A Ramble Around Ravensden


Introduction
This is a 7 mile ramble around Ravensden for people to learn about the history, enjoy wildlife and keep fit without having to go to the gym.


How To Get There by Passenger Transport
BY BUS Mowsbury park can be reached by bus from Bedford Town Centre. Bus 152 stops at Ravensden crossroads and Bus 153 stops at the Horse and Jockey in Ravensden. Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN Bedford station, on the Bedford to London Thameslink line, is approximately 3 miles from Mowsbury Park. For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website


How to Get There by Car
Mowsbury Park is situated off Wentworth Drive which can be accessed either from Kimbolton Road or Goldington Road.


Start/Finish Point
This is a circular walk that starts at the main entrance to Mowsbury Park on Wentworth Drive, Bedford. Alternatively, you can start from either of the pubs in the village. Grid Ref TL066524.


Access and General Information
Distance: 7 miles with an option for a shorter 4 mile walk.
Access Information
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones greater than 5mm in size, to hard but variable surfaces with loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with ruts and/or mud.
Linear Gradient: Gradients range from 1:10 to 1:17, the steepest being across the valleys.
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: There are minimum width restrictions of 500mm as you pass the Rugby Ground and Ravensden Road at Renhold. There is a 600mm restriction at the bridge just before crossing Thurleigh Road. There is a 800mm restriction between fences near this bridge.
Steps: There are 8 steps at the bridge near to Thurleigh Road. These have a maximum step height of 380mm. There are also steps at the bridge between Graze Hill Lane and Mowsbury Park. These have a maximum step height of 300mm.
Barriers: There is one kissing gate with a restriction of less than 1000mm, and one with a width restriction of greater than 1500mm. There is one 1-way opening gate with a restriction of greater than 750mm. There are 2 two-step stiles and 4 one-step stiles.

Refreshments: Public houses Horse and Jockey and Blacksmiths Arms are in the village of Ravensden.
Public Toilets: Located in Mowsbury Park.
Picnic Tables: There are several in Mowsbury Park.
Seats: There is plenty of seating in Mowsbury Park.


A Ramble around Ravesden - Directions
Start from the Car Park at the Main Entrance to Mowsbury Park on Wentworth Drive. Take the path that runs to the east of the childrens play area and bear left towards Putnoe Wood. Make your way through the wood to emerge on to the bridleway running north along the east side of the wood. Follow the bridleway up to the waymarked footpath immediately south of Marsh Wood. Continue on the path until you reach Ravensden Road.

Turn right along the road (beware of traffic!) and then left down the next footpath. Follow the field edge and turn left along the brook. Cross the bridge and follow the path straight up the hill keeping to the right hand side of the ditch.

Keep on straight at the small copse of trees, still on the right hand side of the ditch, and cross two stiles, a bridge and a further stile. Now bear left across the field heading for the stile in the hedge. Please be aware there are often livestock in these fields. Please keep dogs under close control. Cross this stile, over a bridge and another stile and turn left towards the village. Cross one more stile, a bridge and two metal gates before reaching Church Road in the village. The area between the metal gates is the school playing field so dogs must be kept under close control and not allowed to foul the ground.

At Church Road turn right and then left down Green Lane on the edge of the village. Follow the lane along to Kimbolton Road. Cross the road and take the farm track a few metres to the right which leads across the valley towards the woods. At the top of the hill follow the path that skirts around the north side of the wood. A shorter route follows the path along the south side of the wood. The paths rejoin at the south-west corner of the wood. At the corner of the wood, turn right and follow the path down to Ravensden Brook.

Follow the brook for about 20m, then turn right after two stiles over a footbridge. To take a short cut back to the Horse and Jockey, continue following the brook, cross the Kimbolton Road and carry on following the brook back to Church Hill. The main route leads onto Thurleigh Road.

Cross the road and take the path across the field to Graze Hill Lane. Turn right and then left onto the bridleway. At the bottom of the hill turn left along the footpath. Follow the brook to the bridge and after crossing continue along the brook. Cross over the next bridge and follow the path along the field edge before turning down the footpath on the right which runs outside the fences of private gardens. This will bring you out on Kimbolton Road. Cross over and into Mowsbury Park and follow the low bollards along the park edge to the main car park.

Discover your local history Ravensden, or "Valley of the ravens" is a Saxon name, but it does not appear in written records until 1177, in the charter by which Newnham Priory was formed. Ravensden Church was granted to the priory to give it financial support. The south entrance, in the Norman style, is the oldest part, so the existing church was probably built around 1177.
At Mowsbury Hill in the south of the parish there is a complicated system of earthworks formed by an iron-age hill fort and the moat of a Medieval manor. To the north of the parish is Tilwick, a deserted hamlet site. Roman and other pottery fragments indicate that the settlement was occupied until the 14th century, presumably abandoned when Warden Abbey, who used to own the land, turned it into a sheep range. Now, all that remains standing is a rapidly decaying 16th century farmhouse.
Most Bedfordshire villages have "ends" i.e. detached hamlets away from the central area. Ravensden is all ends and no middle. What has been the central area of population, Church End, is in fact, hard against the Parish boundary with Renhold.
Other ends are scattered around the boundary. Tilwick was one such end and Struttle End Farm marks another. This was once the home of the Wagstaff family. The surname "Wagstaff" indicates a minor official such as the bailiff of a medieval estate. The Wagstaffs of Struttle End served as bailiffs to Ralph Morin, who held the manor of Mowsbury. Ralph Morin was involved in a dispute over fishing rights and he elected to have the issue decided by trial by combat and appointed Adam Wagstaff to be his champion. Adam must have been a man to be reckoned with as Ralph's opponent backed down. There is a little terrace of cottages half way up Church Hill, which until very recently housed a pub called The Case is Altered. Local tradition has it that the name derives from the fact that it was once the parish poor house. Another thatched cottage, Oak cottage, was the home of another pub before the modern Horse and Jockey was built. At the other end of the village. Copper Cottage, now drastically rebuilt, owes its name to the days when it was home to Ravensden's village bobby. The green lane which runs along side Copper Cottage is part of an ancient cross-country highway which ran from Harrold to Biggleswade.
The Kimbolton Road was cut through at the beginning of the 19th century when it was built as a turnpike road. It was then that Ravensden Cross Roads was formed. This is now the main growth point of the village. The one old thatched cottage, the Old White Lion, was once a pub but its license was transferred across the road to The Blacksmith's Arms as recently as 1941.

Know your Environment On the edge of Bedford, Ravensden is under pressure to provide land for new housing. In spite of this it retains its rural character, with hedgelaying and hedge planting to be seen, particularly along roadsides. There is also a variety of arable and livestock farming and a number of woodlands. Putnoe Wood, on the edge of the parish, is open to the public. Putnoe Wood is a Local Nature Reserve and mixed oak and ash wood with a shrub layer of hazel. The hazel is still cut (coppiced) on a regular cycle to provide poles for crafts. Coppicing encourages growth of early woodland flowers such as snowdrop, daffodil, bluebell and primrose. Ravensden Brook runs through the valley and is an important wildlife corridor. Animals move from one part of the countryside to another along the brook, and the larger trees, grasses and scrub provide places to nest, food for birds and a home to many insects.


Acknowledgements
The leaflet was produced by the Ravesden Parish Paths Partnership (P3) Group. Thanks to: The Harpur Trust, Bedfordshire County Council, Ian Freeman for the Local History and all the people of Ravesden.