Marston Jubilee Walk

Introduction

This circular walk starts from Marston Moretaine village and takes you through the Marston Vale to Hunger Hill, returning via the ancient woodland of Marston Thrift. If you are very lucky you might even see the rare black hairstreak butterfly!

How To Get There By Passenger Transport

Click here for bus and train timetable information.

How To Get There By Car

 Marston Moretaine is well signposted from the A421 and only minutes east from J13 of the M1.
Parking is available in the centre of the village and at the start of the walk by the village hall.

Start/Finish Point

This circular walk starts at the village hall in Marston Moretaine. 

Access and General Information

Length: 5½ miles (9km)
Time: 3 hours

Access Information: Pending Update

Route Description

Click here to download the map.

1. Leave Marston Village Hall car park and cross over the Bedford Road with care. Take the path to the left of the electricity sub-station and walk straight ahead to the children's play area. Turn right through the gate and along the tarmac path. At the end of the path turn left through the A421 underpass. At the top of the exit ramp turn left and walk along Lower Shelton Road.

2. Just where the road bends to the right turn left into the footpath between houses No. 119 and No. 121. Cross over the wooden bridge and turn right passing behind the houses. Follow the waymarkers to the right then left still passing behind the houses, then straight ahead across the field and through a gap in the hedge. Walk to the base of the power pylon and turn left over the wooden bridge and straight ahead across the field to the waymarker by a stand of trees.

3. Keeping the trees on your left, walk along the side of the field, then through two more fields each separated by wooden bridges until you reach the start of a farm track. Pass through the field entrance on your right and walk diagonally up the field to the yellow waymarker opposite the houses at the top of the hill.

4. Cross the road with care and walk up the tree lined bridleway opposite. Follow the bridleway round to the left until it opens out into a corner of a field. Turn right and walk along the edge of the field to the top of Hunger Hill. Pause here to admire the panoramic view across the Marston Vale with the giant airship hangers and the Greensand Ridge beyond.

5. Continue along the crest of the hill to the ancient woodland of Marston Thrift. Turn left and walk down the side of the field keeping the Thrift on your right. At the end of the Thrift turn right through the gap in the hedge then immediately left following the hedge until it ends at a waymarker. Walk diagonally down and slightly to your right across the large field to a wooden bridge. Cross the bridge and go straight ahead through a new tree plantation to a gap in the hedge. Walk through and cross the next field to join a farm track at Wood End Farm.

6. Turn left along the farm track and in about 50 metres reach a waymarked gap in the hedge on your right. Pass through into the field and walk diagonally left across the field. When you reach the hedge go through the gap and over the bridge into a large field. Walk around the edge of the field keeping the hedge on your left until you reach a kissing gate.

7. Pass through the gate and turn right. Keeping the hedge on your right walk along two sides of the field until you reach another kissing gate. Pass through and follow the path over the bridge and through the new housing development. Leaving the entrance to Moreteyne Manor on your right go straight ahead over the open grass area to the Woburn Road. Cross with care and turn left. Walk along Woburn Road and take the first turn on the right called The Green.

8. Walk down The Green and through the iron gates into the churchyard. Take the tarmac path that passes to the right of the church and follow it over the bridge and along the side of the field. Pass between the houses and when you reach the road turn right. In 20 metres cross over the road with care and enter the country park via the wooden kissing gate. Walk to the wooden finger post and take the cinder path to the left marked Forest Centre. When you reach the park entry road, pass through the wooden kissing gate and cross the road with care then go through the second kissing gate. Continue on the cinder path as it swings to the right and on towards the Forest Centre.

9. Just past the Forest Centre at the path junction turn left and follow the sign to Marston Moreteyne (Bedford Road). Upon reaching a fork in the path turn left and then through the gate out of the park into a service road. Turn right and walk over the bridge. Take the footpath just to the left of the houses facing you. At the end of the path turn right along the main road to the Village Hall, your starting point.

