Best in BEDfordshire

Best in Bed(fordshire) is restricted to the River Great Ouse. Its the main river in the county and flows quite near to where Digger lives. Despite the fact it flows through Milton Keynes and Newport Pagnell it is a “wild” swimmers paradise.


River Great Ouse (Clapham)

(a THREE  TRUNK  location)

Location

At the southern end of the village of Clapham (c. 1km north of Bedford). Park in the car park of the Horse and Groom (or any nearby side road) and take the track called Ford End c. 300m to south of pub. Walk 20m and you reach the river because there is a ford! There are good stretches of deep water to the north and a rope swing to the south of the ford. Not sure why its taken me so long to find this spot!

Grid ref

TL 034/523

Features

Easy parking, easy access and nearby pub.

Hazards

None really (probably should mention swans and that it does get shallow very quickly near the ford).

Date of swims

  • First: summery 2005
  • Last: May 2019


River Great Ouse (at Felmersham Bridge)

(FOUR TRUNK location and that’s me being very mean!)

2022 UPDATE: very busy on hot days


Location

By the bridge at Felmersham, near to the Church (approx 9 miles north of Bedford). If you swim downstrean or upstream of bridge its usually quieter!

Grid Ref

SP990/578

Features

Shallow and deep water, “arch swimming”, “bridge” jumping (with extreme care) and the ability to park next to the location (record entry time is 6 seconds from parking to entry into river). Nearby pub “The Sun” good for beer (but rubbish for veggie food) is only 5mins walk away.

Hazards

Locals generally friendly but can get fed up if people park badly and leave rubbish (sadly this has been quite common). Fishermen can be hostile on the downstream stretch if they are “doing their thing”. Watch out if you are swimming by the bridge as it has been known for occasional projectiles to be thrown into the river from passing cars (they can’t actually see you and presumably think the river is a litter bin!).

Date of Swims

  • Summer 1996
  • Last: ongoing (2022)

River Great Ouse (at “Felmersham Bend”, approx. halfway between Sharnbrook and Felmersham)

(A former FOUR TRUNK location but which has been downgraded to TWO TRUNK as access not good at the moment due to undergrowth and difficulty getting out of the river etc)

2022 UPDATE: still a reasonable spot for a swim but increasingly “tricky” to get out!!

Location

In-between the villages of Sharnbrook and Felmersham (approx 8 miles north of Bedford).

Grid Ref

SP993/582

Features

Reasonably deep water and you can find slow or slow currents depending on what you prefer. There is good shade from trees and good stretches of swimming water. Also for a spot only 5m from a public footpath its surprisingly secluded!!

Hazards

Increasingly difficult to access due to river side undergrowth. Also, can be tricky to get out so save some energy incase you need to use alot of your reserves to get out or swim to another exit.

Date of Swims

  • First swim: summer 1996
  • Last swim: July 2022

River Great Ouse (at Odell Mill)

(2020 UPATE: This was once a FIVE TRUNK location, but sadly now is a NO TRUNKS location- some nasty people erected a substantial fence a decade or so ago which hinders access for swimmers (anglers have their own gate). 

Location

Immediately behind the Bell pub in Odell village (c. 9km north of Bedford)

Grid Ref

SP966/576

Features

Shallow and deep water, easy parking, fast flowing water and the pub.

Hazards

The pub can be a hazard (please visit it AFTER your swim, you know it makes sense). “Bizzy bodies” telling you that you should’t be swimming in a river!

Date of Swims

  • First: summer 1997
  • Last: September 2011

River Great Ouse (at Red Barn nr Daisy Bank)

(This was once a FOUR TRUNK location but is now a ONE TRUNK location as the river bank is so overgrown that access is nearly impossible)

Location

There is a 1km stretch where a footpath is directly adjacent to the river. This is c. 100m from the road between the villages of Felmersham and Carlton near Daisy Bank (a dog kennel you will hear!). If you pick your time right (no anglers and vegetation low) there are plenty of spots to access the river. At worst, there are usually two spots that I give grid references for where access is ok (but not necessarily great).

Grid Ref

SP981/577 (to East) and SP975/577 (nearer Red Barn)

Features

Both swim spots feature shallow and deep water, easy parking and at the western one there use to be what appeared to be diving boards (see photo), but this has now gone!

Hazards

Fishermen can be hostile and Swans are always hostile (or is that the other way round!).

Date of Swims

  • First: summer 1996
  • Last: summer 2020 (thats if  you can call it a swim!)

