Walk 123: Charlton Circular Walk: A stunning short stroll

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.63km)

Time to walk: This is a lovely walk that’s not to be rushed as you’ll love the views, the sounds of a babbling brook & the flora & fauna. With stops it took us roughly 1.5 hours

Difficulty: All off road along field edges or on well-marked tracks. There’s one steady incline, but it’s nothing strenuous & the views make it all worthwhile. There’s only one stile & we’re pleased to report it was in good condition

Parking: We parked carefully on the road, near the Rose & Crown in Charlton

Public toilets: When open, the Rose & Crown. Sadly when we did this walk in June 2020, the pub was closed due to the Covid-19 virus

Map of the route:

Today’s short walk begins in the stunning village of Charlton, which lies in the south-west of Northamptonshire, between Brackley & Kings Sutton. The area is close to the county boundary with Oxfordshire & has, as we’ll see, superb views over the Cherwell Valley

The village can be dated to at least 1086 when it was recorded in the Domesday book, but archaeological evidence suggests that it can be traced even further back into prehistoric times. We’ll touch on this later in the walk. The Romans also had a presence in the area

The name Charlton comes from the Old English “ceorla tun” meaning the ‘settlement of the ceorls, or free peasants’

This walk’s ideal for families, being not too far, not too hilly & could easily be combined with a meal at the pub when open

Shall we show you what it’s all about then?

Let’s Walk!

1. We’ve parked outside the beautifully thatched Rose & Crown in the centre of the village…

It get’s good reviews for its food & drink, so we’ll be back in better times

2. With your back to the pub, turn right & walk down the street a short way, passing by, & ignoring a footpath sign to Kings Sutton (that’s a path for another day). Instead turn right along the lane opposite Garage Cottage, passing the gate to ‘Garden Cottage’…

Just round the corner, the hard surface turns rougher & continues down the hill into the driveway of a private house…

3. Pass the house & go through the small gate into a field (there were horses here when we did this walk)…

Once through the gate, turn diagonally right & walk down the track towards the large tree & gap in the hedge

4. Cross what’s the only stile on this walk & then the small bridge over the brook, which is a tributary of the River Cherwell. The River Cherwell is a major tributary of the Thames & rises near Hellidon in our County, before flowing south through Oxfordshire to meet the Thames at Oxford

This is a lovely brook &, as we’ll see shortly, quite lively too. Having crossed the bridge, turn immediately left & follow the water

5. Continue around the edge of the field. The summer air was full of the heady smell of elderflowers…

Cross the next bridge & continue along the stream in the same direction

6. The views are starting to unfold now…

The noise from the brook is growing louder as it clearly starts to run faster. Look out for an opening on the left leading down to the brook & a small brick bridge crossing it. This isn’t our route, but it’s worth just walking into & spending a few quiet moments in this rather beautiful place

Click on the video below…

7. Come back out of the glade & continue to follow the stream, still on your left. The smells of wild flowers along here was powerful & we spotted wild honeysuckle & iris’

8. Shortly the path arrives at another bridge & it’s now time to cross over the brook once more…

…& turn right, continuing in the same direction, this time keeping the brook on your right

9. The path bends slightly right. The farmer’s done a great job in marking & keeping the tracks clear…

Walk along the path heading straight towards the large tree & gap in the hedge in the distance above. Once through the gap, continue straight ahead up the path through the field, heading slightly diagonally left

10. At the top of the rise the path joins a much wider track which winds its way down to some buildings called Walton Grounds

Continue to the end of the track & turn left. There’s a signpost indicating a bridleway heading up the hill towards the beautiful, ‘Apricot Village’ of Aynho (see our walk around that village)

However, today that’s not our route. Our way is immediately left & across the field, heading almost back in the same direction you’ve just come from towards the hedge & trees in the distance…

11. The corn was growing strongly in the fields following the warmest May on record, although it was much colder today…

At the end of the first field, continue straight across, heading for the gap leading into the next one…

