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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilites available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decision to leave the house!

Kayaking fun with Canoe Trail


The summer holidays are almost upon us, and if you're like me you’re desperately trying to find a couple of different activities just to get a change of scenery after lockdown! 

One which we really enjoyed recently was Canoe Trail up in Bedford.  

At only a 45 minute drive (up the M1) it was easy to get to, and relatively easy for parking – just park on a nearby road which, when we went, was free.  It was then a very quick 5 minutes stroll to where we could pick up the canoes on the side of the River Great Ouse.  At the moment there are no toilets open (and I’m not sure if there are normally), but plenty of places for an outdoor nature wee if needed! 

There are various hire options, but we chose a Canoe for two (and big enough to store some dry clothes and a picnic in the bottom) and three single kayaks.  The kids (aged 10, 12 and 13) all opted for the kayaks and were perfectly able to keep up with us, despite only having kayaked once or twice before.  A few safety instructions and general guidance and we were off!


I admit I was a little dubious as to how peaceful it would be starting near the centre of Bedford, but it really was.  Especially once you got a little bit further along the river – it was absolutely beautiful.  Much to my son’s delight we saw a kingfisher and numerous other birds.  And apparently otters can sometimes be seen playing in the water.  (Gutted not to have seen them but gives us a good reason to go back and try again!)

We hired the kayaks and canoe from about 10am (we weren’t quite organised enough to get there for the start at 9.30am) until 2.30pm and were able to get quite a long way before finding somewhere to stop for a picnic on the river bank.  In that time we only came to one lock, and it was very easy to just pop the canoe and kayaks out at the designated spot and walk them a tiny distance across the grass and then to pop them back in the water just past the lock. 

After lunch we headed back the way we had come, which was a little bit harder with the wind against us, but still lovely.  We were able to swap around in the canoes and kayaks so that smaller arms could be rested by sharing (?!) the paddling in the two person canoe.

We had taken swimming stuff and changes of clothes, but luckily no one fell in and no one chose to swim.  But that option is there for anyone that fancies it!

At the end we were able to grab an ice cream from a café and sit and watch the geese and swans before heading home.

All in all a lovely day out, and all in the great outdoors with no need to venture into any enclosed spaces.  Perfect!  (And I’ve noticed they also have an option for a riverside woodland paddle with an overnight camping trip too – that is now definitely on my future to do list!)


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