2 Days Canoe and Camp: Kempston Mill to Matchstick Wood to Great Barford

The Great Ouse River is a simple and easy river to paddle in. This trip has a lot of contrasts with the rural stretches and the newly built area around Bedford which is always crowded.

The trail starts at 60 miles down the river from the highest point of navigation. River Ouse has been extremely modernized and canalized over the years. However, after the Second World War, the old navigation fell, showing the increasing interest of people regarding boating.

The Route

Great Ouse is a small river that is above Bedford. After 2.3 miles of paddling, there is a two-railway bridge mark as you approach the Bedford town. Here, paddlers should keep right while paddling to avoid bumping into rowers who are quite common on this route.

You will encounter two road bridges, the first weir, and then the Bedford Town Lock. There is parking at the Embankment which is at the South Side. While approaching the next weir, you will see a landing for public restrooms and refreshments. It is a recreational area which is usually flooded, especially during the summer.

An island splits the river, and there is a portaging on the right side after the bridge prevents another portage further downstream where there is yet another weir.

Further downwards, the river splits which is a noticeable feature of the Ouse river. The feature that makes the cuts have been built and there is an insert for a boat lock. The new cut is on the left side, and the Great Ouse takes a loop towards the right.

After the river takes the loop, you will encounter motor cruisers. Once you reach 4.5 miles, you will encounter Cardington Lock where the main river splits again and goes left. The right side has a natural watercourse where there are facilities for stopping.

After paddling through several meandering river bends, you can find log cabins on your left. You can set up your camp here for the night.

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