15 Beloved dog walks in Bedfordshire

Dog walks
Written by Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. - Our editorial process

Bedfordshire is often overlooked in favour of neighbouring Cambridgeshire, which seems unfair when there are so many fascinating and downright beautiful areas to explore in the county. It’s the smallest of the “shires” and has no cities within its boundaries, but it is easy to access from London or Cambridge.

Because most of the population is within Luton and Bedford, much of the county is open countryside and includes a section of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The amount of open space and beautiful scenery makes it a delightful day out with the dog.

Discover delicious food your dog deserves

Learn more

Whether you fancy a short leisurely stroll or a day hiking, there is something for all ages and abilities. We’ve listed a range of our favourite dog walking routes in Bedfordshire for you to try with your own furry friend.

Country & country park walks

Ampthill great park

This was originally the site of a deer park which surrounded Ampthill Castle, an important manor in the time of Henry VIII. The manor fell into disrepair and was replaced with a newer house that still stands today. The park was then landscaped by the famous Capability Brown. There are many well-kept and waymarked trails so it is easy to roam freely with the dog. Otherwise, there is a 2-mile circular route starting by the tennis courts. Another bonus is that as long as your pup is well-behaved, they only need to be on the lead around the car parks and cafe.

The Greensand Way long-distance footpath passes through the park and if you walk up to it you’ll be rewarded with some fabulous views over the lower landscape of rolling fields. Other than the history, flowers, and fields, you’ll find plenty to do in the park. There are playgrounds, tennis courts, cricket, football, and angling clubs, as well as a delightful dog-friendly cafe.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Ampthill Park tennis courts

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Ampthill Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, MK45 2HF

More information: The Greensand Trust

Priory country park

On the outskirts of Bedford and a pup-ular spot for people and pooches of all ages, Priory Country Park has plenty of green space for you and the dog to burn off some energy. There are several lakes and the largest of which makes a useful centre point for a half hour’s circular walk. There is also a beach that is an ideal spot to stop and let your dog have a paddle, and you’ll usually find other dogs and their owners playing there. Be aware that there are some times in the summer when blue-green algae may build-up, at which point it is unsafe for dogs to go in the water.

There is a play area for kids and large open fields which are great for children and dogs to play in. Otherwise, you can take a leisurely stroll around the lakes and woodland. Given the facilities on-site and the surfaced paths, it’s a great place to go for an easy walk whatever you or your dog’s age and ability. There’s even a cafe to “pup” in for a snack. Some areas can be busier with cyclists, children, and other walkers, but there are hundreds of acres to explore and a lot of the park is quiet and peaceful.

  • Walk Length: As long or short as you like

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Park entrance

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Barkers Lane, Bedford, MK41 9DJ

More information: Bedford.gov

Colmworth circulars

The Coffee Cup Cafe is part of Colmworth golf course, but anyone is welcome to pop in for coffee and lunch, or a slice of their indulgent cakes. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to come inside too, but if it’s busy (or sunny) you might be best to use the outdoor seating. You’re also welcome to park here before taking one of the circular walks the cafe has mapped out, and tried and tested with their own resident dogs.

The walks all start and end at the cafe, making it the perfect place to refuel after a long dog walk in rural Bedfordshire. The longest route is this circular walk around Channels End, which mostly follows permissive paths and trails around farmland and woodland, and is easy walking on flat ground. This walk also includes a stretch in Colmworth Country Park, so you could take some time for a detour to explore the park with your pooch before rejoining the trail.

If this walk seems a bit too long for your legs to manage, or perhaps you don’t want to be out for too long before you have some cake at the cafe, there are other routes available ranging from 5km.

  • Walk Length: 11.9km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Coffee Cup Cafe

  • Terrain: Trails, fields, woodland, uneven, flat.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Colmworth Golf Club, New Road, Colmworth, Bedfordshire, MK44 2AP

More information: Colmworth Golf Club

Dunstable downs

The Dunstable Downs is a truly exceptional area of countryside. This chalk escarpment nestled in the Chilterns AONB offers incredible scenery and views, which is no surprise when it is the highest point in Bedfordshire. Your pup will be just as stimulated by the gorgeous surroundings as you are, and you’ll both be well exercised after this long ramble. There are a number of walks in the area you can take, but this circular route starting at the Chilterns Gateway Centre is one of the most popular.

