Bedford to Great Barford on the Great Ouse

A nice trip for a short afternoon, though two cars are necessay for the start and finish. It takes about three hours including the stop at the Danish Camp


Starting at Cardington Lock, then paddling downstream. not much to see, but Priory Park and the Finger lakes are up to your left. Very quickly you come to the old Bedford to Sandy railway bridge, now a national cylcle route and worth doing on another day. On the left there are several small side channels worth a short exploration. You can see the one we went up, which unfortunatley came to a dead end, but worth doing all the same.

Castle Mill lock is next and demands a portage on the right (you can see the weir), after which you pass under the new road and the aptly named Castle Mill Viaduct. The river now is hidden from the road and becomes more interesting with lots of small bends and even in the summer, a little current. At one point you pass some fabulous weekend retreats, as you can see. The river is little used by boat traffic and we only saw three moving boats on the Sunday we descended the river.

After the holiday home and just before Willington lock, there is the Danish Camp,, for a welcome stop, especially on a hot day. You can also look back down on the river from the balcony. The lock at Willington is next and if there is enough water, it is easily run in both kayaks and Canadian canoes, though you can see one of my group took it a bit to far and ended up having a little swim!

After rescuing the canoe we paddled on down stream to where you can see the beginnings of an old lock on your right. This is easily run in a canoe and a welcome diversion from the main river. Shortly after this, you can see the bridge at Barford, with the new additions built on top of the original bridge. It is now a Grade 1 listed ancient monument and still used by traffic today. If you leave the river on the left there is welcome pub for a final bit of refreshment.

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