'Somewhere in England'
Within easy reach of Bedford, visitors can enjoy museums and historic houses, gardens, beautiful scenery, country walks, heritage trails, friendly pubs, farm shops, markets and unspoilt villages.
Places of interest include:
• Woburn Abbey, Woburn – Set in a beautiful 3,000 acre deer park, this has been the home of the Russell family and the Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years. It houses one of the most important private collections of art, furniture and porcelain on public view in the country. The estate includes the award-winning Safari Park, the world renowned Golf Club, the Inn at Woburn and the Woburn Abbey Antiques Centre, the largest outside London.
• Moggerhanger Park, Moggerhanger – A Grade 1 listed, Georgian country house set in 33 acres of parkland. It is the most complete surviving work by Sir John Soane. The grounds, originally landscaped by Humphry Repton, are currently being restored.
• Wrest Park, Silsoe – Formal gardens, laid out over 150 years, inspired by the great gardens of Versailles.
• Houghton House, near Ampthill – The ruins of a majestic 17th century mansion, a former hunting lodge, with magnificent views. Wonderful for picnics.
• Swiss Garden, Shuttleworth Park, Old Warden – A late Regency garden and an outstanding example of the Swiss picturesque. Also home to the School of Falconry and the Shuttleworth Collection, which showcases the first hundred years of flight.
• Moot Hall, Elstow – A 15th century Tudor, timber-framed market house. It is now a museum illustrating 17th century English Life with particular reference to John Bunyan.
• Bushmead Priory, Bushmead – The complete refectory of an Augustinian priory, with a fine timber roof and notable 14th-century wall paintings. A very rare survival. Groups only
• Glenn Miller Museum, RAF Twinwood – It was from RAF Twinwood that Glenn Miller, the legendary WWII bandleader, boarded a plane that mysteriously disappeared. The museum includes Glenn Miller memorabilia, wartime uniforms, an RAF room dedicated to personnel stationed at Twinwood, and wartime aviation art. The Glenn Miller Festival takes place here annually, over the August bank holiday.
• The 306th Bomb Group Museum, Thurleigh – A comprehensive collection, which commemorates the heritage of the 306th Bombardment Group and the social impact of the friendly invasion on the surrounding area during WWII.
• Manor House Gardens, Stevington – “A garden of exuberant imagination… brimful of ideas, with a strong emphasis on garden art”, home of garden writer Kathy Brown.
• The Lodge RSPB, near Sandy – This woodland, heath and acid grassland, which cover 180 hectares, are being restored to form the largest stretch of heathland in Bedfordshire.
• Greensand Ridge Walk – Bedfordshire’s premier long distance walk spans the county, following a ridge of greensand which rises from the clay vales on either side. It is an ideal introduction to the history, landscape and wildlife of this part of the country. The route has been split into five sections to enable walkers to walk it in stages, or as a whole: Leighton Buzzard to Woburn 8.5 miles; Woburn to Ampthill 10 miles ; Ampthill to Haynes 8.8 miles ; Haynes to Sandy 7.5 miles ; Sandy to Gamlingay 5.3 miles
• Felmersham Nature Reserve, Felmersham –During WWII, gravel was extracted from Felmersham gravel pits to construct local war-time air fields. The disused and flooded gravel pits are managed as a nature reserve, and constitute a protected area for many varieties of flora and fauna and an important bird sanctuary, both as a breeding habitat and for birds on migration.
• Harrold and Odell Country Park, Odell – Water meadows and lakes adjacent to the Rive Great Ouse. Important for its habitats for wildlife, the park is an area for nature conservation and informal recreation. New facilities include cycle and kickwall facilities for young people.
• Cycle route around the Ouse Valley villages – Starting and ending at Bedford’s Priory Marina, this ride through the Ouse Valley includes riverside paths, splendid views and delightful villages such as Biddenham, Bromham, Oakley, Pavenham, Felmersham, Carlton and Stevington.
• Other villages well worth a visit, all with distinct features, include: Bromham, Turvey, Harrold, Stevington, Elstow, Pavenham, Great Barford, Stewartby, Cardington, Oakley, Clapham, Thurleigh and Wilden.
• The Monster Events Centre, near Thurleigh – Off-road adventure and fun for ages 4 – 84, including monster truck driving, quad biking, 4×4 off-roading and youth driver training.
• Box End Park, Kempston – A range of water sports, centred around two purpose made lakes, set in 100 rural acres. Includes wakeboarding, keyboarding and waterskiing.
• Bodyflight, Twinwoods – One of the largest and best indoor skydiving wind tunnels, for all ages and abilities. Bodyflight Vertigo is one of the tallest ‘power fan’ jumps in the UK.