You’ll start and end your walk at the visitor centre, where you can make use of the facilities. Your dog will need to be under close control on this walk. This is partly because of the number of historical sights in the area, including a Medieval rabbit warren, the ramparts of a neolithic hill fort, and burial mounds. Some of the route even follows trails that have been in use by drovers and travellers for centuries.

There’s a hill towards the end of the route, but it gives you an exceptional view of the Aylesbury Vale. After exploring the downs, you could take a short drive or walk the mile south to Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, another of our favourite dog-friendly attractions and walks.

  • Walk Length: 10.4km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Chilterns Gateway Centre

  • Terrain: Trails, fields, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2GY

More information: National Trust

Woodland walks

The forest of Marston Vale

Marston Vale is a splendid young community forest, which will only grow more beautiful as the trees come into maturity. The land has been reclaimed from brickworks, and the factory towers still stand today as a reminder of the area’s industrial past. There are a number of good walking trails around the visitor centre, ranging in distance but all offering several hours of enjoyable walking with the pooch.

One of the longer trails (but somehow not the longest!) is the Timberland Trail. This circular route will take a whole day, so you and the pup are sure to be well-exercised after your woodland adventure. It starts at the Forest Centre and rounds the lake, passing through Stewartby, then out to the ancient forest at Kings Wood. The way back passes through town, including Ampthill and its Great Park, before returning to the start.

There are plenty of points of interest on this walk, including the ruins of Houghton Hall and Katherine’s Cross. Meanwhile, the pup will be thoroughly entertained by this very long walk through varying landscapes, with plenty of opportunities to be off the lead. There are local facilities throughout the walk and you can begin anywhere on the circular route.

  • Walk Length: 21km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Forest Centre

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: The Forest Centre, Station Road, Marston Moretaine, MK43 0PR

More information: Marston Vale

Maulden wood

One of the largest remaining areas of ancient woodland in the county, Maulden Wood is home to some of the most magical dog walking routes in Bedfordshire. The mixed woodland can be dark and dense in parts, but also regularly opens out into grassland and heaths.

There are miles of trails throughout the broadleaved woods and conifer plantations, so you can return time and again to explore something new. The different habitats between the grassland and woodlands mean there’s a diverse array of flora and fauna to be found, and plenty of variety to keep you and the pooch engaged on your walk. The paths differ too, from shorter strolls on surfaced paths, to narrow and meandering woodland trails. The Greensand Way long-distance path is also accessible from the forest. There are no facilities except for picnic areas, but The Dog and Badger is just outside the woods, or the dog-friendly The Stone Jug is nearby too.

  • Walk Length: 6.4km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Deadman's Hill lay-by

  • Terrain: Woodland, trails, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Maulden Wood, Central Bedfordshire, MK45 3QT

More information: Forestry England, GPS Routes

Whipsnade tree cathedral

Inspired by his memories of the First World War, and after seeing the construction of Liverpool Cathedral, Edward Blyth decided there was something infinitely more beautiful about building a cathedral using plants. The trees and shrubs were planted to roughly form the shape of a Medieval cathedral, but the primary purpose was to emphasise the planting and create an “enclosure of worship.” Blyth began creating his garden and “cathedral”, only to be interrupted by the Second World War. However, it was completed after the end of the war and the religious services began to be held there, and continue to be practised to this day.

Dogs are welcome to visit the cathedral with you. You can explore the 10 acres of parkland as well as wander the lawned chapels and cloisters, surrounded by the “walls” of different trees. After admiring this unique “construction”, you can take a short walk to the Old Hunter’s Lodge which will welcome both you and the pooch inside.

  • Walk Length: 2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Whipsnade Tree Cathedral

  • Terrain: Woodland, trails, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Whipsnade, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2LQ

More information: National Trust

Aspley wood

Aspley Wood is one of the largest areas of woodland in Bedfordshire. It is mostly made up of conifer plantations, although a pocket of ancient woodland remains. Given its size, there are miles of trails, making it an excellent area to come to time and again to explore with your dog as you’ll always find somewhere new. This walk along the Longslade Trail is one of several mapped routes.

