BLOG – Rural Bedfordshire – John Buyan Trail

It’s the 23rd of May. After playing badminton in St Albans. I decided to complete a 40 mile cycle to Bedford. The majority of this cycle journey, maybe 90% + was off road. And was my new favorite cycle ride I have completed this year, in this country.

The initial part of the route was getting to Harpenden, from St Albans. For this segment I followed a cycle route that was part of the national cycle network.  It was a shared use path that ran along an A road. Not the best cycle route as it was next to a busy road. but it was direct, and technically off road.

The next segment was a familiar ride going along an old railway line, that’s been converted to a cycle track – from Harpenden to Luton.  I have cycled this quite a few times now and it’s awesome. It is called the Nickey Line and it starts in Hemel Hempstead. The route is all tarmac from Harpenden and as a result fast, and it’s great that its away from roads.

After Luton I explored an area that I haven’t done much cycling in before. Around rural Bedfordshire.

I followed a local off-road cycle route through some nice looking fields, and then joined the “John Buyan trail” . I read online this was a walking path, therefore was not confident it would be very cyclable.

There was a video on YouTube that made me think it was alright. However, I found it a lot better than I thought it would be (way more scenic & good paths for cycling & some epic downhill sections).

There had not been a lot of rain for a while and was a sunny day. The ground was dry and great for cycling on. A lot better than my experience with cycling the Ridgeway path (which lots more cyclists do – likely due to it being more widely known and an older route).

A funny situation happened where I said to two walkers that “ill go through the middle” as there was a big space in between them along an off road track. They both jumped massively as had not heard me coming. I apologised but they weren’t in the way of me so I didn’t see the need to use a bell.

Rural Bedfordshire in my view was a big contrast from Luton. I think Luton is over hated for what it is, an okay town that’s not too expensive to live in but still big difference between the expensive looking, leafy villages / hamlets and what I would describe as a big urban mess.

Other stuff that happened on this ride include; me stupidly thinking I lost my GoPro – but really it was mounted on my mount under seat post. I forgot I left it there and started retracing my steps on the bicycle to see if I accidentally dropped it. Also in Harpenden as I was going up a hill I saw a confrontation between a Sikh taxi driver and a man who was annoyed at him for using his car horn at him. I turned the camera on at this point.

I became very thirsty on this trip but luckily plenty of places on route to get water.  And I am considering getting sunglasses – as lots of flies keep going in my eyes while I’ve been cycling this year.

Would happily cycle this again. 9/10 for a day trip.

^ Also, the interesting thing about Buyan trail is it’s a loop therefore there is another new direction I can cycle in from Luton – Bedford.

In the past to cycle from Luton to Bedford; I have cycled via roads on a more west route through the towns; Upper Sundon, Harlington, Steppingley, Flitwick (outskirts), Marston Moretaine, Wooton, Kempston. The best part about this route is the lakes at Marston. However the John Buyan trail to Bedford was a lot more enjoyable, if you have the time and desire to cycle off road.


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