Whipsnade & Studham Circular Walk

Whipsnade & Studham Circular Walk

Tucked away in the south-west corner of Bedfordshire is one of the county's best-kept secrets. The Chiltern Hills offer picture postcard landscapes and stunning views, and have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Whipsnade and Studham are typical examples of the area's attractive villages. An intricate network of public footpaths and bridleways bisects each village, offering easy access to the beautiful surrounding countryside.
Only fragments remain of the extensive early medieval (1066-1300) woodlands which covered the Whipsnade area. Over the centuries the woodlands have been cleared - either for agriculture or to make space for large greens, commons and heaths, such as Whipsnade Heath, which can be traced back to the mid 14th century.
New Chilterns settlements often sprang up around the edges of these greens during and after the medieval period (1066- 1485), and Whipsnade was no exception. Buildings dating back to the 17th century can still be seen - Hill Farm, the Old Rectory and the Old Hunting Lodge are all good examples.
Hedgerows and small woods feature on this walk, alongside the attractive village of Studham and its large common. The distinctive clay with flints soil is a result of chalk erosion, leaving the hard flints behind. Because the soil is low in nutrients, agriculture has been less intensive here than in other parts of the county. Fortunately, as a result, many hedges, pastures, woods, greens and commons have survived to the present day.

How To Get There by Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Whipsnade is on several bus routes between Bedford, Luton and Buckinghamshire. Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN – Leagrave station, on the Bedford to London Thameslink line, is approximately 5 miles from Whipsnade. For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for National Rail Enquiries website

How to Get There by Car

Whipsnade is situated on the B4540, about 3 miles south-west of Dunstable. There are carparks at the National Trust’s Whipsnade Tree Cathedral in the centre of the village, and at a small parking area in Studham village.

Start/Finish Point

The Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is the suggested starting point for the walk, which is described in a clockwise direction from there. However, you can begin at other points on the route. Grid Ref TL 010180

Access and General Information

Distance: 5 miles Time: 2½ hours
Access Information
Surface Types: The surface types you will encounter range from hard, firm with stones no larger than 10mm, a variable surface with loose, variable sized stones cultivated earth.
Linear Gradients: The linear gradient is steeper than 1:6 in two places but only for 10 metres each.
Cross Falls: There is a range of cross falls: 1:9 or steeper but only for 10metres and then 1:10 - 1:15 and 1:26 or less for the rest of the walk.
Width Restrictions: None recorded - see Barriers below.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: There are two kissing gates with an opening restriction less than 1000m, four kissing gates with an opening restriction of between 1000 - 1500mm. There is one one-step stile.
Refreshments: Public Houses: Hunter's Lodge in Whipsnade. The Red Lion and Bell Inn in Studham. Harper's Fine Food in Studham.
Public Toilets There is a toilet in the courtyard of Harper's Fine Food in Studham.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are seats at Studham Common and Whipsnade Church.


POINT 1.From the Tree Cathedral car park, cross the green and follow Studham Lane, (see Walk 1 Point 8), until you reach a bridleway on the right.


Turn right along the bridleway which runs alongside the wild animal park's boundary fence.
The bridleway is part of a lane which once ran from Whipsnade Heath to the west of Studham. A low boundary bank can be seen in places.
Follow the bridleway, as it leaves the park boundary, to an area of woodland called Mason's Plantation.


Follow the bridleway to the left, moving into the wood, and turn right along the footpath through the wood, until you reach the other side.


Continue along the path by the edge of an arable field, just outside the wood, until you reach Valley Road.
From the next grass field you can see Studhamhall Farm, a timber-framed building dating from the 16th century or late medieval (1300-1485) times. It was possibly built as a Wealden type house (a design typical of the Weald of Kent) but has since undergone many alterations and extensions.
This is one of the few areas of Bedfordshire inhabited by fallow deer, which can be found in the nearby woodlands.


Cross the road, and continue past the Old School House, and across Studham Common.
Studham Common is another typical Chilterns common. Despite being reduced to half its former size by the Studham Enclosure Award of 1867, it still covers some 300 acres.


Turn right at Church Road, then left onto Dunstable Road, until you reach the 17th century Bell Inn.
Studham Village is surrounded by a network of well signposted and maintained public footpaths and bridleways. The map indicates a number of additional paths that can be explored around this area.


Follow the footpath on the left, opposite the public house, which leads past Bell Farm, along field back onto Dunstable Road.


Turn left for about 100 metres and follow the footpath on the right. This passes through woodland and alongside Holywell and Woodland Rise housing estates as far as the Buckwood Lane.


Turn left on to the path running parallel with the road, which leads on to Woodland Rise. Follow the path to the right for approximately 200 yards until it leaves Woodland Rise to the right, running past Heath Wood as far as Dunstable Road.
Heath Wood is ancient, semi-natural woodland and has been continuously wooded since at least 1600. There are native species like beech, cherry and hornbeam which have been managed. The wood has also been partly 'under- planted' with conifers such as silver firs and western red cedar, which are now showing through the canopy (top of the wood).


Turn left at the road, then right along the footpath back to Whipsnade, passing the brick-built church with its 16th century tower. Bear left at the green to return to the Tree Cathedral.


This leaflet was produced by the Leisure Services group at Bedfordshire County Council.
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