Bedfordshire is one of the smallest counties in England and Bedford is its attractive principle town. It is a very pretty, traditional market town, located on the banks of the River Great Ouse and just a short hop from London, Cambridge and Oxford. Not surprisingly, Bedford is a popular place to stay for visitors exploring the region, so if you are planning a trip to the area, here are the places and attractions that should be top of your “to-do” list.
Take a Walk along the Embankment
A gentle walk along the Bedford Embankment is an excellent way to explore the key sights of Bedford. The Embankment is a mile long footpath along the River Ouse, which meanders through the centre of Bedford, taking in the town’s two picturesque bridges and the War Memorial designed by Charles Sergeant Jagger.
There is a lovely public park along much of the route, which is perfect for families. On a fine summer’s day, you can play games and enjoy a picnic in the park, or just chill out beneath a shady tree and watch the world go by.
Bedford Castle through the Ages
There is plenty of historical interest associated with Bedford. One of the oldest buildings in Bedford is the castle, which was built by King Henry I. The castle was a motte and bailey castle, although only the base of the motte is left after several hundred years of conflict, most notably during the First Barons’ War and the English Civil War. Today, you can see the remains of the castle and explore the on-site archaeological park; there are also several nice restaurants in the castle area.
St Paul’s Church is a fine example of a medieval church. Much of the original medieval architecture remains, but there are also new, more modern additions to admire, including a colourful rood screen.
Entertain the Kids in Bedford
On a fine day, nothing beats the Great Outdoors, so if you have children in tow, take them to Bedford Park and let them have fun playing in the two children’s play areas or watch them kick a football around. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, open during the warmer summer months, and if you need some refreshments, grab a seat at the park café and order a coffee.
Eating Out in Bedford
Bedford has a strong Italian community and this is reflected in the number of Italian eateries in the town. If pizza and pasta is your passion, you will have plenty of choice, but if you prefer something a bit more traditional, visit the Embankment mock Tudor pub on the bank of the river. There are also lots of ethnic restaurants, wine bars, and cafes serving a range of different cuisines.
Shopping in Bedford
There are several popular markets in Bedford, including a Gourmet Market, a local Farmers Market and an Arts and Crafts Market. Buy some locally made cakes and jams, or just soak up the atmosphere.
If you run out of things to do in Bedford, jump on a train to central London – it’s only 35 minutes away.