Bridleway 8 (Sandy)

Direction W-E, Distance about 500m.

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Bridleway 8 is part of the Bedfordshire’s premier footpath, the 40 mile (64 km.) Greensand Ridge Walk between Leighton Buzzard and Gamlingay. It starts where the walk crosses the footbridge over the weir across the River Ivel south of Sandy (TL 170487). The large pool was the millpond belonging to a Norman watermill and its replacement constructed in 1857 when the Ivel Navigation allowed river traffic down to Biggleswade. When it fell into disuse it was recently demolished and replaced with flats. Unlike most of the route of the Greensand Walk it is a tarmac path. There are iron railings along part of the route, the rest were removed during the Second World War as a contribution for the war effort.


You can probably tell that you are walking follows the northern side of an island. Sandy was known in Saxon times as Sandei and in medieval times as Sandye, meaning sand island. This island is known as ‘Sandcast’ and is mostly water meadows, occasionally grazed by cattle and sheep. There is a wooden gateway on the north side of the fence which provides access to an alternative route along the top of the river bank. Although it can get overgrown during the early summer it’s worth venturing onto as you can get glimpses of Sandye Place, an ancient park belonging since Norman times to the Beauchamp family. The large 18th century mansion with its tiered terraces is now a Junior School. The grounds used to have an avenue of lime trees going to St Swithun’s Church. During Edwardian times the garden was laid out in a willow pattern. A Chinese bridge crossed the river to the island and a boathouse used to stand on its northern banks. An ironstone dovecote can be spotted in the grounds. From 1869 the grounds were the site of the Sandy Show, the largest one-day event in the Midlands. It ran for over eight years and put Sandy on the social and national map. This riverbank alternative route rejoins the bridleway about 100 metres upstream.


The tarmac path follows the south bank of the river to another footbridge. A plaque on the outside indicates it was built in 1878 by F. Taylor. You might be lucky and see some white swans on the river but, depending on the time of year, there’ll most likely be ducks.  The bridleway ends where it meets Ivel Road (TL175498)


Although it is not a designated public footpath or bridleway there are signposts indicating the continuation of the Greensand Walk. Turning north you follow Ivel Road with its largely 19th century cottages for about 200 metres past the Fire Station until you meet the High Street between the Market Square and Sandy Station. Carefully cross the road and go up St Swithun’s Way directly opposite and turn first right into Stone Croft (TL 177491). This is the start of Footpath 16.


At the end of the hedge turn left and you should see a signpost indicating a path between the back gardens of the houses that takes you to the footbridge over the main railway line. Footpath 16 follows a trackway to the north which, after about 300m, takes you to Cambridge Road and the road bridge over the railway. The Greensand Ridge Walk goes over the footbridge onto a track running above the top of the railway cutting. In front you can see across the field to the woods surrounding Caesar’s Camp. This is Footpath 15 which takes you up to the top of Clon Hill. The track to the north, takes you through the trees and up a steep bank of about 150 metres to a viewpoint and a bench. The views over Sandy and the Ivel valley are worth seeing.

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