Points of Interest

A. Wesleyan Methodist Chapel The first Methodist chapel in Marston was erected here in 1813. The smaller building on the left is now used as a Sunday School. Methodism thrived in Marston in the early 19th century so the larger building on the right was erected as a replacement chapel in 1858.

B. Charity Farm  There are good views from the path of Charity Farm. This was a pub called the Plough and Wheatsheaf until the middle of the nineteenth century when the landlord, John Webb, decided to concentrate on his other job of farming.

C. Hunger Hill  The origin of the name of this hill and the farm near its summit is not known, but may relate to poor crop yields. Here one may enjoy the view across the Marston Vale to the Greensand Ridge beyond.

D. Spindle Trees  If you are walking in the autumn look out for spindle in the hedge here and later on at the eastern corner of Marston Thrift. This shrub is mostly found in ancient hedges and woods. It has bright pink fruits with four lobes and bright orange seeds, but the flowers in early summer are inconspicuous. The seeds were once baked, powdered and used as a cure for head lice.

E. Marston Thrift  Parts of Marston Thrift are ancient woodland, a valuable habitat. However the eastern half was clear felled in the 1950s and replanted with conifers. Areas of woodland that existed on maps around 1600 and have not been cleared since are known as ancient woodlands and probably date back to the original wild woodland before the intervention of humans. The wood survives on the parish boundary while other areas closer to the village were cleared for agriculture. The historic form of management by coppicing (cutting shrubs to the ground every few years and allowing re-growth) has been revived to benefit wildlife. The rare black hairstreak butterfly, dependent on appropriately managed blackthorn, is known to be in the wood, but is rarely seen.

F. Ridge and Furrow survives here in Lower Sward Field. Medieval ploughing by oxen pushed the soil into ridges, allowing drainage in the furrows. Later the field was turned over to pasture and it has not been ploughed since. This has preserved the ridge and furrow we see today. It survives in only a few fields in the county.

G. Moreteyne Manor appears to be a 16th century building from the outside but it is based on an older cruck built hall probably dating back to the 10th century. It is surrounded by a moat, one of seven known to have existed in the parish. Moats were fashionable additions to large houses after they no longer served any defensive purpose. The building here was previously known as Moat Farm.

H. The National School was founded in 1847 by the National Society, which provided schools following the principles of the Church of England. Before that date Sunday schools and lace schools provided some education, the latter spending most of their time on lace making rather than other forms of education. The building was recently extended and is now a nursing home.

I. The Green  The right to hold a market here was granted to John de Mortayn in 1324, but it did not survive beyond the end of the 14th century. The houses between The Green and Church Walk were later built on the site.

J. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin  The first thing you will notice is that the bell tower is detached from the church. Only around 36 churches in the country have separate towers, but there is another one in Bedfordshire at Elstow. The reason for a separate tower is uncertain. Although architecturally similar in appearance to the chancel, its thick walls and a well (now filled in) suggest it is older than the church and may have been a watch tower or refuge that could be defended, possibly dating from before the Norman conquest. The centre of the village was originally to the south but moved to the north, possibly following the Black Death of 1349. A granite obelisk near the southern boundary of the churchyard commemorates a local victim of the Battle of Isandula in 1879.

K. Jubilee Cottages were built around 1935 to house workers in the local brick industry and named after the Silver Jubilee of King George the Fifth. A beer house called The Jumps stood on this site until 1920.

L. Marston Vale Millennium Country Park is located at the centre of the Forest of Marston Vale. Here one can explore over 250 hectares of woodland, wetland and grassland. A network of trails for walkers and cyclists has been created, that wind their way around the country park. The forest centre has a shop, cafe bar, art gallery, interactive exhibition, and conference and education facilities.

Acknowledgements

This leaflet has been designed and produced by members of the Marston Morteyne P3 and Conservation Group in order to help and encourage others to enjoy the local countryside. The Parish Paths Partnership, or P3 for short, is a national scheme aiming to encourage local people to get involved with rights of way within their parishes. The aim is to get the network of footpaths into good condition and regular use.