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Things to Do
Bedford has a wealth of parks and green spaces adorning the town and lining its urban riverscape. Ranging from traditional Victorian, through to modern country parks and award-winning play facilities for young people.
Visitors will find themselves drawn to Bedford’s Embankment area where the river, artificially widened by the Victorians and much appreciated by the local rowing clubs, cuts a green swathe through the town. From the stone Town Bridge you can follow footpaths through river meadows past the decorative bandstand and Suspension Bridge (opened by the Duke of Bedford in 1888) down past Longholme Boating Lake and Russell Park with its Time Gardens, tennis courts, putting green and play area for young children.
Just north of the town centre lies the Green Flag award winning Bedford Park, with its highly ornate entrance gates, wooden bandstand and wide carriage drives, lake and fountain. Opened in 1888, the park retains its original Victorian charm with the half-timbered cricket pavilion and old café building which serves refreshments at in summer. Visitors can enjoy wide herbaceous walks with many mature specimen trees, some of which are quite rare and unusual. By contrast, in the eastern corner of the park you can find an extensive modern play area with a range of equipment to entertain and challenge children from toddlers to teens.
A short 20 minutes walk out of the town centre you can savour the peace of the country at Priory Country Park, another Green Flag Award winner. Here you can watch the sailing, windsurfing and canoeing on the main lake or one of the many regular canoe events on the purpose built slalom course. Take a walk around the secluded Finger Lakes and enjoy watching an abundance of wildlife; check out the latest sightings at the Visitor Centre. The area is a fisherman’s paradise with miles of river to scour for roach and rudd and a number of special platforms for disabled anglers. Day tickets are available at Priory Country Park whilst in all other public river areas all you need is a rod licence.
Or maybe you would prefer to explore the town and surrounding area by bike. ‘The Thatcher’s Way’ and ‘The Great Ouse’ Cycling Discovery Maps highlight 25 miles of roads, cycle paths and tracks venturing into the rural parts of the county. These are available from the Tourist Information Centre and park kiosks.