Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway
The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust was established in 1995 to promote the development of a broad waterway linking the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse in Bedford.
Creating one of Britain’s first major new waterways in a century, it will provide amenities and opportunities for communities at the heart of the Oxford/Milton Keynes/Cambridge Arc, recently recognised by the Government as a key location for housing and economic growth. The waterway park will provide a green corridor linking new and existing communities, creating a unique sense of identity – a waterway park for all that will meet a wide range of recreational demands from walkers and cyclists to horse riders and anglers. It has the potential to boost the local economy through new tourism-related jobs and additional spending in the area, as well as environmental benefits such as flood prevention and improved water management.
The project is supported by a consortium of local authorities, the Local Enterprise Partnership, navigation authorities and charities, including BMKWT, whose role is to act as an advocate and mobilise support at all levels for the project. The route of the waterway park is protected in three local plans.
In 2019 Campbell Park Marina opened together with a small section of waterway park which breaks into the Grand Union Canal. At the other end of the route Bedford Business Park, north of the A421, also opened and incorporates a section of the waterway park as part of its sustainable drainage system. The trust is working to establish a new landing stage which will open a navigable route to Kempston Mill. It is hoped this will allow the trust’s own community boat, John Bunyan, and other craft to visit a new IWA Silver Propeller Challenge destination on the river. Since John Bunyan was launched in 2013, it has carried over 46,000 visitors and is one of Bedford’s top attractions.
This year will see the trust launch a new all-electric 12-seater community trip-boat on the Grand Union operating from Campbell Wharf in Milton Keynes. Electra will establish a base in Milton Keynes to promote the waterway park and strengthen the trust’s engagement with the Milton Keynes community. It is planned to operate one-hour, two-hour and four-hour trips along the canal from Fenny Stratford to Cosgrove.