Walk 35: Woburn Circular: Getting ‘wild’ with the locals

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 8 miles (12.9km)

Time to walk: Roughly 3.5 hours, but you may get distracted, plus there’s a fab pub to stop at en-route

Difficulty: A flat easy walk, pretty much all off road on grassy tracks. There are some sections through woodland which look like they could get muddy, although it was all dry when we did the walk in April 2015

Parking: Free car park in Park Street, Woburn

Public toilets: Cafes etc in Woburn or the great pub in Eversholt

Map of the route: Map

This walk’s a little bit different than some we’ve done as you never know what you’re going to encounter on the way – you’ll see what we mean!

We start in the lovely Georgian village of Woburn, home to more than 200 listed buildings, a stately home & a Safari Park. It was also listed in a 2013 Sunday Times poll as one of the best places in Britain to live

It was also chosen by Center Parcs as the location for their fifth holiday village which opened in 2014

We’ll have a look at the attractions as we encounter them so…

Let’s Walk!

1. The free car park in Woburn is in Park Street opposite the church of St Mary

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On the fence as you enter the car park is a leaflet holder which contains useful leaflets about ‘what’s on’ in the village

2. Turn left out of the car park & head towards the village centre…

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…& then left along George Street…

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Woburn has some nice eating places – across the road’s a Loch Fyne, & on this side’s Oliviers, which we’re passing now & has a nice menu…

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IMG_96183. Continue along the street passing a very nice Monkey Puzzle Tree…

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…& on the opposite side, the Royal Oak…

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There’s always plenty going on in the village…

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This is more our scene...

This is more our scene…

4. There’s our first view of Woburn Abbey on the left…

IMG_9627Upon reaching Ivy Lodge turn left through the side gate to enter the path which leads into the Deer Park…

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5. This narrow path runs for about 300 yards before passing through another gate into the Park itself…

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Woburn Abbey Deer Park covers 3,000 acres & is home to 9 species of deer making it one of the largest private conservation parks in Europe. These include Pére David’s Deer, which the 11th Duke helped to save from extinction

6. It’s obviously really important that we stick to the marked path, so turn right & follow the ‘Circular Path’ markers around Basin Pond…

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Basin Pond’s over to the left…

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…& on the right’s our first glimpse of some of the residents…

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7. Keep following the markers until reaching the road by the bridge. The Abbey’s over to the left…

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…but this is a no-go direction so our path follows the road up the hill to the right…

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8. Eventually, as we gain height, there’s a good view back to the Abbey…

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The family seat of the Duke of BedfordWoburn Abbey was founded as a Cistercian abbey in 1145. Henry VIII took it from them & gave it to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford when it became the seat of the Russell family & the Dukes of Bedford

When the 12th Duke died in 1953, his son was exposed to heavy death duties & the Abbey was a half-demolished, half-derelict house. Instead of handing the family estates over to the National Trust, he kept ownership & opened the it to the public for the first time in 1955

In 1970 he did something more radical by opening Woburn Safari Park in the grounds of the Abbey

9. It’s quite a trek walking up this road, but we are walking in some beautiful parkland & there’s groups of deer everywhere…

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10. Eventually the road splits at a triangle…

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…& our path lies straight ahead through the trees to the left of the fence of the tudor-style house…

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11. The exit out of the Deer Park is through the gate in the wall on the right…

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Walk through the small copse & turn left at the waymarker, following the edge of the field to the wood…

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…& straight on through the gap…

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12. The path markers are really easy to follow with the route changing from woodland to open field & back again…

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13. The path’s follow the wall of the Deer Park so head over the stile & keep going straight, ignoring other paths to the left & right…

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…until reaching a path that goes off left by some fallen trees – the path marker has fallen & is laying against the tree on the left…

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Eventually it emerges into a field &, at the next marker, head right towards some bushes that look very much like bamboo…

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IMG_970314. On emerging you’ll be able to see a lake ahead through the trees…

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…where our path joins another coming from Basin Pond

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15. Another path heads off diagonally right here, but keep straight ahead following the Circular Walk direction…

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…across the bridge in the middle of the field & out through the gate in the hedge. Eversholt church can be seen across to the left…

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16. Be careful as this is a busy little road. Turn left & head into the lovely village of Eversholt…

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They like their gardens round here…

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17. Eversholt was mentioned in the Domesday Book and is over 1000 years old. Its name comes from Anglo-Saxon meaning “wood of the wild boar”…

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Follow the road round to the left past the church of St John the Baptist…

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Have to say we love Eversholt – they’ve even done a memorial around the telephone box to the village pump…

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18. So….ready for some refreshment (& on a hot day like today we were!) head into the yard of a superb pub…The Green Man…

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The Green Man really is a cracking pub with great ales & food although, because it was a hot day, we did get a few strange looks at our bedraggled state when walking in & asking for the coldest beer possible!!

