Doing the Kensworth Quarry Walk - Oy!

By Alan D Winter
This circular route around a relatively hidden chalk pit in Bedfordshire, UK can be started from many places around its circumference. Walking time anything from an hour to hour and half, not including any breaks or dilly-dallying for photographs.

See CBC map of the footpaths.

We parked at Kensworth Parish Church at the end of Hollicks Lane. There's a nice bit of shade there, although the church itself does have a 'car park security fund' which should tell you something.

Alternatively, the National Trust car park on Dunstable Downs provides all-day parking for a current fee of £3, unless you are a NT member in which case it's free. If you park there you can also get refreshments at the Cilterns Gateway Centre. From there, walk down Isle of Wight Lane and pick up the circular route highlighted below in red.

From the church, we set off westerly along a private road, then directly along a farm track doing a sharp turn to the right in the next field (see map at top of page), and then made our way to a field marker in the north-west of that slim narrow field.

This is the view looking back to whence I had come from the church.

To the right of the path, going clockwise around the pit, across the grasses will be the quarry, if you do venture closer to the barbed wire and chain link fence there's not a lot to see. Signposts and barbed wire warn you to keep out.

After a couple of minutes, you come to a style and start to head through a covered woodland, very welcome on a hot day.

Before much longer, you get a glimpse through the gap in the trees of a previously worked part of the quarry, now being reclaimed by nature. It does look very pretty, and due to its inaccessibility is probably a great haven for wildlife.

To the other side of this path, you get views of rural Bedfordshire, here looking southerly towards Kensworth.

 The narrow path soon drops away, and these sturdy steps have to be negotiated.

The footpath next leads on through a wooded area. Good shade here.

... and then opens up to give you a view of crops growing to the right.

Rounding this field edge and heading north-west, we can now look north-east to get this view of the previously worked areas of the pit.

To the north of this position, the 'works' depot of the quarry:

If you are picking up the route from Isle of Wight Lane, walk down the entrance road to the quarry, and say hello to us at these steps. The route then heads through a shaded wooded area, and signs on the post you see in the picture below, say to ring the police to report any off-road bikers!

This track/footpath running around the northern edge of the quarry gives very few glimpses of the quarry due to the tree growth, but at this time of year (early in a hot July) there are plenty of butterflies about.

Of the butterflies, there was plenty of small brown ones fluttering around. Getting close to one long enough to photograph it proved to be impossible. No end of Cabbage Whites (white below), a few Holly Blues. Once or twice the orange Comma butterfly; one below I photographed.

This style on the northern edge invites entry to Kensworth Quarry Nature Reserve. Maybe, next time.

With views into the quarry so restricted, other opportunities arise to photograph the north of Dunstable, Blows Down etc, from close to the quarry path.

It's only when you get to the side nearest Beech Road (eastern side) that you start to get a view of the works in the quarry.

The church at Kensworth.

We had visited the footpaths around the Kensworth quarry just a few days after Chiltern Society had been doing some work. They cleared some previously overgrown and impassable paths, clarified some waymarkers, and identified other work that needs doing.

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