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Rivers and waterways

River Great Ouse 

The River Great Ouse which runs through Bedford is often described as the Jewel in our Crown. 

Historically, it supplied the power to grind corn at Duckmill and Newnham, and also provided invaluable trade links to the Wash on the North Seas. 

From Victorian times, the river Embankment has been enjoyed as a promenade with its tree lined avenues and green spaces. 

Today, the Great Ouse supplies power once again at the Hydro Power Plant, on the site of the former Bedford Boat Slide close to the School Boathouse. 

The River Great Ouse hosts a wide range of events and activities for people to spectate or take part in. Download the full list of events for 2018 (PDF). 

Bedford River Festival 

Held every two years, our River Festival is one of the largest free outdoor events in the UK. The festival next takes place next in July 2020. 

Bedford River Valley Park 

Bedford River Valley Park is an ambitious regeneration project to create a vast new country park for Bedfordshire. 

It will span 868 hectares (2,145 acres) and form a natural link between Bedford and the wider countryside around the village of Willington. 

Bedford River Valley Park already has some high-quality wildlife habitats and leisure facilities, but the vision for the future is to expand the recreational activities on offer, and increase the numbers of wildlife inhabiting the area. 

This ongoing development has been commissioned by the Marston Vale Trust on behalf of Bedford Borough Council with funding from the Government’s Growth Areas Fund.