The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 2 miles (3.22km)
Time to walk: A really short family walk in the lovely Tove valley. Normally takes about an hour, but you’ve got two stunning villages to look around and listen what’s that…….the sound of silence. This walk is so peaceful.
Difficulty: On roads and across open fields so if there’s been heavy rain it may be muddy in parts.
Parking: On road parking in Abthorpe
Public toilets: The New Inn pub in Abthorpe
Map of the route :
So what can we tell you about this walk…
This was the second walk we’d done today… see Walk 13: “Picturesque South Northamptonshire villages (2).” It’s a short circular walk starting & ending in the centre of the village & takes in Slapton. Apart from a 300 yard stretch of road you’re hardly likely to see a soul – bliss. There’s one hill across a field, but apart from that it’s pretty flat.
So come on…Let’s Walk!
1. Our starting point is Abthorpe – park up by the green. On the banks of the infant River Tove, Abthorpe lies 3 miles south-west of Towcester & is one of Northamptonshire’s prettiest & least known villages – there’s a plaque on the beautiful village green near the church showing how many times it’s been the winner of ‘Best kept village’.
A small south Northamptonshire parish with only about 250 inhabitants, it’s midway between London and Birmingham in gently rolling countryside. This area has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. Lactodorum, today’s Towcester, was built by the Romans on their famous Watling Street and many villas were built in its hinterland including Abthorpe’s Mile Oak Villa – one of the largest ever excavated in England.
Have a look at the Abthorpe weblink above – it really is a beautiful village
At the far end of the green lies the old stone school – note it still has it’s bell…how fantastic is that!
The church here is well worth a look at, although was locked when we visited…
2. To the right of the church, turn right down the ‘overstated’ Main Street. Over the road here is The New Inn.
3. Keep on down Main Street…is there witchcraft around here?
At the bottom ignore all the footpath signs & just climb straight over the stile into the field…it has a ‘lift up’ part for dogs…
Once in the field we are away from the rest of the world so just keep straight ahead & watch the sheep poo!
Do you know what there’s some very ugly sheep in this field & this was an attractive one…
Follow the field round to the left & then climb over the next stile…
4. Now head diagonally right until the next stile – careful here it’s a bit higher! Now we’re standing on top of a former railway cutting – we’ll go over this again
5. When we get to this stile there’s a lovely little arched bridge over the River Tove. Not a massive river at this stage but character…
Just over the bridge is a Damson tree – we may be back….
6. The path underneath the bushes leads to Slapton Mill & you’ll feel like you’re passing through someone’s backyard which you are so head straight on up the lane.
7. Another gorgeous South Northamptonshire little known about village – sorry villagers, but here’s a few photos of your houses…
8. So after turning left at the top of the road follow down & then turn right up Church Lane…anyone spot the Church? Keep going up the road but be careful of the house on the right where a huge, noisy dog can get it’s paws on the top of the gate…
When we reach the top of the lane turn left & follow the brick wall along the side of this house
Pass through the gate at the bottom et voila there’s the church on the right….Apparently it’s locked but it is possible to ask for the key if you want to look round.
9. At the end of the path go through the gate on the left, down the lane & join the road again
10. At the bottom turn right & follow the road (be careful) along over the disused railway line & the River Tove again to a T -Junction
11. Now be very careful as this is a very busy road. Turn left & walk for 300 yards past Highfield Farm (some very scruffy chickens here) until you reach a telegraph post with the sign below when we turn through a gate into the field.
Follow the field keeping the hedge on the right to the top & then climb the stile on the right & pass through the gate on the left
12. Now follow the hedge on our left….nice pond too
13. Keep following the hedge until the corner of the field & then turn left through the gate. Previous walk instructions are unclear for here, but head straight up across the field towards the large shed
14. Once you reach the shed turn left onto the track & start following it back towards Abthorpe
15. You can follow the track straight back to Abthorpe, but why not veer off left here & head through the fields…
Climb over the double stile ahead in the hedge & then head over the hill aiming to the left of the church into the corner of the field to meet the road – almost home.
16. Turn right at the bottom & keep to the elevated path.
17. At the new housing development cross the road & turn down the road to where we started.
So what’s our thoughts on that one? Well a lovely little walk that would be really good to do as a pre or post Sunday lunch stroll, or we can imagine it on a late warm evening.
The best bit though is the silence and the impression there’s no-one else around.