Walk 156: Chelveston Circular…a short walk around an old airfield with big sky views

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.08 miles (4.95 km)

Time to walk: Roughly 1.5 hours

Difficulty: This walk takes in the old airfield, walking mainly on grassy tracks & field edges, some hard surfaces. It was pretty muddy at the end in October 2020. There are no stiles & no livestock

Parking: On the Green opposite the Star & Garter

Public toilets: The Star & Garter when open

Map of the route:

Thanks to Penny Gasson for doing the legwork for me on this one before lockdown came in. As a massive Glen Campbell fan why is that every time I go to Chelveston I start singing Galveston!!

Chelveston is a small village not far from the larger settlements of Rushden and Higham Ferrers and is on the road to Kimbolton

Chelveston was known as Celuestone in the Domesday Book, which means “Farmstead of a man called Ceolwulf” & is part of the parish of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott, Caldecott’s origin translates to “cold or inhospitable cottages!”

In the last census it had a population of 566. Although not on this walk, if you are in the village during snowdrop season, Chelveston’s churchyard has an incredible display

Nearby is the former airfield of RAF Chelveston which we will shortly be visiting. A new memorial to the 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy) who operated out of the airfield, was unveiled in the centre of the village on 26 May 2007

Let’s Walk!

1. I parked on The Green opposite the Star & Garter

The pub dates back over 300 years & was owned by the Lords of the Manor during the late 1800’s and leased to Pickering Phipps & Co of Northampton until they purchased it around 1928

On the morning of Thursday 24th June 1982, lorry failed to negotiate the sharp bends & ran into the front of the Star & Garter. Luckily no-one was injured

The pub was re-opened on Wednesday 8th December 1982, by former England Test Cricketer Godfrey Evans. As well as repairing the damage, the pub was extended into the house next door, to form the new restaurant

2. Facing the pub, turn left & go up the Bridleway just past Disbrowe Court named after Lt Col Disbrowe, MP & Vice Chamberlain to Queen Charlotte wife of George III

Follow the track as it slowly rises uphill…

3. Look out for the signposts on the right…

…& follow the clear track uphill towards the wind turbines

4. When you reach the gate ahead you will be entering the old airfield…

Turn round to see those big sky views…

During the Second World War the airfield was occupied by both the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces. It was given the USAAF designation Station 105 & was first home to the 301st Squadron & then the 305th “Can Do” Squadron. 

During the Cold War, Chelveston housed some flying units; however, its main role was that of a readiness station to receive USAF units from the United States in case of an emergency. In the mid 1970s, the majority of the airfield was sold by the Ministry of Defence to private landholders, with the exception of a military housing area occupied by U.S. service members assigned to RAF Alconbury & RAF Molesworth

It then became a Ministry of Defence (MOD) radio signals station until being decommissioned in 2006

The airfield is now home to the Chelveston Renewable Energy Park

5. Keep walking between the fences. You just can’t go wrong here & to the left you can see some of the old MOD buildings…

The paths you are walking form an extensive network of footpaths that stretch over the border into Bedfordshire & connect the nine villages of Chelveston, Caldecott, Upper & Lower Dean, Hargrave, Melchbourne, Newton Bromswold, Shelton & Yelden

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike can all now enjoy unprecedented access to areas between the villages which were sealed off for two generations before now having been reinstated by the MOD

6. When you reach the concrete road turn right…

There were lots of sheep in with the solar panels

6. After about 500m, after the last turbine on the right, turn right at the signpost & continue between the fences…

There are lovely views across the old airfield to your left…

…& some old buildings to your right

7. You’ll pass Hare Spinney…

…& then pass through a gate into open countryside…

8. You can see Higham Ferrers church in the distance. Walk along the grassy path with the hedge on your right…

Continue until you reach a beech hedge and a house. Take the path along the field edge when you see the sign…

It was a bit muddy here…

9. When you reach the electricity pole, turn left keeping the hedge on the left…

At the end of the field you will see the small footbridge in front of you

10. Cross the footbridge & turn left at the sign post. You’re now on the path back to the start…

I stopped in the Star & Garter for a pint & to plan my next walk. They had a Halloween tree…is that a thing??

So that’s the end of this short walk across Chelveston Airfield. Now…who fancies doing the walk that connects all those villages?

Go Walk!