Chiltern Hills

Ivinghoe Beacon from Pitsone Hill
Ivinghoe Beacon from Pitsone Hill by Ian Petticrew - (CC2)

The Chiltern Hills run through the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and have been rightfully designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The stretch of the Chiltern Hills that run through Bedfordshire are believed to be the delectable Mountains of Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'. Access to the 'Chiltern Way', a meandering circular route that runs through the hills for 172 miles (275 km), can be found south of Dunstable on the Dunstable Downs. Parking (Free to NT Members) and route information is provided at the Chilterns Gateway Centre (Dunstable Road, Whipsnade, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2GY). Other walks through the Chilterns include the Ridgeway (starting at Ivinghoe) and the Icknield Way Path.

Cardington Sheds

Located near Cardington Village, just south of Bedford, home of the Whitbread family of brewers. The two giant hangers were built in 1915 by the Short Brothers to manufacture and house large airships, that were once thought to be the future of commercial flying, prior to the great R101 disaster in October 1930. The Short Brothers also built a housing estate, opposite the site, named Shortstown.

The site is not open to the public but the hangers can be viewed from the A600 near Shortstown.

Shortstown, Eastcotts, Bedford Borough, MK42 0 - View location map (in new window)

Elstow Moot Hall

Elstow Moot Hall This ancient timber-framed market hall, located on the edge of Elstow village green, was once the meeting place of the followers of John Bunyan. It was originally built to serve the adjacent Elstow Abbey (of which only the church remains), and is now a museum filled with period furniture and interesting exhibits depicting life in 17th century England.

Opening times: Apr~Sep, Sat 1pm to 4pm
Small Admission Charge
Location: Moot Hall, Church End, Elstow, Bedford, MK42 9XT Website
Facilities: Parking nearby

English School of Falconry Bird of Prey & Conservation centre

Owl in flight The centre is home to one of the largest collections of birds of prey in the UK, housing over 200 birds, including various species of owls, hawks, eagles and falcons.

There are three flying displays daily; 11.30am - Owls of the world, 1.30pm - Birds of the world and 3.30pm - Birds of the world. Each display is different and lasts approximately 30 minutes. After the 11.30am and 3.30pm displays customers have the opportunity to handle a bird, take photos or ask the falconers any questions they may have. After the 1.30pm display customers are able to have a go at flying an owl or hawk.

Opening times: open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm (exc. Dec 24th, 25th and 26th, 31st and January 1st)
Admission Charge
Location: Herrings Green Farm, Cotton End Road, Wilstead, Bedfordshire, MK45 3DT
Tel: 01234 742362 or 01234 742766 - Email: - Website
Facilities: Free car park, tea room, picnic area and gift shop.

Houghton House

Said to be the inspiration for John Bunyan's 'House Beautiful' but is now just a forlorn ruin. It was built in the 17th century for Mary, Dowager Countess of Pembroke but was abandoned some 200 years ago. Run by English Heritage.

Opening times: Open at all reasonable times Free Entry
Location: Hazelwood Lane, Ampthill, MK45 2EZ - Tel: 0870 333 1181 - Website
Facilities: Parking

Jordans Mill

Jordans MillLocated on the banks of the beautiful River Ivel. The family behind the Jordans Cereals brand has restored and preserved this grade listed Victorian mill, which has been in the family for over 150 years. The Flour Mill was revolutionary for its time and is a great example of the industrial revolution in action. Visitors can walk around the interpretation side of the mill and explore the riverside landscaped gardens.

Opening times: daily 9am to 5pm Admission Charge
Location: Holme Mills, Langford Rd, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, SG18 9JX - Tel: 01767 603 940 - Website
Facilities: Purpose-built visitor centre, Mill Shop & Riverside Cafe (serving locally-sourced food).

Leighton Buzzard Railway

Visitors can take a 70 minute journey on this fascinating light steam railway, running on tracks laid down circa 1919, to transport sand and materials from local quarries. A regular steam passenger service is operated by volunteers and special events days are provided throughout the year.

Opening times: times and services vary see website for details Admission Charge
Location: Pages Park Station, Billington Rd, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 4TN - Tel: 01525 373888 - Website
Facilities: Parking, cafe, toilets, shop

The Shuttleworth Collection

Model Aircraft Biplane A unique collection of over 50 historic aircraft, biplanes and Edwardian "Flying Machines", housed in the old hangars of a classic grass aerodrome, on the plains of Bedfordshire. Many of the aircraft have been restored to working order and partake in regular flying displays during the summer months. Exhibits include a Bleriot XI and a WWII Spitfire. Other exhibits include vintage automobiles, tractors, carriages and cycles.

