Dunstable Downs is the highest point of Bedfordshire and it overlooks the town of Dunstable which lies to the north, this highpoint was going to be a really easy visit as the very top if the hill sits right next to a National Trust car park, What this means is that rather than just drive straight to the car park I wanted to make the visit a little bit more exciting, I could have parked at the bottom and climbed up but in the end I opted for a much more fun thing to do, just a small distance down the road is Europe's largest wildlife conservation park, Whipsnade zoo, I don't think I could visit the area without a visit to Whipsnade. Dunstable downs was also going to be the first of several highpoints over the next few days.
I left Portsmouth with Nathan by my side and drove the 2 hour journey, up the A3 through Petersfield and Guildford, and then around the M25 and up the M1 to Whipsnade zoo. We entered the zoo and headed straight for the walk through lemur enclosure, we were immediately pointed in the right direction by a member of staff and we found the lemurs all cuddled up next to a rock. after this we headed further into the park towards the sealion pool. we soon came aware of something sitting on the grass ahead of us, I first thought it was a dog but it was the wrong shape, it was sat really still so I thought it was maybe a statue, as we approached it became apparent that it was one of the zoo animals, had it escaped? was it loose? did we need to run for our lives screaming with terror? no, it was fine, we found out later that there were several types of animal who were free to roam the whole park, we later found out that this animal was called a Mara, a larger relative of the guinea pig from South America.
We continued around the park seeing the sea lion show next followed by a steam train ride around the park. From the train we saw Elephants, Camels, deer, bison and all kinds of other animals, what was so impressive about this was the huge amount of space the animals had to move around in, it was like looking out across the Savannah. After the train ride we saw so many more animals including Zebras, 2 types of bear, Cheetah, Lions, Rhino, Giraffe, 2 types of hippo, wolves, moose, reindeer, penguins, wolverine, Chimps, mongoose, wallaby and so many other animals, I really was impressed with the amount of space the animals had to wander around in.
Towards the end of the visit to Whipsnade we were wandering along one of the roads when suddenly we saw a herd of elephants out for a walk, the amazing thing was the fact that they were not in an enclosure, they were just wandering around the park with a few keepers to stop the visitors getting too close, how very cool is that? free roaming elephants.
After having such a cool day at Whipsnade we left and made our was the short distance to the top of Dunstable downs, the highest point in Bedfordshire. We parked in the car park and walked the 20 meters to the trigpoint for some photos. Just a small walk from the car park was a visitors centre and then beyond that there were some amazing views to the north. We stayed for a while to admire the views and then it was time to head off to out next destination 2 hours drive north along the M1.