Only available for large groups 5 Hours
From £49

This is the perfect river trip for those who want to spend the day exploring some of the River Ouse. The starting point is Bedford Embankment, with pick up at the Anchor Inn at Great Barford.

Available March - October. A-B, so you can paddle downriver the whole way. Pack a picnic and even some swimming togs to make the most out of your day on the river, with a cold beer at the end!
Choose from canoes, kayaks and paddleboards when booking
Start 10:00 am and finish at 15:00
  • Craft
  • Buoyancy Aid
  • Dry Bag
  • River Bank Instruction
  • Basic Map
Grade 0: This means it is a flat paddle and should be within most people’s abilities.

Sunny Day on the River in Kayaks and Canoes

Route Description

You can set a leisurely pace, all you have to do is be at the pub by a 15:00. With the flexibility that this trip brings, you can pull over almost anywhere along the riverbank for a picnic game or even a swim to make the most of your day. This river trip is fantastic for a manageable river journey, at a leisurely pace. It starts on Bedford’s Victorian Embankment at a local café before heading off to explore Bedfordshire’s rural countryside by canoe or kayak or SUP. The river banks are teeming with wildlife with birds of prey, herons, the occasional grass snake, and flitting electric blue kingfishers. Dogs are always welcome - if you have a particularly large K9 friend, please give us a call and we can provide you with a wider boat to give you all the best chance of staying dry!

This paddle will begin from Longholme Island at the Boating Lake and Café, which is situated on the stunning Victorian Embankment in Bedford. You will see the site of the Victorian Boat Slide when you start, now converted into a water turbine for generating green electricity. Once on the water, your journey will take you downstream on the lower river, passing a little island (you can pass it on either side), before passing under the road and pedestrian bridge, about 500 metres from the start. On warm days people often report seeing turtles sunbathing in the trailing branches of the Willows on this stretch of water.

As you pass under the old railway bridge you will see the ‘Pyramids of Bedford’, which houses the Oasis Swimming Pool. 400 metres later you will see the New Cut (waterway) branch off the main river on your left. The access to this bit of water is restricted. As you round a bend in the river you will see the entrance to Priory Marina (housing some beautiful narrow and wide beam boats as well as one of George Clarkes Amazing Spaces creations). The river then opens onto a long (500 metres) straight wide stretch, a hotspot for swans and geese.

As you make your way around the bend on your right there are large moorings and waterfront gardens. You will see a small weir on your left shortly followed by the Barns Hotel on your right and then a larger weir on your left which marks the Cardington Artificial Slalom Course, a white water feature. Continuing down the river a few hundred yards is a river lock and sluices. You will see large green buoys across the river, marking Cardington Lock, paddle up to them and there is a portage area on your left (with an upturned canoe sign).

Continuing upriver you will pass Bedford River Valley Park on both sides of the river, a beautiful spot to look out for wildlife of all kinds. As you go round the corner you will get glimpses of the lakes and woodland of The Grange Estate for a full hour of paddling, before you get to Danish Camp riverside bar and restaurant for another opportunity for a get-out, ice cream and a beer. Look out for their resident barn owl Ozzie!

From Danish Camp, there is one short portage around a weir, followed by a beautiful meandering stretch of wooded banks and fields, before you reach Great Barford Bridge. In good weather, you will see teenagers jumping from the bridge and a bustling bank of locals enjoying the river and the sunshine. Here you will haul up onto the bank and enjoy the rays and any libations from the pub while you wait for your ride!


Frequently Asked Questions

Why can't I select a date to book?
We run many activities throughout the season (April to October). If a date is unavailable then unfortunately it is fully booked.
What's the difference between a kayak and a canoe?
If you're not sure of what each craft is, then read our guide here.
Are the trips guided?
There are no guides or instructors needed for hire. This is simply a hire where you paddle out and back to our launch point. We recommend our preferred route, however, you are free-range and able to explore the river.
What if it rains?
Unless you hear from us then your booking will run on the day agreed. Canoe Trail runs watersports, paddling, and adventurous activities throughout the year with people enjoying the river and our woodland campsite during the different seasons. On rare occasions (it only happens a couple of times a year) we may move or change your booking. This will be in freak weather conditions such as extremely high river flows in spate or during heavy storms with lightning. You can read our full FAQ here.
How does the booking process work?
We use a live booking system that will assign you the relevant craft and resources. Once you have confirmed your booking date, it is not then transferable and non-refundable in the same way you book an airline seat. Bookings are to be paid in full at the time of booking and are non-refundable. There will be no refunds for early returns, poor weather, or non-usage as per our general terms & conditions.

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