Six local walks to put a ‘Spring’ in your step this March

Posted 10th March 2023

Milton Keynes may now FINALLY be a city, but it is absolutely littered with beautiful countryside trails. As we (hopefully!) approach the warmer, clearer weather, check out MK Pulse’s handy guide to six-of-the-best local walks, courtesy of the AllTrails App, to try out this Spring.

Trail One – Ampthill and Mauldon Circular

The first trail takes you through the gentle rolling landscape of the Bedfordshire Hills, providing superb views of the countryside throughout. The circular walk starts from the ruins of Houghton House, said to be the inspiration for House Beautiful in John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.’ This 8.5km trail is generally considered to be an easy route, taking an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes to complete.

The walk itself has several steady but long climbs and descents throughout and there is one stile and several kissing gates. The paths are a mixture of tarmac/concrete lanes and field edge paths – the latter of which can get quite muddy after wet weather so welly or walking boots are recommended, especially in Winter.

This is a very popular area for birdwatching, hiking, and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. According to the crowdsourced reviews on the AllTrails App, this particular walk is child-friendly, perfect for trail-running and for spotting a variety of wildlife. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Whilst most of the farm land is arable, some of the fields do hold cattle, so take care with dogs.

The walk starts from the Houghton House car park just north of Ampthill. The car park is accessed via a narrow concrete track and is signposted with a brown sign off the B530 – Bedford Street. The beginning of the walk neighbours the ruins of Houghton House: a beautiful historic landmark built in 1615 for the Countess of Pembroke. This was dismantled in 1794 and the ruins are now managed by English Heritage. You can take a small detour to visit the ruins should you so wish.

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image from

Trail Two – Willen Lake Circular

This trail is probably the most child-friendly option with a plethora of activities to partake in along the way. Willen Lake Circular is a great option for a sunny day with family or friends to traverse around the lake. People of all ages and fitness levels are welcome on this trail. The paths are well-paved and a range of outdoor sports can be done along the way. Picnic tables can also be found at various points around the lake, making it the perfect trail for a portable bite, all while enjoying the views.

The length of the trail is just 4.2km and takes an average of 1 hour 10 to complete. It is one of the easiest trails in this guide due to the level Redway surface which makes up the majority of the route.

Willen Lake is conveniently located near the centre of Milton Keynes so it’s easy to get to whether you’re travelling by car or public transport – just be sure to pay the car park fees!

There are a number of activities you can partake in on this circular walk – both with a fee and for free – such as: paddlesports, boat hire, kids clubs, Aqua Parcs, open-water swimming, sailing, windsurfing, kids play areas, cafes and restaurants, Treetop Extreme, archery and many more. Check out the Willen Lake website ( for more details.

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image by Sophie Kay on AllTrails

Trail 3 – Pitstone Common

This 4km out-and-back trail takes an average of 58 minutes to complete and is considered to be an easy route as it has a surfaced, linear walkway. Suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, this trip allows for a quintessential outing in the beautiful rural landscape.

Located near to Ashridge Estate, this trail neighbours the 2,000 hectare (5,000 acres) area of the Chiltern Hills AONB with beech and oak woodlands, commons and chalk downlands. These very different landscapes each support a rich variety of wildlife, including carpets of bluebells in Spring, rare butterflies in Summer and fallow deer that rut in Autumn. At the suggested beginning of the walk, you’ll be able to see The Bridgewater Monument – a towering granite column which reaches high above the treetops of the estate. The monument was built in 1832 in memory of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, Francis Egerton, who once lived in Ashridge House. As you walk around its York stone base, you are able to notice how the monument is dedicated to ‘the father of inland navigation’ because the Duke became famous for building canals during the Industrial Revolution.

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image by Jeremy Ettinghausen on AllTrails

Trail 4 – Ivinghoe Beacon Hill

Located near to Pitstone Common, you are able to combine both walks (following this route or travel to Ivinghoe Beacon Hill to complete this 3.1km circular walk by itself. This trail is a great little gem to go on if you’re looking for a quick and pleasant escape into nearby nature. The views are fantastic – although do note it is rather exposed, so if it’s a windy day leave the hat at home.

A trail with lovely views (and a few steepish climbs) you’ll find lots of sheep grazing in places so definitely an on-lead walk for dogs.

The Beacon has been used as a filming location in four Harry Potter films as well as the 2012 BBC adaptation of Richard II and the 2018 Star Wars movie ‘The Rise of Skywalker.’ Model aircraft enthusiasts also use lift generated by the wind blowing up the hill to fly their unpowered aircrafts – so look out for this!

The hill itself is an ancient signal point, which was used in times of crisis to send messages across long distances. It is also the site of an early Iron Age hillfort protected as a scheduled monument.

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image by Mark Fernandes on AllTrails

Trail 5 – Red Lodge Plantation and Woburn Safari Park

This 8.7km route in Woburn is a moderately challenging route and takes an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete. Red Lodge Wood is a mix of Forestry Commission plantation and broad-leafed woodland. It has two ponds: one very overgrown and scheduled to be dredged this year to breathe life back into it; the other more substantial and host to some waterfowl, breeding reed and sedge warblers. The area has a wide variety of habitats and the wood itself encloses a farm on three sides. It is a good place to find butterflies and birds or walk your dog. This trail also takes you through the outskirts of the safari park, enabling you to see a multitude of wildlife in the enclosures enroute!

One user states that they ‘followed the tips in reviews and parked by the Woburn Inn on Park Road…[we] did the long road section first which was definitely worthwhile to get it out the way. The rest of the walk is full of interest. We saw lots of deer, elephants, giraffes, wallabies and a herd of goats. Very well signposted. My 10 year old loved this walk too as so much to spot.’

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image by Chris Handford on AllTrails

Trail 6 – Woburn Deer Park Circular

The longest and possibly most challenging walk on the list is also located in Woburn and neighbours the safari park. This 12.9km trail takes an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete and is great for hiking and running. On the walk you can expect to see black bears, zebra, elephants, and other wild animals.

There are some kissing gates to navigate, but no stiles so it is an ideal route for dogs (on leads). It can be very muddy and slippery underfoot, especially after heavy rain so walking boots or wellies are highly recommended.

This area of our beautiful, local countryside is scattered with small villages and is a charming change of scenery. There are no toilets enroute, but you will come across a number of pubs on the way which mean it’s a perfect excuse to stop off for a drink!

You’ll pass by Woburn Abbey and Gardens (currently closed until 2024 for a major overhaul,) St Peter’s Church in Milton Bryan and Eversholt village, among many other quaint landmarks.

Find further trail details, including location and postcode, here:

Image by Kat Bajtosova on AllTrails

The AllTrails App is available to download on the App Store and Google Play.