Dunstable Downs Walk at Chilterns Gateway Centre

Slopes along the countryside

About the Dunstable Downs Walk

The Dunstable Downs Walk is a beautiful hike starting at the Chilterns Gateway Centre. This is a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) walk that should take you about 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

This walk begins at the visitor centre on the downs and then follows a path that leads you to Whipsnade Village. We enjoyed the views of the countryside offered by the Dunstable Downs and the peace and quiet of the rural paths. At one point, you pass an interesting tree cathedral (a tree garden in the shape of a cathedral).

The terrain includes heathland, chalk grassland and downland. This walk has a moderate difficulty level and I generally found it pretty flat and easy to complete. However, there are a few hills going up the downs at the end of the walk. You can find step by step route details and a map for this walk here on the National Trust website.

view across Dunstable Downs
View across Dunstable Downs overlooking the Vale of Aylesbury

Dunstable Downs Walk


A stop at Whipsnade Tree Cathedral

The Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is halfway through the Dunstable Downs Walk. We both have never visited anything like it before and thought it was a tranquil and unique place.

This garden of trees forms a cathedral with grass avenues. The tree cathedral was planted by Mr. Edmond K. Blyth in response to his memories of World War I. In 1960, it was given as a gift to the National Trust.

Entrance to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
Entrance to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
Inside Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
Inside Whipsnade Tree Cathedral


Best parts of the walk

Highlights of this walk included:

  • Stopping for lunch on a peaceful bench at the tree cathedral
  • The views across the downs overlooking the Vale of Aylesbury
  • The low sun shining through the golden autumn leaves
Slopes along the countryside
Slopes along the countryside

tree engraving in Dunstable

Autumn sunlight through the trees
Autumn sunlight shining through the trees


Getting there

The walk starts at the following address:
Chilterns Gateway Centre, Dunstable Road, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 2GY

You can find a map for the start of the walk here. Coming from London, it took us about an hour to getting to the start of the walk. Upon arrival, there is a large car park with plenty of space.

Ways to get to the start of this walk:

  • By train – Luton 7 miles
  • By road – located on B4541 west of Dunstable. You can put in your sat nav. LU6 2GY (or LU6 2TA for older equipment)
  • By foot – from West Street and Tring Road, Dunstable
  • By bus – there are services from Hemel Hempstead train station and St. Albans train station (only on Sundays). Or from Aylesbury to Luton train station.
  • By cycle – take the bridleway from West Street, Dunstable and Whipsnade


Chilterns Gateway Centre

The visitor centre is a great place to relax before or after your walk. Situated directly on top of the downs, there are wide windows for you to enjoy views of the downs. We enjoyed a nice hot cup of tea there after our walk!

This visitor centre is spacious with a cafe, gift shop and toilets. There are also a lot of picnic tables outside of the building where you can get some fresh air in warmer weather. The facilities are open daily from 10am to 5pm (10am to 4pm in winter and closed on the 24/25 December).

Chilterns Gateway Centre
Chilterns Gateway Centre in the distance


Continue reading about other beautiful UK walks

—> Derwentwater Lake Walk
—> Borger Dalr Geology Walk
—> Ashridge Autumn Colours Walk
—> Cleeve Hill Common Ring Walk

Amy Pritchett

Amy Pritchett

If you truly love nature like me, you will find beauty everywhere.

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