12. Near the hedge on the right’s a waymarker. Walk ahead, through the gap into the next field where the path is clear, going diagonally right up the hill – this is the steady climb we mentioned at the beginning of this walk…

Take your time & eventually reach the gap near the tree with another waymarker…

13. Now it’s time for a water stop, a breather, & to turn around & marvel at the stunning view across the Cherwell Valley…

Continue in the same direction as the marker post, keeping the hedge on your right

There are now views to the left, back down towards Charlton. Follow the edge of the field until you arrive at a gate on in the hedge on the right…

14. Once through the gate, carry on in the same direction keeping the hedge on your left. Ahead is a prominent hill, which we’ll talk about shortly, but the field in front of it was absolutely covered with beautiful wild flowers – what a sight it was…

15. Walk along the fence & pass through a gate. There used to be an information board here, informing you of the importance of the mound on your right…

The route lies straight ahead, but take some time to venture right & visit the mound. This is Rainsborough Camp…

16. Rainsborough Camp was an Iron Age hill fort, roughly oval & longest from north to south & covering an area of about 6.4 acres. The site was landscaped in the late 18th century. The inner bank was made higher & the inner ditch deeper. It still gives you an idea though of what was once here…

The site was excavated extensively between 1961 & 1965. Several phases of occupation were found. There was pre-fort occupation in the 5th & 6th centuries BC. A bivallate fort was built in the 5th century BC, the inner rampart was tiered in three steps at the rear, & the west entrance had stone guardrooms behind the entrances. Occupation continued, with repairs to the defences, until the early 4th century BC when the fort was attacked & burnt, & perhaps abandoned

In the late 2nd century BC the fort was refortified & the entrance was rebuilt. The work was left incomplete & the fort was abandoned. There is evidence of activity in the Roman period, in the late 1st century AD & the 3rd to 4th centuries AD

It’s worth walking into the site & we love places where you can stand & feel history. This site’s extremely old & you can imagine what went on there so long ago. These days though the only occupants are of the wooly kind…

17. Well, that was an added bonus on this short walk! Continue past the site of the fort to the fence & gates. It’s at this point, quite near to the end of the walk, that the signposting & way markers let it down, so trust us…

Ignore the gate on the right with the waymarker & go through the gate ahead of you…

Now turn immediately left, & walk down the field with the hedge on your left to another gate under a large horse chestnut tree…

 

18. We couldn’t get this gate open, as it had been roped up, so had to climb it! Now walk straight down the next meadow. If anyone shouts at you tell them that’s what the path looks like on the map & ask them to mark it!!

On reaching the fence at the bottom of the field, you’ll be beside the brook once more. Turn right & follow the fence to the gate to exit onto the road. At this point you’ll see a signpost & realise that you were on a footpath anyway!!

19. Turn left & cross the ‘babbling brook’ once more with its impressive dry stone wall…

…& continue up the hill into Charlton again. You’ll see green ribbons tied around the village sign & several other places in the village. This is in support of Harry Dunn who was tragically killed nearby

20. Pass the stables on the left. You can’t fail to miss the imposing building that’s Charlton Lodge on the right. The Lodge is thought to have been built originally sometime during the 17th century as a simple farm house. It was first gentrified in the 18th, & then greatly altered & extended during the 19th century & now looks like a large Victorian house

At some point during the 19th century a tunnel was constructed from the main house under the road to connect with the adjacent stables. The tunnel was later used as an ice house & was finally filled in due to health & safety concerns

21. In early June, the street looked fabulous with all the shrubs & flowers showing their true glory…

So that’s it! We’re back at the Rose & Crown where we started what we thought was quite the perfect little walk. It could only be made more perfect if we could now have a cold drink in what looks a lovely pub…

But, that’s for another time when the world’s a better place. Until then this walk stands up on its own so…

Go Walk!