Greensands Ridge Relay – Course Notes

A post as much for my own benefit so I don’t lose this in the future. Below are some written instructions to the Greensands Ridge Relay, the annual race held every June running from Leighton Buzzard to Northill.  The total route is 34.4 miles.

The race is normally held as a relay, with one runner on each leg, varying from 3.9 to 9.1 miles, or you can run the whole thing solo as a very cheap ultra (£10) if you’re member of a club that has a team entered. For this reason it’s excluded from the 100 Marathon Club as a qualifying event as precludes unattached runners.

Official website – https://www.smoc.info/GSRR/gsrr.htm

The official website has the maps available. In the main these are good but partly due to the scale and the lack of detail on the OS map there is still scope to go wrong. For that reason I put together the below to accompany the maps.

LEG 1 – Waterside Park (Leighton Buzzard) to Stockgrove (5.6 miles)

  • Follow footpath from start towards Canal bear left along canal (canal on right).
  • Pass concrete launch jetty.
  • Cross canal on bridge (old railway bridge) and continue with canal on left.
  • Mix of industrial and housing either side.
  • Pass Wyvern barge hire on left.
  • Go past lock.
  • Pass Globe Inn on right, beware speed bumps!
  • As access road turns over bridge take right turn onto footpath through gate, path bears left.
  • Follow wooden walkway, bears right at end into marshy field.
  • Take path straight ahead, follows river to wooden footbridge, gates either end.
  • After bridge cross small stream/puddle on walkway.
  • Take diagonal left path through fields following line of overhead power lines.
  • Path joins road, then over cattle grid, take immediate left access road that runs behind houses (house on your RHS).
  • Path follows woods, fenced either side.  After fence dies out look for steep right turn up hill, signposted but easily missed. There is one false right turn before with no signposts, ignore this.
  • Continue to follow path through woods, eventually road appears on your LHS.
  • Path follows steps down at cross roads.
  • Turn right on road and immediate left at cross road, then footpath on right through gate into woods past buildings on your RHS.
  • Now in Rushmere park.
  • Follow path. As path climbs hill take left path, ignore sign to the right for new route. Path mostly skirting edge of forest, fields on left through trees.
  • In dense woods path splits left and right, take left fork up slope with wooden edges.
  • Keep following path.
  • Path hits access road, pass houses on left and fields on right.
  • Private road hits main road, continue straight on in road, beware cars!
  • Where road bears right, layby on left, and Checkpoint.

LEG 2 – Stockgrove to Woburn (3.9 miles)

  • In layby enter path, fields on left, woods on right.
  • Bears to left in ‘gulley’ formation, light woods and then gate into farmers field, often horses.
  • Take right path at far end of field before farm gates, up a slope, watch for rabbit holes.
  • Through gate into horse field, skirt fence on your LHS
  • Through gate, skirt fence on your LHS, watch feet as ground very uneven and rutted.
  • Skirt field into trees, over wobbly stile, light trees ahead, another stile.
  • Through light trees towards A5 over stile, down (slippery) steps, cross A5 carefully and turn right, then up (slippery) steps on left.
  • Diagonal path across two fields, slippery wooden bridge over stream in middle.
  • Path hits hedge, bear left along hedge to wide gate.
  • At gate go under and turn left on road.
  • Take left footpath after short road section onto path.
  • Fields on right, woods on left.
  • Eventually denser wood.
  • Watch out for right turn in woods, signposted but can be missed, just after woods on right start to lessen again.
  • Follow path through trees, gradually becomes open track, joins access road by houses on your LHS, follow downhill, pass around metal gate.
  • As access road joins main road official footpath on left skirting field to T-junction or can just run in the road.
  • Follow road uphill past houses.
  • Pass massive college/house on left, and take track opposite into field, just before the “Welcome to Woburn” signs.
  • Wide track bears left, at trees pass through gate onto long field running down to Woburn Abbey. Footpath often very obscured here.
  • EITHER Approx 1/3 way down, left into woods, then right and follow path through woods. OR 2/3 way down, left into woods, then right and follow path.
  • Path leads out to fire station for Checkpoint.

