Visit this classic chalk escarpment in the Chilterns and enjoy wonderful views across this beautiful area. This circular walk makes use of the John Bunyan Trail and the Icknield Way Path to take you on a tour of the Sharpenhoe Clappers and the Smithcombe Hills. There's a degree of climbing involved with the route hitting a peak of just over 500ft at the high points.
You can park at the Sharpenhoe Clappers car park on Sharpenhoe Road to start your walk. Then head north towards the Iron Age Hill Fort and beech wood which sits atop the area. In the summer months the chalk grasslands are covered in pretty wildflowers which attract a variety of butterflies. Look out for orchids, primroses and an uncommon rose, Rosa stylosa, found in scrub areas.
After exploring the hill fort you can head south through the Smithcombe Valley along the Icknield Way Path. You'll pass Smithcombe hill as you make your way to the village of Streatley. From Streatley you pick up the John Bunyan Trail to take you back to the car park.
There's lots of good options for extending your walking in the area. Just to the east is the lovely Barton Hills National Nature Reserve where there's lots more interesting flora and fauna to see. Just to the west is Sundon Hills Country Park with lots more walking trails and great views to enjoy.
The Toddington Walk starts from the nearby village and visits the park before heading to Sharpenhoe.
PostcodeMK45 4SH - Please note: Postcode may be approximate for some rural locations
Sharpenhoe Clappers Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Sharpenhoe Clappers Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Sharpenhoe Clappers OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Sharpenhoe Clappers Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
Just a mile to the east of the site you'll find the village of Barton le Clay where there are a few good options for refreshments. The 19th century Royal Oak has good facilites with a car park and a lovely garden area to relax in on warmer days. There's also a good menu and fine selection of real ales. Highly recommended are their delicious pizzas! You can find the pub on the Bedford Road with postcode of MK45 4JX for your sat navs.
It's a great open space for dogs to roam but please keep them on leads in the 3 secured fields in the centre as there are sheep here. The Royal Oak mentioned above is also dog friendly.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
The circular Luton Walk visits the reserve from the town. It takes you along a section of the River Lea and also visits the Barton Hills Reserve using some of the waymarked trails running through the area. It's a nice way of visiting the site from the town's train station.
Just to the north there's Silsoe where you can enjoy easy trails around Wrest Park. There's 92 acres of landscaped early eighteenth-century gardens to explore here. You can also enjoy a pleasant stroll around Silsoe village where there are a number of historic properties associated with the park estate.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Bedfordshire Walks and Chilterns Walks pages.