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Human powered adventurer and social entrepreneur Richard Harpham shares some of the secret outdoor locations close to his home in Bedfordshire

“I moved 13 times by the aged of 13 living in many beautiful parts of the UK including Cornwall and Wales. In Bedfordshire I’ve discovered a rural farming community, meandering rivers and a love of the great outdoors”


Messing on water

The River Great Ouse is a real gem and is the fourth longest river in the UK. The navigable section starts near Bedford and offers a real mix with Bedford’s stunning Victorian Embankment, slow flowing tranquil backwaters and wild camping next the river when canoeing or kayaking with local business Canoe Trail. Whether I’m on a stand up paddle board, training with Viking Kayak Club or leading school groups on the river I simply love it. Tributaries of the Great Ouse and a few secret locations offer white water play and wild swimming.   


Ridge walk

The Greensands Ridge is Bedfordshire’s longest walk at 40 miles and with many different points of interest. It starts by the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard, passes through the impressive Woburn Estate, and winds its way along woodland trails. It also provides panoramic views of Cardington Airship Hangers, one of which is owned by Warner Brothers. The mid-way point on the trail is the Clophill Heritage Project with brand new eco-lodges and a viewing tower from the restored ancient church - well worth a side visit.


On your bike

There are many cycling routes through Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire with trails such as National Route 51 starting in Oxford and linking to the North Sea Cycle Route. Dual slalom MTB action can be found at Chicksands Bike park and there are plenty of woodland rides around Woburn Sands and Marston Vale Forest Centre. In the South of Bedfordshire is Leighton Buzzard, a designated Cycling Town. You can also take to a bike on long sections of the Greensands Ridge and alongside some of the River Great Ouse.