Walk 112: Silverstone Circular: A great ‘Formula’ & an Ancient Wood

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 7.3 miles (11.7km)

Time to walk: Around about 2.5 hours. You can see from the map that we missed a turn on the edge of the village near the end & had to backtrack

Difficulty: Flat walking on a mixture of hard surfaces, fields & woodland tracks, that could become very boggy after heavy rain. There are several stiles & some are quite loose so be careful

Parking: We parked in Silverstone High Street outside the White Horse pub

Public toilets: The White Horse at the start & end, but that’s it

Map of the route:

We did this walk in October 2018 to celebrate 70 years of the Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Grand Prix. We won’t actually visit the circuit as it’s the other side of the busy A43 that separates it from Silverstone village. It seems bizarre that having lived in Northamptonshire since 1979, we’ve never actually visited the village, only the circuit! It was time to put that right!!

Todays walk starts in the village & then criss-crosses Bucknell Wood. Once out of the village, if you see another soul you’ll be lucky – we saw one dog walker & one jogger

So what can we tell you about Silverstone? Silveston, or Silson, nowadays “Silverstone” was originally “Silva Tone” ie. the Wood Town, so called because of its location in the midst of the forest. It’s mentioned in the Domesday Book of William I, & was often the residence of our early Monarchs, when enjoying the pleasures of the chase in Whittlewood Forest . In 1274 King Edward I visited Silverstone & the Sheriff was commanded to do the necessary repairs to the King’s house there, without delay before winter

Other than that it’s known all around the world for motor racing & the circuit straddles the Northamptonshire & Buckinghamshire border

Silverstone first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1948 &, although it was rotated between here & Brands Hatch, the race permanently located to Silverstone in 1987. The circuit also hosts the British round of the Moto GP motorbike series

Shall we have a get on with a circuit then?

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts out side the White Horse pub in Silverstone High Street which is a good, honest Northamptonshire pub &, if you’re a Formula 1 fan, well worth a visit to see the memorabilia – just don’t go there on Grand Prix weekend!

Whenever we see a village poster board we always have to go & have a nosey to see what’s going on. The one opposite the pub shows the village is very active

It also participates in the latest craze of hiding & finding painted stones (Silverstone Rocks)…

2. We really loved the open space of Silverstone village centre & the way that cars parked all over the place whilst popping into the local shop

St Michael’s church is also rather quirky. As early as 1200 a chapel was attached to the royal residence, but was replaced by a small church in 1780 . Little of the history can be traced &, in 1841, it was decided to add a chancel to this small church. The present church, the third on the same site, is an excellent example of a simple Victorian building of stone, 90 feet long by 39 feet broad, with a beautiful reredos & mosaic of the Crucifixion. It was built in 1884, funded entirely by the generosity of Sir Robert Loder of Whittlebury Lodge, very near the time of his lavish restoration of Whittlebury church

3. On the other side of the road’s the village War Memorial…

We walk past the church & down the hill towards where the road bends round to the right…

4. Look to for the signpost that says “No footpath.” We actually need to take the footpath on the left that’s just before it down a narrow alley…

It follows a stream & then crosses a bridge & a stile out of the village & into the countryside

5. Our route lies diagonally left towards the gated bridge in the hedge…

Once through we’d ask you to just stand for 10 seconds, look at the path ahead & think..wow this is what makes Northamptonshire special. We always say look for a path that makes you think “I really want to walk down there” & this one certainly does

6. At the hedge cross the bridge into Silverstone Playing Fields & turn left. Walk across the football pitches to the childrens’ playground where the stile awaits our exit onto the road…

Turn right to exit the village – be careful here as there’s no footpaths so if you’re walking the dog it’s leads on time

7. Walk up the hill & look for the bridleway sign on the left which will take us into Bucknell Wood

Welcome to an ‘ancient’ woodland full of wonderful flora & fauna, plus it’s renowned for its grass snakes & slow worms. It’s extremely peaceful & we got the impression that not many people know it’s there

8. We walk straight ahead to the gate…

…& walk round the edge onto the main path. The only directional instruction we can now give you is to walk straight ahead for about 30 minutes until you can’t go no further!!!! Seriously though just follow the path & keep yours eyes & ears open as you’ll never know what you’ll see

9. We reach a crossroads…look at the map. This is where we’ll zigzag back over later…

… but for now we just go straight across where the hard path becomes much more rugged & could get extremely boggy in wet weather

