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 2013-2014 (PDF 187KB)
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 Commission 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 web form or app available
Or visit the Forestry Commission website for more information
Wild about Bedfordshire
You may have heard about the rare bird fever that hit Bedfordshire last month and certainly got the local bird watchers twitching!
It all started just a couple of days after I had written my latest ‘Wild about Bedfordshire’ in early October when a lovely lady from the village, Jennifer Sargeant, knocked on my door and asked if I was ‘The Birdman’… Well, there are lots of ways I could have answered that but I answered the right way and she told me that she had seen an ‘unusual-looking bird’ at the entrance to Dog Field the day before. She had found a picture of the bird and showed it to me on her phone and I, somewhat excitedly, told he that it was a rare bird called a Hoopoe. I immediately put the discovery onto the Beds Birds Email group and dashed up to Dog Field but it was getting late in the day and myself and a couple of local birders could not locate it.
The next day the bird was amazingly relocated by Robin Edwards from the village feeding on horse paddocks at Hill Farm along Wood Lane, Willington. We wandered across the fields from the village that morning and, already, you could see the queue of cars along the lane! The hoopoe was incredibly obliging and at times was so close you could barely focus your binoculars on it! It eventually stayed for over a week, which is very unusual, and was enjoyed by many people, including the two chaps we met you had heard about it on the grapevine and driven down from Yorkshire that same morning!
Hoopoes are rare and beautiful birds with a salmon-pink, black and white plumage, large rounded wings, a long curved bill and a crest on their head which they can raise and lower when excited. About 100 occur on migration in the UK each year. They do not breed here but breed across Europe, Asia and North Africa where they nest in trees or walls; they like to feed on bare areas or areas with very short vegetation (thus the horse paddocks) where they feed on insects, seeds and berries.
All in all, a lovely bird and it was great that so many people had the chance to see it at close range and I think a thank you should go to Jennifer for seeing the bird in the first place, recognising it as something different and reporting it to me quickly so we were able to get the word out so someone like Robin was able to re-find it. And a thank you should also go to Gavin and Lindsay (who I know well) for being such patient people - especially when you have 30 bird watchers or more at a time sticking their cameras and binoculars into your front garden!
Another nice bird was present across the fields on that morning and I knew they were there by their calls and they were Golden Plovers. These beautiful small waders spend the summer breeding in the uplands of Scotland, northern England and Wales bur spend the winter in the lowlands in flocks on farmland and estuaries, often with lapwings – in fact the golden plover is known as the ‘Plover’s Mate’ or the ‘Hill Plover’. Their summer plumage is spectacular – black, white and grey spangled with gold flecks, the winter plumage is greyer and they blend in well when on the stubble fields. Their calls are beautiful and distinctive; a mournful liquid two-toned fluting ‘tluu-ehh’ which echoes across the fields at dusk.
Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday and we went to Bedford to pay our respects and whilst standing at the ceremony I wrote this short piece:
‘Standing in Bedford this morning at the Remembrance Day service. Sunlight glittering through the leaves of the plane trees and making refractive patterns through my eyelashes. The band takes up and starts playing Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ – one of my favourite pieces of music. A Pied Wagtail, like a small white comet calls overheard, white against a pure blue sky and as the last, beautiful notes of ‘Nimrod’ fade away the baton is taken up by a Goldcrest, singing its tiny, needle-sharp slurring song from the plane tree overhead.
Then, even that song fades into a deep and still well of respectful silence as we all remember…’.