Greensand Country is a beautiful and loved landscape. It is defined by the Greensand Ridge, a band of higher ground stretching from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay, which rises out of the surrounding vales to create a locally unique environment. The area contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining heathland, more than half of its woodland and 29 historic parklands.
It is a landscape rich in wildlife and cultural heritage, with its own special qualities and sense of place. A ‘green oasis’ of peace and quiet, rolling countryside and breath-taking views. A place where people feel able to slow down, unwind and connect with nature. Somewhere to escape urban life, breathe easy and feel uplifted. Come and discover it for yourself !
The Greensand Country Landscape Character Assessment (2016) provides a detailed description of the character of the landscape. It describes four character areas, including what makes them special and any notable features.
Each character area has it’s own distinct sense of place. You can think of them as different ‘jigsaw pieces’ that fit together to form the Greensand Country landscape as a whole. They can be used to help illustrate the variety offered by Greensand Country – that it comprises a patchwork (or jigsaw) of different areas, with different characteristics and experiences to enjoy.
Greensand Ridge: The Greensand Ridge forms an area of elevated land and is at the core of Greensand Country. Its distinctive north facing steep slope is iconic of the Greensand Ridge, with areas of pasture and woodland on the steep slopes. The area provides panoramic views off the Ridge and dip slope. It includes Rushmere Country Park; the largest remaining ancient woodland in Bedfordshire at Kings Wood; and the regionally important geological site, The Pinnacle at Sandy, which reveals the underlying sandstone geology.
Ouzel Valley: The Ouzel Valley flanks the western edge of the Greensand Country and runs in a northsouth direction, extending beyond Greensand Country. The scarp of the Greensand Ridge sits above the valley on its eastern side, the steep wooded slopes defining the valley. Overall the valley has an enclosed and
intimate character. Areas of open water, marshy grassland and wet woodland habitats provide significant wildlife interest. It includes listed structures associated with the Grand Union Canal such as bridges, pumping stations, cottages and locks.
Flit Valley: The Flit Valley is a magical place known for its folklore of medicinal waters and its peaceful, intimate surroundings. The valley lies along the southern edge of the Greensand Country separating it from the clay hills and chalk landscape of the Chilterns to the south. Wooded valley sides at Simpsons Plantation/Warren Wood and wooded skylines define the valley in the central section. Moors and wet woodlands form a repetitive pattern along the valley floor. Here willow pollards, native black poplars, scrub and wetland vegetation are common along with habitats including fen, acid mire, reed beds and marshy grassland. It includes the important wetland site at Flitwick Moor, the largest area of wetland in Bedfordshire and one of the best wetland sites in the South East.
Ivel Valley: The Ivel Valley lies between Moggerhanger, Northill and Sandy, cutting through the Greensand Ridge at the north-eastern end. This is a low lying, relatively flat and expansive valley to the west, but is well defined by the Greensand scarp to the east. With open views to the Greensand Ridge and over the parkland landscape to the west, the Ivel Valley is important in linking physically and visually the different parts of Greensand Country. It includes the Local Nature Reserve at The Riddy (Sandy) and listed buildings within hamlets including rural cottages, a manor house and farm.