North Bedfordshire Heritage Trail


Introduction


This trail allows walkers and ramblers from near and far to discover North Bedfordshire and its wonderful heritage. Following rights of way throughout, the trail passes through no less than twenty three villages, two country parks and around thirty public houses!


Please Note

It is strongly recommended that you purchase the appropriate Ordnance Survey maps of the route.

The route can be muddy in places after wet weather. Walkers are reminded that they walk this route at their own risk and are advised to follow The Countryside Code.


How To Get There By Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN – For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website


How To Get There By Car

Bedford is easily accessible from the M1 junction 13 via the A421 or from the A1 via the A603.
Parking is available in short and long stay car parks situated in the town centre.


Start/Finish Point

This circular route starts and ends in St Paul’s Square in Bedford.


Access and General Information

Length: 70 miles (112 km)
Time:
Access Information: Pending Update


Route Description

The trail is described in a clockwise direction, starting from Saint Paul's Square, Bedford. (1) From the front of the church cross the road and walk along Horne Lane for a short distance, then cross the market place on the left to the riverside path. Follow this path to go under Prebend Street bridge, proceed with care as the track is narrow soon to widen after passing under the railway bridge. Keep to the surfaced path which goes under Queen's Park footbridge, and continue to a stile at the boundary fence. Keep to the field edge path until reaching a left hand bend in the river, just after passing a lifebelt on a post. Take the right hand track to go diagonally across the new golf course, emerging into Manor Road by Walnut Cottage. This is Biddenham (one of the county show villages), at the junction go right if you wish to see the village or visit the Three Tuns public house. However to continue the trail go left to reach the church, and take the path to the left, following through to the bypass (cross with care). At the Bromham road go left to cross the Medieval bridge, and Bromham Mill (well worth a visit so check opening times).(2)

To continue the trail proceed along the main street, ignoring the right hand road for Oakley, and keep straight ahead to the road junction where the trail takes the left hand path marked Clayway. In a short distance cross the main road with care and continue on the same path. At the far end of Hanger Wood go right on a path which crosses a golf course under construction (the footpath is expected to keep to the original line). Just prior to the road go over a stile in the hedge, then keep left to cross a minor road to follow a concrete track up to the underpass, continuing up to the village of Stagsden. An alternative route from the golf course to Stagsden is to use the path across the road and walk up to the village.

However, to continue the trail take the footpath almost opposite the Royal George public house, this is next to the Old Forge (3). Walk down the track to a planked bridge over a drainage stream, go right along the field edge keeping to it to go around a left hand bend and follow a stream with a narrow road on the other side. Continue up to a stile, do not cross but go right on to the road keeping left then taking a right hand path across a field. Shortly go over a stile then keep straight ahead, ignoring any crossing paths, using the poles as a guide across the pasture to a stile just to the right of the farm. Cross this and once over go left through the gap then right following the field edge path keeping forward passing by Deans Spinney. At the next junction go right on a bridleway, then left at the next junction to follow a wide grassy bridleway. Further on keep right around lovely Weeping Chestnut trees before crossing the old railway bridge, this was the track of the Bedford to Northampton Railway, closed in the Beeching era, after crossing the bridge take the left hand path. On the sharp right hand bend, follow this down to a small gate, go through to enter Turvey Park. Proceed across the park diagonally keeping well to the right of the farm house and buildings, aiming from a wide steel farm gate, go through and keeping straight on to meet a crossing path, go left to a stile, then pass by Turvey Abbey,(4) ignoring any side or crossing paths, keeping straight on crossing several stiles, before reaching Newton Road at Turvey. At the road go right, noting the recess in the opposite wall - this was Nell's Well some years ago. Cross the main road with care to reach the Three Cranes public house, and the marvellous church, sometimes known as the Cathedral of Bedfordshire, (4) well worth a visit if a key can be obtained.

After a break proceed by passing the corner shop, cross the road and shortly go left through a passageway, Barncroft, go right on the road in front (Mays Road) then left into Norfolk Road. Find a footpath on the right then follow out into open country, ignore two left hand paths, but go left onto a bridleway at a crossways of paths. Further on keep right at a junction to eventually pass the derelict Bagden Farm, shortly after this go sharp left onto a bridleway, then follow waymarkers for around half a mile to reach the road at Carlton. Cross Turvey Road and proceed down the high street, passing The Fox public house on the way, at the end of the street. You can now walk along The Moor. and in a short distance take the left hand path across allotments, keeping to this path to emerge at the end of the causeway (this being a raised footway across the flood plain) prior to crossing the Medieval Harrold bridge over the River Ouse. After crossing the bridge take a left hand path, passing the sports field just prior to the church, keeping straight forward, ignore side paths to reach the green at Harrold, a marvellous heritage area with Buttermarket and ancient lock up. (5)

