Rushmere Country Park near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire had been on my list of walks to do for a long time. We finally got round to doing it this weekend.
Did it live up to its hype?? well, the answer is yes and no!. Now don’t get me wrong, it is an awesome family walk (for adults and kids alike) and we loved it but it did not WOW me like say Irchester country park or Wendover Woods e.g.
I had seen lots of pictures of the sculpture trail of Rushmere Country Park and its giant chair. There are nice professionally crafted fairy doors (though I prefer colourful ones- sorry!) on the sculpture trail in addition to beautiful wooden sculptures and benches as you start by walking down the path from the visitors centre. They are nice enough but I was much more impressed by the trees and the climbing opportunities they presented! My God, those trees are just out of this world, with so many branches, all intertwined with each other; you can easily climb from one to another to another just like a monkey. If I were to give you a USP of this place, it would be the natural climbing opportunities rather than anything else. You can enjoy a natural playground at its best! Climb the trees, hunt for mini beasts, spot the birds and herons, play hide and seek or just run around and soak in on your 1000 hours year!
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Now the walks are not very well sign posted and I am so good (lol) at map reading, we got off track a few times. You can find the map of Rushmere country park here but I will endeavour to make this simple for you.
Continue walking along the path from the visitors centre until you get to a Giant chair. This is one of “the” Photographic spot here 🙂 I will use this as a landmark as you can then take a few routes onwards from here:
If you turned left and follow the route, you will shortly come to a giant spider. Continue walking and you will come to a woodland area where there are a few wooden seats. If you turned left from somewhere and kept on walking on track, you will come to the picnic area and eventually to the field in front of the car park. If you kept on walking down hill, and then turned right, this track will take you to the “black pond” with the Oak Wood Sculpture Trail.
The Oak Wood Sculpture Trail is an extension to the existingincludes sculptures of the Green Tiger Beetle, Common Lizard, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Damselfly, created by sculptor Ian Freemantle and “the black pond”. The trail also features carved benches featuring the Emperor Moth, bluebells, Green Tiger Beetle and adders providing points of interest around the 1.5km trail. These features used local materials, including timber from Rushmere and rhododendron wood, a by-product of conservation management activity. Aren’t they pretty!
Follow the Oak Wood Sculpture Trail around and it will take you to the summit of the ‘Wild Things’ door.
If you kept on walking straight from the giant chair, you will come across the entrance to the Ridge Riders Cross Country Trail/ pump trail on your right. Keep walking straight to find the ‘Wild Things’ doors on your left (I am not sure what was the purpose of making a door in the middle of nowhere!- somebody please explain). From here, you can cross the hill to the other path to join the Oak Wood Sculpture Trail and eventually reach the “black pond”. By this time, you are really downhill, so the ascent may be tiring for the little ones. There are some benches dotted around for rest. If you keep following the green route, you will eventually come back through the woodland, the spider and back to the giant chair.
The third option is to go downhill (to your right) from the giant chair. It is quite steep and Ay literally ran down making me mad! Luckily he did not fall. When you reach all the way to the bottom, you can turn left to find a small wobbly obstacle course and when you reach the gates, you can either walk around the lake. We did not go that way but I was told by the fellow walker that it is mostly flat. Instead, we hiked up (gulp gulp) to come back to the Start of the sculpture route/ ‘Wild Things’ doors. I would say avoid this route unless you want to walk to the lake, otherwise there is nothing much to miss.
I have seen pictures of a long slide at Rushmere Country Park but unfortunately the Big Slide and the Big Swing have been removed due to safety concerns. There is a small toddler play area next to the Tree Tops Café (under 6s only). it has a sandpit with a digger, a small slide, small house for imaginative play
Heron Watch is also back, accessible via the visitors centre. You can view the herons from the deck and see live footage of herons nesting in Heron Valley from the atrium screen. There are limited binoculars and the telescope for visitors to use. See more details HERE
🗺 Address: Linslade Rd, Heath and Reach, Leighton Buzzard LU7 0EB, United Kingdom or you can use entry via Stockgrove Car Park at Brickhill Road, Heath and Reach, Bedfordshire LU7 0BA
🚘 Paid Parking 1-3 hrs is 4£, >4 hours is 6£. You must pay for your parking before you leave the car park at both entrances as there is no payment possible at the exit barrier. For more details and updated prices, click HERE
🚻 Toilets and baby facilities
🍕 Refreshments on site
🐕 Dogs allowed- Areas where including a dog fun area
🧺 Picnic benches
🦽 Pushchair accessible though terrain will be bumpy
🚲 Rushmere Country Park is a great place for cycling. I could see the amazing cross country downhill trails, jumps and a pump track. You can cycle into the park using a number of free public access paths, including the Public Bridleway, from the nearby villages of Heath and Reach and Great Brickhill (BLUE on the park map)– Other than these free access paths, if you wish to use their network of specialist cycle trails and jump areas – the Rushmere Ridge Riders Cross Country Trail and Downhill Zone,you will need
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