This is the ideal canoe and camping trip for those short on time or simply keen to leave city life behind on a Friday night.
We will collect you from Bedford Train Station on Friday evening and whisk you away to Matchstick Wood, where you will get your own private clearing in the woodland, complete with long drop loo, log store and most importantly campfire, to sit round under the starry night sky. Once you’ve pitched your tent, the stresses of work will seem a long way away. You will have you boat ready on site for the following day, so you can get on the water and enjoy some time with nature.
We will collect you from Bedford Train Station and transport you and your kit to Matchstick Wood, just a few miles outside of Bedford. We will help you get your kit to your own woodland clearing and show you around Matchstick Wood, before introducing you to your canoe for the following day. You will be given bank tuition so you are ready for you paddling adventure.
You can setup your camp, by choosing where to pitch your tent, having a look at the long drop loo and getting used to the exhilarating idea of a ‘loo with a view’ around your own secluded bit of woodland. Once the campfire is roaring, the beers/ wine are cooling in the brook; it’s time for some dinner. Whether you have packed your own or you are visiting the nearby café or pub, the evening will be rounded off by sitting under the starry night sky, with your fairy light tree adding the finishing touch and perhaps catching a glimpse of our resident owls.
After a refreshing night’s sleep (hopefully our resident deer hasn’t woken you by barking at your tent) you can get the breakfast cooking over the campfire, before packing up your tent. With all your kit packed, you are ready to hit the river. You will put your kit in the dry bags provided, put on your Buoyancy Aid and grab a paddle before hopping into your canoe and paddling downstream on Elstow Brook, where you will join the main river and turn LEFT to head upstream.
After a few hundred metres, you will pass under the quarry bridge; the riverbanks here are heavily reeded and teaming with wildlife. You are paddling around the Grange Country Estate, with lots of footpaths and cycle routes so you are likely to see people enjoying the river from the bank. You will pass some log cabins on your right before the river meanders around some meadows, arriving at Castle Mill Lock. Your portage is on the left, where there is a specially lowered pontoon to help you exit the boat. Once out carry you kit first (it’s much easier to carry an empty boat) up the path keeping the Lock on your right then through the wooden gate to the steps marking the ‘put on’ point. You will then reach Cardington Lock, marking the end of your journey.
As you approach the Lock, there is a smaller waterway on your right, paddle up this to the portage point. Once you are on dry land, carry the boat and your kit over the little bridge spanning the Lock and over the next bridge spanning the Weir to the metal gate outside the carpark, where we will pick you up and drop you back to the train station, completing your mini adventure. The river on this stretch is wide and you will shortly be passing Priory County Park and Nature Reserve on your right, before passing under a road bridge and finally reaching the large inlet on your right, where you will finish your journey by getting out on the right hand side (if you make it to a weir across the river, you have gone slightly too far).
Day 1: Collection from Bedford Train Station and dropped off at Matchstick Wood with canoe
Day 2: 2.5 miles Matchstick Wood to Cardington Lock in canoes 2.5 hrs (1 portage)
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