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Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate

Type:Outdoor

Chiltern Gateway Centre, Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2GY

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Tel01582 500 920

Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate

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About

Dunstable Downs is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. Overall it covers 1,000 acres of mostly chalk grassland with some small areas of woodland. Much of the land is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which means it is of special interest due to the unusual or rare flora and fauna plus ancient archaeological burial mounds and Medieval rabbit warrens.

It is a wonderful place to visit for many reasons but the first thing which strikes visitors is the amazing view from the top of the Downs over the Vale of Aylesbury. The Downs is the highest point in the East of England and one of the best-known viewpoints of the Chilterns ridge. This wonderful view changes according to the time of day and the weather - it is never boring.

The Chilterns Gateway Centre (visitor centre) has been built to take advantage of the view and consists of the View Café, which provides hot and cold meals throughout the day or just coffee and cake as required, plus a National Trust gift shop and information desk.

The Downs themselves are managed by a team of rangers and volunteers who take care of the land making sure that it isn’t overgrown by invasive scrub and carrying out many other essential conservation tasks to keep the Downs a special place for everyone who comes here. They also run a selection of guided walks taking visitors to see the best of the flora, fauna and historical sites here, which are very popular.

Many visitors come here simply to walk their dogs, though many then visit the dog-friendly café for refreshments. Others come to join in the regular walking/running groups, which meet and use the Downs for healthy exercise throughout the year.  The View Café is a favourite meeting place for people who come for a tasty meal while enjoying the fabulous view. We have a regular chat and craft group who meet to exchange skills and advice on a variety of crafts including hand-spinning.

Throughout the year we run a variety of activities mainly directed at families with young children. These range from big events like Breakfast with Father Christmas, where the families book a breakfast from menus provided and get the chance to chat to Father Christmas as he walks round the café; a series of planetarium experiences where a specialist company sets up an inflatable planetarium and fascinates everyone with amazing displays of the solar system and beyond, together with entertaining and informative talks on all things related to the Universe.

We also run smaller activities for children such as seasonal trails to the small, nearby Chute Wood and workshops where children can learn how to build a kite, make a mask (for Halloween) or a decoration for their own Christmas tree. These are just a few

Kite flying is a major activity here and throughout spring, summer and autumn, families come to fly kites and have a picnic on the area in front of the café which is reserved for such activities.

The Downs are worth a visit at any time of the year but especially in spring when the skylarks soar overhead singing their hearts out in the warming sunshine. Later in the year we have glow worms which are a magical sight for those who join our guided walks to see them.   

The land belongs to Bedfordshire County Council but is managed by the National Trust.

Facilities

Accessibility

  • Disabled access
  • Wheelchairs available

Booking & Payment Details

  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)

Catering

  • On-site catering
  • On-site light refreshments
  • Picnic site

Children

  • Baby changing facilities

Groups

  • Education/study area
  • Guided tours for groups

Parking

  • Parking with charge

Property Facilities

  • Dogs accepted
  • Gift shop
  • Public toilets
  • Smoking not allowed

Target Markets

  • Coach parties accepted

Map & Directions

Road Directions

Please visit Dunstable Downs via the B4541 west of Dunstable. Please note Sallowsprings road is a private road with no through access onto Dunstable Downs.

Parking: Dunstable Downs, off B4541 (pay and display £3.50 per day); Whipsnade crossroads (Whipsnade Heath), junction of B4541 and B4540

SatNav: Use LU6 2GY

Public Transport Directions

Centrebus runs a service from Dunstable to St Albans, via Dunstable Downs, Mondays to Saturdays (number 34). There is a new 'Circular' bus service (number 40) from Dunstable Asda to Dunstable Square stopping at Dunstable Downs. There is no service on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Please check bus services with Centrebus before travelling.  ​​

Opening Times

Season (1 Mar 2020 - 2 Nov 2020)
DayTimes
Monday - Sunday09:00 - 17:00

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