The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 6.2 miles (10 km)
Time to walk: Another one that you can crack in under 3 hours, but this is a real ‘family walk & a great one to introduce the kids to the countryside with the promise of an ice cream (in the summer) at the end.
Difficulty: A brilliant flat walk…across fields, farm tracks and roads. It’s also generally very well marked – we didn’t have a map & didn’t get lost! There’s also the chance to see quite a bit of wildlife. We saw buzzards, a hobby and some slugs!
Parking: We used the pub car park of the Navigation at Stoke Bruerne.
Public toilets: Quite a few…The Navigation at the start, or if the sound of rushing water through the lock affects you, over it at The Boat Inn, or about 4 miles in at Shutlanger at the recently reopened ‘The Plough Inn’ – but not on a Monday (see below)
Map of the route: None – we didn’t need one as it’s very well marked. There will be a couple of times when you think have you’ve missed a checkpoint but you won’t have – the walks between some checkpoints are quite lengthy
So shall we get going….??
1. We suggest you park up at The Navigation. Lovely pub to sit outside in the summer. Bit of a chain re food, but always a good place to meet friends. Huge car park & ignore signs about ‘Patrons only’ & either buy a tea or coffee before you start or maybe a beer or ‘fruit based drink’ for the lady afterwards. If it’s fine try & bag a seat on one of the benches beside the canal.
Have to say I love Stoke Bruerne at all times of the year – it’s a ‘moving’ place as there’s always something happening here. People on boats move through, moor up, sell their wares – today there was a woman sat on her boat crocheting blankets, which she was then selling & also a boat from Wales selling cheese. They call in, moor up, do their stuff & move on
The village itself dates from before the canal, when it relied on agriculture
So what’s happening in Stoke Bruerne – well here’s a selection…
The Boat Inn – we took all our friends here for Sunday lunch after getting engaged in 1981
Spice of bruerne – first time here loved it, second it wasn’t so great – give it a try it might now be better! If it is let us know.
The Old Chapel – brilliant cup of tea & cake – no website
The Canal Museum – now has a great audio tour. There were lots of people sitting on the lock arms listening to information handsets – what a fantastic thing to do on a lovely day!
Rookery Open Farm – great for smaller kids
2. So here’s a few pictures of Northamptonshire’s secret canal jewel & we’ll come back to look at more at the end of our walk.
3. Right…enough…Come on let’s go!!!!
From The Navigation car park turn left & then right at the bridge & head back North East into the village until you come to the green below…
4. Head left up Mill Lane – nice properties up here! Keep going until we reach the top. Pass through the gate below
Keep the hedge on your left up here & eventually the field opens out, but our route is straight ahead through the next gate, passing between the old railway cutting…
The path emerges from the wood at a field. Take the signed route straight ahead across the field (slightly diagonally right towards the right hedge)
Look for the bridge in the hedge on the right & cross to the next field
5. Immediately turn left along the hedge line, but then look for a path across the field towards the large tree (there’s a dead tall tree next to it)
After arriving at the right edge turn left & then follow the hedge to the end of the field & across another bridge. You’ve now have joined the Midshires Way.
6. Turn immediately left & follow the track in a straight line – don’t deviate. Eventually the path joins the track below which leads up to a road
7. Cross over the road & continue on the Midshires Way.
You’re now actually walking on top of the canal! The Blisworth tunnel runs under you here & we’ll come back to that later. Again, it’s quite a walk to the next trig point so don’t think you’ve gone too far & missed it. You pass through several fields & then once you see the big tree below that’s the check point.
8. After going through the gap, turn right & follow the hedge on the right – ignore the footpath in that hedge & keep going to the corner & then turn left heading towards Nun Wood – you can see it below
After about 100 yards the Midshires Way goes off to the right – ignore & keep heading to the wood. There’s fab views on both sides now – can you see the lift tower?
