Opinion: What are your top tips for a ‘hometown tourist’?

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This week I was asked to contribute to an East Anglia tourist guide, highlighting must-see events taking place in Bedford throughout the year.

It was an opportunity to look at our town through the eyes of a visitor and it brought back memories of the ‘Hometown Tourist’ column in the Bedford Clanger – a reminder of what’s right on our doorstep that we often take for granted.

We’d love to hear readers’ own off-the-beaten-track top tips for visitors, but here are mine to get the ball rolling…

The River Great Ouse

The oft-mentioned jewel in Bedford’s crown is the River Great Ouse and for locals and visitors alike, a circular walk along the embankment towards Queen’s Park, Kempston and Great Denham immediately takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre – and the busier route towards Priory Country Park – and into a wealth of wildlife.

Museums

Higgins Bedford
The Higgins Bedford (image: The Higgins Bedford)

From the record-breaking writing of John Bunyan to the world-class art collection at the Higgins via a secretive religious sect (Panacea Museum), there really is something for everyone among Bedford’s museums – plus they’re really close together so you can hit a hat-trick of culture in one day.

Bedford Flea

A great reason to head into the town centre on a Sunday – whether you live here or are coming from further afield. Browse through vintage and collectables, pick up some art or artisanal food and enjoy live music in St Paul’s Square. Plus, it’s free to park all day.

Live music, theatre and comedy

A packed Esquires (photo: Neil McCarty)

Over the years, I’ve seen the likes of KRS-One, Warmduscher, Gladys Knight, Ian McCulloch, Soul II Soul, Bad Manners, Paul Young, the late, great Terry Hall (DJing at The Pad and last summer with the Specials) and Chas & Dave in Bedford plus excellent comedians and touring/am-dram theatre performances. And all within a short walk or drive home. Joy!

(Don’t forget, you’ll find everything from classical concerts to Esquires’ headliners in our What’s On guide, published every Thursday.)

To sum up – and in the words of Esquires – Bedford isn’t shit.

You just need to get out and make the most of it.