19. And that was most welcome, but now let’s crack on turning right out of the pub past a fabulous village cricket ground – we can really imagine a hot summers day sitting with a pint watching a game here…

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20. Head up the road passing the facilities of Eversholt Hall…

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On the right’s a very impressive property that’s having its chimney replaced…

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21. Just after the house above turn left onto Woburn Road which was closed to traffic today…

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22. The road climbs quite steeply to the small hamlet of Hills End…

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…before descending to Froxfield…

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23. At the junction turn left back into the Deer Park & then turn immediately right onto the grass path…

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That's not good!

That’s not good!

There’s the path on the right…

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24. It’s good be back off road again &, like when we first entered the Park, it’s a case of follow the marker posts up the hill & round to the right…

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Another part of the herd

Another part of the herd

25. Now…the signs say keep to the grass track, but 20 yards away to the left is road & a high fence so, being inquisitive…

Strewth that’s a Black Bear & a Wolf!!

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We told you this walk was different & it’s shortly to get even better! This of course is Woburn Safari Park which we’ll look at closer in a bit, but for now lets keep going…

26. The grass path runs adjacent to the hard road towards Trusslers Lodge…

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Keep looking across to the left to see what’s roaming around…

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27. Pass over the cattle grid & out of the Deer Park again, looking for a signpost on the left leading into the woods…

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28. The path descends through the wood towards an open large wooden gate – hang on…what’s that through the trees…

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Hello!

Hello!

What a bonus!

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29. Can’t believe this walk’s going to get better, but it is!

To the left is the entrance to the Safari Park so walk towards it & then turn right down the road with the telephone box…

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Woburn Safari Park first opened in 1970 as a means to help improve the financial position of the estate & restore the Abbey, which had fallen into disrepair. The 11th Duke of Bedford had been president of the Zoological Society of London & had introduced various species such as American Bison, Deer, Antelope, Lion & Tiger to the park

The park lets animals roam freely while visitors drive through their enclosures. The species include Rhinoceros, Elands, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Addax, Gemsbok, Giraffes, Ankoles, Zebras, African Wild Asses, Elephants, Camels, Bisons, Bongo, Lions, Tigers, Wolves, Black Bears, Patas monkeys & Barbary apes

The Park also has a leisure area featuring animal talks, petting zones, a gift shop, family restaurant & the Go Ape! ‘high wire forest adventure’ course, which we’ll pass later

Animals in the leisure park include lemurs, squirrel monkeys, wallabies, emus, penguins, goats, ponies, reptiles & some free ranging marmosets

30. Right let’s now introduce you to the best bit of this walk…

After passing the red telephone box look for a footpath sign showing a narrow path heading left…

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31. This path runs between the road you drive around the Safari Park on &…the Elephant House!!

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More animals across to the left

More animals across to the left

And there we go…

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The rest of them, including the latest baby were out in the park – we’ll see them later!

32. Carry on along the grassy track keeping an eye out for more animals…

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…& at the end pass through the gate – it was at this point that the lions started roaring like crazy!

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33. Head down the hill through the trees to the ditch…

Think elephants might have been this way!

Think elephants might have been this way!

Although our path turns right you can see the rest of the elephants ahead…

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34. The path now follows the perimeter of the Park for the next half mile so there’s plenty to look out for…

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Wallaby!

Wallaby!

Not all the wildlife’s inside the fence – this was just one of several muntjacs we came across…

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A strange breed...

A strange breed…

35. Also in this area is ‘Go Ape’ which is a tree-top outdoor adventure company…

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Watch out above!

Watch out above!

Eventually the wildlife fun has to end as we reach the end of the track at a tarmac road…

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36. Turn right on the road & follow it out of the estate completely besides Crawley Lodge arriving at the main road…

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37. Cross the main road & turn right & then first left up Horsepool Lane…

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…looking out for a path signpost immediately on the left…

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38. Enter the field & head right towards the woods…

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…across a bridge & to a wider track…

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39. On reaching this track turn left & follow it for roughly 1 mile until reaching Birchmoor Farm…

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There was originally a long avenue of horse chestnut trees along here that succumbed to ‘bleeding canker’. The ones we’re walking through now were part of the replanting programme started in 2013

40. If you’ve survived the snappy Jack Russell pass through the gate & head straight on…

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…until reaching the hedge where we need to turn left to follow the path to Birchmoor Green

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41. The track finally joins a road passing through the hamlet to reach a main road…

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Nice hamlet

Nice hamlet

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42. At the main road turn left & follow it back into Woburn…

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There’s lots of nice buildings, shops & restaurants along the main street…

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43. On the right’s Old St Mary’s Church & the Woburn Heritage Museum. Plus there’s reference to the Queen Eleanor Crosses as there was allegedly one here – we have one in Northampton by Delapre Park…

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The Eleanor crosses were a series of twelve lavishly decorated stone monuments topped with tall crosses of which three survive nearly intact in a line down part of the east of England. King Edward I had the crosses erected between 1291 & 1294 in memory of his wife Eleanor of Castile, marking the nightly resting-places along the route taken when her body was transported to London

44. At the junction turn left back into Park Street & to the car park where we started

So that’s it – a fantastic 8 mile walk that has many hidden bonuses plus a great pub to stop for refreshments around halfway

It’s definitely a walk we’ll be doing again as we’re sure you’ll see something different every time

Go Walk!!

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