Opening times: Nov – Feb (Half term), 10.00 – 16.00, Feb (Half term) – Oct, 9.30 – 17.00 Admission Charge
Location: Old Warden Park, Old Warden, SG18 9EP - Tel: 01767 627927 - Website
Facilities: Parking, café, shop, outdoor picnic area

Swiss Garden

Swiss Cottage in Shuttleworth GardenPart of the Shuttleworth Collection

This unique and beautiful nine-acre landscaped garden consists of fine lawns, sheltered by tall trees and under planted with mature shrubs. A waterfall of flowers can be seen in summer, and all year round interest is provided, with spring bulb displays, rhododendrons, camellias and other flowering shrubs. A myriad of gravel pathways wind through the trees and over quaint little bridges, across the ponds and streams, in this quintessentially romantic setting. The garden contains many follies and statues, with a secret grotto in the centre and a Swiss style chalet rising above the evergreen shrubs and conifers.

Opening times: Nov – Feb (Half term), 10.00 – 16.00, Feb (Half term) – Oct, 9.30 – 17.00 Admission Charge
Location: Old Warden Park, Old Warden, SG18 9EP - Tel: 01767 627927 - Website
Facilities: Parking, café, shop, outdoor picnic area

Whipsnade Wild Animal Park

Feeding a Giraffe

One of Britain's largest wildlife conservation parks and home to the Zoological Society of London. Set in 600 acres of beautiful parkland, amongst the rolling Chiltern Hills, the park is home to more than 2,500 rare and exotic animals, including may endangered species. Visitors can walk around or take the Jumbo Express to see Lions, Cheetah, Meerkats, Antelope, Elephants, Rhino, Hippo, Giraffe, Zebra, Flamingos, Bears, Bison, Reindeer, Monkeys and much more.

Book Tickets Online: Attractiontix
Opening times:
Open daily from 10am, closing times vary (closed 25 Dec) - Admission Charge
Location: Whipsnade, LU6 2LF - Tel: 01582872171 - Website
Facilities: Parking, shop, café, outdoor picnic areas

Woburn Abbey

Woburn Abbey House The ancestral seat of the Russell family since 1539, and later the Dukes of Bedford. The monastic-style buildings, set in a beautiful 3,000 acre deer park, were turned into a palatial country mansion in the 15th century. The Abbey is now open the public and boasts some of the finest collections of gold, silver and porcelain, plus a large art collection with paintings by Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Van Dyck.

Opening times: times vary, see website for details Admission Charge
Location: Woburn, MK17 9WA - Tel: 01525290333 - Website
Facilities: Parking, café, shop, licensed restaurant, outdoor picnic area

Woburn Safari Park

Giraffe Enjoy a safari tour around one of the best Safari Parks in Britain and observe the beauty of wild animals in a more natural habitat from the safety of your own car. Attractions include a Foot Safari (walk through enclosure), Treetops Action Trail, Swan Boats, the Great Woburn Railway and an all weather indoor soft play area.

Opening times: Mar to Nov: 10am to 5pm, Nov to Mar: 11am to 3pm
Admission Charge

Location: Woburn, MK17 9QN - Tel: 01525 290407 - Website
Facilities: Parking, café, shop, licensed restaurant, indoor and outdoor picnic areas

Wrest Park Gardens

Chinese BridgeFine architectural and historic gardens, representing 150 years of garden design. The formal layout is centred around an early 18th century pavilion designed by Thomas Archer. The gardens have been developed over the years with the addition of an Orangery, an Italian Garden and a Parterre, lined with impressive 19th century statues.

Opening times: times vary see website for details
Admission Charge

Location: Silsoe, Luton, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR - Tel: 01525 860152 - Website
Facilities: Parking

Towns and Villages in Bedfordshire

Ampthill, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Elstow, Luton, Leighton Buzzard, Sandy, Woburn

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Please note that the above information was accurate at the time this page was last updated. This information is subject to change at any time (opening times in particular), therefore if you plan on visiting any of the above attractions, please check the owner's website first or phone them for the latest details.


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