John Bunyan Trail 2014

Our chosen trail for 2014 was the John Bunyan Trail which is a circular walk running from north of Luton via Ampthill to just north of Bedford and returning through Bedford itself, Elstow (Bunyan’s birthplace) and Shefford. It is approx. 80 miles long and we walked it in seven stages i.e. an average of 11 miles per stage, as follows:-

Day 1    Sundon Hills Country Park to Westoning      10 miles

The walk didn't get off to a very auspicious start since it was raining quite heavily at our scheduled start time. The forecast predicted it would stop by lunchtime, so we started our walk by having a coffee at the Toddington Garden Centre. When we did get walking from Sundon Hills Country Park it was still raining but had stopped by the time we arrived at Sharpenhoe Clappers. It was however very muddy underfoot as we slipped and slid down the hill, passed the Linmore pub and on to Pulloxhill. We then turned south again and had great views of the Clappers where we had been a couple of hours earlier. Having waded through deep mud for about half a mile we then had a punishing climb up to the edge of Harlington passing Bunyan's Oak. The pain did not end there since having walked through Harlington we encountered another long stretch of mud before reaching Westoning. 

Day 2    Westoning to Ridgmont 14 miles

From Westoning we headed north west to Steppingley and then east through Fitwick. We crossed the A507 at the roundabout on the eastern edge of Ampthill and headed for the centre of the town. From here we made our way up the hill to Houghton House where we had lunch amongst the ruins enjoying the great view of north Bedfordshire, but trying to shelter from the cold north wind. After lunch we made our way along the ridge to Ampthill Park with its two monuments and on passed the Millbrook car testing track. As we came out of the woods beyond Millbrook our ultimate destination of the church spire at Ridgmont came into view, but it seemed to take a long time to get there.  

Day 3    Ridgmont to Wootton 9½ miles

We left the centre of Ridgmont and headed for the railway station, crossing over the Ridgmont by-pass using one of the new footbridges. Instead of continuing towards the station we took a more northerly route to Cranfield, crossing the Bedford to Bletchley railway line and both the old and new A421 roads. After Cranfield we headed north east ending our walk at Wootton

Day 4    Wootton to Clapham  12½ miles

This walk took us along the western outskirts of Bedford. We started at Wootton and passed through Kempston Church End and Bromham before having lunch on the steps of Stevington windmill. After lunch we followed a loop in the River Ouse through Pavenham and Oakley ending the day at Clapham.

Day 5    Clapham to Haynes 11½ miles

From Clapham we headed east to Clapham Park and then due south to the centre of Bedford through Bedford Park. After a very civilised cup of coffee alongside by the river at Bedford Bridge we continued to Elstow, John Bunyan's birthplace where we had lunch and a tour of the Moot Hall Museum. The afternoon saw us take the long climb up to Haynes and beyond to Appley Corner

Day 6    Haynes to Barton-le-Clay 12½ miles

Our walk today took us from Haynes through Shefford, Meppershall and Shillington and ended at Barton-le-Clay

Day 7    Barton-le-Clay to Sharpenhoe Clappers 10½ miles

We started the day with a stiff climb up to the Barton Hills Nature Reserve and then on to Lilley via part of the Icknield Way. From Lilley we headed west passing the South Bed Golf Club at Warden Hill and the very northern edge of Luton. From there we headed north keeping parallel with the A6 to Streatley. Beyond Streatley we met the path we had walked on during Day 1 of the trail and turned right along it to end our trail at the Sharpenhoe Clappers Car Park

Details of our route planning for the whole of the John Bunyan trail can be found here