Walk 117: Chipping Warden & Edgcote Circular. Northamptonshire at its best!


The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.3 miles (6.86km)

Time to walk: Roughly 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace

Difficulty: A mixture of field & hard surface walking. Mainly flat, with a few small inclines & a couple of stiles. Pretty easy walking

Parking: We parked on road in Chipping Warden near the church

Public toilets: The Griffin Inn at Chipping Warden at the start & end of the walk, but nothing in-between

Map of the route:

This is a cracking little walk, taking in two beautiful Northamptonshire villages in some stunning countryside. It’s right in the southwest corner of the County on the border with Oxfordshire. Apart from in the residential areas, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see another person & this is such a peaceful walk

Our start point is the lovely village of Chipping Warden with its mellow deep-coloured sandy ironstone, which looked at its picturesque best in the August summer sunshine. The term “Chipping” comes from the Old English ‘ceping’ meaning “market”. In 1238 Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, obtained royal letters from Henry III revoking Chipping Warden’s right to hold a market. This was because the Bishops of Lincoln controlled the market at Banbury & earned tolls from it, & Grosseteste feared that Chipping Warden was drawing trade away from Banbury

Shall we get going?

Let’s Walk!

1. We parked beside the village sign & war memorial in the lane leading to the church. The sign has an aircraft on it, which refers back to World War II when Chipping Warden had a bomber airfield nearby

Across the main road’s one of two public houses in the village, The Rose & Crown which, after a period of closure, we’re happy to report is open again

If you fancy some refreshments either before, or after this walk, The Griffin is on the other side of the green

2. To start the walk, head towards the church. Note the large tiered platform in front of the church. This is known locally as ‘the steps’ & marks the site of the old market cross…

The church itself is dedicated to St Peter & St Paul & dates back to the 13th century

3. Follow the Mill Lane as it sweeps round to the left, heading towards some stone pillar with gates at the end. There’s some rather lovely properties here, as there are in all of the village

The stone pillars at the end of Mill Lane mark the former entrance to Edgcote House which we’ll see shortly

There’s also a noticeboard by the gate which shows that you’re on the Battlefields Trail, which is a long distance footpath running 20 miles through beautiful countryside in the heart of England. The trail starts in here in Chipping Warden, & ends in Kineton, Warwickshire. The trail links three of Britain’s most important battlefields:

  • ·  Edgcote (1469) in Northamptonshire
  • ·  Cropredy Bridge (1644) in Oxfordshire
  • ·  Edgehill (1642) in Warwickshire

It could definitely be one for us in the future!

4. Walk through the gate & follow the single track road through the trees & out into open countryside. And what beautiful countryside it is with sweeping views…

Shortly the road arrives at a rather ornate bridge which covers the infant River Cherwell…

The River Cherwell is a major tributary of the River Thames & rises, close to Chipping Warden, in Hellidon. It flows south through Oxfordshire for 40 miles to meet the Thames at Oxford

5. Continue up the hill, passing between some fences – you’re now entering the hamlet of Edgcote…

At the junction turn right & have a look at the stunning Edgcote House, an 18th century country house built of local ironstone. In 1543 the Edgcote estate, which had previously belonged to Anne of Cleves, was bought from the Crown by William Chauncy, MP for Northamptonshire & the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire

In 1642 the house was used as headquarters by the army of Charles I before the Battle of Edgehill on 23 October, the first major battle of the English Civil War

The 1700 acre park was laid out in the 18th century & features a lake fed by the River Cherwell & the remains of a Roman villa. The house is heated by heat energy extracted from the lake. The BBC used the house in its 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’

6. Next door’s the Church of St James, the oldest parts of which date back to the 13th century

Graveyards fascinate us & this one has some interesting gravestones, especially when you realise that ‘Mickey Rooney’s’ buried here…

7. It’s time to leave the village, so walk back past the House & continue left down the lane past the stables. Over the next part of this walk, you’ll come to realise that this is ‘horse country’ & they’re absolutely everywhere

Pass the stables on the left & walk down the hill to the old mill house…

The mill stream can still be seen on the left & the old waterwheel still looks in good condition. This really is a lovely spot to rest a while & the locals are very friendly too

8. Pass over the bridge & turn immediately right at the footpath signpost, walking up the field & then turning right through an open gate towards the copse. We have to commend the people who have put the footpath posts out as they’re very clear & visible

On reaching the wood, pass through another gate & then walk uphill, keeping the trees on your right until reaching the summit when the grassy path opens up & follows the line of the hedge on one side & horse paddocks on the other. You can probably just make out the River Cherwell which is in the dip on the right

9. The grassy track eventually meets a farm road. The route lies straight ahead, but there’s an interesting sign…

The farm here has several ‘Shepherds Huts’ placed around the area which you can rent out for a week or even one night. There’s a couple to the right beside the river & another to your left. Check out this link for details. We’ll come across the ‘Cocoons’ shortly!

10. At the top of the rise the path bears right towards a bridge across the stream in the poplars. Look across to see the ‘Cocoons’ – not sure we fancy staying in one of those!

A word of warning as you approach the hedge & bridge. This area obviously gets quite boggy as someone had placed old crates down to walk on. Just be careful where you tread as they’re not very strong & it’s easy to get a wet boot trapped…

11. Cross the bridge & walk up the right side of the field beside the wood…

…walking though the gate & continuing in the same direction through the next meadow. There were horses in the first field & sheep in the second so make sure you put any dogs on  their leads

12. After passing through the above gate, turn immediately left & exit the field over a stile onto the road…

Walk down the road to the right to Trafford’s Bridge at the junction

13. It’s time to return to Edgcote & the lane to the right will take us all the way there. Be careful as, although this is a quiet road, it’s narrow & you may encounter farm traffic. As you climb the hill look across to the right to see the rear of the Manor in the distance

We mentioned that this is a ‘horsey’ area & through the hedge on the left you can see a racing track with several hurdles & eventually a starting gate

The entrance to the ‘racecourse’ is slightly further up the hill & it’s clear that this is serious stuff & is a point-to-point course that holds several meeting a year

14. The road bends right & then left, passing a rather attractive small lake

Eventually it reaches a junction & it’s time to return to the fields once more. Look for the bridleway sign showing the way directly ahead…

15. Enter the field, sticking close to the hedge on the right, & follow it all the way down the hill, entering the woods again at the bottom. Chipping Warden can be clearly seen ahead on the hill

Through the trees the grass track joins a harder one which will lead you back into the village…

16. The road bends as it enters the village & there really are some stunning properties in this part…

Eventually the road rejoins Mill Lane beside the gate with the stone pillars we passed through at the start of the walk. Here it’s a case of retracing your steps to return to the village sign & the start of this walk

So…this is a part of Northamptonshire that we thought we knew quite well. We’d also always considered it to be one of the most beautiful areas & this short walk certainly shows it off at its best, especially on a warm summer’s day

It’s a little stunner so…

Go Walk!