Walk 134: Little Harrowden, Orlingbury, Pytchley & Isham…an inter-village circular & a boot scraper in a field

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6.3 miles (10.2km). This is another walk that I’m indebted to Penny Gasson for doing the leg-work for me. Plus it’s some more Northamptonshire villages we’ve now included in Northamptonshire Walks 

Time to walk: Roughly two & a quarter hours

Difficulty: The walk crosses fields, field paths and village paths, there are several stiles not all dog friendly, there was one field with cows in but they took notice of me as I crossed it

Parking: Park near the church in Little Harrowden

Public toilets: Loos & refreshments at the Deli in Orlingbury, & The Overstone Arms in Pytchley

Map of the route:

The villages covered on this walk are off the A509 which runs between Wellingborough and Kettering

Little Harrowden is one of the longest & narrowest parishes in Northamptonshire & is built around the Church of St Mary the Virgin, which dates back to circa 1190. The parish has a population of 892 (2011)

Property at Little Harrowden was included in the marriage settlement between Henry Gage & Margaret Boyville. Henry Gage was a substantial landowner in 16th century Northampton

Little Harrowden & its neighbour Great Harrowden are the wrong way round, as Great Harrowden is a much smaller village with a population of only 161

Shall we go?

Let’s Walk!

1. Have a look at the church…The Church of St Mary looks like it had been decapitated! That’s because it once had a spire, but this sadly fell during a storm in 1703. The tower part became unsafe & demolished in 1967 

2. Take the footpath down the right side of the church…

…& go through the school gates past the school on the right

3. Go through both gates…

…until you reach the field below with superb views over to Orlingbury

4. Go across the field, heading towards the large oak tree standing alone in the field towards the bottom. When I walked this in October 2020 the field had been ploughed, so there was no clear path, but this might be different when there are crops growing

Behind the oak tree is a small bridge in the hedge…

5. Cross the bridge & go slightly uphill round the field edge…

6. When you get to the top look left. I saw a stag through the hedge in the grounds of Orlingbury Hall – how wonderful!

There’s a lovely bench here to take in the views…

7. Continue round the field edge until you see these properties. You’re now in Orlingbury…

Follow the path between the houses until you reach a road

8. Turn right along Rectory Lane until you see Home Farm House opposite. Turn left here & follow the road until you reach the village green ahead of you

There’s a lovely board here detailing the village 100 years ago

Orlingbury is a small village with a population of 439 with 16 listed buildings in the parish. Amongst these, St Mary’s Church, Orlingbury Hall, the Old rectory & Gatepier are all Grade 2 listed

Did you know that inside the church is an effigy of 14th century “Jock-of-Badsaddle” who is reputed to have killed the last wild boar in England? Some epitaphs think it was the last wolf…

The site of the deserted village of Wythmail is in the parish of Orlingbury, but unfortunately modern farming methods have destroyed any visible signs

9. The Green is beautiful & a great place to sit & enjoy this beautiful village…

This is where I met a lovely group of villagers who meet every week & sit socially distanced on the green to chat

10. The church is across the green…

Close by is Orlingbury Hall, home of the ex-Chairman of Doc Marten footwear, Stephen Griggs…

Originally there was an older manor house standing in this pretty area of the village. This house was the home of the Lanes, Toftes & Chibnalls. It contained 20 rooms & 13 hearths in 1678

Orlingbury Hall was bought in 1706 by Richard Young &, according to Justinian Isham was then immediately rebuilt in 1709. The entrance remains the original design & the house has nine bays. There’s a 19th century addition of a service wing & a dovecote

11. There’s a lovely village sign on the green…

Right…next take the Isham Road passing the Wythnail Deli on the right, but unfortunately it wasn’t open on the day I was here

12. On the left is the Queens Arms which is currently closed for refurbishment, but will be reopened under new management

Look out for the footpath sign on the left

13. Follow the path, keeping the hedge on your left, as it goes round to the right…

When you reach this hedge go through the gap

14. Turn left… there is another marker in the hedge

…& continue along the field edge

15. There are lovely views across to Pytchley to the right…

Continue through the next gap in the hedge…

…then cross the next field at the marker post, & head diagonally towards the spinney

16. There’s a narrow path through the spinney & follow it down to the stream

Cross the stream…

17. Now take the path on the right…

…which leads to a stile

18. Cross the stile & head across the field, passing the building on the right. until you reach another stile

19. After you’ve crossed the stile, head across the next field to the gate & stile on the left which leads on to the road…

20. You have now arrived in Pytchley, which is home to the Pytchley Golf Lodge & was home to the infamous Pytchley Fox Hunt

The Lords of the Manor had long been obliged, by agreement with the Crown, to keep hounds to suppress vermin, but the famous pack of hounds was formally founded in the mid eighteenth century. The hunt headquarters were at Pytchley Hall, which was demolished in 1824, after the kennels had been moved to Brixworth 

The village has a school, a pub & a church

As soon as you reach the houses on the right, there’s a path. Follow the path straight through the village…

21. You’ll then reach the Isham Road. Turn left here, passing the Overstone Arms on your right & the Church on the left

The Church of All Saints has its origins in the 12th century. Restorations in 1845 disclosed a cemetery of primitive man under the church & churchyard, rough stone coffins, or kistvaens, & skeletons lying with faces to the east & feet to the south

22. Just past the church, look out for a footpath sign on your right…

A nice reassuring sign!

23. Follow the footpath through four gates into a large field, with horses in. Cross this field diagonally towards the distance buildings

Turn round here for some lovely views back to Pytchley…

…& over to Orlingbury church in the distance

24. In the top left corner of this field, go over the stile adjacent to the gate…

…& then go down this field, heading diagonally to the left, where there’s a footbridge over a stream

25. After crossing the footbridge, follow the well-trodden path across the next field to the gap in the hedge…

Note the well placed marker post here!

26. Cross the next field heading towards the buildings ahead, into a small Christmas tree plantation

27. At the end of this path is a boot scraper & a sign asking you clean your boots before you cross the drive ahead…the first time I have ever seen one of these!

Cross the driveway. It was hard to work out what these buildings were used for until I passed them & then the smell gave it away! I will leave you to work it out

28. Follow the marker posts straight ahead, first to the right of the hedge & then the left of the next hedge

Continue along the field edge

29. Pass the next stile…

…& cross the next field diagonally in the direction of the marker on the stile

30. You’ll then reach another stile that you can walk around…

Turn left & walk along the back of some houses, until you reach the main road

31. You have now reached Isham (this has already been covered in Dave’s walk number 89)

When you reach the main road, turn right & walk along the main road passing the church on the left (where our Mr Askew got married)!

32. Cross over the Orlingbury Road & walk on the wide grass verge past the used car sales business…

After this look out for a gate in to a field on your right…

33. This gate leads into a field (the marked footpath is further up the A509 but, as it’s so busy here, it’s more sensible to walk along the field edge. Going by the number of foot prints, I think many have already done this)

Walk along the field edge until you see the footpath marker in the hedge

34. At this point cross the field diagonally towards the spinney…

You are heading for a footbridge to the left of a large beech tree

35. Cross the footbridge & walk up hill, across the next field…

36. The path is now straight here, all the way back to the road. Follow the trees uphill…

…passing the derelict Frisby Lodge on the left

37. After a while you’ll reach a gate & the road…

Turn right & head back into Little Harrowden along the path

38. You’ll see the sign indicating you are back in Little Harrowden…

As the church appears on your right you will arrive back to where you left your car

So that’s the end of a lovely stroll across some wonderful Northamptonshire rolling countryside & an opportunity to visit four of our lovely villages en route

Go Walk!