St Neots lies close to the south-western edge of Huntingdonshire district and is situated in the valley of the River Great Ouse, partly on the flood plain and partly on slightly higher ground a little further from the water. The Great Ouse is a mature river, once wide and shallow but now controlled by weirs and sluices and restrained in a well-defined channel.
St. Neots is fortunate in having large areas of open space in addition to the Riverside and Priory Parks. Picnickers and campers are attracted to the banks of the River Great Ouse which passes directly through the centre of St. Neots. The clean water attracts anglers and boaters alike and swimming is also possible in the river, if a bit cold.
In summer the parks are full of Boating pleasure on the River Great Ouse, people walking along the footpaths that wind through them, crossing the many decorative bridges and playing a round of minigolf on the pitch and putt course near the Riverside car park. Here there is also a boating lake, restaurant and children’s play area. There are also wild areas left to encourage the fauna and Sudbury Meadow, winner of the Anglia in Bloom biodiversity award in 2007, is located next to the park and is specially kept as one of these.
In 2004 the Ouse Valley Way was inaugurated in its entirety making a continuous route for walkers from the river’s source to the Wash, where it enters the sea. There is an excellent leaflet describing the walk which can be obtained from the Town Council Offices and from the Tourist Information Centre.
Priory Park offers a vast expanse of green, dotted with ancient trees. There are football pitches, an exercise circuit and recently refurbished changing rooms. The park was purchased from the Rowley family who had their residence here and who have held the title of Lord of the Manor since the 18th Century.
A new skateboard park, recognised as one of the best in the whole country, was built in the park during 2005 and attracts young visitors from far and near. In contrast concerts are performed in the park during the summer months making it truly a place of relaxation.
At the town side of the river bridge is the Jubilee Garden which offers a quiet haven after a hectic morning’s shopping. The town sign here shows many of the features of the town in carved form. Barford Pocket Park to the south of Eynesbury are where many smaller areas have been planted out throughout the town in co-operation with Landscape 2000 and is another area less trodden away from the the town for thought and relaxation.
The river has been identified as one of the greatest assets of St. Neots and is now a “Green Corridor” which may be used by walkers yet still preserving the indigenous wildlife.
The river is also used by the renowned oarsmen and women of the St. Neots Rowing Club, some of whom have won national and international recognition. Their regatta in July attracts participants from all over the country.
The Caravan site on Rush Meadow is owned and operated by the Camping & Caravan Club of Great Britain and Ireland and is situated on the river bank about ten minutes’ walk from the town centre. At event times of the year it is advisable to book in advance.