Winter walks in Bedfordshire villages
Winter is a wonderful season for walks, especially on cold crisp days, but sometimes the weather works against us.
Country footpaths and bridleways can become boggy and departing from the paths along field edges can damage crops. As an alternative, why not explore some of Bedfordshire’s rural villages?
Villages in different parts of the county have their own distinct character and stories to tell. Exploring them is a great way to discover more about Bedfordshire’s heritage and local history, as well as keeping your boots a little less muddy!
There are other benefits too – you can help support local economies, still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. Village pubs, shops, tea rooms and cafes provide great places to pick up some refreshments or warm up after a bracing walk.
Here we highlight just a few of the village walks available. We can’t feature them all, so why not get out and explore the villages on your doorstep?
Greensand Country villages often have links to historic estates and country houses. In Old Warden this means thatched roofs and ‘English Garden’ style buildings, while in Woburn you will notice Georgian brick built estate buildings. Their position on the Greensand Ridge often means they command excellent views across the countryside.
The Clophill Heritage Trail explores the long High Street, highlighting the historic buildings you will see along the way. An alternative return route takes walkers up to the old church. The village was once home to small scale straw plaiting, tile and brick making industries, as well as agricultural workers.
In the mid nineteenth century, Dr James Williams recommended Aspley Guise as having a climate similar to many health resorts. The altitude, pine woods and consistent temperature throughout the year were seen as beneficial for TB patients and hospitals sprang up. The area also attracted tourists and new houses were built for people looking to move to a healthier location. Village walks take in the historic village and the nearby woodland.
The Limestone villages of the Great Ouse Valley
Villages in this part of Bedfordshire are set in rolling countryside. If you explore, you’ll find pretty cottages, churches, windmills, and old stone bridges over the river Great Ouse.
Harrold is home to the popular Harrold-Odell Country Park but it’s also a lovely village with a long history, there has been a bridge over the river since before 1140 and the first incumbent of the church (which was originally owned by Harrold Priory) was listed in 1226. The village green is home to the eighteenth century buttermarket (market house) and the village lock up where suspected criminals and drunks would have been detained.
Bromham Mill marks the start point for a circular walk exploring the village. A watermill has probably occupied the site since before the Domesday Survey of 1086. The bridge, spanning the Great Ouse with its 26 arches, was first mentioned in 1224.
Map and route information for the Bromham Heritage Trail
The Chiltern Hills
Villages in the Chilterns are dominated by the chalk escarpment of the hills. The landscape is a rich mix of chalk downland, beech woodland and farmland.
Harlington sits on the Icknield Way, one of the oldest roads in Britain, dating back around 5,000 years to the Neolithic period. It was part of an ancient trading route connecting the Norfolk coast to Dorset.
Discover more of Harlington’s history through the stories behind Harlington’s Blue Plaques. There is a downloadable guide (PDF), which features a map showing their positions in the village.
The village of Totternhoe can be found at the foot of Dunstable Downs. Once a Roman fort, Totternhoe Knolls is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a local nature reserve. Combining the old and the new, St Giles Church is built from locally quarried limestone and is home to a modern stained glass window designed by John Piper.
Explore the village and surrounding area with a circular walk from the Totternhoe Knolls picnic site (PDF).