Walk 36: Badby Circular: Strolling amongst the bluebells

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 8 miles (12.9km)

Time to walk: Today with taking lots of photos & getting lost in Badby Wood (oops!) it took us about 3.5 hours

Difficulty: A mixture of road, field & woodland paths, some of which will get wet. We did this on a glorious late April 2014 day. There’s also some steep climbs so it’s a great cardiac workout

Parking: We parked on the road by the side of The Windmill Pub in Badby

Public toilets: Really just the pubs in Badby, Newnham or you could brave Fawsley Hall

Map of the route: We’ve combined a few walks so follow our dark lines

We’ve been waiting to do this walk for a long time, but it really has to be done in late April / early May & you’ll see why later

This area of Northamptonshire is quite hilly & simple stunning with beautiful villages & fantastic views. We start in Badby, a small village to the west of Daventry, & then go cross country following the infantile River Nene to Newnham before crossing through the woods to Fawsley & finally climbing back to Badby

As well as being spectacular this walk’s a really good cardio workout…unless you keep taking photos like us!!

Anyway… come & walk with us & let us introduce you to some new friends we met along the way….

1. We start in Badby which is one of the most beautiful villages in our county with a collection of ironstone and thatch houses. The village has a long history with the first known reference to it dating from 944 AD, when ‘Badden Byrig’ was recorded in a Saxon land charter. By the time of Domesday, the manor had become ‘Badebi’ and belonged to the church. A possible Iron Age hill fort at Arbury and finds of Roman pottery suggest that Badby may have even older origins

Parking outside The Windmill Pub, a 17th century inn, this is the starting point for our walk…

 2. We turn left & walk along Main Street which opens out into some large green areas…

Plenty of space here

Plenty of space here

Unique village hall

Unique village hall

3. On the left we now come to another Badby pub…The Malsters

Now we really like this…

Plus Tuesday is ‘Pie Night’…now that sounds good to us!!

4. We need to turn down Courtyard Lane which is directly opposite the pub which soon becomes narrow & passes some rather nice properties…

5. Given the nice flora we were soon chasing a Pieridae butterfly…

Got the little beauty in the end! Was laying flat out at this point - sorry Badby residents!!

Got the little beauty in the end! Was laying flat out at this point – sorry Badby residents!!

6. Right let’s dust ourselves down & carry on. We need to pass through the kissing gate below…

…& we’re immediately in the countryside…

…& cross a footbridge into a field – just keep heading straight on

7. Shortly we come to a footbridge over a stream. This is actually one of the sources of the River Nene (chose your own pronunciation!!) – it’s source is quite near here…

Love the Nene Way

Love the Nene Way

…& click on our Youtube clip for a snippet of it as a youthful stream…

8. So anyway across the bridge we arrive at the local gym…

Give us a push!!

Give us a push!!

…& then it’s a case of hug the hedge until we meet the road…

We can just spot Newnham Church in the distance

We can just spot Newnham Church in the distance

9. Someone’s also been doing a bit of local sculpture along here…

…& finally we exit through the gate below onto the road

10. Be careful & turn right along the road. In about 50 yards we enter the lovely village of Newnham

Some assortments in here!

Some assortments in here!

The village name is thought to come from the nearby River Nene. Looking over the village is Newnham Hill which has an ancient disused windmill plus a large aerial which is part of the UK’s air traffic control system

11. Keep following the road heading towards the large village green…

Looks like it's been left over from an Easter Egg hunt

Looks like it’s been left over from an Easter Egg hunt

Oh dear…how sad

Oh dear…how sad

…which we finally reach & there’s another great pub here…The Romer Arms

How nice is that!

How nice is that!

12. There was a friendly group of Ramblers meeting on the village green for a walk. We met them again in Badby Wood

We need to walk past the pub & then turn right down Preston Capes Road. The cottage on the corner has a beautiful spring garden…

13. Be careful now as we have a lengthy stretch of road walking to do & the cars move pretty quick along here!

We cross the Nene again

We cross the Nene again

Great weathervane

Great weathervane

Just over the brow of the hill we get our first glimpse of where we’re heading for…Badby Wood…

…& eventually we arrive at a crossroads where we need to turn up the Badby road

14. We mentioned at the start that this walk had a few hills in it & here’s our first one although it means we’ll now start to get some fabulous views…

The view back across to Newnham

The view back across to Newnham

…but what’s that lurking behind the hedge on the right??

