The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 6.6 miles (10.65km)
Time to walk: It took me just under 3 hours but I was stopping to take pictures & write notes
Difficulty: A mixture of hard surfaces & field tracks. Be warned there are hills on this walk!
Parking: In Cottesbrooke, park between the Church & the Post-Box in the wall
Public toilets: There no facilities, shops cafes or pubs on route so take a picnic & sit on the stone seat…you’ll know when you reach it & enjoy the views
Map of the route:
This is a walk that Penny Gasson undertook from one of Northamptonshire’s lovely estate villages to Haselbech hill. Whoever says our county is flat should do this walk! There are some stunning views across the countryside & a long stretch up & a long stretch down
Today’s walk starts in beautiful Cottesbrooke, a small village laying 1 mile north of Creaton with a population of 143. There is evidence that there were settlements here in both Iron Age & Roman times
All Saints Church is quite interesting, having originally been built back in the 1300’s, although there have been many changes. It does have a “story” relating to one of it’s parsons…Parson Legard, one of Northamptonshire’s hunting clerics, is said to have tied his horse to the little gate at the right of the churchyard whilst conducting a funeral. When the hunt galloped past, he felt unable to resist the temptation, left the corpse at the graveside, jumped on his horse & joined the chase!
Shall we get going before the hunt comes past again?
1. As I’ve said, park between the Church & the Post-Box in the wall…
Walk to the corner of this road & turn left at the signpost towards Brixworth
2. Look out for the beautiful houses along here…
…whilst following the path until you reach a small bridge
3. When the path runs out, continue on the road until you reach a footpath sign on the right…
Turn left here & go up the drive passing some farm buildings. We’re now heading up the Macmillan Way, which is a long distance footpath that runs from Abbotsbury in Dorset to Boston in Lincolnshire, 290 miles on existing footpaths & bridleways
Our route takes us up the path with great views over the Cottesbrooke Estate on the left…
…& you can just see Cottesbrooke Hall peeking through the trees. More information on the House coming later!
4. Continue walking up the track though some trees until you reach the junction below…
The path to the right goes to Hanging Houghton, but we continue on the left, up the hill towards Blueberry Lodge
5. Continue past the ‘No Vehicle’ sign. I’m not sure I would drive through a field even in the summer!
Continue ahead along the clear path until you can see a white house ahead, Blueberry Lodge
6. When you can see the house, look out for the pond & then go through the gate…
There were some lovely sheep in this field…
7. Turn left between the house & the farm buildings when you see this sign…
Continue up the concrete track & round the new gate below
8. Follow the track upwards with the new plantation on your left. There are stunning views to your left & right, plus don’t forget to look behind you. You can see Hanging Houghton & Lamport on the ridge opposite
9. This is quite a long slog up the hill, but the views make it all worthwhile…
Shortly you will reach a lovely stone seat & a stone memorial from the previous owners of Blueberry Lodge. This is a lovely place for lunch, to take in the views & watch the Red Kites
10. Having taken in the views & enjoyed lunch, continue up hill & go left of the spinney at the top & follow the field edge with the trees on your right (the path to the right goes to Maidwell)
11. Turn left at the tree below & continue along the field edge…
It’s a good job we’re not following the footpath signs here!!
12. Follow the field edge until you see this footpath sign on the fence in front of you…
Look to your right & you can catch a glimpse of Haselbech Hall
The estate stretched to 980 acres & included Hazelbeech Hall, a mansion ‘needing construction after fire’. (Also referred to as Haselbeech & later Haselbech)
It was the residence of Mr Charles Bower Ismay (1874-1924), a well-known racehorse owner. He was well known on the Turf, & was the owner of Craganour, which ran in the famous Derby of 1913. He was the son of Thomas Henry Ismay, a former Liverpool shipbuilder & founder of the White Star Line. His brother was Joseph Bruce Ismay, infamous as being the head of the White Star Line, who engineered himself into a lifeboat when the Titanic sank in 1912
Hazelbeech Hall had been completely destroyed by fire in February 1917, with only the walls & chimneys left standing. The blaze had been caused by an electric iron in one of the maid’s rooms & did £20,000 of damage with many valuable pictures & pieces of furniture being destroyed
Hazelbeech Hall had been re-modeled in the 1820s & Ismay had chosen it as his residence because of its proximity to the Pytchley Hunt. He bought it from the Countess of Milton in 1908 & carried out significant alterations to the property
Hazelbeech Hall, confusingly referred to now as Haselbech Hall, survives as a Grade II listed country house
13. Shortly in front of you is a gate currently going into a field of sheep. Go through the first gate, cross the field & through the second gate on to a track…
14. Go straight ahead on this track passing two properties on the left. The second one is rather spooky & empty…
There are beautiful autumn colours here
15. Continue along the track until you reach two lodges on either side…
16. Turn left & take the road all the way back to Cottesbrooke. Although this is a narrow lane, take care as I had 10 cars pass me whilst I was walking along it…
It’s pretty straightforward here… just follow the road, admiring the views on either side
17. After a while you reach the bridge below & enter the Cottesbrooke estate…
You’ll be able to see a glimpse of the Hall to the left, & a memorial to the right, before reaching the village itself
18. Ahead is the village with more lovely estate houses including these two, the Old Forge & the Old Post Office…
Continue through the village where you’ll pass the main gate to the Hall
Cottesbrooke Hall is a Grade 1 listed house. The Cottesbrooke estate was purchased in 1635 by Sir John Langham, 1st Baronet, a rich London merchant & MP. It descended in the Langham family to the 4th Baronet, who in 1702 began the building of the present hall
In 1877 the Hall was let for several months to the Empress Elisabeth of Austria as a base for a hunting holiday. In 1911 financial pressures forced the family to sell the estate to Captain Robert Bingham Brassey, MP & move to County Fermanagh
Since 1937 Cottesbrooke has been the home of the MacDonald-Buchanan family. In 1937-8 they employed Lord Gerald Wellesley (later the 7th Duke of Wellington) to make alterations to the Hall, including changing the entrance front to the other side of the house
The Hall & garden are usually open to the public during the summer, but closed this year due to Covid 19 https://www.cottesbrooke.co.uk/visitor-information/
19. All Saints Church is on the right &, in the church yard, you can see recent graves of members of the MacDonald-Buchanan family (the church itself was closed)
Cross back over the road to where you parked the car at the start of this walk
What a fabulous walk in quiet countryside with wonderful views – what’s not to like!