Walk 145: Grafton Regis Circular Walk

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6.2 miles (10km)

Time to walk: Roughly 3 hours

Difficulty: Quiet country roads, crossing fields & a canal towpath. It was muddy in places & there are several stiles & one field of cows although they didn’t seem to notice me!

Parking: In Church Lane, but parking is limited, so don’t all do this walk at once!

Public toilets: Pubs when open, sadly they weren’t when this walk was done as we were in ‘Lockdown 2’

Map of the route: 

Another walk where I have to thank Penny Gasson for doing the leg-work, but I then put my research & spin on it when I write it up…it’s a combination that works well

Grafton Regis lies south of Northampton, just off the A508 on the way to Milton Keynes. It’s a small village which, together with Alderton, only has a population of 152 people

As its name suggests…it has Royal connections. There was a royal hunting lodge here. In the 12th & 13th centuries, Grafton belonged to the Abbey of Grestain in France. In the 15th century, Elizabeth Woodville, the Queen of Edward IV, was born & was married at the hermitage the ruins of which can be seen buried on the other side of the A508

In the 16th century, Henry VIII spent most of the summers of his reign in Grafton & expanded the manor house into a palace

The Manor was the home of the Woodville family & it was Elizabeth Woodville that begged Edward IV for the return of her confiscated property. The ‘Queens’ Oak’ where they are said to have met, near Yardley Gobian still exists & has a trunk 40ft in circumference. Edward fell in love with Elizabeth & married her secretly at Grafton. Elizabeth became mother of the Princes in the Tower & Elizabeth of York who married Henry VII

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn came here to hunt

This walk takes in quiet country roads, crossing fields & a canal towpath. It was muddy in places & there were several stiles & one field of cows although they didn’t seem to notice me

Shall we go & have a look?

Let’s Walk!

1. Walk down Church Lane away from the main road. It’s always good to see a lovely thatched cottage & this one dates back to 1600…

2. When you come to the junction, take the turning towards Bozenham Mill…

3. On the left is Grafton Manor. From 1100 to 1348, the Manor was in the hands of a Norman monastery, whose bailiff or lessee probably occupied the house. It wasn’t until 1440 that the mansion officially became a ‘manor house’ which belonged to the Woodville family during which time the village was known as Grafton Woodville

Today Grafton Manor provides highly specialised, neurobehavioral rehabilitation for males & females aged 18 years & older, with an acquired brain injury, including traumatic brain injury & strokes

4. You will soon come to the Church of St Mary the Virgin. In the church there is a small museum collection of relics from the Woodville period together with useful explanatory notes. The monument to the Queen’s grandfather, Sir John Wydevyl (as it is spelled on his etched slab) is now situated at the west end of the church. It was he who added to tower to the building at around 1400

There’s some beautiful planting along the road below the church &, apparently. it’s known for its snowdrop display in spring

5. Continue down the lane taking in the views to both the left & the right…

6. You’ll reach a bridge over the canal, but continue down the lane. You’ll see more of the canal later…

The lane opens up here & there are great views across the fields…

7. After crossing a couple of streams you’ll reach the Grade 2 listed Bozenham Mill where these two beauties were in the field…

Opposite the mill is a footpath sign to the left

8. Go over the stile into the field & head across it. When I walked this route, the path across was very clear…

Continue until you reach a footbridge. Cross over this into the next field

9. Continue across the next field…

When you come to a gravel track, cross it. There is a footpath marker in the hedge…

10. In the next field continue straight ahead, There’s a large barn in the corner of this field…

Pass the drain to the left…

…& head uphill. When you see the trees to your right follow them round…

…& exit the field in the corner

11. Turn left & follow the road into Ashton

12. Ashton is situated off the A508, south of Northampton & was mentioned in the Domesday book, where it was described as ‘Asce’, probably related to the Ash tree which was held in veneration by the Saxons. It’s quite confusing as there are actually two Ashton’s in Northamptonshire 

A prehistoric site dating back 2500 years BC was found just a mile down the road, showing there’s been a settlement around here for a very long time. The Romans also occupied the area, the main reason being water! The whole area is full of natural springs. Watling Street, now the A5 runs close to the village. It’s known there’s a Roman villa up Stoke Road, but it’s never been excavated

It’s always primarily been an agricultural community, although it was also known for its fine lace making

It’s an usually quiet village except for the West Coast main line which cuts the village in two. Work on the railway started in the 1830s

13. At the signpost in the picture below, turn left towards Roade…

Continue through the village. It was good to see a thatched cottage (I am on a mission to find one in every village!)

14. Where you see The Old Crown on the corner, turn left…

Sadly the pub wasn’t open due to lockdown 2 when I did this walk (Dave can confirm it’s very good, especially the Tapas!) 

15. Carry on down this road until you see a footpath sign on the left, just after Vale Farm…

Follow the path & go over a stile. This is part of the ‘Northampton Round’ & NR is seen on several of the signposts

16. Cross a field to another stile. This one is quite high…I need longer legs for this!

Cross the next field…(Dave sub note: When I did this field on the Northamptonshire Round, I was challenged by a very aggressive dog!)

There’s a gate in the corner…

17. Keep following the signs. I think this shed has seen better days! It was standing up when Dave did this part of the Northamptonshire Round!!

The next field has this lovely chap in it & I wished I had bought some carrots for him

18. Turn immediately right in this field until you see a gate at the top next to a stone trough…

At the top of the next field is a stile that leads into a small spinney, where there’s a bench

19. Once through the Spinney, cross the gravel track & pass through the gap in the hedge…

Cross the field & pass to the right of the derelict brick building…

20. Follow the hedge along the field to the end…

There were stunning views across the fields this afternoon

21. Cross into a small spinney…

Follow the path. The footpath sign is not much use here!

22. In the next field, stick close to the right hand hedge. There’s a lovely stream that flows along here…

In the corner of the field go through the gate & stick close to the right hand hedge again. There were cows in this field, but they didn’t notice me at all

23. Go over the stile next to the gate &…

…straight in front of you is the Grand Union canal

24. Turn left & our route now takes us all the way back to the bridge at Grafton Regis that we crossed at the beginning of this walk

This is one of the best stretches of the canal that I have walked & the weather made everywhere look gorgeous. These trees reminded me of the Canal du Midi in France

25. To the left of the path is the River Tove. It’s lovely having water on both sides…

Just continue along the towpath taking in the views. This is really a lovely walk…

26. Pass under the next bridge…

…& then, when you reach Bridge 57, take the steps up the side to the road & cross the bridge

Walk up the hill back towards Grafton Regis village where you left your car

I hope you agree this is a really lovely walk

Go walk!