The Chilterns Gateway Centre is situated on the top of Dunstable Downs at Bedfordshire's highest point, 798 feet above sea-level. The visitor centre offers spectacular views over Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire. Dunstable Downs is owned and managed in partnership with the National Trust.
The visitor centre and cafe are open daily from 10am - 5pm, with the exception of Christmas Day. Further information can be found on the National Trust website.
Please see the links below for the JLAF annual reviews:
Annual review 2011-2012 (PDF 379KB)
Annual review 2010-2011 (PDF 1MB)
Annual review 2009-2010 (PDF 6.8MB)
The main services we provide:
Providing advice to land managers and parish councils throughout Central Bedfordshire Council
Providing advice in regard to agri-environment schemes and woodland schemes within Central Bedfordshire Council
Liaising and co-coordinating with a range of environmental and other specialists interests bodies
Talks, walks and other events
Advice to Central Bedfordshire Council on the environmental management of its property to its planning and other services
A number of policy documents relating to public rights of way and the countryside have been developed and these are shown below.
Applications policy (PDF 3.9MB)
Relating to Public Path Orders, Definitive Map Modification Orders and Town and Country Planning Act Orders
Enforcement policy (PDF 1.7MB)
Obstructions (temporary and permanent), farming issues (ploughing and cropping) and minerals deposited on the highway
Ploughing and cropping policy (PDF 1.8MB)
Legislation and procedure for paths subject to farming operations
Least restrictive access policy (PDF 5.2MB)
Structures on the public path network that enable access to all
Tree and woodland policy (PDF 472KB)
Management of trees and woodland within Countryside Access Team's sites and public Rights of Way
Policies under development
Working practice and guidance
In addition to the above policies a number of documents providing working practice and guidance to council officers on rights of way matters have also been developed.
Wind Turbines near Public Rights of Way - working practice guidance note
(PDF 561KB)Wind Turbines near Public Rights of Way - technical appendix (PDF 911KB)
If you are a film company looking for locations why not explore the opportunities available with Central Bedfordshire Council.
Located not far from London, with easy access via the M1 and A1, Central Bedfordshire boasts both picturesque countryside and distinctive locations. Central Bedfordshire Council is a film friendly Council and welcomes enquiries from the producers of non-news film, television and stills photography wishing to locate their project at a countryside site.
Central Bedfordshire Council owns a range of sites that can fulfil most landscape needs including lakes, meadow, heathland, woodland and country parks. To film in one of our country parks or countryside sites you will need to contact us for a licence. For more information, to discuss your filming requirements and to get a copy of our filming guidelines call The Fundraising Officer on 0300 300 6821.
Suspected symptoms of Chalara fraxinea was discovered at the Etonbury Wood site at Stotfold and the site has been monitored since. The suspected case has been reported to Forestry Reseach and tests taken on sample leaves, branch material and last year’s leaf litter. We are awaiting the results of those tests.
In the meantime, and by following Forestry Comission advice and that of our own tree experts, we will be doing the following:
- not closing any of our woodlands. Staff already follow biosecurity procedures and have stepped these up as set out by the Forestry Commission
- not felling any trees for direct disease control. Government guidance suggests an approach that includes monitoring the affected trees for aspects of tree safety and for signs of resistance to the disease, as well as the effect to the environment as trees are lost. Replacement of trees will be carefully considered using the current advice of the Forestry Commission and particular site management objectives
- putting up signs to let people know how they can take care on the site. This includes:
- arriving at sites in clean foot wear
- before leaving the site, make sure all mud, leaves and twigs are left on site from all foot wear, clothing, dogs, horses, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles to avoid transfer of spores to other sites. This is particularly important when travelling from known infected areas to non infected areas
Please contact the Forestry Commission for more information and to report concerns about the Ash Dieback disease.
In England and Wales
Chalara helpline: 08459 33 55 77 (open 8am - 6pm every day)
Report to the Forestry Commission using the tree alert webform or app available at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert
Or visit the Forestry Commission website for more information http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
Wild about Bedfordshire
We are lucky to live in Bedfordshire as it is surrounded by lots of lovely countryside and we only have to step outside the front door to be in some wonderful scenery and all within easy walking distance (and there is even more within cycling distance). But whilst much of the land is farmed it is still varied and has a diverse range of wildlife – if you know where and when to look…
We are surrounded by a network of Rights of Way (mainly bridleways and footpaths) and these can be used to get into the countryside. Due to the open nature of the landscape around us, along the river valley, we have big views and big, dramatic skies which make for great long distance viewing. But, whilst out walking, it is also good to look more closely at what is around us, at our feet, in miniature and up-close. Just also remember to look where you are walking!
And what may we see while we are walking the fields and hedgerows at the moment?
The grassy field and ditch margins are surprisingly good for wild flowers and contain remnant populations of species indicative of good quality, undisturbed grasslands; these include plants such as:
Red, white and bladder campions - the white and bladder campions flower particularly well in the evening and attract moths as pollinators – the white flowers stand out well in the dusk.
Lady’s bedstraw, with its masses of frothy yellow flowers, this plant scrambles over other, stouter plants, for support and, when dried, smells strongly of dried hay – it contains a chemical called coumarin which is responsible for the sweet smell. In older times it used to stuffed into pillows and mattresses to make the bed smell more pleasant and to help ladies when giving birth!
Sainfoin – a pink-flowered member of the pea family, once widely grown as a fodder crop.
Common Restharrow – another pink-flowered pea, it get’s its name from the fact that the roots are very long and strong enough to stop a horse-drawn harrow in its tracks – then it had to be untangled. It has a strong, slightly unpleasant smell.
And also look out for orchids in the grasslands – particularly the bee orchid which can be found in a few areas. The flowers are pink with brown ‘bees’ and, on close inspection, really do look like small bees on the plant. They attract bees to help in the pollination of the plant although this hardly ever happens in the UK – it is fortunate that the plant produces huge amounts of dust-like seeds which blow widely on the wind and this accounts for the ability of this plant to pop up almost anywhere, including road verges and back garden lawns. And if they do, please mow around them!
The wet ditches around the village are now being lit up by the tall and creamy flowers of meadowsweet, a member of the Rose family and also known as ‘Maid (or ‘Queen’) of the Meadow’’. The plant was once used to flavour mead (from where it gets its name) and has an unusual scent; a mix of marzipan and honey. Interestingly, meadowsweet contains salicylic acid; this has medicinal properties and was later synthetically altered to produce the drug that we know as Aspirin - historically the plant was chewed to help relieve headaches and other aches and pains.
While walking across the fields try looking up occasionally and you may be lucky enough to see a couple of white birds associated with the area:
Barn owls breed nearby and this is a good time to see the birds hunting as they are now feeding young. Go out on nice still, warm evenings and look along the wide, grassy field margins, farm tracks and grassy meadows and verges as the sun is setting and these beautiful, ghostly birds may be seen quartering the ground and occasionally dropping into the grass to pounce on their prey of small mammals such as mice and voles.
The other white bird to be seen, especially along ditches, is the Persil-white Little Egret. This bird is a small heron and first appeared in the UK commonly in 1989 after expanding its range from northern France. It now breeds here in increasing numbers, particularly along the south coast and in East Anglia. Look out for the distinctive snowy plumes on its head and neck and its black legs with striking yellow feet!
Please remember, when walking across farmland - always keep to the rights of way, respect farmers’ crops, don’t leave litter, always pick up after your dog and keep your dog under close control. Thank you.