After a long pause (probably) continue the trail by going right along the high street passing the Magpie public house. At the end of the street go right towards the bridge, then go left into Harrold Odell Country Park, once past the. visitor centre keep straight forward on the right of the lake and continue through to Odell and the Bell public house, walk up the main street to pass Odell Castle (6) and the church, after which turn left up Church Lane, ignoring a right hand path and continue until the lane bears right where you take the bridleway in front, to the right. Keep to this bridleway which soon enters a small wood, eventually emerging onto Yelnow Lane. Go right on this very ancient lane and walk toward the village of Sharnbrook, turning right into Lodge Road, then left to pass by the church and reach the high street at Sharnbrook. Continue by going right along the high street noting the tea shop on the junction, proceed by passing the Swan with Two Nicks public house and several interesting houses, prior to walking around a left hand bend, crossing the Sham Brook in the dip, before going left up Godfrey Lane, through a gate and across a paddock to reach a four-way signpost at the end of a small copse.

Go right on a path which crosses the railway bridge to reach the A6 road. Cross with care up to a bridleway on the opposite bank. This passes Temple Wood and on toward Harings Farm, passing by Sporting Targets (Riseley) on the way, however just prior to Harings Farm go right to pass Lodge Farm to reach the road. Go right and almost immediately left down surfaced footpaths. into Riseley High Street, go left to reach the Fox and Hounds public house.

To continue the trail from the Fox and Hounds, take the first right hand path after crossing the Keysoe road. This goes up to Riseley Lodge farm, keeping the house and farm buildings on the right follow waymarkers up to Keysoe Park wood, follow the bridleway with the wood on the right. Then at the next waymark post on the left, go left across to Park Farm, and follow the gravel farm drive down to the road. Keep forward on the road to the sharp left hand bend, then take the footpath straight ahead following a hedge on the left. At the end of the hedge still proceed straight ahead (hopefully reinstated) leaving College Farm well to the left, then soon reach the road at Hatch End. Go left to follow the narrow lane, Keysoe Road Row West, passing several of the oldest houses in the county. After a long mile reach the crossroads and cross with care to the White Horse public house at Keysoe. To continue the trail proceed in the same direction along Keysoe Row East, noting the small chapel on the way.(7) Take the first right hand path, then go left at the end to pass by the end of gardens, the second garden belonging to Broadfields, this is a large bungalow, the owners serving refreshments in the garden in season and at certain times.

After passing the gardens and a farm, go right onto an ancient bridleway, this soon bears left and then later to the right, ignore side tracks, and follow this lane for approximately a mile after the last bend. Again ignore any side tracks and proceed forward to reach Elm Farm at Wood End, go right along the road and take the left hand bridleway, continue along this surfaced track to pass by a large lonesome house, then almost immediately bear slightly left to a gap in the hedge. Keeping along this bridleway to go left on another bridleway along a field edge proceed for a while until meeting a farm track. This is Shelford Lane, and continuing down this track leads to Queen Street in Colmworth. Go right and down to the High Street, cross with care to go round a corner and take the right hand footpath. After passing behind the church, the path splits. Recent applications have been made to stop up one of the paths. However, one or the other will allow the trail to continue through to the road which is almost a mile ahead.

At the road go right then left to follow the trail across several fields, to arrive at the road, emerging by a studio. Go right then left on a field edge path, and out into the open to follow the path along toward Wilden. Look for a stile in the hedge to go over and down a narrow path to the road, crossing with care to enter Wilden Churchyard. Proceed around the church, through the cemetery, and exit by the small gate. Keep the stream to the left unless visiting the Victoria Arms public house, and continue along this track to meet Hollis Lane, and on to the road. The trail now continues by road, many right of way problems prevailing. However go left from Hollis Lane then right along the high street, soon to pass through the crossroads. Walking with care pass by East End Farm and continue along to a sharp left hand bend. Here take the bridleway on the right to pass around the reservoir and follow the track through to the A428 road, passing Lady Wood, Cranfield Wood and Palaceyard Wood on the way. At the main road go right and cross with great care to take the left hand path, to walk by Roxton Park and Roxton House, prior to entering the village. At the junction go left along the main street to pass by the marvellous thatch-roofed church (8) and several seventeenth century houses, to reach the Royal Oak public house.

