Countryside sites

Countryside sites in south Central Bedfordshire

Dunstable Downs

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 (link opens in new window).

The visitor centre and cafe are open daily from 10am to 5pm, with the exception of Christmas Day. Further information can be found on the National Trust website (link opens in new window).

Sundon Hills

A 50 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) comprising chalk grassland and beech woodland, both very important habitats. Also important for geological features known as coombes which formed under glacial conditions. (content error). This site has good links with the right of way network, including the Icknield Way and John Bunyan Trail (link opens in new window). There are paths around the site which can be steep and muddy.

Nearest Postcode - LU3 3

Studham Common

The Common (link opens in new window) is home to over 200 types of wildflowers and grasses, and has meadows, woods and hedges providing habitats for insects, birds and small mammals including Skylarks, Yellowhammers and Dormice. There are also paths to explore, and plenty of space to picnic. The Site is managed in partnership with the Greensand Trust (link opens in new window) and the Friends of Studham Common (link opens in new window) (FoSC), an active volunteer group which organises and oversees the management of the site. FoSC have been awarded a prestigious Green Pennant award which recognises the high standard of the site. Studham Common Management Plan. (PDF 7.4MB)

Nearest postcode - LU6 2NW.
Car park - East Common, Height restriction barrier (6’2”).
Walking - open access and public paths.
Dogs - welcome but must be kept under control.
Cycling - sorry, not permitted.
Horse riding – permitted on bridleway.
Access - entrances are accessible to manual wheelchairs / buggies, but there are no surfaced paths. Paths flat, but prone to flooding and mud. 
Picnic - seats along route.
Toilets - none.
Cafe – none.

Totternhoe Knolls Nature Reserve

Owned and managed in partnership with the Wildlife Trust (link opens in new window) and the National Trust, this important area of chalk grassland and beech woodland includes a 12th century Motte and Bailey castle called Eglemont, or Eagle’s Hill. There are also views over the village of Totternhoe. Look out for Tawny Owls and Sparrowhawks as well as wildflowers and butterflies.

Nearest Postcode - LU6 1.


Car park – yes, off of Castle Hill Road.
Walking – good starting point for local walks.
Dogs – welcome, but must be on a lead.
Cycling – sorry, not permitted on site.
Horse riding – sorry, not permitted on site.
Access – steep path prone to be muddy.
Picnic – next to car park
Toilets –none
Cafe - none
Friends / volunteers – occasional Wildlife Trust and National Trust volunteer tasks.

Blue Waters and Plaiter's Way

Recent works have created surfaced paths around and between these 2 small sites. A natural play area has been created for children to enjoy. Perfect for a short stroll or a picnic.

Nearest Postcode - LU5 6RJ.


Car park - none.
Walking -  open access and public footpaths.
Dogs - welcome, but must be kept under control.
Cycling -  sorry, not permitted.
Horse riding - sorry, not permitted.
Access - entrances are accessible to manual wheelchairs / buggies, surfaced paths. Circular paths / routes.
Picnic - seating on site, but not specific picnic benches.
Toilets - none.
Cafe - none.
Friends / volunteers – none, but aspirational.

Whipsnade Heath

Formerly heathland, this 23.7 hectare site is now an important woodland and grassland habitat, supporting a huge diversity of wildlife. The site is open access with a circular walk around the site and several paths leading to other sites and the right of way network.

Nearest Postcode - LU6 2LG.


Car park – tarmacked area off of roundabout in Whipsnade.
Walking – paths and open access
Dogs – welcome but must be under control
Cycling – Sorry, not permitted on site
Horse riding – sorry, not permitted on site 
Toilets – nearest at Dunstable Downs, Chilterns Gateway Centre
Cafe - nearest at Dunstable Downs, Chilterns Gateway Centre
Friends / volunteers – occasional National Trust volunteer tasks

Someries Castle

Someries Castle lies just south of Luton, very close to Luton Airport. All that remains are ruins, but these give a good idea of the former building. Built in the 15th century, it demonstrates early use of brick and is protected by scheduled ancient monument status. There are good links to the local right of way network.

Nearest Postcode - LU2 9PL.

Cottage Bottom Fields

This 15 hectare local nature reserve lies on the chalk escarpment. Along with neighbouring Blow’s Downs, it is a haven for wildlife with chalk downland species and migratory birds. Management aims to restore the chalk grassland to its former glory and scrub is cleared each winter to allow wildflowers and grasses to thrive. There are several paths crossing the site, many of which are steep. This site is managed in partnership with the Wildlife Trust.

Nearest Postcode - LU1 4BB.
Car park - none.
Walking - several paths cross the site
Dogs - welcome but must be kept under control
Cycling - sorry, not permitted
Horse riding - sorry, not permitted
Access - no surfaced paths, many steep, can be muddy
Picnic - none
Toilets - none
Cafe - None
Friends / volunteers – Wildlife Trust Volunteer tasks in winter

Sewell Cutting, Houghton Regis

This beautiful cutting used to accommodate the Dunstable Branch line. Now the trains are long gone and the cutting is on the route of National Cycle Route No 6. The steep chalk slopes are home to an array of wildflowers, butterflies and lots of other wildlife. This wonderful site is a county wildlife site and managed by the Wildlife Trust.

Nearest Postcode - LU6 1DU.
Car park - none. 
Walking - open access and public paths.
Dogs - welcome, but must be kept under control.
Cycling - not permitted.
Horse riding - not permitted. 
Access - entrances are accessible to manual wheelchairs / buggies, surfaced paths. Circular paths / routes.
Picnic - seats along route.
Toilets -  none.
Cafe - none.
Friends / volunteers - none, work parties managed by the Wildlife Trust (link opens in new window).

Contact us

Tel: 0300 300 8305

Email: countrysidesites@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

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