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)

(FIVE  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 swim

25th August 2013

River Great Ouse (at Felmersham Bridge)

(Only really a FOUR TRUNK location.)


Location

By the bridge at Felmersham, next to the Church (approx 9 miles north of Bedford). I prefer downstreen of bridge as upstream can be quite popular!

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).

Hazards

Dog walkers and fishermen can be hostile. Occasion projectiles from passing cars (they can’t actually see you and presumably think the river is a litter bin!).

Date of Last Swim

August 2015


River Great Ouse (at Felmersham Bend nr Felmersham)

(A FOUR TRUNK location which gives access to good swimming lengths of the River Great Ouse)

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 changes in the river bank and undergrowth. Last year several swans  developed a fondness for this spot which is unfortunate as they don’t always appear overly friendly.

Current status: You can still access it from one of the fishing points but watch out for hooks (also be aware that it can be difficult to get out as the water level drops over the summer!). Swans staying upstream at the moment.

Date of Last Swim

June 2017


River Great Ouse (at Odell Mill)

(This was once a FIVE TRUNK location, but some nasty people have erected a substantial fence which hinders access for swimmers and anglers. The GOOD NEWS is that you can now access the pool from the new footbridge!!)

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 Last Swim

September 2011


River Great Ouse (at Red Barn nr Daisy Bank)

(Get in there at the right time and this is a FOUR TRUNK location)

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 Last Swim

October  2011


River Great Ouse (at Pinchmill Islands nr Sharnbrook)

(The former mill pool associated with the River Great Ouse to one side of the Island is a real FIVE TRUNK location.)

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), small weir for exciting sounds (and swimming) and use to have adjacent attractive grass area for sun bathing (but only available when cut which seems to only occur very rarely these days).

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: still largely clear of duck weed (which over the summer will eventually completely cover the open water), but a swan has made a nest on the little island so BEWARE!!

Date of Last Swim

April 2017


River Great Ouse (Radwell)

(A FOUR TRUNK location, higher for trainspotters!!)

Location

Walk along the footpath upstream of Radwell. The best swim is 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! But other than that watch out for fishermen and Canadian Geese. Neither are necessarily friendly.

Date of Last Swim

22nd July 2006


River Great Ouse (at Hollow Farm nr Milton Ernest)

(A real THREE TRUNK location.)
!!! 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 Last Swim

29th May 2003


River Great Ouse (near Pavenham)

(A TWO TRUNK location.)

Location

Take the footpath that goes south of Pavenham towards Stevington. The swim is just before the footbridge over a field ditch to the north of Tuckers Islands.

Grid Ref

TL 983/548

Features

Shallow and deep water, Osier Beds, cows….

Hazards

Quite a few patches of weeds so don’t go and panic if you feel something stroking your leg…. The cows looked interested in our clothes but they never stole them.

Date of Last Swim

August 2006


River Great Ouse (on Biddenham Loop)

(A real 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 swim

29th July 2012