Walk 104: Maidwell Circular: A short afternoon stroll

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)

Time to walk: About 1 hour, although can be combined with a pub stop

Difficulty: A flat easy walk, initially along the Brampton Valley Way & then on field tracks so may become muddy in wet weather

Parking: Free parking in the Draughton Crossing car park on the Brampton Valley Way

Public toilets: The Stag in Maidwell

Map of the route:

This is a typical short country walk that’s ideal for a crisp winter’s day to wear off the effects of a large lunch. Or maybe even combine it with a visit to The Stag in Maidwell

It’s set in the north of the county amongst some of our lovely rolling countryside &, although the busy A14 runs close by, it feels quite peaceful

We combined this walk with our one around Harrington & Arthingworth which are close by. It would also be possible to extend it along the Brampton Valley Way to walk through the tunnels – take a torch though!

We’ll describe the area in more detail as we go so…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts from the free car park at the Draughton Crossing just outside Maidwell on the Brampton Valley Way old railway line. Funnily the station didn’t used to be here – it was further south at the next crossing

After parking walk north along the well-defined path. Tip: watch out for cyclists coming up behind at speed!

The Brampton Valley Way is a 14 mile disused railway line built on the track of the former Northampton to Market Harborough Railway. The railway line was closed in 1981 & the 13 mile Northamptonshire section was purchased by Northamptonshire County Council with grant aid from the Countryside Commission in 1987, when work began on developing it as a linear park. The 1 mile section north of the county boundary is owned by Leicestershire County Council although Northamptonshire County Council undertake the management of the complete route

The Brampton Valley Way, from Boughton Crossing in Northampton to Little Bowden Crossing in Market Harborough, was opened in the spring of 1993 & provides recreational access for cyclists & walkers

There are two former railway tunnels on the old line, Kelmarsh (322 yards) & Oxendon (462 yards). The tunnels are unlit & so can be quite an experience & great fun to walk through, although alternative routes over the tunnels are provided

2. Whenever we’re walking at this time of year we always look at the number of berries on the bushes & remember the old wives tale that the more there are for the birds the more likely it’s going to be a harsh winter

Last year there were loads & it was mild, but this year there doesn’t appear to be so many & yet it’s a cold snap at the end of November 2017 – who would be a weather forecaster!

3. Old railway lines always make interesting walking as the wildlife takes over very quickly & there’s a good chance of seeing deer, foxes & other creatures ahead so always keep looking for movement. On a trip to Mull, we spent a day with a wildlife expert & he told us to look for something that shouldn’t be there – a great tip

However one thing that really annoys us is people that bag it, but don’t take it home!! Ridiculous as plastic causes so much more harm to the environment

4. Eventually our path reaches a crossroads which is our cue to leave the railway track & turn left towards Maidwell. This crossroads is known as Green Lane Crossing

The path now becomes a wide bridleway & begins to climb steadily, giving superb views across the Brampton Valley. The noise from the A14 also increases…

This is really good, typical Northamptonshire walking…

5. The bridleway eventually comes to another junction with a metal gate. Here we bear left & you can see Maidwell ahead. What amused us though was the traffic signs along here on a grass track!

So now it’s a gentle stroll towards the village…

6. Passing through the gateway, look for a large, old oak on the left. The county has several oak trees between 400 – 600 years old & they can live to over 1000 years. However this one only dates back around 150 years

Shortly the path winds its way into Maidwell

7. Maidwell dates back at least to Saxon times, but there is evidence to suggest there were bronze age settlements near the boundary with Cottesbrooke. There are also signs of an early Iron Age site, thought to have had defensive origins, plus there is the site of a Roman Villa not far away

The village at one time also had two manors & each had its own church. St. Mary’s, like the manor to which it belonged, survived & is today’s Parish Church, but there was also, for at least 300 years from the early thirteenth century to the mid sixteenth, Maidwell St. Peter’s, only a couple of fields away from St. Mary’s. St Peter’s was destroyed or fell into disrepair around 1540, so it may have been a victim of the Reformation

The village does however, as the website states, have somewhat of a darker past. Click on the link to read more

On exiting the field turn right & walk down the main street of the village

8. Have a look at Rectory Farmhouse on the right which has a rather interesting gargoyle above the door

There’s also plenty of evidence that the local village market system is alive & well…

9. At the corner of the road’s the primary school & the Church of St Mary the Virgin. The main structure of the present building was erected in the 12th & 13th centuries. The oldest parts are the north & south doorway dating from the 12th century

Walk into the churchyard & have a wander around the graveyard as this is from where we get the best view of Maidwell’s other notable building…Maidwell Hall

10. Nothing of the hall can be seen from the main road so this is the best view. The hall dates back to the 17th century, but since 1933 it’s been a boarding & day preparatory school. Past pupils include Earl Spencer & food critic William Sitwell

It’s at this point that if you fancy some refreshment continue round past the church to The Stag

To continue this walk come out of the churchyard & look for a footpath to the south with the Maidwell Trail signpost again. At the end’s a gate into the field…

11. Pass through the gate & follow the field round to the left & then down the hill towards the bridge in the corner

Cross the bridge & the next field towards the old railway footbridge

12. Fortunately these days we don’t need to cross the bridge…

…but pass under it & we’re back on the Brampton Valley Way. Now it’s only a quarter of a mile back to where we left the car

So that’s it…short & sweet, no frills & ideal for a short stroll. Like we said it’s possible to combine it with some of our other walks in the area & is in a beautiful part of our Shire

Go Walk!