Harrold - two walks of 1½ and 3 miles

Two walks of 1.5 miles and 3 miles around Harrold

Perhaps the largest and liveliest of the Ouse Valley villages. Harrold is beautifully situated between the river and the woods on the hill behind. It has stone houses, thatched cottages, a village green, mature trees, and a medieval bridge and causeway.
Two walks, one of 1.5 miles and one of 3 miles, are described below.

How To Get There by Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Harrold is on bus routes between Bedford and Rushden (not Sundays). 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 7 miles from Harrold. For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950.
Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website

How to Get There by Car

Harrold is nine miles north-west of Bedford, three miles north of the A428 at Turvey. There is a large car park at the Harrold-Odell Country Park. Grid Ref SP955566.

Access and General Information

Distance: Shorter walk 1.5 miles. Longer walk 3 miles
Access Information There are a number of stiles on the walks which may be awkward for younger or older walkers.
Surface types: You can expect to walk across varied surfaces ranging from a hard, firm surface with stones no larger than 5mm, to a hard but variable surface with 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 between points Q and R and points J and K on the map.
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: There are width restrictions of 60mm at points A and C on the map. There is a width restriction of 70mm close to point K, and restrictions of 80mm at points Q and K.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: There are two kissing gates with a restriction of less than 1000mm, one 1-way opening gate with a width of greater than 750mm and five 2-step stiles.
Refreshments: There is a tea room at Harrold-Odell Country Park. Harrold has three pubs with food available and three shops. The walk passes by or close to these.
Public Toilets are located at Harrold-Odell Country Park.
Picnic Tables There are 6 located at Harrold-Odell Country Park.
Seats are located at Harrold-Odell Country Park and on the Village Green. There is also a bench between points Q and R.
Please keep dogs under control where there are sheep or cattle

The Shorter Walk - 1.5 miles

Start at the cemetery gate opposite the country park entrance (A). Proceed through the cemetery to the old churchyard at B, with good views of St Peter's (13th-century). Go through lychgate (C). Continue straight on into the footpath known as 'Wellocks' immediately after the houses on your left. At D there is a view over the open field on the left across the River Ouse. Continue to follow the path and you will come to the village green. At E is the Lock-up. You can make a small diversion here and go down to the river and lower green by following the stream to your left. Continue to the Butter Market (F). At G look for the old school bell on the Roman Catholic church, used until the new school was built in 1937. Turn left into the High Street at H. Proceed for some 100 yards and cross into Brook Lane (Oakley Arms on left, Harrold Institute on right) (I). At the end of the lane and the start of the metalled footpath turn right, crossing the stile (J). After the double stile (K), follow the sign marked 'Dove Lane' diagonally across the field. Cross two stiles to bring you to L. Walk with the housing development on your right then turn left at the brook (M). Eventually you will pass some bungalows on the right and then the fire station on the left (N). You are now back on the Odell Road. Turn right and a little further down on the left-hand side is an entrance to the country park (O) Return to the visitor centre (P) by the Lake Bank.

The Longer Walk - 3 miles

Initially use the route for the shorter walk to J. Do not turn right but continue along the metalled path with the stream on your left, crossing the footbridge and right into Wood Road (Q). Follow the bridleway, passing allotments on the left after approximately 250 yards. Continue uphill along the bridleway until you reach Harrold Wood (R). Turn right, walking next to the wood until you come to a marker post at the corner of the wood (S), where you turn right and walk back across the field. The towers of Odell and Carlton and the spires of Chellington and Harrold churches can be seen from this path. Follow the path until you cross the stile and re-enter the bridleway you used on the outward journey. Walk back towards the village and turn back into Brook Lane (Q). After crossing the footbridge a sign on the left directs you over a stile into a field. Walk across diagonally to the double stile and finger post (K). Continue to the country park as for the short walk. (L, M, N, O and P)

Along the Way

The Village
As you walk through the cemetery (A to B), the 1960s houses of Hall Close over the hedge to your left are on the site of Harrold Hall, built in turn in 1608 – 10 on the site of Harrold Priory. The cemetery and churchyard have fine horse chestnuts and yews. St Peter’s Church, well worth a visit, is a rare example of a parish church which is not free-standing: the converted barns and outbuildings of Pointer’s Close go right up to it.
On the Green, notice the mature lime trees. The Lock-up, or Round House (E), built in 1824, was used to hold local criminals until they could be taken to Bedford. It is one of about three hundred surviving in the country. Honeysuckle Cottage opposite used to be the court house.
The Butter Market is older than the Lock-up (1710-20), and a reminder that Harrold had its own market charter. In the last century, the Old School (G) was run, unusually, by both the Church of England and Non-Conformists. (There are both United Reformed and Baptist chapels in the village). In the High Street (H), look out on your right for the dignified houses of Pax Stores, Town Farm and Quentin House (with coat of arms), built in the local oolitic limestone, as are the many stone boundary walls, typical of the area. Harrold Institute and Hall (I), dating from 1901 and 1911, are good examples of Edwardian architecture and local philanthropy. In Brook Lane, notice the Venice-like bridges leading to the houses. Until recent flood measures (visible after Q), the brook occasionally used to overflow and flood the houses. The terraces of stone cottages at right angles to the lane are characteristic of the Ouse valley, built this way to face south for the sun and light.
The Way to the Woods
The area by the allotments is known locally as ‘the Gripes’. Beyond the gate, notice the ancient hedgerow on the left, with crab apples, hawthorns, and spindle trees (so-called because their wood was used to make spindles for spinning), and the steep bank to the field beyond, the results of centuries of erosion. The kink in the path beyond the gate and the wood shows where the lane once passed between the medieval furlongs, or strips of arable land. Look out for the striking single oak near the top.
The Woods
Harrold Park Wood, called King’s Wood in the twelfth century, is ancient woodland, part of a line of surviving remnants on the high ground here between the Ouse and Nene valleys. Dungee Wood, Forty Acre Wood and Odell Great Wood can be seen ahead on the horizon. Along the edge of Harrold Wood (R to S) runs an ancient woodbank, or rounded boundary bank. These woods were an important economic resource, used for timber for building, coppicing for poles and fences, and for forage and hunting. Iron ore from over the border in Northamptonshire was also smelted into iron here, using charcoal made on the spot.
Ancient Remains and Another Lake
The curious bumps and hollows in the field between J and K indicate either stonepits or deserted settlement, and medieval ridge and furrow could be seen until recently in the meadow between K and L; it survives in the south-west corner. Archaelogical excavations at Tusting’s Lake (another former gravel pit) revealed bronze age barrows, an iron age settlement and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, and a Roman settlement was found in the country park (objects in Bedford Museum). The now minor Odell Road was in the eighteenth century a main coaching route, from London to Oakham, and on to Settle in Yorkshire.


The walks leaflet was prepared by Harrold Parish Council, a member of the Parish Paths Partnership which aims to give local people the resources and skills to enable them to improve the condition of their rights of way and to keep them open and in use.