Walk 161: Roade – Cosgrove Circular: canals, fields & a ford

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 16 miles (25.6 km)

Time to walk: It took us 6.5 hours including a picnic lunch on a bench & taking many pictures & writing down the instructions

Difficulty: It’s predominantly flat with only a few minor hilly parts & a few stiles. There are a few short stretches along main roads (in Roade). Apart from that the walk goes along canal paths & fields. One short part of the walk, in Cosgrove, was extremely boggy. We abandoned the footpath & walked in the field next to it

Dog friendly: Dogs can go off lead for most of the walk. However, there may be times where there will be cattle in the fields, so be aware. There are three non dog friendly stiles, where we had to carry our dog across

Parking: In the car park of St. Mary’s Church in Roade

Public toilets: Pubs in Cosgrove & Ashton, but these are not all en route. Pubs in Roade

Eating and drinking: Pub in Roade & Roade House Cafe, both at the start/end of the walk. Pubs in Cosgrove (2) & Ashton. The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove lies halfway on the route (it takes about 2 hours to walk there) but booking is essential

Overview of the route: see map below. We will be walking a few miles in Buckinghamshire as well

Today’s walk starts from the village of Roade which is situated some 5 miles south of Northampton. The main road separates the older part to the east & the newer to the west, although the eastern part is now catching up with the extensive development on the old Pianoforte site

The village was called “Rode” in old English, meaning “Place at the clearing”. We look in more detail at the village itself on Walk 125 Roade & Stoke Bruerne Circular, but for now…

Let’s Walk!

1. From the church car park, take the alley way…

Continue straight ahead & turn left on the High Street.

2. After the pub turn right…

Keep heading right & ignore the fork to the left. You walk past a new housing estate & the water tower…

Kevin McCloud & his ‘Grand Designs’ team came to Roade to film the water tower. So far, it is still very much work in progress

We have to walk a short stretch on the road. It’s usually very quiet, but cars can pick up speed here

3. After crossing two bridges (ignore the footpath to the right), the road bends to the left…

Here we take the footpath on our right…

…& go immediately left. Here we take the footpath, following the sign. We keep the hedgerow on our left, down to the bottom of the field

There’s another path that goes straight left which is NOT a public footpath…a bit confusing!

4. Cross the road & go through the gate into the next field…

Follow the track & you’ll see Men’s Own Rugby Club on your left. The path bends to the right & you now have the hedgerow on your right

5. Walk through the gap between a barn & the hedge…

…& continue keeping the hedge on your right

6. The path narrows through a gap between bushes & a telegraph pole…

Continue on the path, keeping the hedgerow & the ditch on your right

7. Climb over the stiles…

…& walk round the pen & follow the hedgerow on your right

8. Cross another stile…

…& you have arrived at the Grand Union Canal

Go left and follow the path all the way to The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove

Amongst others, you will walk under Bridge 57…

The road leads to Grafton Regis, where allegedly Elizabeth Woodville waited under a tree to hopefully meet the future King Edward IV

For the book lovers, Philippa Gregory wrote a novel about their relationship in ‘The White Queen’ (highly recommended)

9. You arrive at The Navigation Inn, a Victorian pub dating back to 1822 & once surrounded by canal warehousing

The path goes up after the bridge. Immediately turn left, cross the canal and then take the footpath right down the canal again…

Continue along the path, now having the canal on your left side…

Follow the path until you reach bridge 65 in Cosgrove….

Walk up the steps on the right…

…and go left. After crossing the canal turn immediately right down the path…

What a great place to have a picnic! 

Cosgrove is a wonderful place to sit & watch the world go by. It was original named ‘Covesgrove’ meaning ‘Grove of a man called Cof’

Two other walks on this website take it in – Walk 18 & Walk 42. It’s well worth exploring further along the canal just to visit the Cosgrove Iron Trunk Aqueduct

A brick aqueduct was built, but collapsed in 1808, after which the locks were re-opened. It was replaced by the present Cosgrove aqueduct, built of cast iron, & opened on 22 January 1811

10. We continue our walk with the canal on our right side. Across the canal you will see The Barley Mow pub which dates back to the 17th century. There’s a fabulous account of the ownership & history of the pub, which you can find by clicking on this link

If you fancy a detour to the pub, just follow the sign, passing through the “Squeeze”…

Otherwise continue on the path

11. Follow the canal path until you reach a small brick building (shower block?) on your left. Go left down the steps…

…turn left to walk past a disused barn

12. Cross the road towards the entrance of Stable Bar…

…but turn left just before it, walking down the path between a hedge & a fence

When we did the walk this path became very wet & boggy. We decided to climb over the fence and to through the gate

Cross the road & go through the gate into the field

13. Follow the path through the field slightly to the left, towards the bridge…

Cross the bridge & continue on the path marked with poles

This is the part where you will find the ford to negotiate…

It was possible to walk around, but this might be different in other circumstances

14. When the marked path ends, head through the gate on the left hand side & turn right. Then go across the wooden bridge & left through the gate

Follow the track to the left.

