Walk 14: Bugbrooke Circular: Back to the flats of the canals, but with fantastic views over our beautiful county

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 7.5 miles (12.07 km)

Time to walk: Today in early October 2013 we took 2.5 hours, although we had to keep to some field edges as they’d just been drilled with next year’s crops. Once established, we’re sure the farmers will re-mark.

Difficulty: Canal paths, paddocks & fields – a real mix

Parking: Use the free parking area at Bugbrooke church

Public toilets: The Five Bells Bugbrooke (if open – no website at the moment & was closed for refurbishment when we went today); the Eykyn Arms or The Queen Victoria in Gayton.

Map of the route:

We stayed close to home again today, but are now starting to look at the north of the county for our next adventure. This is a great little walk &, on a beautiful autumn day like today, there’s no better place to be in Northamptonshire than beside one of our stunning canals

This is a circular walk starting in the middle of Bugbrooke & then heading along the canal before rising steeply into the stunning village of Gayton. From there we descend again & retrace our steps along the canal back to our start point.

Think we’re going to do this one again early on a crisp, heavy-frosty winter’s morning – can just imagine what it would look like.

Anyway….we have 2.5 hours of walking ahead of us, so come on…

Let’s Walk!

1. We parked up in the church car park just, although we suppose you could also park in the Five Bells car park. Having lived in Northamptonshire over 30 years, the Five Bells always seem closed for some reason. Today it was another refurbishment.

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So head through the gate into the church yard – lovely church

2. Follow the path round the right hand-side of the church & then head for the gate straight ahead.

Through the gate, on the right’s, one of 5 gorgeous horned bullocks in the paddock. What do you mean we have to go through there…..

So here we go then….at the end of the fence turn right through the gate &…….run!!!!!!!

And straight on & through the gate the other side. Phew made it!! Now out onto the road taking the sign for Banbury

3. Walk along the path for about 100 yards &, once we come to the canal bridge (No. 36), turn left down the steps to reach the canal path

Some flat walking now. Over the canal is The Wharf Inn – well worth a visit, especially to sit outside in summer.

And some lovely canal-side houses

Pass the marina

4. We now have a stretch of long, flat walking alongside the stunning canal, so take your time & enjoy. The canal changes with the seasons, so you’re always going to see something different along it

You’ll hear various hedgerow birds, ducks, herons, coots etc on this stretch. The downside is you’ll also here the ‘whoosh’ of numerous Virgin trains heading up the west coast line

Below is an example of a traditional canal bridge alongside a monstrous railway crossing…

5. So we pass under the bridge above & head on….

Whooooosh!!! (Taken at 6 frames per second & still not totally in focus!)

6. Pass under the next bridge…

…& then at the next one, walk under it, & turn left up to the road…

7. Turn right onto the road & then immediately right over the stile

Now we simply follow the track past the gate below…

…where it turns into a grass one at Old Lodge Farm

8. We need to go through that gate into the paddock. Look what’s waiting for us….joy!!!

And yes…..they all followed us – quick aim for that oak tree on the right below where there’s a stile to get us out of this paddock into the field on the right.

9. At the end of the fence there’s a marker pointing you straight ahead, where you can see a bridge through the hedge into the next field. Again, due to drilling there was no obvious path, but it’s head straight.

As we approached the hedge there was amazing bird sound & we soon recognised hundreds of migrating fieldfares

Oh why didn’t we bring the long lens!!! Anyway, across the bridge & again in summer the path will go straight across the field. Today we turned right & walked round the edge.

And we were glad we did as there was a further group in the tree ahead…fabulous birds & so noisy

10. Normally you’d just keep heading straight to exit the field onto the road, but today we had to follow the bends of the edges. Eventually careful exit onto the road & turn right.

Follow the road up onto the new double bridge which crosses the canal & the railway line. Look over to your right to see the lovely old Banbury Lane canal bridge which stands beside Anchor House & the old level crossing. We’ll pass under the bridge on our way back

Now…….we’ve always had an interest in trains (not in an anorak way…) but when you see them hurtling past here it’s amazing.

11. Time to move on…after the bridge turn left at the signpost & stile to Gayton.

Now it’s time to forget the flat walking for the next 15 mins & get some real cardiac going. Keep the hedge on the right & then cut through the gap…

…& climb up the hill – don’t worry there’s a bench at the top to sit & admire our hidden jewel of a county

From here we also get our first views of Gayton in the distance

12. Keep the hedge on your left & soon this becomes a grassy lane which eventually becomes Park Lane & emerges between houses into Gayton – another stunning Northamptonshire village

13. Fancy a refreshment?  The Eykyn Arms (where we’ve never sampled) is an option. Unfortunately the larger The Queen Victoria has now closed

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Such a beautiful village…

14. Wee now turn left down Deans Row passing some great houses until we reach Gayton House in Baker Street

Follow the street along the stone walls on either side. The church is at the end of the road

But also have a look at the gorgeous Gayton Manor on the left – this photo doesn’t do it justice

15. Just past Gayton Mano,r turn left down the narrow lane

And then immediately right into a small horse paddock…the one on the left appears to be coming our way & we need to head into that corner.

Well what a beautiful creature so after saying hello, carry over the stile

After climbing over this one, you can see the exit over the next stile straight ahead & for the next part of this walk we’re heading straight for the ‘Northampton Lighthouse’ – thanks Terry Wogan!

Again another drilled field, but you can see the ‘lighthouse’. Cross the stile below into a sheep field

And they’re sooo much more attractive than last week’s…even though they are doing the conga…

16. The path’s well marked & we’re heading towards the railway bridge, passing through the gate & carrying on to the canal bridge

And what perfect timing for a photograph when we got there…

17. Turn right & go under the bridge to walk north along the canal path again

Line up ladies

Line up ladies

18. Now we retrace our steps back along the canal back towards Bugbrooke passing under the double canal & railway bridge

Up next’s Bridge 43, which we consider to be one of the most beautiful & oldest bridges on the canal. It often features on Northamptonshire calendars

19. We retrace our steps along the canal along quite a lengthy stretch to the bridge where we left it on our outward journey

Continue for 2 more bridges to reach the bridge with the high new railway bridge next to it. Walk under it & then turn right over the stile & then left along the hedge, follow it all the way round the field.

Bugbrooke lies straight of us now.

After about 100 yards turn left over the bridge into the second field

20. We’re now heading diagonally right back towards the village. It looks like they’re now building new houses at the exit to this path, so just go round the edge of the works & into West End.

On the right’s an interesting exhibition…

Carry straight on over the the crossroads & through the churchyard back to where we started.

So what’s our thoughts about this walk? Well we always love walking the canals &, let’s face it, they are a jewel in Northamptonshire’s crown. Yes there’s a bit of a climb on the walk, but it’s worth it for the views.

Now…about those trains….where’s my anorak…??

Go Walk!

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