We couldn’t get them on camera, but we a couple of jays were chattering here & then flew across into the deeper woods

10. Eventually we reach the western edge of the wood – you’ll know when as there’s a gate blocking the way…

After walking through the gate, we now follow the track around the edge of the wood as the path continues to open up. The trees are beginning to show some amazing autumn colours

11. Eventually we come to another gate & head diagonally left to the corner in the top of the meadow, crossing a rickety stile & through another gate into a grassy lane…

…to arrive at yet another gate onto a hard track

12. Now there’s an opportunity for a diversion. If you fancy visiting the lovely, small village of Abthorpe then keep straight ahead on the track. It’s known that the village once had a medieval deer park which is thought to have been Bucknell Wood which we’ll enter again shortly

Today though, Abthorpe isn’t on our route as, rather than follow the hard track, we take the footpath sign on the right which leads past a small farmyard & into a narrow wooded path

Walk through the gate…there’s more colourful signs of autumn

13. There’s another gate at the end of the woodland & several footpath signs point in different directions. It’s time to head back into Bucknell Wood again, so we go through the gate & turn right beside the hedge down the hill

There’s two gates at the bottom of the hill, one leading out of the field & another back into the wood itself

14. Our previous track through the wood was directly east to west. This time we’re heading directly north to south & it’s dead straight so impossible to get lost

The wood has also changed along this stretch. Previously the trees were primarily deciduous, but now we’re walking amongst pines – take in the scent, it’s quite heady

15. After 10 minutes we arrive at a crossroads with the path we walked along earlier. Ours remains straight ahead & once more the wider stony path changes into a narrow grassy one…

16. After another 10 minutes or so we reach the southern edge of the wood & pass through the gate to exit it for the final time

On the right’s a rather beautiful small pond – be careful though as the signs warn that it’s deep

17. Walk through another gate & turn left up a hard farm road &…be careful. We heard some yapping & were greeting by two very friendly Jack Russells. Whilst stroking them we were then challenged by an aggressive larger black dog with hair all up & teeth bared…

Needless to say we didn’t hang about to take a photo, but the dog was running around us until we walked straight across the farmyard & down the hard road. So just a word of warning when you pass through this area

18. We’re now going to follow this narrow lane for roughly one mile back to Silverstone. There’s some very attractive properties along this stretch & someone has a cheeky sense of humour – we’re yet to see any kangaroos on any of our Northamptonshire walks

19. The lane opens out across fields & Silverstone can now be clearly seen ahead…

Just past the new development we arrive at the junction with one of the village roads

20. Now…we got a little confused here as our route said right & then look for a footpath on the left. If you have a look at the map of this walk, you’ll see a ‘spike’ which is where we missed the footpath (hidden by trees) & had to come back

The path we need on the left goes between the houses & emerges into a field where we carry straight on…

…passing through the gap in the hedge & over the bridge. There’s another gap to pass through & then we head diagonally right towards the house in the top of the field

21. Go through the kissing gate & walk up ‘Cattle End’. Stop outside the first house on the right & read the sign that’s on the wall

It basically says “Six young men of Cattle End became soldiers & died in the 1914 – 1918 war. Three were sons of ‘Widow Roberts’ of Barrack Row. Just 20 paces from where you stand, by the kissing gate, behind you stood the cottage homes of their fellow heroes. Tom Lovell, William Spencer, Frank Chapman, Sepimas Roberts, Tom Roberts, Forester Roberts. Cottages gone – the soldiers are not forgotten”

22. At the top of the lane we turn left along the main road…

At the corner of the High Street’s the village sign & we loved it so stand & take it all in as it contains so much…

Look around the plinth too

23. Now we turn left along Silverstone High Street, which for 51 weeks of every year remains a normal place

But you can never get away from what this village’s really known for & good on them for promoting it

24. As the road bends left, on the corner’s the old Methodist Chapel…

…& just round the corner we’re back at The White Horse where we started this walk

So what’s out thoughts on this one – well we’ve ticked off another place in the Shire that we’ve never walked before, the beautiful ancient wood that’s Bucknell Wood & we can highly recommend exploring it

It’s an easy to follow peaceful walk that we could imagine doing well wrapped up on a frosty, winter’s morning & then warming up in the pub at the end

Go Walk