Start: (OS Landranger Map Sheet 153): TL112418 Map (1:50 000): The walk starts and finishes at the Rowney Warren Wood & Chicsands Bike Park car park. Car park charge, £1. http://www.chicksandsbikepark.co.uk/getting_here/
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 3.5 hours
Climbing: 160 metres total ascent / 160 metres total descent
Hazards: A few quite roads to negotiate
Refreshments: No local refreshments on route.
Photo below shows a birds eye view of the route we shall be taking.
From leaving the car park, we head across Northwood End Road and straight into Rowney Warren Wood, Rowney Warren Wood sits on the east side of Chicksands Wood and offers a haven for walkers and a woodland bike park of mountain bike courses. The woodland itself is maintained by the forestry Commission and the Southill Estate and is mostly pine, oak and beech plantations crossed by quiet paths.
The bike park is separate from the public areas of the wood, and managed by Chicksands Bike Park.
We walk through Rowney Warren Wood, until we reach the John Bunyan Trail. Here we turn right, and head NW, until we reach the entrance to Chicksands Wood.
Chicksands Wood is a plantation of pedunculate oak and ash, which is in part owned by the Ministry of Defence. Parts of the perimeter of the wood overlook, with a very limited view, the MOD land.
On entering the wood, we take the wide track that leads up the avenue of trees, known as Long Drive. After about 5-7 minutes walking up this well trodden avenue we will pass a now weathered monument to Lord Halifax.
A good 15 minutes walk further along, the track forks. At the top of the left fork at the end of Long Drive there is a monument to Henry John Osborne. The Osbornes were the family who lived in Chicksands Priory and owned this wood.
However we are taking the right fork, passing on your left the old railway workings, a relic of World War II when ammunition was stored in the wood. Follow the track almost to the farm gates. We then turn right and follow the track down the hill. Go through the kissing gate, and follow the path round to the left. This is part of the Greensand Ridge Walk. We follow this path, keeping the wood to our left. After 7-10 mins we turn left, following the Greensand Ridge Walk sign, we now have a steady climb up towards Pedley Wood Farm, after passing the farm, we walk for a further 10 mins until we reach Old St. Mary's Clophill Church.
We can stop and look around Old St. Mary's Clophill Church, and depending on weather, and how everyone is feeling, we can take a 10 - 15 minute break here.
After our break, we continue on down the old church path, until we reach the main road thru the village of Clophill. Turning right would take us on the High Street, but we are turning left on to Shefford Road. We walk on the pavement for approx 200m and then walk for 400m on this quiet road, walking on the opposite side of the road, facing towards any on coming traffic. There is a grass verge, and extra caution shall be required on this part of the walk. Shefford Road takes a sharp turning to the right, it is at this point, we branch off on to an even quieter road to the left, heading towards Speedsdairy Farm and continuing on up towards Chicksands. We follow the public path around the outer boundary of the MOD - The British Army Intelligence Corp - property. https://www.army.mod.uk/intelligence/32259.aspx
Goes without saying, it's probably best, that we do not stop to take photos!
After passing Chicksands, we are then given a choice of two public paths, we shall be choosing the path to the left, we will have trees to our left and at the end of the tree line, we will have a small murky pound to our left. From here, we join a more recognisable path heading over towards John Bunyan Trail & Rowney Warren Wood, we turn left on to John Bunyan Trail, with Rowney Warren Wood to our right. After approx 200m, we turn off John Bunyan Trail and back into Rowney Warren Wood, and approx 600m walk back up towards our start point - Rowney Warren Wood & Chicsands Bike Park car park.