Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire in the east of England, is well connected to the rest of the UK and accessible from London in around an hour and half.

Bedfordshire is home to rolling countryside with the Downs, Chiltern Hills in the south of the county, Marston Vale where the local clay has been used for brick making and Greensand Ridge where a 40 mile trail runs from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay. The Great Ouse river and Grand Union canal wind their way through the county and provide relaxing locations for river trips and water sports such as canoeing and riverside hostelries.

Find out more

Bedfordshire Overview

Welcome to Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire is home to a great many visitor attractions with the impressive Wrest Park, and Woburn Abbey amongst the various stately homes. Visitors can also enjoy the Woburn Safari Park with a drive a through experience alongside the animals – just watch out for the monkeys! Whipsnade Zoo with 2,500 animals in 600 acres of parkland, Houghton House, the rare breeds farm at Woodside Farm and Wildfowl Park, the Shuttleworth Collection, Priory County Park and the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway are amongst other days out for visitors to the county.

Bedfordshire also lays claim to an impressive royal history with Queen Eleanor buried at Dunstable, whilst Catherine of Aragon was incarcerated at Ampthill.

Bedfordshire’s food speciality is known as the Bedfordshire Clanger – a light suet pastry crust with sweet and savoury fillings. The county is home to good spots to eat with many pubs and restaurants in the delightful towns and villages scattered across the county.

The county of Bedfordshire is in East Anglia, borders Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and has a population of around 700,000 people. Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, although Luton has a larger population and there are other significant towns at Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Kempston.

The Great Ouse river winds its way through the county’s landscape providing a relaxing location for river trips and links Bedfordshire to the Fenland waterways. Marston Vale, source of local clay for brick making, Greensands Ridge, and Dunstable Downs the highest point of Bedfordshire in the Chiltern Hills are great places to explore.


History

Bedfordshire has an abundance of water and land suitable for agriculture which made it attractive to the Angle invaders and evidence of their presence has been found at Biggleswade and Kempston.

Bedfordshire had a thriving wool industry from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, and then became a key part of the lace making industry.

Forests law existed in Bedfordshire until 1191, with many a royal hunting party enjoying the historic royal forests. The county is also the resting place of Catherine of Aragon Henry VIII’s first wife.


Places to Visit in Bedfordshire

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.


Getting There

Bedfordshire’s largely central position means is well connected to the rest of the country.

The East Coast Main Line, The West Coats Main Line and The Midland Main Line all run serve county providing great rail links from the rest of the country – the right train from London will get you to Bedford in under an hour.

The road network provides access to the county via the A1, M1, and A5. Bedfordshire is also well served by air with Luton airport providing flights to many European destinations.



Businesses in Bedfordshire

Check out the latest deals at these great places in Bedfordshire

View all offers

What to see and do…

View type:
Sort by:

Houghton House

Hazelwood Lane, Ampthill, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK45 2EZ

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2LF