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How to get there

Click here for details about how to get to the Forest Centre

You can of course get the train to Bedford St Johns from elsewhere (click here for timetables) or park in Bedford and walk the route. Bedford is easily accessible by road from the M1 junction 13 and along the A421, or from the A6. There's a park and ride just off the A6, outside of town.

Start/finish points

The Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine, MK43 0PR (to get the train)

Or Bedford St Johns Station

Explorer Maps 192, 193 & 207


6.5 miles


Surface types – Ranging from hard and firm, with and without stones.

Linear gradient – Steepest linear gradient is 1:6

Barriers – There are kissing gates at the Millennium Country Park

Cross falls - Between 1:10 and 1:15.

Steps - At Bedford St Johns Station.

Route description

1 - From the Forest Centre follow the brick paved path towards the car park to the kissing gate & horse stile opposite the roundabout. From the kissing gate turn left onto the surfaced track to the zebra crossing & continue ahead following the perimeter path to Millbrook Station.  Take the train from Millbrook Station to Bedford St Johns. Cyclists are permitted to use the train (please note, there is no Sunday service)

Leave the train station by the stairs and turn left down Ampthill Road heading for Bedford Town Centre and the large roundabout.  Take care when crossing the roundabout and take the third exit called Rope Walk signed (A5140) using the left hand footway.  Follow Rope Walk to the next roundabout and take the second exit into the gravel car park, following signs to Bedford Town Centre and Priory Country Park to the cycleway bridge over the Great River Ouse. 

2 - At bridge turn right and follow Sustrans Route 51 cycleway signs to Priory Country Park and Sandy with the river to your left.  Continue along the surfaced path alongside the river passing under the Longholme Road Bridge to a junction with a bridge to your left but you should bear right and then immediately left following signs to Priory Country Park and Sandy. Cross over 2 more bridges and continue along path walking past Priory Marina until you come to the access road for Priory Country Park which has a visitor centre and toilets. 

3 - Cross the access road and bear right then immediately left still following Sustrans 51 signs to Willington & Sandy to a series of former railway bridges that once carried trains from Oxford and Cambridge.  This section might be rich in aromas as you will now be passing Anglian Water’s sewage works.  Continue ahead passing beneath railway bridge where the path will then open out into an arable landscape with the busy A421 bypass and overbridge ahead of you.  If you can stand the noise of the traffic, take a minute to look at the surrounding landscape which has recently been restored after years of mineral extraction but is still rich in archaeology some of which are scheduled ancient monuments. Interpretation boards are just ahead that will explain the abundance of heritage evidence that lies buried beneath the soil.

4 - Cross over the bridge to the series of interpretation boards and continue along the surfaced Sustrans Route still following signs for Willington and Sandy. The fields to your left and right were recently planted with native trees that include ash, willow, birch, oak and hazel. Continue ahead and turn left just before the access road following signs to the Riverside Path and access the Grange Estate.  The Grange Estate was purchased by the Marston Vale Trust in 2006 and forms part of Bedford River Valley Park (BRVP) which will create a park consisting of wet woodland, grassland, open water, public access and areas dedicated to habitat and wildlife conservation.  Once completed BRVP will be bigger than Hyde Park and Central Park!

5 - Follow the surface path along the boundary of the Grange Estate taking care when crossing internal tracks that become muddy during prolonged periods of rain.  The path runs parallel with the A421 road for a short section before it fades away and you now have the Great River Ouse as company to your left.  Watch out for kingfishers on the river! Halfway round the Grange Estate you will come to a junction where you can either continue to follow the surfaced path alongside the river to Danish Camp or you can cross through the middle of the Grange Estate and rejoin the Sustrans Route 51 Cycleway at the end of Church End,  Willington and pick up signs back to Bedford or Sandy.  Please see the map as the middle route will shorten your journey by a mile but a visit to the Danish Camp is recommended! 

6 - Continue walking alongside the river until you come to a series of pylons and a small woodland called Bulge Wood and a short circular walk through the trees and over a back channel that was created as a refuge for fish during flood events and shelter for spawning fish.  Past the pylons and follow the path round site with views to your right of the grassland and Dovecote Lake that is home to anglers and wildfowl and was created as part of the restoration of the site after mineral extraction.  The path continues round the site and leads to a bridge over the Elstow Brook with a pond dipping platform close by before exiting the Grange Estate at a junction with the Sustrans Route 51 cycleway where if you turn left you can visit Danish Camp or if you turn right then you will be heading back to Bedford. 

7 - From Danish Camp you can either turn left and continue walking to Blunham and Sandy or turn right and start your journey back to Bedford following the Sustrans Route 51 signs.  Willington Village is worth a visit with an abundance of listed buildings that include the 16th Century Dovecote and Stables located at Church End.  To get back to Bedford, the Sustrans Route 51 cycleway can be accessed from either Danish Camp or at the end of Church End. Once back to your original entrance point into the Grange Estate then simply retrace your steps back to Bedford St Johns Station. 

Pit stops/points of interest

There are toilets and benches at the Forest Centre, and toilets at Priory Country Park.

The Forest Centre

The Crown

Danish Camp


Forest Volunteers

Central Bedfordshire Council

Bedford Borough Council

The British Horse Society

Funded by Natural England as part of the Paths for Communities Project