There are some areas of the wood where dogs must be on a lead, but these are signposted and are vastly outnumbered by the areas where the dog can roam freely. There are a few ponds around the forest, but your dog might find them before you see them, so keep a towel handy in the car boot!

This is also a popular spot for horse riders and mountain bikers, particularly the latter, so do keep an eye out. As long as you avoid the popular biking trails, you should have a long and tranquil walk alone in the woods. There aren’t any facilities, but there is plenty of free parking, and you can head into nearby Aspley Guise or Woburn Sands to make use of local amenities before or after your walk. There are a number of footpaths that can be picked up from the woods too, including the Greensands Way.

  • Walk Length: 10km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Longslade car park

  • Terrain: Woodland, trails, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Aspley Heath, Milton Keynes, MK17 9HZ

More information: GPS Routes, Woodland Trust

Waterside walks

Leighton Buzzard to Bletchley

One of the best dog walking routes in Bedfordshire has to be the Grand Union Canal. The towpath offers a pup-ular spot for walkers and cyclists of all ages and ability. The flat, surfaced path makes it an easy walk perfect for a leisurely stroll alongside the lazy waters of the canal. Your pup may be best on the lead to stop them from diving into the water or wandering in the way of other walkers or cyclists. That being said, if the path is clear and you know your pup won’t be tempted into the canal, they could have the opportunity to roam freely.

This linear walk takes you from Leighton Buzzard to Bletchley, and couldn’t be easier to follow as you’ll be alongside the canal the whole way. You could choose to walk back if you have the stamina, or simply hop on the train back to return to the start.

Alternatively, you could try walking in the opposite direction and follow the longer route from Leighton Buzzard to Tring, before returning on the train. In either case, you’ll have to make the most of the facilities in the towns on either end of the towpath or take a detour on route to find somewhere for a pit-stop.

  • Walk Length: 9.6km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Black Bridge

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Black Bridge, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 1AL

More information: Let's go

Bedford to Kempston mill

Starting from the bridge near the council building, you and the pup will follow the river Great Ouse to the site of the old mill in Kempston, before returning to Bedford along the opposite bank of the river. Given the route, it’s very easy to navigate as you should always have the river to your left. This is the perfect dog walking route in Bedfordshire for a tranquil afternoon walk with your furry friend, who may or may not decide to have a paddle in the water. You’ll be walking alongside woodland and meadows most of the time, making for a surprisingly tranquil walk so close to town.

There are local facilities in Bedford at the start and end of your walk. But the halfway point at Kempston Mill has toilets and a dog-friendly cafe, making it the ideal pit-stop for you and the pup. This is an easy walk, but quite long, so it’s worth pausing to rest and refresh yourself before heading back.

  • Walk Length: 9.6km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Bedford Borough Council

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Bedford, MK42 9AP

More information: Bedford.gov

Stewartby lake

If you’ve ventured out for a walk in Marston Vale, you might have already visited Stewartby Lake. However, this waterside walk follows a circuit along the banks of the lake and is more than long enough for a great family stroll or dog walk. It’s within the Millennium Country Park and the chimneys of the old brickworks tower over the calm waters.

Despite being beside the lake, the water is itself out of sight for much of this walk, but you can amend your route to include some of the smaller lakes and ponds too. If you and the pooch have the stamina and plan to extend your walk, try exploring some of Marston Vale, home to many more fantastic dog walking routes in Bedfordshire.

As you’re within the country park, you can make the most of the facilities there. Dogs are welcome in the outside area of the cafe and there are water bowls outside the forest centre. Dogs need to be kept under close control, but provided they are well-behaved, they don’t need to be on the lead.

