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What’s next?

Hope Construction Ltd. are currently quarrying at Dairy Farm which is located to the north of the River where sand and gravel was brought back for processing at the Grange Estate plant, using a temporary bridge.

The Grange Estate

This 300 acre estate, at the heart of the River Valley Park was bought by the Marston Vale Trust in spring 2006.
The land has had a recent history marked by dramatic change. It was known  locally as ’Matchstick Wood’ after the plantations of poplars, created by  Bryant & May in the middle of the 20th Century and designed for use in the match industry. These trees reached maturity, but were not used for that purpose since the industry subsequently moved to Scandinavia.

In the 1980s, much of the area was quarried for sand and gravel, an activity that caused a great deal of disturbance, much of which has been restored to agriculture and lakes.

At the heart of Bedford River Valley Park

The fact that the Grange Estate is now owned by the Marston Vale Trust means that we can say with a great deal of certainty that this will form one of the first parts of the new Park. What it eventually looks like and what you will be able to do there in the future are questions that have been decided in principle by the publication of the Framework Document in April 2008, but still remain to be put into practice. As a first step, the Marston Vale Trust has created a 3km multi-user route around the south bank of the River Great Ouse, a new bridge over the Elstow Brook at the confluence of the two waterways and a central route that runs north-south across the Estate.

Priory Country Park

Priory Country Park takes its name from the Augustinian Priory that supported a monastic community here from 1164 until 1541. There is very little left of the original Priory, but stones still survive and are used within the current ‘priory wall’ that separates the marina from the main park.

The Bedford to Cambridge section of the Oxford to Cambridge railway was opened in 1862 and passed straight through the park.  It was run by the London & North Western Railway and eventually closed in 1967. The route of the track bed is still visible and forms part of the National Cycle Network – Sustrans Route 51

For information about what you can do at Priory Country Park please visit what’s there now?

More information


Thanks for permission to use material from the Priory CP site

Fenlake Meadows

A 20 hectare Local Nature Reserve, designated for its river valley neutral grassland and marsh owned and managed by Bedford Borough Council.

Route 51

Known as “The University Way”, National Route 51 of the National Cycle Network is the principle route in Bedfordshire running from Milton Keynes to Bedford and Sandy. For most of its length from Priory Country Park through Willington to Sandy, Route 51 uses the track bed of the old Oxford to Cambridge railway, that closed in 1967.

As well as providing an excellent means to reach the Grange Estate and the future Bedford River Valley Park, for the more adventurous cyclist, Route 51 connects Oxford to Cambridge via Sandy, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

There is plentiful, free car parking at Priory Country Park

The route can be downloaded from Let’s Go Bedfordshire

More information about Sustrans at http://www.sustrans.org.uk/