Whether it’s a weekend break or a mid-week treat, 48 hours in Bedfordshire is a guaranteed feast for all the senses. Try our suggested itinerary for the perfect whirlwind adventure!
Breakfast at Coffee With Art in Bedford, taking in the sumptuous hand-made design. Grab one of their excellent smoothies, and some porridge, or just sample the array of coffee while mesmerised by the artistic surrounds. Walking down High Street, turn right at the installation outside Debenhams, and wander through the Old Arcade – maybe stopping for an ice cream or an outfit – into Harpur Square around the Harpur Shopping Centre. Visit the John Howard statue at St Paul’s Square, and drink in the majesty of St Paul’s Church, with its gold-plated interior.
Walk down Castle Lane to the Higgins Bedford, with its ongoing exhibitions, and wander around Castle Mound, maybe visiting the nearby John Bunyan or Panacea Museums.
For lunch, get out of town and visit the St Helena Restaurant in Elstow, once Bunyan’s home, before making the short drive to Woburn Abbey, one of the finest country mansions in England. Drive slowly through the deer park, and marvel at the parkland partly designed by Humphrey Repton. Look around the Abbey itself, a treasure trove of artwork and interior design, and drink in the paintings by Dutch, Flemish, Venetian and English masters.
Take afternoon tea at the home of afternoon tea, and go for a stroll in the gardens. If you’re really adventurous, take in the Woburn Safari Park, too.
For dinner, pop back dinner at Galloway’s, one of many excellent restaurants in Woburn itself, followed by late drinks at the Woburn Ale House.
After brunch at the Woburn Brasserie on the Woburn Estate, drive to Leighton Buzzard’s House of Coffee to stock up on your beans, before arriving mid-morning at Whipsnade Zoo, the largest in the UK. Become a “keeper for a day”, and go back in time to see what kind of animals stalked Britain before agricultural and industrial revolutions: the European brown bear, the Eurasian lynx, and the wolverine. Daily activities include the Lemur Breakfast at 10.30am, and talks on otters, birds of the world, wild boar, tigers and sea lions.
For lunch, enjoy uncomplicated and beautiful French cuisine at Chez Jerome in Dunstable, or the White Swan Inn, which dates back to before 1769. You’ll need filling up for an energetic afternoon hike along the Dunstable Downs and the Icknield Way, reputedly the oldest footpath in Britain. Drink in the spectacular views from the highest point in Bedfordshire – and the largest stretch of chalk down land in this region. If needs be, pick up a dessert coffee at Dunstable Gateway to fortify you before or after the walk.
For dinner, head to the Wernher Restaurant a few miles south of Luton. It’s a great dining room surrounded by rolling parkland next to a five-star hotel. Bringing a bottle of wine, return to the National Trust’s Dunstable Downs for a beautiful sunset, watching the gliders sway in the breeze.
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