The Marston Vale is one of a number of Hidden Britain centres across the country. Set up in the wake of the Foot and Mouth Crisis, ’Hidden Britain’ is a charity-run initiative to encourage tourism, to uncover lesser known areas of the countryside, and to provide a different and more meaningful experience for the visitor. Hidden Britain ‘centres’ are run by their communities, and are achieved by:
- Drawing up the plans
- Implementing the projects
- Participating in the benefits
- Having the support and guidance of a national network
The benefits of Hidden Britain to local communities include:
- Promotion of local business
- Encouragement of local employment
- Enhancement of local community life
The Story of the Marston Vale
A trip along the 16-mile Marston Vale Line really tells the story of the vale itself. The line starts in the historic County Town of Bedford. Here, you can explore the ancient market and all of the hidden treasures of the historic streets. You can also find out more about Bedford’s most famous resident, John Bunyan, author of A Pilgrim’s Progress.
The line then passes into the rural areas of the vale, who’s landscape has been heavily influenced by the once-abundant brick industry. This area was the focus of the production of London Bricks for much of the 20th Century, and was once home to the Coronation Brickworks, the largest brickworks in the world. Now, the brickworks are all but gone, and the area has been subject to massive environmental restoration, led by the Forest of Marston Vale. The best example of this is the beautiful Millennium Country Park and Forest Centre, near Millbrook station.
As the service gets towards the Bletchley end of the line, the line skirts along the southern border of the new city of Milton Keynes. Built to help tackle overcrowding in major cities such as London, Milton Keynes has grown into a bustling, modern city. Despite it’s reputation for Concrete Cows, Milton Keynes is a beautiful city, with extensive parkland throughout. The most notable are Caldecotte Lake, just a stone’s throw from Bow Brickhill station, and Campbell Park in the heart of the city. The city can easily be explored on bike by the city’s extensive Redways system of off-highway walking and cycle routes.
Bletchley, the final stop, has the best example of a historic building on the line; Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park is most famous for being home to the Enigma code-breaking machine and the world-famous World War II code-breaking establishment. Other notable historic buildings accessible from the line include Woburn Abbey, accessible from Woburn Sands station, and Elstow Moot Hall, accessible from Bedford St Johns station.
All of this is easily accessible from the Marston Vale Line, so why not make the Marston Vale your next destination?
Staying in the Marston Vale
The Marston Vale has plenty of wonderful places to stay. These range from high class, modern hotels, to more homely bed and breakfast accommodation. You can stay anywhere from right in the heart of major urban areas, to more tranquil rural accommodation.
You can find out more information on where you can say on many travel website, but Enjoy England is a great place to start.
Other Hidden Britain Centres
Using the Marston Vale Line you can also access a number of other local Hidden Britain Centres in Bedfordshire. Our local ones are North Bedfordshire Wolds, Riversmeet Villages, Wixamtree, and Woburn – all just a short distance away from one of our stations.