LEG 3 – Woburn to Millbrook (9.1 miles)

  • Leave fire station, right at main road past motorcycle dealership. Cross road when able, admire Woburn Abbey through fence on your left.
  • Just before gatehouse at end of fence take left footpath through narrow deer gate and along narrow path, fenced both sides.
  • At end of path bear slightly left towards lake on grass path, pass big lake on your right, smaller lake and pond on your left.
  • Cross access road. Carry on up hill on grass path.
  • Path joins access road at Abbey. Follow as bears slightly right.
  • Keep Abbey gardens and buildings on right and car park on left.
  • WATER – one of the trees on your left just after car park has tap fitted for use.
  • At end of fenced garden do NOT follow road as bears right around back of buildings.
  • Take footpath ahead across grass, slightly left.
  • Straight over fields to woods.
  • Enter deer gates into woods.
  • Out of woods through gate, along field.
  • Pass lake/pound on your left, path bears left across two fields, gate and wooden bridge in middle.
  • Into trees and deer gate to road.
  • Left at road. Follow road. Where road forks turn left, pass church on left and Green Man pub on right.
  • Stay in road towards cricket green. Where road bears left after cricket green take right up small road past houses.
  • Where road ends take gate on left, cross stream and follow stream on your RHS.
  • Follow path, through gate, around edge of next field, slight right into trees.
  • Path becomes a wider grassy rack.
  • Follow until road, carefully cross over onto track, keep houses on your right.
  • After fields into woods, follow fenced footpath around farm through gates and into field.
  • Woods on your right. Follow down to road.
  • Cross road and take path slightly to left.
  • Up and across ploughed/farm field.
  • Through gap in hedge/bushes and straight on towards woods.
  • Keep woods on LHS.
  • End of woods turn left, then continue past paddock on your RHS, take diagonal path through another wood.
  • Exit woods into field, diagonal to corner by Church.
  • Pass to the left of the church to road.
  • Cross road take tarmac path opposite down side of field.
  • Path joins cul-de-sac of houses, straight on.
  • At high street turn right, then left fork down to narrow road, runs downhill.
  • Look for right footpath as woods run out.
  • Follow path around woods, fields on your LHS.
  • As you near M1 take left footpath straight across farm field towards tree cluster beside M1.
  • Over rubbish bridge over M1, then decent bridge over A507, path bears to left after bridge.
  • As reach fields take right turn along edge of field.
  • Straight along down edge of many fields (hedge on your RHS, fields on your LHS) until road and farms.
  • At road turn right, then left turn after falling down brick buildings on left and house on right.
  • Through farmyard/hardstanding.
  • Pass the big barn on your LHS, up sloped track towards woods.
  • Pass woods on your LHS. End of woods take hard right path across fields.
  • Then follow hedge line to road.
  • At road turn left then take right turn for stables.
  • Paddocks on your LHS, buildings on your RHS.
  • Follow path between fields to small road leading to house (feels like running up someone’s drive).
  • Ahead on small road, pass house on your LHS, and stables on your RHS, enter path straight ahead (gate).
  • Follow path through woods, ignore path on your right.
  • At T junction on path take right turn, path then bears left.
  • Golf course on your RHS, Millbrook test track on your LHS.
  • Several turns and steep descent.
  • Follow path to come out at car park, Checkpoint.

LEG 4 – Millbrook to Deadman’s Hill (5.7 miles)

  • Leave car park, right up hill in road. Take right turn, pass houses on your LHS.
  • Follow road, pass pub on your LHS.
  • After houses take left path up hill through church grounds, follow path.
  • At road, go straight on.
  • Follow path, past various farm buildings, path starts to bear to left around edge of woods.
  • Path enters woods, across field (slight right bearing) to hedge into country park.
  • Cross over major left-right footpath up slope. Pass memorial on your RHS, steep drop to lake on LHS.
  • Skirt woods on your LHS.
  • Look for LH turn into wood, just after a very low path joins from left.
  • Through woods to road, turn left on road, up hill.
  • As road bears right take concrete access road running parallel to road on right.
  • Follow concrete road, small car park on your LHS. Keep bearing left.
  • After houses (on your RHS) turn right before big building and bear left behind it.
  • Follow access road. Ignore left fork.
  • At end of road by house (on your LHS) take gate ahead into field, straight on.
  • At end of field turn and take gate on right into farm fields, ahead, keep hedge on RHS.
  • Through gate cut corner of field on trampled path (DO NOT take kissing gate in corner of field)
  • Follow footpath through wide farm gates (couple of sets) now on wide access track. Follow this.
  • Before farm buildings bear right through kissing gate or wide farm gate (likely cows) and bear left.
  • Pass farm buildings on your LHS.
  • Through fields and kissing gate to road.
  • Cross road, path directly opposite to the LHS of house.
  • Straight on path, pass houses on your RHS.
  • Through field, straight on as path joins.
  • Pass between houses and turn left at road.
  • Road bears right.
  • Look for path on LHS between house up slope.
  • Follow path, bears right through graveyard.
  • Pass Church, down steps to car park road, left to top of car park through gate straight on footpath.
  • Long skinny field, looking for RH turn at end BEFORE the trees,
  • Take right turn along trees to woods.
  • Run with woods on your LHS.
  • At junction/crossroads turn left, then at T turn right (effectively stay on major access track)
  • Track leaves woods and just before layby is Checkpoint.

