Practice walk

Sundon Hills Country Park & Sharpenhoe Clappers

This is one of several walks in the beautiful chalk hills north of Luton. Although Sundon Hills Country Park is not marked on the map as open access land, it effectively is, as you can walk pretty much anywhere.

Before each leg, work out the distance to the next point, the direction, how long it will take you, what you expect to see along the way and what it will look like when you get there.


Start to the gate at 050288

From the gate on the eastern side of the car park you can set yourself one of two navigational challenges to get to the first point. Either take a bearing from the map on the junction of the woods / open access boundary / fence junction at the grid reference and follow it. Alternatively walk ENE along the line of the fence until the contours level out, then head NNW.

To the bench at 053289

Walk north passing the disused pit on your left. The map shows no paths, but they are definitely there on the ground. Work out which contours are ridges and which are valleys. You’ll know you’ve reached your destination as it’s where the photo above was taken.

To the field at 060280

Check off the alternating ridges and valleys as you follow the footpath beside the fence marking the northern boundary of Sundon Hills until you reach the marked right of way. Will you now be going uphill or downhill to the field?

To the gate at 062298

This is where a distinctive contour feature meets a bridleway. 

To the memorial at 066310

Note a very distinctive valley as you cross it. A steep ascent… look for where the contours flatten out. Is it what you expected in terms of vegetation? Remember that maps are just historical records, and contours are much more reliable than trees.

To the forest edge at 061290

You’ve gone through here before. As you walk between the woods and open fields, note the very infrequent number of contours to the east and south of the path and the closely spaced ones to the west and north.

To the closely spaced contours at 054288

Do you expect these contours to be taking you uphill or downhill?

Back to the start

Take whichever route you prefer, but identify each of the shallow valleys and broad ridges you cross.