Walk 3513 - printer friendly version
Ampthill and Clophill Circular Walk
Author - Donald Morton
Length - 12.0 miles / 19.5 km
Ascent - 400 feet / 121 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference TL024382
Lat 52.032764 + Long -0.50871254
Postcode MK45 2GU (approx. location only)
Ampthill lies about midway between Bedford and Dunstable. This walk starts at the SW car park in Ampthill Park off the B530 immediately after turning off the A507(Grid Ref TL 024 382). Ampthill, although there has been considerable development round the southern and eastern fringes, still retains a much older centre and this walk starts by going through the older parts of the town.
Leave the car park at the lower gate at the far end from where you entered. Pass on your left first of all the cricket ground and then the ground of Ampthill FC and then continue straight on through woodland. At a multipath junction fork right on the lower path to come out on the B530 opposite the police station. Turn left, almost immediately passing several pairs of brick and timber thatched cottages. The dates on them are all obscured by foliage but they are too good to be true and were almost certainly erected by one of the Dukes of Bedford in the early 19th Century. After these comes a much older white painted thatched cottage and then a succession of mixed properties mostly of Georgian vintage and style.
Arriving in the centre of town turn left along Church Street. Almost immediately turn right to dive through the entrance to Kings Arms Yard. (The name is on a beam above you.) Pass through the yard and at the end continue straight on down an enclosed footpath - Kings Arms Path. There are well concealed houses on the left, but open fields on the right and also the secretive looking Kings Arms Path Gardens, only sometimes open to the public. The path comes out to a road where you turn left and go straight on until you arrive at gates to allotments. Here turn right down a short footpath to a development of bungalows. Go straight on keeping to the right of a block of garages, and continuing down a road with houses built around the end of the 19th Century. At the end turn left and follow the road as it swings first right and then left.
Just before the de-restriction sign turn left onto a footpath. Go round the left hand edge of the football field and then at the far left hand corner dog leg to go straight on along a marked path. Follow it where it turns left to come out at a roundabout on the A507. Going anti-clockwise, cross the A507 and then the minor road and go down the footpath to the left of the electricity substation and parallel to the A507. When the substation fence ends go straight on. After the first field the official footpath veers slightly right across the field to a yellow marker post by a gravel track (but it may be easier to get to the marker post by going straight on to the gravel track and turning right here). This marker post seems to show the path continuing diagonally across the next field, but the farmer, whom we met, told us the footpath ran along the edge of the remains of a medieval moat. So if you go up the drive towards the Ruxox Farm buildings, you will indeed find a path on the left following the edge of a declivity which is what is left of the moat. Follow this path and you get to an information board about the medieval site and the Saxon roots of the name sited by a cross track.
Turn left here and follow the track which becomes a green lane. Later it emerges through a hedge gap and follows the field edge, hedge right. At the field corner turn left, ignore a bridge over a stream (upper reaches of the River Flitt) and follow the stream, passing Flitton Moor - information board - on the left, until you arrive at the outskirts of the village of Flitton. At the end of the track turn right over a bridge and follow a rough lane to the church (and the White Hart). The church has attached to it the De Grey family mausoleum dating originally from 1614, a Grade 1 listed building but only rarely open to the public. At the church turn left along the road, and at the next junction fork right. This will bring you to Wardhedges (and the Jolly Coopers) where you turn left.
At the end of the houses fork left down a bridle way and after 100 yds or so turn left along a footpath along a field edge, fence and hedge left. At the end you are forced to turn right and follow the field edge down to a lane. Cross and, having read the plaque about the Beaumont Tree (at one time growing here out of the remains of an executed highwayman and having magic curative properties) carry straight on up the hill. Through a hedge gap the track becomes a green lane and then again follows a field edge, hedge right. At the field end go straight on between barns and then follow the track straight on through woods to the A6. Cross via central reservation (CARE!) and turn left and almost immediately right down the no through road. At the junction turn left and at the end of the road use the bridge to cross the A507 into the centre of Clophill (Flying Horse over to the left). Walk up the edge of the green and at the T-junction turn right. Turn left up Cainhoe Road. Follow it when it turns left and at the T-junction turn right. At the next T-junction turn right again and then very quickly turn left on a footpath.
You have now joined the Greensand Ridge Walk which is to be followed back to Ampthill. It starts off up a broad track. At a gate fork right and follow a fence. Where the fence ends turn left up steps. At the top go straight on and then right along the second edge of a large open area. At the next corner go straight on through a hedge gap and kissing gate. Turn left round the field edge. At a way mark turn left down to the A6. Turn right along the side walk going up Deadman Hill (scene of a notorious 1960s murder). At the top the side walk turns left to the road. Cross via central reservation (CARE!) and go straight on down a wide forest track opposite through Maulden Wood. Pass to the left of a house (2 Clay Hill) where the track bends left and becomes a green lane. Almost immediately it splits. The left fork is signed as a footpath. The alternative to the right is unsigned and has a pole barrier across it. This is the way to follow. Having stooped under the pole, turn right on an enclosed path which soon curves left to follow the edge of Maulden Wood (mentioned in the Domesday Book and with lots of flora including primroses and bluebells in the spring.
Over to the left the Chilterns can be seen on the horizon. You pass a curious octagonal thatched cottage, the path becomes sandy and undulating and after a very open stretch on the left enters the woods and follows the edge inside the woods. At a stone commemorating the Golden Jubilee fork left. Emerge into another historic remnant, Maulden Church Meadow. Bear left and keep to the left of an island of trees to reach a road at the top of the church yard. Enter the churchyard and pass round the west end of the church, looking out for the remains of the old churchyard cross in front of the porch and the Ailesbury Mausoleum (dating from 1656 but rarely open) on the North side. Exit the churchyard through the gate on the North side and descend on an enclosed path to a road. Follow this as it bends left and then just before Cobbitt's Road turn right on a footpath between houses. At cross paths go straight on along a grass path which brings you to a lane, The Brach(e).
Cross the road and go over the stile. Go diagonally right over the field to a kissing gate on the left. Once through this turn right along the bottom of the field to another kissing gate. Turn right through this and then diagonally to a second kissing gate. Do not go through this but turn left to a stile by a metal gate and then along an enclosed path, through a metal gate, straight on to a kissing gate and along a field edge, hedge left. Do not go through the next kissing gate but turn right along a field edge, fence left. At the next kissing gate go straight on to the corner of King's Wood seen ahead. From here turn left to walk along the ridge with wide views on both sides. Dog leg right/left past a group of Bedford estate houses. (From here you can divert for a closer look at the ruins of 17th Century Houghton House seen on the right and open freely to the public: it is possibly the inspiration for House Beautiful in Bunyon's Pilgrims Progress.)
The track becomes a concrete access road and comes out on the B530. Cross over (CARE! blind corner), turn left and soon right through a kissing gate into Ampthill Park. Bear right uphill but where the obvious path bears further right and continues up, instead turn left. This path initially narrower soon becomes broader and straight through laurels to a gap in a fence. Turn right uphill following the fence. It swings left to emerge from woods. Continue straight on for 100 yds or so then bear left away from the fence to follow the top of the ridge, with views left and right. Having passed two memorial crosses (one celebrates a WWI military camp, the second Katherine of Aragon who was exiled to the castle here by Henry VIII pending divorce) turn left on a cross track down an avenue of copper beech to the start.