River Great Ouse (at Pinchmill Islands nr Sharnbrook)

(This was once a FIVE TRUNK location but got downgraded due to difficult access so its currently a THREE TRUNK location)

2022 UPDATE: The annual duckweed coverage has arrived meaning that while you can still swim you will get out as green as the incredible hulk

Location

0.5 km south of Sharnbrook (approx 8 miles north of Bedford)

Grid Ref

SP996/588

Features

Shallow and deep water, fresh running water input (although this has usually stopped by mid summer) and small weir under the foot bridge for exciting sounds (and swimming). Use to have adjacent attractive grass area for sun bathing (but only available when cut which rarely occurs these days). Access is variable due to overgrown banks but has been good in 2020.

 

[There is a nearby swim spot that I view as being allocated to the local youth. Details only available on the Dark Web version of this site (joke)]

Hazards

Access has changed over the years so the best “way in” currently is via the bridge or one of the fishing spots (watch out for hooks and wire).

Current status: Water flow is “just ok” after the recent rain and no swans this year

Date of  Swims

  • First: summer 1996
  • Last: ongoing (2022)

River Great Ouse (Radwell)

(a TWO TRUNK location, higher if you are a trainspotter!!)

Location

Walk along the footpath upstream of Radwell. The are only really a couple of “easy” access (and therefore all important exit) points to the river.  The best swim is probably next to the railway bridge.

Grid Ref

TL 008/570

Features

Great for trainspotters (I would imagine!!)

Hazards

I guess there is a 1 in a billion chance that one of the trains will come off the bridge! Also the current can be quite strong downsteam of the bridge. But other than that watch out for fishermen and Canadian Geese. Neither are necessarily friendly.

Date of Swims

  • First: summer 1996
  • Last: August 2020

River Great Ouse (at Hollow Farm nr Milton Ernest)

(A ONE TRUNK location as access is increasingly difficult)
!!! PHOTO AVAILABLE ON REQUEST !!!

Location

Approx 0.5km north of Milton Ernest adjacent to the A6. Park by the entrance to the sewage works (!) and follow footpath or just hop over fence.

Grid Ref

SP017/572

Features

Reasonable flow of water, but its main merits are that it is approx 1m walk from the A6 (but hidden from it).

Hazards

The only one of worthy of a mention are the large number of biting insects, that assuming that you go upstream of the Sewage Works!!).

Date of Swims

  • First: summer 1996
  • Last: May 2022

River Great Ouse (near Pavenham)

(A FOUR TRUNK location)


Location

Take the footpath that goes south of Pavenham towards Stevington. A good swim spot is just before the “muddy area” (understatement) to the north of Tuckers Islands.

Grid Ref

TL 983/548

Features

Shallow and deep water, good place for a clean (of self and clothes) if you got stuck in the mud.

Hazards

The cows looked interested in our clothes but they never stole them.

Date of swims

  • FIRST SWIM: Summer 1996.
  • LAST SWIM: July 2022

River Great Ouse (on Biddenham Loop)

(A FOUR TRUNK location.)

Location

Theres a river walk on the east bank (Biddenham Loop side) from which access is relatively easy. I used a fishermans area just opposite Kempston Box End.

Grid Ref

TL 003/492

Features

Good stretches of deep water and the knowledge that people have lived next to the river here for 10,000 years (buy the book “Prehistoric and Romano-British landscape at Biddenham Loop”, when it come out).

Hazards

Watch out for fishing line and hooks (AND anglers) as this is a popular stretch of river for fishing.

Date of Last Swim

August 2006


River Great Ouse (at The Embankment, Bedford)

(A real TWO TRUNK location.)

Location

Centre of Bedford with best access from the road called The Embankment.

Grid Ref

SP055/494

Features

Handy for last minute High Street shopping especially cheap towels from Wilkinsons (should you have forgotten!). There is also an hotel called The Embankment which has a bar which is fine for ordinary people to go in.

Hazards

I suppose it would be negligent to mention the deaths and the deep cuts on legs from “underwater obstructions” (usually shopping trolleys). Best to go in under the cover of  the bi-annual raft-race (see photo above).

Date of Last Swim

Early July 2002

 


 

River Ivel, Langford Mill, nr Biggleswade

(THREE TRUNK  location)

Location

Take road (possibly called Mill Road) off B659 in centre of village of same name. At end of the road you are at the mill and there is even soom adjacent parking.

Grid ref

TL 183/413

Features

Put simply. You can park you car and be in the water in 30 seconds. There is deep and shallow water. There is slow and fast water (subject to time of year). Apparently Zoe (a Swim the Door veteran) has swam here and although she showed me the place I have never actually seen her in the water…………….

Hazards

Be careful near the mill as the water can be fast and there are some underwater obstacles (possibly concrete!)

Date of swims

  • First: summer 2012
  • Last: summer 2019