Vale Community Forest. Fine views of the surrounding countryside and Bedford town can be seen from the wood edges.
Kempston Wood, as documented on the 1804 enclosure map, covered about 170 acres. Today it is only a small remnant. The Lords of the Manor of Kempston managed the wood throughout the medieval period and up to the 19th century. They regularly coppiced the wood, and their livestock grazed parts of it as wood pasture. Some pollarded trees on a slight wood bank form a boundary division created in 1387.
The wood is home to many birds and animals including owls, woodpeckers and muntjac deer. Wildflowers include bluebells, orchids (common spotted and early purple) and the small teasel.
The ash, field maple and hazel trees in the wood were traditionally managed as coppice. This means trees were cut down to the base, from which many stems would then grow. This regrowth was regularly harvested to provide firewood and building materials such as thatching spars, produced from hazel coppice. The Trust plans to re-establish some coppice in suitable areas, a practice which enhances the wildlife value of the wood.
The remainder of the wood will be managed as high forest; this means that the majority of the trees will be left to grow on to maturity. Where trees are crowded, individuals will be felled to allow their neighbours to grow unhindered, and become big old trees that future generations will enjoy.
The Woodland Trust is Britain's largest charity concerned solely with woodland conservation through acquisition and management. If you would like further information about the Trust and details of how you can become a supporter, please contact:
The Woodland Trust
Autumn Park
Grantham, Lincs NG31 6LL
Tel: 01476 581111