LEG 5 – Deadman’s Hill to Deadman’s Cross (5.4 miles)

  • Enter layby and turn right, leave layby to A6, run headlong into oncoming traffic. Road and central reservation on your LHS.
  • Cross when gap in wide central reservation and signposted by path coming from woods on your RHS.
  • Cross A6 and turn right on path, road now on your RHS.
  • Eventually a wall appears on your LHS.
  • Immediately after wall ends take steep left path climbing up into woods.
  • Path enters fields, follow path to right, skirt woods, left at end of field then almost immediately right turn onto another field.
  • In field turn right to follow tree line.
  • Path bears left at corner of field.
  • 2/3 of the way along this side of field look for path to right into woods, bears left.
  • Follow path down gulley.
  • Follow down to road, turn left.
  • Pass pub on your LHS.
  • At fork turn left up small road.
  • Eventually houses stop, building site at end.
  • After building site on your RHS take right turn into woods.
  • Bear straight on through stable area and kissing gate.
  • Into fields, head straight on with farm buildings on your RHS.
  • Through gate down path onto minor road/track and turn right.
  • Follow road onwards. Another road joins from right, bear straight on (slight right, left dogleg).
  • At T junction turn right then look for path on left.
  • Path is steep down and up between fences beside field (not in the field itself, also ignore the footpath that takes you diagonally across the field).
  • Pass Eco Lodges on your RHS at top of hill to join minor road/track.
  • Turn left at road, pass derelict church on your RHS, follow track/road as meanders right/left/right/left.
  • Ignore right turn to Pedley Wood Farm, straight on footpath.
  • Take right turn towards woods.
  • Follow woods on your RHS, skirt treeline (ignore right turn gate into woods that looks tempting).  More trees on your RHS until road.
  • At road turn left. After 500m turn right on path.
  • Through fields towards farm, through farm buildings to road with houses.
  • At road turn left.
  • Look for path on right after 4/5 houses.
  • Take path between houses, bear right.
  • Through fields to Checkpoint at road (A600).

LEG 6 – Deadman’s Cross to Northill (4.7 miles)

  • Across A600 into fields take left bearing towards woods on wide gravel access road.
  • Follow through two woods (fields in-between)
  • Path becomes Borden Lane with house on your RHS, footpath is on left of the road pass gate.
  • At junction with Bedford Road cross straight over onto path.
  • Pass through two fields.  As track turns right take footpath straight ahead but keep hedge line on your LHS.
  • Straight on for two fields, still with hedgeline on your LHS.
  • At end of field avoid path straight on into field, turn right around edge of field and look for a left turn into trees to follow path between trees for two fields.
  • Continue on tree-lined path, fields on your RHS.
  • At end of second field there is iron gate on your LHS, and a path on your RHS.
  • Take RH path across two fields.
  • Slight left/right dogleg before through trees, diagonally across field.
  • Keep farm buildings on your LHS, pass through gates.
  • Bear left after stables, through gate halfway along fence, through to corner of field, into trees (path is bearing right).
  • Bear right around edge of next field.
  • After left turn of path around corner of field look for RH gap in trees and enter woods.
  • On wood path take left bearing (fairly obvious), then right turn (easily missed, marker post is buried in undergrowth).
  • Leave trees, pass pond on your RHS, also horse exercise yard on RHS.
  • Along fenced grass track, cross access road, another fenced grass track to houses/outbuildings through fence.
  • Road widens, houses on both side.
  • Road joins Bedford Road, turn right.
  • Run towards Church, final checkpoint is on verge beside church.
  • THIS IS THE END!!! Have a beer in the pub the other side of the church.

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