Explore the beautiful village of Turvey located on the banks of the River Great Ouse and the attractive undulating farmland of the Turvey House estate. Ye Three Fyshes welcomes all walkers – you’re all more than welcome to use the facilities in our pub at any time of the day and if you would like to pre order food before departing we’ll have it ready for when you return.
- Google Maps – Click here to open and plan your directions
- Postcode for Sat Nav – MK43 8ER
The Village Of Turvey
The village of Turvey (the name means turf island) is a fascinating assortment of interesting buildings. All Saints Church is partly Saxon and is said to be one of the finest in Diocese St. Albans. The churchyard contains many monuments to the great families of Turvey, the Mordaunt family (Earls of Peterborough) and the Higgins family. The Higgins family were responsible for most of the many new buildings in the village the material used being the locally quarried limestone rubble. During the 19th Century John Higgins in particular was concerned for the welfare of his tenants and a building programme was undertaken. Such work has left its mark throughtout the whole village and is a major reason for its attractive character.
The landscape around the village is dominated by parkland with sheep grazed pasture, large trees and blocks of woodland. Further south the landscape is very open with a few scattered woodlands and hedgerows, and recent planting will improve the amount of cover but it remains an arable landscape.
Turvey Bridge is reputed to be the oldest bridged crossing of the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire, a bridge across the river was first documented in 1140 and the present structure, which was widened in 1935, crosses three branches of the river. There is an excellent view of Turvey Mill (now a residential development) and two statues standing on the end of the mill’s island. To the left ‘Jonah’ and his companion to the right were brought from Ashridge House in hertfordshire by Charles Longuet – Higgins in 1844.
The Abbey dates from the 17th Century but was not a monastic establishment until it was bought by a Roman Catholic Order of Benedictine monks and nuns in 1980.
The Abbey was inherited by John Higgins in 1792 together with its farmland and the Manor of Turvey, the farmhouse in the park until then was essentially the farmhouse. He remodelled and added to it for his own use including the addition of the clock tower and cupola visible from various points on the walk.
By 1801 John Higgins, who had a keen interest in gardening had already done much to redesign and replant the Abbey garden and was also responsible for the creation and planting up of Abbey Park and the digging of ponds within it.
Following his death in 1846, the parkland fell into disrepair not least because his son Charles was under the mistaken belief that his asthma was made worse by trees and cleared much of his father’s planting creating the open simpler arrangement present today.
Turvey Abbey Park
Until 1783 most of the area that is now Abbey Park was included in one of Turvey’s large and open common fields ‘Garden Field’ which would have been communally cultivated arable for many centuries and is the reason for the ridge and furrow earthworks, some very substantial, which survive over much of the park. There are excellent examples of the reversed ‘S’ shape typical of the ridge and furrow, the lengthways shape caused by plough teams gradually preparing for turning round some way before reaching the ends of the ridges.
The roundel to the right of the footpath is the ‘Royal Anniversary Roundel’ planted to commemorate the Queen’s 40th Anniversary on the throne. It is planted on the site of an original 1838 roundel and includes a Hawthorne hedge, Oak, Scots Pine, Crab Apple and Western Red Cedar.
The small castle like structure on the edge of the Abbey grounds was built in 1829 for John Higgins as a garden house and was one of his last contributions to his complete remodelling of the gardens at Turvey Abbey from the 1790′s. It possibly served as a retreat for quiet thought or relaxation whilst enjoying the garden. A Field Maple in the grounds is thought to be the largest tree of its in kind in Bedfordshire.
The Old Railway
The disused railway was the Bedford to Northampton Line. Closed in 1962, the old track bed, associated cuttings and embankment slopes now provide a valuable wildlife corridor.
Planning your Walk
Turvey Village is the suggested starting point and the walk is described in a clock-wise direction. However you can walk in either direction and there are shorter routes, one of which is identified on the map.
Refreshments, Parking and Toilets
We have a pub car park available for diners and guests. Parking is limited within the village, however we are happy for walking groups who use the pub, to use our car park – so pop in for something to eat or drink.
A frequent bus service operates between Bedford and Turvey for information contact Traveline 0871 200 22 33 or www.travelsmartuk.com The closest train station is at Bedford.
Ordnance Survey Maps
The route is covered on Ordnance Survey Landranger Series map 153. It is also shown on Explorer map 208. Both are available from local bookshops and some petrol stations.
- Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs.
- Leave gates and property as you find them.
- Protect plants and animals and take your litter home.
- Keep dogs under close control.
- Consider other people.
Tips for enjoying your walk can be found here – www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk
Parts of the walk can become muddy especially after heavy rain, so strong waterproof footwear is recommended. Take care where conditions are rough and do let someone know where you are going. Please be aware that much of the walk is unsuitable for wheelchairs and difficult for pushchairs.