15. Cross the bridge…

…continue the walk with the stream close to your left side, crossing another bridge. We are now in Buckinghamshire; the stream is the border. Along this stretch you find the second bench…

Go through the gate…

16. Follow the track straight ahead & keep the tree on your right…

Go through the gate…

…& go through the next gate

17. Cross the road diagonally to the right & look for the footpath sign…

Follow the path straight across, keeping the stream on your left

18. Head towards the gate, slightly diagonally right, & go to the tarmac road. …

…follow this road to the left, until you reach the farm house: Lincoln Lodge, ignoring paths to the left and right. It’s roughly a mile and you’ll know that you’ve reached the bridleway as it’s by the building in the picture below

19. Take the bridleway to the left…

…& follow the path, staying close to the electricity cables. Keep following the bridleway sign (not the footpath sign)…

…& continue left on the hardened track with a beautiful pond on your right

20. Where the track bends right, take the marked bridleway straight ahead through the field…

Keep following the bridleway sign, walking on a track between a fence & a hedge & then you walk into an open field…

…heading to the signposts on the right side of the hedge. Continue straight & ignore the direction of the way markers

21. Walk through the gap in the hedge…

…& continue straight on. The path goes sharp left then right, around someone’s garden. Go left on the gravel drive

22. On reaching the road go left…

After approximately 100 yards go right through the gate towards a tunnel. There is a footpath sign but it is laying on the ground

23. Walk through the tunnel. Officially we have to ignore the path immediately left, so continue along the hedge towards the gate ahead. Right before the gate, turn left across the bridge

24. Head diagonally left to the corner of the field & cross the stile…

Continue our walk parallel to the rail line. The path goes sharp right, & then very quickly sharp left again, through the gap between two trees…

Walk across the sleeper (&…we’re back in Northamptonshire) & follow the path to the left, keeping the rail line on our left again

25. Ignore the path coming from the left, & continue on our path, walking away from the rail line with the hedge on our left

At the bottom of the fields, cross the bridge on your left…

…& continue to walk with the hedgerow on your left. The path goes slightly up the hill, just what we need after a good 13.7 miles!

26. Where a small path comes from the right, go through the gap in the hedge on our left

Continue straight ahead with the tree line on our left…

Stick to the path in the middle which will lead you to a gap in the hedge

27. After crossing the bridge, cross the road & take the path across the field…

Go through the gate…

…& follow this path until you reach the road

28. Go left when you reach the road…

…descending into Ashton. Take the bridleway on your right, ignoring the footpath sign just a few metres earlier

Take the fork to the right which goes slightly uphill.

29. Where the bridleway bends to the left, continue straight ahead on the footpath to the right…

Go immediately left & continue with the hedgerow on your left

At the top of the field continue straight ahead where you have a lovely view of Roade, which is where we are heading now for the last part of this walk…

Keep following the path. At one point it moves to the left side of the hedge

30. Stay on the path until you reach the first houses in Roade…

Continue the path between the fences & then head left, towards the main road. Cross the road and go left

Follow the path when it bends to the right

31. Cross the road at the zebra crossing & go right, past the Cock Inn on your left. Head left down onto the High Street (take the zebra crossing to the other side) & on your right you will see The Roade House (who make their own gin…I have tried it & it’s smashing).

A little bit further down the High Street you will see the triangle…

Go right here following the signpost to St. Mary’s Church, originally a Norman church, but extensively rebuilt in the 19th century. Continue down the alleyway, back to the church car park where we started our walk

 My apologies for the overkill of the dog in the photos. He tends to walk somewhat faster than I & insists on staying on track when I want to take a picture!

So that’s the end of Inge’s fantastic 16 mile stroll, which is absolutely ideal for those of you liking a longer walk. Thanks Inge!

Go Walk!