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 in Gayton.
Map of the route:
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
It starts in the middle of Bugbrooke & then heads 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
1. Park in the church car park opposite The Five Bells…
Head through the gate into the churchyard
2. Follow the path round the right hand-side of the church & then head for the gate straight ahead.
At the end of the fence turn right through the gate…
…& cross straight over & through the gate the other side. Now on the road take the sign for Banbury
3. Walk along the path for about 100 yards to come to the canal bridge (No. 36). Turn left down the steps to reach the canal path
Over the canal is The Wharf Inn which is well worth a visit, especially to sit outside in summer.
There’s some serious house envy here too!
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. Pass under the bridge above & continue ahead…
…passing under the next bridge…
6. The next bridge you come to is No. 41…
Walk under it, & turn immediately back on yourself, left up to the road…
7. At the road turn right & then immediately right over the stile onto the farm track
Now simply follow the track…
Just before the copse on the right, look across the fields to the right. You can just make out the large bridge & the top of Gayton Church tower on the hill. That’s where we’ll be heading to
8. At the farm climb the stile into the paddock. The farmer’s done an excellent job with dog gates…
Walk straight down the paddock towards the next gate & stile besides the large oak tree where there’s another stile with two directional markers…
9. Turn immediately right…
At this time of year the farmer had left the path clear, but in winter just keep straight to arrive at a bridge over a stream
Cross the bridge & continue straight across the field to arrive at a gate…
Go through the large gate & keep close to the left hedge to another stile
10. Now walk ahead to exit the field onto the road & turn right…
Carefully 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. You’ll pass under the bridge on our way back
Now…….we’ve always had an interest in trains & when you see them hurtling past here it’s amazing.
11. Go over the bridge & look for the signpost on the left, just by the traffic lights. Take the path shown by the signpost in the direction towards Gayton….
Head up the hill keeping the hedge on your 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 is an option
Gayton is such a beautiful village…
14. Turn left down Deans Row passing some great houses until reaching 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 Manor turn left down the narrow lane
And then immediately right into a small horse paddock. Head across to the next stile…
Carry on 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 you’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 grassy field
16. The path’s well marked & you’re now 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 & then go under the bridge to walk north along the canal path again
18. Now it’s time to retrace your 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. Retrace your 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 into the field. Now turn left along the hedge (on your left), & follow it all the way down to the corner. Turn right & walk along the field edge
Bugbrooke lies straight ahead of you now…
After about 100 yards turn left over the bridge into the second field
20. Now head diagonally right back towards the village, exiting the field into West End
On the right’s an interesting exhibition…
Carry straight on over the the crossroads & through the churchyard back to where you 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…??