Walk 149: Brackmills Woods Country Park (2): The Perimeter Circular Walk

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance:  6 miles (10 km)

Time to walk: Roughly 3 hours, but we were taking our time due to the mud. It would be quicker in the summer

Difficulty: Some hard paths, but also grass & woodland walking. It is slightly hilly in places & can be muddy in winter

Parking: We parked in the small car park  Salthouse Road car park in Brackmills Industrial Estate It isn’t easy to spot so here’s a map. The green pin’s the car park

Public toilets: There’s an opportunity to visit a couple of cafe / shops roughly two thirds of the way along the route

Map of the route: Sadly I forgot to turn the App off at the end so have included the Park Map. The route literally follows the edge of the dark green area, dipping down a few times, before coming back outwards

As I mentioned on the other Brackmills Walk, I’ve lived in the area for 40 years & had no idea this country park on my doorstep even existed! This is the longer of the two walks & is on mixed surfaces

What you also get, here in the middle of an industrial estate, is being away from it all. Covering 120 hectares there’s some great views over Northampton

With the decline of the shoe trade & collapse of the steelworks, Northamptonshire has relied on its central location & excellent road network to develop the distribution industry. From our county it’s possible to reach 85% of the UK’s consumer market within the shift duration of a lorry driver

Brackmills Industrial Estate comprises of some 3.9 sq.km of business premises & is home to over 150 companies & more than 11,000 employees

Let’s Walk!

1. We used the small free car park just off Salthouse Road. The park does have several other entrances as we’ll see as we walk around the perimeter, so if you just wanted to walk small sections they can be easily accessed…

What I really loved about walking around this park is the number of sign boards showing you exactly where you are…

2. Walk down the hard track towards the junction. This is one of the starting points for my Brackmills (1) walk which is all on this hard path

Take the left path, following it along past the large lake on your right, showing the quarrying that once went on in the area…

3. The path’s really easy to follow as it bends right around the lake, past one of the other entrances to the park, which is the one from the old railway line, leading from Great Houghton

Ignore that entrance & continue around the lake as the path now starts to gain some height…

4. Because of its elevation, this is a park with some great views, especially on the outward stretch of the walk. As you climb, Northampton starts to appear to your right…

The good news is there are plenty of benches along this route which allow you to stop & take in the view…

5. Shortly after the bench you’ll reach a dog bin, where the hard path bends right…

If you wish just to do the short, hard path then continue to follow it. However, our walk now leaves the hard path, so walk straight past the bin up the grassy slop in the picture above

6. What’s so good about this walk is it’s so varied. One minute you’re surrounded by trees & the next your in open meadow-like areas, like the one that opens out before you at the top of this slope…

The variety of trees is amazing, both & one minute you could be in an alpine meadow, & the next a classic woodland

And…like I always say..don’t forget to look behind you! This is what I saw when I turned round…

7. Continue straight ahead, where the track narrows once more & becomes muddy…

8. Please be careful along the narrower paths as lots of them are on slopes & some took quite a time to negotiate!

9. Pass under some telegraph wires & a telephone mast to your left…

There’s another sign board here showing your location. Pass through the fence & welcome to an area known as ‘The Pastures’…

10. This is a great place to stop to admire the views, because you have the whole of Northampton spread out before you. See how many of the different buildings you can recognise…

There’s even better views to come so continue straight ahead along the track…

11. Once more the path narrows & becomes very muddy again…

…but persevere as it soon opens up with more views across the town. We also came across “Yorik” here…someone knew him well!

12. After entering the wooded area once more, the path now turns right & heads straight down the hill towards an industrial unit. On the map this is the narrowest part of the park…

13. At the bottom of the hill our route is left through the muddy & slippery, narrow path. Don’t worry this is only for a few yards…

…& you’ll shortly reach a large tree & a clearing once more. Remember this tree as you’ll pass it again later

14. On reaching the opening, it’s time to bear slightly left, straight back up the hill again…please be careful as this was slippy

However, once at the top it becomes lovely, grassy walking again & passes through some magnificent conifers. Like I said, this is such a varied wood

15. There are now views on the left across to Wootton Fields & a rather nice bench, where we stopped for a quick snack & drink

Continue straight ahead as the track now opens into a meadow-type area once more…

16. Head for the gap in the picture above (straight ahead). The other side of the gap is the boundary fence, so turn right & follow it. When I was here there was a lot of fencing as the area’s been earmarked for development…

The boundary arrives a big tree (you can see it in the above picture) so bear left past it & carry on to the footpath sign showing you the exit to the road on your right beside the telegraph pole…

17. Look across the road to your right & you’ll see the sign showing you where the footpath carries on…

I’ve walked this path to Hardingstone many times. This is another area that’s under massive development…

18. Look for another entrance (with a “you are here” board) with a hard path that takes you back into the park

It was only early January, but we found the early signs of spring…

19. I love this part of the walk & I’m sure you will too. It’s a beautiful area with a real surprise as you’ll see in a minute. Follow the path to the junction & turn left down the winding one, down the hill…

20. As you move down the hill, you see ahead of you some absolutely magnificent conifers…

The “surprise” is, once the path enters them, there’s a bench to sit one & you’re surrounded & could be in another world – they are fantastic!

21. Immediately after the trees the path splits once more. Our route is to the right up the hill…

At the top the path winds past an industrial unit & then take the right fork at the next junction…

…& passes another pond. This is lovely walking

22. Just past the pond are some beautiful coloured shrubs…

You can see from the above picture the hard path is turning right. DO NOT turn right! Our route is straight ahead down the grass (mud) track through the trees once more

23. The path descends the hill to arrive at a fence. To your left’s a gate that leads out onto a road…

Cross the road & re-enter the park through the gate on the other side

24. Bear left up the slope & then through the gap on the right into the meadow area…

Continue up to the top left side of the grassy area & through the gap in the picture below…

25. Once through turn immediately left & come back down the hill, turn right when reaching the signpost (good exercise this!)

26. This is more attractive mixed scenery walking & there’s another bench to take a breather should you wish…

The track now descends…do you recognise the big tree in front of you to the left?

This is the one I mentioned we’d come back to that we passed earlier in the walk. Bear ahead past it on that muddy part again. Remember this is the narrowest part of the map

27. Once through that part, continue straight ahead past another bench…

28. Once more it opens up into a wider grassy area…

…before descending towards the right hand edge of an industrial unit

29. Walk across the somewhat precarious planks through the gap!

Continue straight ahead & IGNORE the footpath heading off to the right, plus the small one to the left…

30. The track once more become alpine in appearance & it was along here that we followed a red Kite from tree to tree…

After dropping down & then rising again the path arrives at a large tree in the picture below

31. Walk through the gap beside the tree to arrive at…the hard circular path that forms part of Brackmills Walk 1…

Turn left on the path & follow it as it bends right past another small pond…

32. Shortly you’ll arrive at the junction you first came to when starting this walk…

Turn left & continue back to the car park

So that’s it…the end of the perimeter walk of the this lovely gem of a woodland park. It’s one that, now I’ve discovered it on my doorstep, I’ll be coming back to again & again, especially in drier conditions!

Go Walk!