9. Cross the bridge into Nun Wood & just keep straight on. What a fabulous little wood this is, teeming with wildlife – it was here about 10 yards ahead 3 partridges appeared quite startling
The footpath comes straight out into another field so bear slightly right following the track with the hedge on your right & now head for Burn Wood in the distance
10. On reaching the wood turn immediately right & follow the path through it
At the end of the woods go through the gate & turn left following the hedge on your left until you come to a concrete track (nice farmhouse on the right)
11. Turn left follow the farm track & you’ll notice it’s getting noisy by the road now….See the map below for the loop…
Turn left at the signpost & head across a cattle grid towards Top Farm (see map above)
All I’ll say now is about 100 yards from the farm out comes a scruffy mutt aged about 108 that decides to woof & challenge us
After seeing off the mutt head right up the track below (the green dotted footpath alongside the green strip in the map above)…
Again it’s quite a trek up here, especially with the geriatric mutt trying to appear threatening behind (come on if you think you’re hard enough – ha!) but keep going until you hit the road.
12. Head straight across over the road & continue to follow the track
Also noticed around this area the tree leaves have a lot of spores on them – what’s that about?
We originally thought it was caused by the horse chestnut leaf-mining moth laying its eggs in the leaves & the caterpillars hatching inside. However one of our lovely walkers, Sarah has said it’s actually a fungal infection called “Tar Spot” – thanks Sarah!
At the end of the track we pass under the old railway again & then turn sharp left onto the new well marked farm track
13. This walk’s so easy to follow…
Have to say somewhat disconcertingly was the buzzing noise the pylons were making with the amount of electricity in the air – that can’t be good can it?
Just past here a buzzard took off – no long lens so this was the best I could get
14. At the end of the track cross the ford – we have to say that the people have done a great job here with paths, new bridges etc.
Turn left over the next bridge…
Right now we’re going to follow the stream to the road – quite another hike & that’s a 4 foot drop into that ditch
Lots of signs of autumn along this hedgerow, but the skies now look menacing so best to crack on – loads of lovely slugs around tho….
Eventually you’ll arrive at a stile into the road – careful it’s busy.. Turn left & walk 700 metres along the road into Shutlanger.
15. Had a bit of fun in these 700 metres – a woman kept going up & down on a cycle – hello, hello, hello!! We’ll come back to her….
On the left is rather wonderful…The Plough which is great to stop at for refreshments
And if after your lunch you want to catch the bus back to Northampton here you go…don’t you just love it’s handwritten?
16. Continue up the main road – if you’re worried about the time forget checking it here..
Turn right now down Water Lane – today we encountered someone to chat to…think there’s a scarecrow festival coming up!
Now here’s an interesting place…at the bottom of this lane is (allegedly) an old monastery on the left…have a look at the link – it’s a listed building but it’s all a bit vague…
17. Turn left through the gate & head towards the telegraph pole in the distance below..
On reaching the telegraph pole keep the hedge on your right & go through the gate at the bottom of the slope.
Now follow the left hand hedge to the next gate
18. Go up the hill & follow the fence. Now here’s a bizarre thing. We’re virtually walking through a field of oats & in the middle of it is…..an allotment!!!! It’s literally surrounded by the crops on all sides.
What’s that all about?!!!!
Anyway, time to move on & at the road bear slightly right & then cross into the field down the next track towards the church ahead.
On reaching the houses pass through the gate, go over the road & if you have time have a look round the church
19. Literally before the gate into the churchyard turn left into the field (it looks as though you’re turning into someone’s back garden) & keep to the right. At the end turn right as below…
At the end of the track…hey we’re back in Stoke Bruerne so turn left & follow the road back to the canal & The Navigation.
20. So here we are back in Stoke Bruerne…..remember I mentioned the “hello” cycling woman?? Well she’s now running along the canal & tells me it’s training for a triathlon!! We didn’t see her swimming in the canal though…
Now back in Stoke Bruerne you can’t leave without following the tow path to the Blisworth tunnel. Have a look at the link it’s an amazing feat of engineering & we’ve been through it several times after hiring a day boat.
So that’s our superb little latest walk done. Like we said this is an ideal afternoon walk with the family & a picnic.
Go try – it’s fab!