Champneys Blog

Location guides: what to do in and around Henlow

Our popular Champneys Henlow resort may have once been the site of a Cistercian monastery, but nowadays the 150 acres of beautiful Bedfordshire parkland attracts those looking for a bit of rest and relaxation.

Fully refurbished in 2018, we have given Champneys Henlow a new modern and contemporary feel without losing any of the original buildings eclectic character and traditions of old. We’re also proud of our unspoilt views of the River Hiz and our weir, not many spas have their own weir.
If you’re going to be staying at Champneys Henlow resort and want to explore the area as part of your short spa break, then there are lots of attractions in the area that you can visit. Here’s some of the top things to do in Henlow.
Enjoy a spa day

The first thing on your bucket list to enjoy in Bedfordshire should be to enjoy an affordable spa day at Champneys Henlow.

Whether it is a pampering treatment or something a little more strenuous you’re after, here at Champneys we cover all the bases. With two fitness studios, 40 treatment rooms, more than 20 fitness classes every day, a gym, a 25-metre swimming pool, tennis courts, special boot camps and steam rooms and saunas, there’s something to suit everyone at Champneys Henlow.

Enter the shadowy world of military intelligence

The Military Intelligence Museum exists to 'Share the Secret', bringing the shadowy world of military intelligence out into the open for everyone to see.

Harriet Huggins, the assistant curator at the Military Intelligence Museum, tells us why you should head to the museum during a visit to Henlow.

“Our displays cover the modern era, tracing our activities from the Boer War up to modern times. We are open to the public by appointment, and we do offer guided tours around the museum.

“The museum covers a wide range of important historical events, which the Intelligence Corps featured a major part in. Few people know that the Corps helped with the misdirection of information in WWII, managing to confuse the Germans into thinking the Allies would be landing at Pas-de-Calais, rather than Normandy! Intelligence played a big role during the major wars of the 20th Century, and still play a major role within the military today.

“The local area is full of fascinating intellectual history from the Second World War and onward. Various areas, like Tempsford and Chicksands itself, were of great importance during the war but it’s still not very well known. This area was teeming with secret agents and listening stations that secretly sent information onto Bletchley Park, all of which our museum covers.”

Test your problem-solving skills at Clue HQ Bedford

Around 18-minutes away from Henlow is Clue HQ Bedford, the entertaining escape room experience.

This attraction is a great place to visit during your break away in Henlow, especially if you are in a group as this will test your team building and problem-solving skills to the max.

You can have a team of up to six players and you’ll have 60-minutes to find clues and solve puzzles using items you find to try and escape the room.

The escape game at Clue HQ Bedford is called The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun. You’ll play the role of an exploring party who have been sent in to recover the Cluetan Crystal, a jewel believed to possess the power of the Nile. You better watch your step, however, as who knows where the last exploring party went.

Discover WWI aircraft at the Shuttleworth Collection

If you’re interested in aircraft, then The Shuttleworth Collection is a must-visit as here you can see the best collection of genuine WWI aircraft.

As well as the vintage aircraft (dating back to 1909 and the BlĂ©riot XI, which is the world’s oldest airworthy aircraft) collection you can see exhibitions of Edwardian cars in the vehicle gallery, classic motorcycles like the rare 1904 Aurora, veteran bicycles and a steam engine working chaff cutter and tractors.

The collection has been open since 1963, but more and more aircraft and vehicles have been added over the years.

Make sure you keep an eye out on Shuttleworth Collection’s events page as there are regular flying displays and vehicle parades.

The Shuttleworth Collection is open from 10am-4pm in the winter and 9.30am-5pm during the summer months.

Become a racing driver for the day

At PalmerSport you can become a racing driver for the day as you can drive an unrivalled collection of high-performance sports cars and open-top racing cars on four purpose-built circuits.

Former F1 racer Jonathan Palmer has created this driving event at Bedford Autodrome and now you can drive a Formula 3000 car, a Renault Clio Cup Racer, a BMW M2 Competition, a bespoke Caterham PalmerSport Edition, a Palmer JP-LM and a Land Rover Defender.

The full-day, which usually runs from 7.45am to 5.30pm, will see you drive every car in an eight-activity programme with live timing, scoring and prizes for the day’s best drivers.

The Bedford Autodrome is also known for its safety as Jonathan Palmer painstakingly spent over a year designing this motorsport complex. The course has been designed so you are encouraged to go as fast as you can as there are endless runoffs and acres of grass as well as a professional instructor sitting alongside you.

Laugh at a comedy show or watch a play

If you are wanting a good laugh or would love to watch a show, then the Gordon Craig Theatre should most certainly be on your bucket-list.

The theatre in Stevenage seats just over 500 people and here you can enjoy a programme packed full of comedy shows, musicals, plays, live music and one of the longest-running pantomimes in the country.

The theatre has welcomed the likes of Jason Manford, the Opera Boys, Nish Kumar and lots of other top acts. You can even grab a bite to eat or a drink before the show at the Pi Bistro, Coffee House or Theatre Bar.

Experience an exciting birds of prey show

If you’re in Henlow with your family, then you should visit Herrings Green Activity Farm & Bird of Prey Centre as there’s lots of fun to be had.

Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of birds of prey with more than 200 birds on display, this farm is certainly unique.

The 20-minute long bird displays are the highlight of the day for many as they feature a variety of species of owls, hawks, eagles and falcons. The displays are accompanied by a running commentary that provides you with facts about the birds and if you’re feeling brave enough, you can even participate in the displays.

The animal encounters don’t stop there as you can pet an animal, be introduced to a variety of reptiles, feed alpacas and meet the farm animals.

The park is open 7-days-a-week from 10am-6pm.

To recap, here’s a list of what you can do in and around Henlow:

•Champneys Henlow

•Military Intelligence Museum

•Clue HQ Bedford

•The Shuttleworth Collection


•Gordon Craig Theatre

•Herrings Green Activity Farm & Bird of Prey Centre