15. There’s a long driveway to Newnham Lodge Farm so be sneaky & have a walk down to meet some beautiful creatures. If you have a look at the web link below you’ll see that the family originally bought a couple to look after the chickens!! How great is that…

Think I've fallen in love

Think I’ve fallen in love

Click on the farm link here to learn more…we could have stayed here, but still had a long way to go so farewell & let’s crack on!

15. Back to the small road & continue towards Badby…

Still great views across the hills on our right

Still great views across the hills on our right

…& eventually on the left we come to the small car park at the track leading to Badby Wood

It's those Ramblers we met earlier!!

It’s those Ramblers we met earlier!!

Follow them up the track to the entrance

16. The entrance into Badby Wood with the stone archway makes you think you’re really entering a special place &, at this time of the year, you are

We’ve deliberately left this walk until the end of April as the Wood is then a mass of shimmering bluebells

Badby Wood is part of the Fawsley Estate, which we’ll talk about more later, but is open to all visitors to enjoy its natural beauty. It is a protected wildlife area, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

17. The first thing that hit us walking into the Wood was the stunning birdsong & we’ve tried to capture a small part of it so click on the Youtube upload below…

Right…before we explore a word of warning!! The Wood is big & there’s lots of paths & it’s quite easy to become disorientated…& yes, we did get lost!! However we knew that we wanted to head straight across & then turn right & follow the left hand perimeter towards Badby

Here's the path straight across..

Here’s the path straight across..

18. When we say there’s bluebells everywhere we mean it…

100

19. Eventually we arrive at the far side of the wood (part 1 successfully negotiated!!)…

…where we now turn right & follow the path alongside the fence keeping it on our left (yep…got that one too!!). On the left here are the remains of the old Fawsley Estate Dower House…

Continue over 'Beeches Brook'

Continue over ‘Beeches Brook’

20. Right…this is where we went wrong. The guide we were following said the path goes right away from the fence – we turned sharp right!! However…no worries as we knew we had to head west to exit the Wood & there’s plenty of paths (& bluebells to enjoy!)

The paths through the Wood are quite hilly & there’s also some boggy bits at this time of the year, but eventually we arrive at the western edge & the path running along this edge forms part of the Knightley Way

The Knightley Way was Northamptonshire’s first County Path running between Badby & Greens Norton. In the photo above you can just make out a white notice on the post – what’s that about?

Nooooooo!!! We were starving as well

Nooooooo!!! We were starving as well

21. Our next target is Fawsley Hall which we know lies on the Knightley Way is is south from where we’re currently salivating. So turn left & follow the undulating path still inside the Wood…

…on the right here’s some kind of shrine – we’ve researched but can’t find anything…

 22. After following the Knightley Way arrows we eventually see our exit from the Wood into open parkland

You may want to have a rest here as, although our next bit is downhill, what goes down must come back up & there’s more hills to come!

23. After the visual constraints of the Wood it’s now good to be out in the open with excellent views across the Fawsley Estate – we’ll look more closely at this when we come to Fawsley Hall. For now though the Knightley Way is well signposted across the field & down the hill…

Gorse bushes in full bloom

Gorse bushes in full bloom

24. The views from here are great as we head down downwards…

…& we’re heading for the gate between the trees in the distance…

…& then pass the next marker…

…before finally exiting below onto the road…

25. Someone appears to have lost a Ninja dog lead here…

Kowabunga! Let’s turn right & go & have a look at Fawsley Hall. Following the road we pass Fawsley Church on the left…

Knightley Way continues through here but we need to keep to the road

Knightley Way continues through here but we need to keep to the road

Standing isolated on a grassy knoll and surrounded by a ha-ha, St. Mary’s Church contains the Knightley family tombs including effigies of the 16th century Sir Richard Knightley and his wife Jane. Dating to the early 13th century, the church has many fine features such as carved poppy heads and stained glass thought to be from Sulgrave Manor (see our walk around Sulgrave https://northamptonshirewalks.wordpress.com/about/walk-26-sulgravefull-of-stars-stripes/ )

26. So keep heading along the road & we get our first sighting of Fawsley Hall…

…& on the right are some private fishing lakes…

Pretty along here..

Pretty along here..