Leaving the village, go down School Lane for a short distance, taking the right hand footpath past the church. Go left at the next footpath by a waymark post and proceed along to the River Ouse. Then go right at another waymark post, keep forward until reaching a footbridge which is taken to cross the river and bear right on a path to the Anchor public house at Tempsford. From the Anchor cross the busy A1 road with extra care, then proceed along Station Road, Tempsford. After nearly a mile bear left to the level crossing, go over with care. Then go right onto a track to pass Woodbury Farm Lodge, and in half a mile, go right after passing Woodbury Farm. The trail now proceeds along the course of an old Roman road, which went from Sandy to Godmanchester. In less than a mile a black barn is a must to visit, as this is very much heritage relating to the Second World War.

After leaving the barn, take the path on the left to reach Everton in around a mile, go right at the church and along to the Thornton Arms public house. At the road go left, proceed along the road to a right hand bridleway. After passing a right hand path, follow the bridleway to shortly go left to pass by the remains of an old windmill to reach Potton keeping straight ahead and go right into Horslow Street. After passing the Rising Sun public house, at the lower end of the street go left down Bull Street into the historic square at Potton. To continue the trail, leave the square in the far corner, by the Post Office, and follow Brook End round the corner, turning left at Cambridge Road. Take the path on the right after crossing the bridge. (This may be difficult to find because a housing development has been started, and the path to Sutton may be diverted.) After passing through the building site, go forward to pass through a new plantation, Pegnut Wood, the Poplar trees have completely transformed the area in a few years. Follow the path through to Sutton High Street, emerging by a phone box. After walking through a garden, go right along the high street past the John O'Gaunt public house to reach the marvellous medieval bridge and ford.(9) After pausing for a while, retrace the route back for a short distance to take the left hand path. Pass by a garden and proceed to reach the lower end of Pegnut Wood. The trail goes leftover a small bridge, to follow around the golf course and out to the road. Cross with care and follow the bridleway opposite keeping straight on until reaching a narrow road. Go right past the remains of a railway bridge to the main road. Cross with great care.

To continue walk up the track (Deepdale), then go left at the crossways of paths, this is part of the old Bedford Road. Walk through the trees, the track will bear left further on, and in almost a mile a crossing track is met. Go left to meet the road, again crossing with care, and proceed into the grounds of the RSPB. Go straight forward down the track to the bottom of the wood, then go right, just prior to the old railway track bed. Follow the trail along the edge of the wood, this will shortly meet up with a surfaced road by a large house. Follow this narrow road, alongside the railway until reaching the road at the railway bridge. Go left over the bridge and into Sandy.

Proceed down the high street and go left at a phone box into Ivel Road. Walk down this road to cross the River Ivel. Go right and follow signs for Greensand Ridge Walk (GRW), and Muntjac deer waymarkers. Keep to this trail for around two miles until reaching Northill. Proceed forward to pass by the church, and the Crown public house near the pond. (Ignore the right hand road to Cople, and the GRW.) By the way the Crown has recently installed a Ramblers Bar.

After the public house go forward in the same direction to Ickwell, a marvellous area complete with Maypole and Cricket pitch. Walk straight on with the Green on the right to enter a bridleway and through to the road, cross with care. Continue on the path opposite with the Old Warden Airfield on the right. Follow the path to a gravel drive and go right. This track goes into Shuttleworth College. Just before the college entrance there is a bridleway on the left which is taken to walk on to meet the road. Go right and, after passing a dream cottage on the edge of the woods, go right to walk through the woods and go steep down onto Old Warden High Street. This is one of the most attractive villages in the country. Go left up the street and pause to admire this showpiece village and probably a welcome stop at the Hare and Hounds public house.

To continue take the path opposite the shop and proceed along to the marvellous small church. Go left up the car park and follow the path through Palmers Wood. Emerge from the wood and go right, following the field edge path and keeping forward until reaching a crossing path. This is again the Greensand Ridge Walk. Go right, ignore a right hand path further on (GRW), but keep forward to the road. Cross with care and walk along the road for a mile, then go left onto a bridleway, and right through to Willington cross roads. Cross with care to go down to Station Road, passing the Crown public house on the way. Follow the road around to the left, past the school and the old village hall and eventually right to reach the ancient Dovecote and Stables, (10) now in the care of the National Trust (not many sites in Bedfordshire). After admiring these buildings walk down the lane, cross the old railway track bed, follow the path over the stream and then go left through a gate. Proceed along the gravel track through the woodland and continue straight on to walk through to Priory Park at Bedford and follow the river embankment to Saint Paul's Square, where the trail started.


Acknowledgements

This trail guide was kindly sponsored by Rural Action for the Environment. Thanks to Keith Marr for his invaluable help and assistance compiling and producing the guide. To rambling colleagues for help in surveying the route - sometimes in adverse conditions. To Anthony Mackay and The Book Castle and to Barbara Bignell for permission to reproduce illustrations. Last but by no means least, all Landowners over whose property the trail crosses.