We rung in the new year with a lovely day trip to Dunstable Downs. Only 40 minutes from our home in Milton Keynes, this is a perfectly do-able day out if you have dogs, kids or just enjoy a wander in the fresh air. There are a number of different planned walks you can take, but I just like to park up in our usual free parking area and set off. I let Grizzle choose where we were going because if I try and set the pace or direction of any of our walks it usually ends in a frustrating stale mate (he’s extremely stubborn)!

He took off to the left, interestingly not along the cliff like hills but towards the lane leading to the tree cathedral. You first pass a number of beautiful  homes, the sort I dream of living in. As we meandered along I daydreamed of lazy summer afternoons lost in one of the large gardens which backed on to endless fields and green as far as the eye could see. The tree cathedral is of course not a construction in the traditional sense, but rather a natural thing of beauty – trees of different heights and ages. You wander through its paths feeling in another world if but for a moment. This isn’t a vast area really, but a small garden of sorts within the park grounds. Still, it is very pretty and we enjoyed the crisp air in our faces and the sun on our backs. Snow was still covering some of the ground and it crunched underfoot as we made our way through the little paths.

whipsnade tree cathedral

tree cathedral ivinghoe beacon

Quiet as it was, we still had to dodge the odd rogue dog whose owners felt had no need for a lead, despite the fact Grizzle and Mandy were on theirs. However, we navigated the space with ease because I am accustomed to this dog dance as we have been at it for years. For readers of this post who don’t know the back history .. Grizzle has a fierce dislike for all entire male dogs, it doesn’t matter their age, breed or size – he hates them all. Alongside this, he has lead aggression and seemingly lashes out at most dogs on a lead prior to smelling and sussing out whether they are fine or not. Because of this, I find it easier to avoid other dogs when out walking, as on the whole, he’s not keen on greeting or “saying hello” to other dogs; and these meetings can tend to take him over threshold and ruin the rest of the walk.

Having come out the other end of the tree cathedral we came to rather lovely Chute Wood. It was another small space and seemed to be created for children but as dogs were allowed I figured we would have a look. This little wood was in fact a sniffy dogs paradise! With tyres, logs, climbing frames and piles of autumn leaves, Grizzle and Mandy spent a blissful twenty minutes scenting dried liver treats I scattered about the area. Even without a pocket full of treats, finding a little location like this can be of huge interest for your dog – allowing them to clamber over logs, jump across tyres and navigate tree stumps gives them a mental workout and challenges all of their doggy senses.

chute wood

chute wood 2

chute wood 3

chute wood 4

We were nearing the end of our morning outing so decided to pay the cliffs a visit – after all, you can’t come to Dunstable Downs and not admire the view! It was super windy at this point and bitterly cold; but the little dogs forged on, spurred into motion by smells of wildlife shooting through the air. Their little noses were glued to the floor and we covered quite a distance in under thirty minutes.

cliffs 3

cliffs 5

By the end of our long march across the winding hills I was very much looking forward to treating myself to a warm cuppa and cake from the (supposedly dog friendly) cafe; only to find that it is not, in fact, dog friendly. You can sit outside with your dog but cannot enter the shop or cafe with them. If you are in a group or couple situation this would not be a problem; but of course if you fly solo with your dog (as I now do) it was a most frustrating and disappointing find. Still, we had a good morning out and managed to dodge the heavy down pour which started as soon as we drove out of the parking lot. Result 😉

Till next time …