Willington Woodland and Willows walk, near Bedford, Bedfordshire

Walking trail

Built by Sir John Gostwick for the visit of Henry VIII in around 1541, the Dovecote and Stable are all that now remains of the Manorial farm complex. Visit Dovecote lake, Danish Camp and the old Bedford to Cambridge railway line, on this relaxing easy walk. Starting at Willington Dovecote and Stable Car Park this 2.4 mile (3.7km) trail on accessible surfaced paths, explores the new Bedford River Valley Park. Planned in partnership with the Forest of Marston Vale Project, this walk is a great way to discover the exciting new developments in this riverside landscape. Ideal for families.


Willington is an ancient parish in the Wixamtree Hundred. It is a long thin parish heading south-east from the River Great Ouse and is bordered by Renhold and Great Barford to the north, Mogerhanger to the east, Northill to the south-east, Old Warden on a small part of the south and Cople to the west. The village itself lies in the north of the parish. The name is probably derived from the Old English welig-tun meaning "willow farm".


Map route for Willington willows and woodland walk map


Willington Dovecote and Stable Car Park, grid ref: TL107499


Starting from Willington Dovecote car park, turn right out of the car park onto Church End and head in a northerly direction passing the Willington stables on your left.

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Enjoy the tranquillity, and the birds, at Willington.


Continue northwards, passing the junction with the National Cycle way Route 51 and crossing the Elstow Brook via an old quarry bridge, until you come to another junction and a metal bridleway gate.


At the junction, pass through the metal gate and follow the signs directing you to the riverside path. Continue northwards and cross the Lafarge haul road - watch out for traffic.


After crossing the haul road you will pass through another metal gate and fenced-in gravel track that meanders through grass fields frequented by many species of birds and wildfowl. Further along the track you will pass two lakes, Causeway Lake on your left and Dovecote Lake on your right. Continue along the gravel track as it bends round Causeway Lake to a T-junction and signpost by a cattlegrid.

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Dovecote Lake near Willington Bedfordshire


At the signpost, turn right in a north-easterly direction and follow the tarmac path that is signposted Danish Camp. Follow the path along the banks of the River Great Ouse. Watch out for cyclists and vehicles.

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Danish Camp at Willington


Continue along the tarmac path until you come to another junction where a loose stoned track takes you into woodland where a new back channel off the river was created for spawning fish. The loose stoned path is an optional route that will bring you back onto the tarmac path further along and will add no more than 5 minutes to your walk.


The path now heads southwards, hugging the river and going under the Lafarge haul road bridge, before coming to a second bridge over Elstow Brook - perfect for playing Pooh sticks!

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Elstow Brook Willington


Follow the tarmac path over the wooden bridge to its junction with National Cycleway Route 51. Danish Camp is to your left. You can find refreshments here.


At the T-junction with the cycleway, turn right in a westerly direction and follow the sign for Bedford and Priory Country Park. This section of path follows the old Bedford to Cambridge railway line. To your left are the remains of the station platforms.

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Willington Station in the 1960's


Continuing westwards, the path brings you back to the junction with Church End where you are directed back to Willington Dovecote and car park.


Willington Dovecote car park, grid ref: TL107499

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Willington Woodland and Willows walk, near Bedford, Bedfordshire


Easy walking on multi-user accessible trails around the Bedford River Valley Park. Dogs welcome on leads.

Willington Woodland and Willows walk, near Bedford, Bedfordshire

Contact us

Willington Woodland and Willows walk, near Bedford, Bedfordshire

How to get here

Willington Dovecote and Stable, Willington, Church End, near Bedford, MK44 3PX
By road

Signed from the A603 Bedford to Sandy road. Small free car park at Dovecote.

By bus

Stagecoach 73 Bedford to Biggleswade

By bicycle

Route NCN51 passes Dovecote and Stable. See Sustrans for details.

Willington Woodland and Willows walk, near Bedford, Bedfordshire

Facilities and access

  • Dovecote and stables open between April to September on the last Sunday of every month, otherwise admission is by appointment via the voluntary custodian. Tel. 01234 838278. Open space accessible all year.
  • WCs: Guildhall, Cock Inn car park, and Prentice Street.
  • Parking: NT car park - free
  • Food and drink: Available at Danish Camp in Willington