Bromham is 3 miles east of Bedford. Take the A428 out of Bedford, then turn right on the A6134.
You can park at Bromham Mill's car park during its open hours. The Mill is signposted from the A6134. The following pubs have kindly agreed to allow parking for walkers who take refreshments there - The Swan and The Prince of Wales at Bromham and The Royal George in Stagsden. Please inform the landlord if you intend to leave your car.
Bromham Mill is the suggested starting point and the walk is described in a clockwise direction. However, you can begin at any other point and walk in either direction.
Distance: 6 miles / 9.5km
Time: 3 hours
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to hard and firm with some loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Linear Gradient: The steepest linear gradient is between 1:6-1:9. There is also a gradient of between 1:10-1:13.
Cross Falls: The steepest are 1:9 or steeper between points 3 and 4.
Width Restriction: See Barriers.
Steps: The maximum step height is 110mm at point 4.
Barriers: There are two 2-way opening gates with a width of 800mm and one two-step stile at point 4. There is also a ‘V' shaped barrier at Stagsden Golf Course which has a 240mm opening and a step of 200mm.
Refreshments: There is a shop at Bromham.
Public Toilets: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: Located in Bromham Park.
Seats: None recorded.
Part of the present mill dates from the 17th century although a watermill has probably occupied the site since before the Domesday Survey in 1086.
Alongside it stands Bromham Bridge. First mentioned in 1224 but extensively altered in 1813 and 1902, its 26 arches span the River Great Ouse that in previous times was rich in eels providing a substantial income for the miller. There was also a blacksmith shop on the site and an apple orchard that supplied hard wood for the gear teeth of the mill. The water wheel and machinery have been restored and there is an art gallery, cafe, craft sales and shop. Current opening times are displayed in the mill yard or Tel: 01234 824330 or visit vvww.bedfordshire.gov.uk/bromhammill.
Standpipes were installed in 1935-6 as part of a scheme to supply water to parishes not yet connected to mains water. Look out for examples of the lion head standpipes at Bromham and Stagsden manufactured by Messrs Glenfield and Kennedy of Kilmarnock.
Flora and Fauna
In early summer the verges and banks of the A428 village bypass are a mass of colourful wildflowers. This was the first extensive sowing of wildflowers on new road verges in the county. Sowing was carried out to improve the appearance of the cutting and the variety of wildlife found there. Listen and look out for Skylarks and woodpeckers as well as hares as you cross the fields.
Ridge and Furrow
Ridge and furrow earthworks are clues to past arable agriculture. In medieval times most arable was cultivated communally in long strips, each usually consisting of two or more ridges. The peasants did all the farm work on strips belonging to the Lord of the Manor but also tenanted a few for their own use. Most individuals had their strips scattered across the common fields of each parish where they were intermingled with those of others so that good and bad soil was shared out equally. The ridges are usually reverse 'S' shaped rather than straight as a result of preparing to turn the plough. Ridge and furrow earth works can be seen in Bromham Park and at Stagsden.
Hanger Wood is an ancient wood, referred to as far back as 1200. Hanger means 'wooded hill' and it lies right along the Stagsden parish boundary having survived medieval woodland clearance for agriculture. During the Middle Ages, Hanger Wood would have provided timber for Stagsden village. It consists of mainly deciduous oak and ash woodland along with some rowan, hornbeam and aspen as well as a fabulous display of woodland flowers in the spring.
Stagsden is a small village with charming thatched cottages and a 13th century church dedicated to St Leonard. During the 19th century Stagsden was a centre of lacemaking and had two lacemaking schools. By the turn of the century it was no longer economical to compete with machine made lace and lacemaking by hand became a purely recreational pastime.
The route is covered on Ordnance Survey Landranger Series map 153. It is also shown on Explorer map 208. Both are available from local bookshops and some petrol stations.
This is one of a series of circular walk leaflets produced by Bedford Borough Council.