27. Finally on the left is the entrance to Fawsley Hall so let’s creep up the drive, stop & have a look for a while…

Here’s the main entrance, but have a look at this link for the main website – Fawsley Hall

Fawsley Hall & landscape park was created by the Knightley family. Richard Knightley, a well-to-do Staffordshire lawyer bought the manor of Fawsley in 1416. His grandson Richard, knighted by Henry VII, built the first wing of the present house

Sir Richard’s son, Sir Edmund Knightley ordered the building of the Elizabethan hall, which was visited by Elizabeth I in 1575, after it had passed to Edmund’s nephew, Richard Knightley, a prominent Puritan. He ran a secret printing press at the house on which were printed Puritan pamphlets & for which he was briefly imprisoned. The dower house in Fawsley Park, which we passed earlier was last inhabited in 1704 was built for Lady Ursula after Sir Edmund died.

The estate descended in the wider Knightley family, many of them Members of Parliament. Mr Lucy Knightley, who inherited in it 1728 built the Georgian wing of Fawsley Hall. He was High Sheriff of Northamptonshire for 1770–71.

In 1798 Sir John Knightley was created a Baronet. His nephew, Sir Charles Knightley, 2nd Baronet, carried out the Gothic alterations to the Georgian Wing, & his son Sir Rainald, the 3rd Baronet, commissioned architect Anthony Salvin to re-model the North Wing. Sir Rainald served as MP for South Northamptonshire for 40 years and was created Baron Rainald in 1892, but died childless in 1895. His widow kept possession until 1913, after which financial restraints necessitated the auction of the house’s contents after her death. She was the last Knightley to live at the Hal, completing 500 years of Knightley occupation.

When her eventual heirs Sir Charles Valentine, 5th Baronet died in 1932 & his brother, Sir Henry Francis, 6th & last Baronet, died in 1938, the estate passed to the Gage family of Firle Place, Sussex, by virtue of an earlier marriage of Sir Rainald’s sister, Sophia, to Viscount Gage. The Gage family still own the former Knightley lands.

28. Right…the smells coming out of the kitchen were very tempting but, given the attire & mud on the walking boots, we thought it best to move on – we have hills to climb!!

We exit via the same gates…

We exit via the same gates…

Heeding the sign to be careful of the road...

Heeding the sign to be careful of the road…

Our path back to Badby lies through the gate ahead of us across the road…

29. Our first part of the return is flat across the field heading between the two trees & through the gate…

…& then across to the next gate in the corner

30. We now need to hug the right fence for about 100 yards looking for the bridge over the ditch below…

…which we cross over & now it’s ‘rope on’ as we begin our ascent back up the hill towards where we left Badby Wood…

The path’s not immediately easy to spot but if we follow the tracks made by the cattle we can see a gate diagonally to the right…

…& you can spot the gate by the large fallen tree…

31. Now the climb becomes steeper so this is really great exercise…

Keep to the left of the marker

Keep to the left of the marker

& then ignore the gate keeping to the right up the steep slope

& then ignore the gate keeping to the right up the steep slope

…& eventually huffing & puffing we arrive back at the gate to Badby Wood we left a short while ago

& maybe after that climb it’s time for a drink of water & a short breather before we finish this walk off

32. Right…2nd wind achieved so we need to re-enter Badby Wood & stick to the left path following the Knightley Way again. It’s downhill all the way now (well nearly)…

…& at the end is our exit from the Wood

33. Now we head diagonally right across the field to the next gate…

…& at this point we thought we were lost again, but finally we see a sign sharp left that gives us hope!!

34. There was  a gorgeous cock pheasant along here but he kept running to avoid his photo. After a short downhill stint it’s now a steep climb up the track…

Hiya Billy!!

Hiya Billy!!

35. Right we’re now back in a ‘tunnel’…

…but can see the light at the end of the tunnel…

36. So…we emerge onto the road opposite Badby Church

…& opposite is a stunning property…

37. So…we turn right & head down the lane – you can see a cat, but it didn’t fancy having its photo taken…

…& at the end of the church wall follow it round to the left where we find a seat to sit a while…

…& the view’s a bit special so wait a while…

38. Let’s have a closer look at the bench…

Memories of Corrie

Memories of Corrie

…& then move on along Vicarage Hill…

Beautiful Northamptonshire

Beautiful Northamptonshire\

39. So at the road above we turn right to return to where we started

Well…that’s a walk we’ve waited about a year to do as Badby Wood is best seen with its bluebells, although it’s also great at all times of the year – this really is a magical Wood. Don’t be fooled that this walk’s a breeze as there are some pulls up the hills

This however is a stunning part of Northamptonshire so go explore

 

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