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Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway

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 Britain’s first major new waterway 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 potential environmental benefits such as flood prevention and improved water management.
In autumn 2018 the trust dredged part of the River Great Ouse, opening up a navigable route to Kempston Mill for small craft with less than a 2ft water draught and less than 54ft in length where the trust has completed a new landing stage; further dredging and a winding point for longer craft are required. It is hoped this will allow the trust’s own community boat, John Bunyan, and other craft to visit the IWA Silver Propeller Challenge destination on the river. Since John Bunyan was launched in 2013, it has carried over 58,000 visitors and is one of Bedford’s top attractions. 

The project is supported by a consortium of local authorities, Water Resources East, EA and CRT navigation authorities and charities, including the trust, 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. In July 2021 the trust established a second community boat, Electra, a new all-electric accessible narrowboat for up to 12 guests, based at Campbell Wharf in Milton Keynes, to provide a different view of the city as passengers glide peacefully along 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.

April 2024

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust trip boat John Bunyan at Bedford
Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust trip boat John Bunyan at Bedford
BMKWT Electra.



See Waterways World August 2018 "Great Wide Hope"

Navigation Authority


Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust