Available Weekends 1 Hour
From £19
Couple in a Canoe

The perfect short trip for those who want a later start to the day. Adventure along a quintessential peaceful English river, full of wildlife ready for you to spot. Choose from kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards.

Summary
Out and back trip, so you can go as far or as little as you like.
Highlight
Very popular with beginners. Scenic and easy route to Cardington Lock and back.
Timings
When booking, choose between the following time slots - 10:00, 11:15 pm, 12:30 or 14:00
Included
  • Craft
  • Buoyancy Aid
  • Dry Bag
  • River Bank Instruction
  • Basic Map

Whether you are looking for a leisurely lily dip or more of a workout, this trip can be whatever you make it, as you are free-range! If this is your first time on the river, this is the ideal trip for you. Perfect for those with young children, or perhaps you want to see if your 4 legged friend will enjoy a trip before you try something for the whole day or even a canoe and camp trip. The route is up to 4 miles long and will take around 90 mins. We have a range of canoes, kayaks, or SUPs available for hire on this route. The recommended route to Cardington Lock is a peaceful and fun paddle down a stunning wide river. We provide a simple and easy-to-read map and a waterproof dry bag for your belongings. Highly popular among friends, couples, families, and groups.


Route Description

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. You are now paddling on a loop around the Priory Country Park, which is a popular green space and lake.

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). Once you have lifted your boats out of the water you have a chance to stretch your legs and have a picnic on the riverbank. When you have refuelled, put the boats back on the water and make your way upstream, finishing back the Archimedes Screw (water turbine) inlet.


Common 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.