If you’re living in the capital, then you might feel the need to get away from the constant hustle and bustle, and remove yourself to somewhere a little more relaxed. Venture just a little bit northward, and you’ll find exactly such a place: Bedfordshire. Despite not being a tourist hotspot, the county has a great deal to offer, and it’s well worth taking the time to venture up to see it for a day or two. You can catch a train from London St. Pancras to Bedford. The journey takes less than an hour, and the trains are running at virtually all hours of the day.
Bedford itself is home to numerous landmarks, whose origins stretch back more than a thousand years. If you want to see all of the statues and other architectural curiosities, then the best way to do it is with the help of an experienced local guide.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, this building fell into the possession of the Duke of Bedford. It’s home to a stunning collection of priceless artworks, including Canalettos and van Dycks. In the nearby village, there’s plenty of posh restaurants and antiques, all fronted in a charming town-house style.
Luton doesn’t quite have the picturesqueness of some of the more remote villages in the county. But what it does have is a broad selection of family-friendly attractions. Nearby you’ll find Wardown Park Museum, which recounts the town’s history of lace-making.
This little village is the birthplace of John Bunyan, and offers another longstanding abbey. There’s not a great deal else to see and do, but it’s still worth stopping off in the village for a few hours, given that it’s just a short trip from nearby Bedford.
Another market town, Dunstable has several features which set it apart. The largest of these is the Dunstable Priory, a Norman church which dates back more than eight centuries. It’s also the location of Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and thus it’s a place of enormous historical significance.
This market town is packed with quirky little independent shops, and is decked out largely in red-brick, giving it a distinctive Georgian flavour that you might not find elsewhere. There’s been a market running here on Thursdays since the 13th century, thanks to the wishes of the then-king, Henry III.