My organised guided cycle around some of the lanes of Central Bedfordshire was today. It was an almost perfect day, slightly tainted by an accident on black ice near the village of Upper Gravenhurst.
I tried to deliver a bit of information about some of the villages and sites on the route.
Start and finish: Flitwick:
- Flitwick was made famous by J.K.Rowling in her Harry Potter books. She named her character Professor Flitwick by allegedly randomly sticking a pin into a map of the UK to come up with his name.
- Flitwick (East End) water mill – there has been a water mill on this site on the river Flit as far back as 1065. It is mentioned in the Doomsday book as being run by the monks from Dunstable priory. The current building dates back from the early 19th century and up until recently was owned by the Goodman family, generations of which have lived on the site since 1720.
- The church in Flitton dates back to 1440
- Behind the church is the de Grey Mausoleum, built in 1614. The Mausoleum contains over 20 monuments to the de Grey family who lived at Wrest park
- It has a bit of a hill and everyone had fresh legs and made it up
- Clophill is probably known for two reasons; Firstly the A6 murder in 1961 by James Hanratty who became the last man hanged in Britain and secondly for the remains of St. Mary’s church at the top of Dead Man’s hill, a well known site for black magic and witchcraft.
- The park and a stately home have been here since 1312. The current manor house was built in 1720 and lies in 800 acre of parkland. The house was originally owned by the Carteret family and then was the home of Lord John Thynne. In 1929 it became a public girl’s school and then was bought by Clarenden School. After the school went into liquidation in 1992 the house and park were bought by an Indian mystic sect for £1,000,000 – apparently raised by £1 donations from each of its members.
- RAF Chicksands was used during WWII as a signal intelligence collection unit, known as Y station. If you look on an OS map you can see where there was a huge ring of radio masts which were used to intercept German signals which were then passed to Bletchley Park for deciphering.
- Rowney Warren woods is a well known mountain biking centre - and we received a few race challenges ;-)
- Everyone said they would like to return and spend more time exploring the museum and the bird of prey centre.
- Free mince pies and lots of wine tasting
- £4 for a bottle of very good wine. Say no more.
- A puncture repair
- The name Shefford is derived from sheep-ford due to the fact there had been a sheep market and ford crossings over the river Flit and the river Hit that run through the town.
- Wrest Park is a grade 1 listed home and gardens. The manor house was built in 1834 by the Earl de Grey. The 92 acre gardens were designed by Capability Brown.
- We had a great off-road cycle/walk: