Bridleway 4

Distance: about 2,900m. Direction ESE – WNW

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This bridleway starts on west side of Drove Road, between Everton and Gamlingay Cinques. Road, at the northeast corner of White Wood (TL 218522). It was one of the routes the farmer of Park Farm on the eastern side of the road used to cross the Woodbury estate to get to Tempsford and the Great North Road. When the Great North Eastern Railway was built in 1850, it took you to Tempsford Railway Station. 


There is one of the Woodbury Estate’s 19th century gatehouse cottages at the entrance to the drive to Woodbury Home Farm. A plaque on the wall shows it was built by the Astell family sometime in the 1870s – the last number is missing.

Behind them you can still see the ‘barns’, the local name for their washhouse and storage sheds. The field gate is locked but a gap beside it lets you pass the southern boundary of the garden of White Wood Corner cottage. 







It was here that Group Captain Fielden stayed whilst he was Station Commander of Tempsford Airfield during World War Two. Local gossip has it that Italian prisoners of war held in a camp in Woodbury Park, dug a tunnel from the cottage down to the airfield.  This is unlikely but it is possible that his assistant drove him along the route in his car.

The route follows the edge of White Wood for about 500 metres along about a five-metre wide track with high bracken, nettles and brambles growing in the hedgerows. A paddock can be seen behind the hedge to the north where a row of new trees has been planted in recent years. Many mature pines can be seen in the woods which date back several hundred years. Just before a large oak tree there is a gap in the hedge (TL 214524) where you can see the way marker signpost for the Greensand Ridge Walk that takes you northeast along Bridleway 5 Tetworth. Through decades of disuse, the vegetation in the hedgerows has grown so much that vehicles no longer use this track but it is wide enough for a horse or pedestrian. Less than a 100 metres further on you will see another kissing gate beside a few hundred-year old oak tree (TL 214524), giving you access to Footpath 5 southwest through Woodbury Park. Continuing northwest, the track becomes concreted for about a 100 metres on the top of the ridge and stops at a farm gate (TL 212535). Three upright railway sleepers block vehicular access down the track to Woodbury Sinks. A mature woodland of old oaks, beech and silver birch grows on the scarp slope of the ridge. In late-April – early May you can glimpse from the path a stunning bluebell display. Foxgloves and Spring Beauty also enjoy the dappled shade cast by the Beech and Silver Birch and an avenue of Limes. Several paths lead into these woods but it is private woodland.



Once you start to descend the hill, the track widens to about 10 metres as, over the centuries, horses and cattle hooves and cartwheels have cut a wide swathe down the hill. Be warned, it is very difficult to walk on in both wet and dry weather, even with walking shoes or Wellington boots. As the track crosses the spring line, horses hooves have churned up the clay leaving deep, often water-filled holes, in which one can easily twist an ankle. It has been suggested that fencing off a metre wide stretch alongside the ditch for pedestrians will reduce the wear and tear on the track. 30 – 40 m. wide.





The track veers to the south once you get out of the woods and dry ground is only reached close to the concrete road leading back up the hill to Old Woodbury (TL 209526). This track then turns west and takes you along the edge of a field with a deep drainage ditch on its northern side and a field of hawthorn and rowan trees.




Judy Knight, the Bedfordshire naturalist, commented that on Bridleway 4 . Skylarks continue to sing overhead. At your feet the delicate yellow flowers of the Field Pansy grow on the rough soil. Another bird of the agricultural landscape is the Yellowhammer; in summer the males are resplendent in bright yellow plumage and tirelessly deliver their song which begins with a rattle and ends with a wheeze – said to resemble “A little bit of bread and no cheeeese”.  The Whitethroats here can barely compete!

You pass alongside a new hawthorn hedge to the north, behind which is a new plantation of mixed woodland. As you approach the Roman Road you pass a raised petrol tank for the farm machinery.

A new plantation of mixed woodland has been planted alongside the track. The track looks as if it follows the line of the runway past a huge pile of concrete rubble, broken sections of the runway, but it veers slightly west. You now join the Roman Road that runs south – north through WW2 Tempsford Airfield.



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