  • Walk Length: 5km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Forest centre

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: The Forest Centre, Station Road, Marston Moretaine, Bedford, MK43 0PR

More information: GPS Routes

Tiddenfoot waterside park

South of Leighton Buzzard is Tiddenfoot Waterside Park. This old sandpit is now filled with water, creating a large lake surrounded by grassland, scrub, and woodland. It is a beautifully kept area perfect for calm, leisurely strolls with your pup where you can admire the scenery where they can nose through the undergrowth. The dog might even enjoy this walk more than you, as they’ll get to have a swim in the lake. It’s a pup-ular spot for dogs to have a paddle, and you might find another owner or two there already. Because of the sand, it can be very muddy at the banks, so be sure to have a towel in the car to give the pooch a rub down after your walk.

You could drive here, but for anyone who fancies a day out walking with the dog, the park is accessible from the Grand Union Canal towpath. This means if you take one of our favourite walks along the canal from Leighton Buzzard, you could detour to explore Tiddenfoot. If you fancy a bite to eat, walk up to the high street to Sorelli Cafe, which welcomes dogs on leads.

  • Walk Length: 1.3km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Tiddenfoot Waterside car park

  • Terrain: Paths, trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Mentmore Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 2AE

More information: Tiddenfoot

Hill walks

Barton hills

The Barton Hills National Nature Reserve is a beautiful area of hilly downland and woodland within the Chilterns AONB. And beautiful it is! The ranges of small (but steep) hills and valleys are as wonderful to walk on as they are to admire. It’s a pup-ular spot with many of the best dog walking routes in Bedfordshire, family-friendly strolls, and wildlife watching opportunities. The chalk grassland is alive with wildflowers in summer, while the downland and woodland are home to rare plants and interesting critters, like stouts and hares.

There are many trails around the reserve, and some are slim or near-invisible along the grass. That being said, it’s easy to follow the footsteps of other walkers and the flanks of the hills. Your pup can be off the lead, but there are wild ponies grazing here, so be aware and keep a lead handy in case you encounter any wildlife. There are no facilities here, but you can park on Church Lane and walk into the reserve. Nearby Barton-le-Clay is home to a trio of pubs, including the dog-friendly The Bull.

  • Walk Length: 3.5km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Church Lane

  • Terrain: Trails, even, grassland, woodland, hills.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Barton-le-Clay, Bedford, MK45 4LA

More information: Woodland Trust, Gov.uk

Chiltern hills

This route is the best way to explore the hills the Chilterns are famous for on a fantastic long walk. The undulating landscape makes the walk a little more challenging, but it is worth it for the views. Once you climb Deacon Hill, you’ll have an exceptional vantage point where you can see for miles. Deacon Hill is itself an area of special scientific interest and flanked by the Barton Hills Nature Reserve, which is another fabulous spot for hilly hikes and dog walking routes in Bedfordshire.

Despite the hills, this walk isn’t very difficult. The ground is even and each summit is relatively short. You may find some sheep out in the fields, so make sure your dog is on the lead if you encounter any animals. This is a beautiful walk in quintessentially British countryside, which you can top off with a visit to the pub at the end. You’ll start and end your walk by The Live and Let Live in Pegsdon, which is conveniently dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: 7.9km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Pegsdon Way

  • Terrain: Trails, even, grassland, hills.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Pegsdon, SG5 3JS

More information: Country File, GPS Routes

Sharpenhoe clappers

Sharpenhoe is a quartet of adjacent properties, famous for its ancient woodland and chalk escarpment. The Clappers is perhaps the most popular area of Sharpenhoe to go dog walking. Your walk here will include a variety of scenery from pretty wildflower meadows, to enchanting woodland, and a bit of a hill walk as you climb the Clappers. It’s a progressive and short ascent, so not very challenging. Part of the route follows a section of the Icknield Way, a long-distance footpath and the oldest road in Britain.

The area is managed as a nature reserve, but as long as your dog is under control, they can wander freely by your side off the lead. You can pop into the dog-friendly The Bull nearby in Barton-le-Clay. You’re also a stone’s throw from the Barton Hills National Nature Reserve, another glorious place to go dog walking in Bedfordshire.

  • Walk Length: 7km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Sharpenhoe Clappers car park

  • Terrain: Woodland, trails, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Sharpenhoe Road, Streatley, Bedfordshire, LU3 3PP

More information: National Trust

More information about Bedfordshire: Katrina Wilson Photography, National Trust, Central Bedfordshire.gov