Bedfordshire has a wealth of attractions and days out for visitors.
Animal lovers are spoilt for choice with Woburn Safari Park where you can safari alongside the animals, explore Animal Encounters and take to the Great Woburn Railway, Whipsnade Zoo with acres of park and up close animal experiences, the rare breeds at Woodside Farm and Wildfowl Park, and Mead Open Farm.
For those looking for a day out at a stately home or historic building there a number of choices. Woburn Abbey, a former monastery and seat of the Duke of Bedfordshire has a very special art collection including works from Canaletto and van Dyck. Explore the gardens, the museum and the deer park.
Wrest Park, is a French mansion set in 90 acres of magnificent gardens where you can visit the Rose and Italian gardens and explore the range of statues and pavilions.
Houghton House is considered the inspiration for John Bunyan’s “House Beautiful” in Pilgrim’s Progress. Built in 1615, but now just a shell of its former glory, two floors survive and there are far reaching views from the property.
There are other historic sites at Chicksands Priory, Bedford Castle, De Grey Mausoleum, Bushmead Priory and Someries Castle. Bird lovers can visit The Lodge at Sandy, home of the RSPB and explore nature trails, gardens, Iron Age banks and surrounding woodlands. Stotfold Watermill is a restored mill on the River Ivel where you can view the workings of the mill before enjoying refreshments at the café.
The world famous Shuttleworth Collection is housed at the Old Warden Aerodrome where you can see many historically important restored aircraft. Steam enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to Leighton Buzzard Light Railway to see the resident and visiting locomotives.
Miles of trails and walks make the Bedfordshire countryside a great place to explore. The Greensands Ridge crosses the county in an easterly direction from Leighton Buzzard and has both a 40 mile trail – The Greensands Ridge Walk – for walkers and parallel minor road route for cyclists. If getting outdoors is your thing, then pay a visit to Harrold-Odell Country Park to wander around the lakes, woodland and meadows of the nature reserve. The Grand Union canal and the picturesque Great Ouse river flow through the county past countryside and quiet villages and host a wide variety of natural walks, cycling trails, water sports, such as kayaking and canoeing, and places to relax and enjoy the scenery whilst having a bite to eat or something to drink.
Bedfordshire has an array of annual events, from Carnival and Mela in Luton – Europe’s largest one day event, the Canal Festival in Linsdale, the Tinwood Music Festival, the Steam & Country Fayre and the Riverside Festival at Bedford.
Bedfordshire’s famous names include the John Bunyan, Lady Margaret Beaufort, comic great Ronnie Barker, Carol Vorderman, cyclist Victoria Pendleton and musician Paul Young.
The county’s professional football team is Luton Town; the Hatters, along with Queen’s Park Rangers pioneered use the use of artificial football pitches in the mid 1980s.
Check out the local food speciality – the Bedfordshire Clanger – a light suet pastry crust with a mixture of meat and jam fillings.