Walk 133: Rushton & Pipewell Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.72 miles (9.2km)

Time to walk: 2.5 hours, but I was constantly stopping to take photos & write notes

Difficulty: This is an easy walk with no stiles, on village paths, field edges, across fields & some on-road walking

Parking: I parked in the centre of the village in the lay-by at the side of the Thornhill Arms. Parking is limited in the village so take care!

Public toilets: The Thornhill Arms at the start & end of the walk

Map of the route:

Today’s walk was undertaken for me by Penny Gasson in October 2020 on, what was obviously, a glorious autumn day.

The route starts in the lovely village of Rushton. Note the spelling – we don’t want anyone going to Rushden, or you may have difficulty in following these directions!

From there it continues across some great Northamptonshire countryside, with huge skies, before arriving in the tiny hamlet of Pipewell. The route becomes a mixture of field & road walking, & includes a visit to one of the County’s famous monuments, before returning to Rushton

It’s another great stroll, so are you ready?

Let’s Walk!

1. Rushton, not to be confuse with Rushden, is situated 3 miles north west of Kettering & had 452 inhabitants in the last census. It is probably best known for Rushton Hall – more on that later

It’s an interesting area as the parish was originally made up of three settlements, all of which were deserted & destroyed..Rushton St Peter, Barford & Glendon 

As mentioned, I parked in the lay-by, at the side of the Thornhill Arms (another of my old haunts!)…

2. Cross over the road & you’ll see the footpath sign in front of you…

3. Walk up the path, which is slightly uphill, & pass the entrance to the pocket park on your right & then past some cottages

You’ll then reach a railway bridge over the Corby – Kettering line. You’ll probably hear the trains before you reach the bridge!

4. Cross the bridge & take the grassy track with the hedge to your left. The countryside really opens up now & the views are stunning

There is a seat a little further along, so you can take in the views & watch the wind turbines…

5. This part of the walk is very straightforward. You just need to continue to follow the track. Watch out for Red Kites…I saw several but was never quick enough to take a picture!

6. Keep going straight ahead, crossing a farm track & continuing onwards…

…where you will see the hedge is now on the right. Head towards the house you can see in the distance

7. Pass the house on the right & you’ll reach a road. Cross the road passing a lovely gothic lodge on your left, & head down in to the tiny hamlet of Pipewell, following the signpost to the church

8. Pipewell has 63 inhabitants, making it one of the smallest hamlets in Northamptonshire. In the 12th Century Richard I held his Midland Parliaments in Pipewell. It was also the site of a Cistercian Abbey, established in 1143 by William Butevilain

The Abbey was suppressed as part of the Dissolutions of the Monasteries in November 1538, despite the representations of local gentleman, especially Sir William Parr, (later Marquess of Northampton). The site was subsequently granted to Parr. He intended to demolish the house but, before he could do so, the property was looted by the locals. Demolition took place soon after & by 1720 no standing masonry was visible

9. Pipewell Hall, a Grade II mansion, was built in 1675 with some of the stone from the former abbey: the abbey remains are contained in its estate. West of the site, there’s a mill pond & dam, together with a series of medieval quarries which have been worked into the 20th century

It is difficult to see the hall itself as it’s well hidden & is now a wedding venue. The estate grounds are lovely

10. Continue wandering through the hamlet &, just past the phone box, where the road bends to the right, you’ll find Northamptonshire’s smallest church building. The Abbey Church of St Mary was built in 1881. (Unfortunately it wasn’t open today)

There’s a lovely village seat opposite the church which is perfect to stop & take in the views or have lunch!

11. Once refreshed, retrace your steps & head out of Pipewell, back to the road. Turn right & walk along the road towards Kettering

Shortly you’ll come to another junction. Again take the turning towards Rushton & Kettering

12. This road is fairly quiet, but take care as there’s no path. Continue up the road looking back to see the views over Pipewell Woods…

Pipewell Woods is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Woods are an example of wet ash-maple woodland both in its typical form & a nationally rare one. It has diverse flora including the locally rare giant bellflower, herb paris & wood speedwell. There is a public footpath that runs through the Woods should you wish to explore another time

13. Keep walking up the road, past a turning on the left, until you see electricity lines. Once under these you should see a footpath sign & a footbridge on the right leading into a field

There was no clear path across the field, so unfortunately I had to walk through the crop (this might be different in the summer)

You are heading towards the gap in the hedge diagonally left…

14. Once you reach this gap, turn left &  follow the field edge with the hedge to your left

When you reach the gravel track the footpath should go across the field, but the farmer had not left a clear path so I walked around to the right & then left along the field edge

15. You’re heading for the railway bridge. You will hear the trains before you see the bridge…

Walk downhill until you reach the railway line. Go under the bridge, watching out for puddles, & then go through the gate & continue on the track to the road

16. Once you reach the road turn left. Be careful as this is a busy road with no path initially…

Keep walking down the road until you see the sign to the Triangular Lodge. It’s currently closed due to Covid, but you can see most of it over the wall

17. This delightful triangular building was designed by Sir Thomas Tresham (father of one of the Gunpowder Plotters) & constructed between 1593 & 1597. It’s a testament to Tresham’s Roman Catholicism: the Number Three, symbolising the Holy Trinity, is apparent everywhere

There are three floors, trefoil windows & three triangular gables on each side. On the entrance front is the inscription ‘Tres Testimonium Dant’ (there are three that give witness), a Biblical quotation from St John’s Gospel referring to the Trinity. It’s also a pun on Tresham’s name; his wife called him ‘Good Tres’ in her letters

Tresham is incredibly important to Northamptonshire. He left three significant properties to the County, this Triangular Lodge, unfinished, but magnificent Lyveden New Bield, & the Market House in Rothwell 

18. Once you pass the lodge a path appears. Follow this back into Rushton (it’s quite narrow in places & traffic is quite fast on this road)

On reaching the junction turn left into Station Road. If you had continued down the road you would see the entrance to Rushton Hall, a luxury hotel & spa

Rushton Hall was the ancestral home of the Tresham family from 1438, when William Tresham bought the estate. In 1957 until 2002 it became a school for blind children run by the RNIB, before being converted into the hotel in 2003

19. Go through the graveyard & look at the church (locked when I visited)…

All Saints’ Church is of Norman origin, but mostly 14th century, with 19th century restorations in 1853 & 1869 by Edmund Francis Law

There’s also a monument to Sir Thomas Tresham. On exiting the churchyard you’ll see the pub & where you parked the car

So that’s it. A great walk taking in two more Northamptonshire villages we haven’t touched before, plus a chance to see the County’s smallest church!

Somewhere else to explore so…

Go Walk!