Walk 162: Lowick Circular including the Drayton Estate

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6.31 miles (10.16 km)

Time to walk: This walk took me 2 hours 20 mins, but then I was stopping to look at lots, chatting to the locals with their dogs & conversing with the chickens. Plus I stopped for packed lunch in Twywell. It’s well worth exploring the villages en route

Difficulty: Easy walking on quiet country lanes, bridleways, fields. There were no stiles

Parking: Lowick is a small village so I parked near the church on the way out of the village near the 30 mph sign where the road is wider

Public toilets: Pubs in Lowick & Twywell when open

Map of the route:

This area is really well known to us as we used to visit the great pubs in all three of these beautiful villages when we lived in the area in the 1980’s. But every so often one of my walks throws up a surprise & boy did this one. That’s the joy of exploring an area on foot – you still discover things you never knew, even after living in the County for more than 40 years

Our route today starts in lovely Lowick before following a small quiet road to stunning Slipton. From here take to the fields to arrive in Twywell, where there’s an opportunity to extend the walk. After leaving Twywell the next mile or so is quite noisy as the route follows the quiet old road beside the A14. Finally we turn away back to the peace of ancient bridleways that will take us back to Lowick

Shall we go & have a look then?

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts in the beautiful, quiet, bypassed village of Lowick which lays about 2 miles north-west of Thrapston. The name in Olde English was Luhwic meaning ‘Dwelling (or Dairy) farm of a man called Luhha or Luffa’

The village used to have several iron ore quarries in the area which, until 1942 was taken to the Islip works & then later to the Corby Works 

After parking near the 30 mph sign walk down the hill & round the bend passing the magnificent St Peter’s Church…

Because the church is sat on a hill its distinct tower can be seen for miles around. Like the church at Fotheringhay, it’s crowned with a magnificent stone lantern, which sits in the middle of the four pinnacles

Most of the church was built by Henry Greene, who was executed by Bolinbroke in 1399. Unfortunately I was unable to go inside, but it is supposed to be just as spectacular with monuments to the owners of Drayton House over the centuries

2. Continue down into the outskirts of the village…

…turning right down Drayton Road. Note the impressive crest above the door of the Village Hall

3. The next mile or so is easy walking along a quiet lane, passing the Pocket Park…

…& crossing Harper’s Brook, which is a lively small river that originates close to Market Harborough & meanders through the north of Northamptonshire, passing Corby & carrying on until it joins the River Nene just north of Thrapston

4. Continue up the slight hill passing a farm on the right with friendly horses…

Look out for the spring on the left where the water’s still running

5. At the top of the rise the lane becomes tree lined & it’s obvious there’s a barrier across the road preventing traffic from going any further… 

This is the Drayton Estate & the good news is that whilst cars can’t go any further, you can on foot. When I mentioned at the start of this walk that occasionally you come across something you never knew about – well this is it & just wait until you see what’s coming up

6. Walk through the barrier & continue along the estate road…

As you continue along the estate road the magnificent Drayton House comes into sight…

7. Drayton is what the Victorians would have called a “noble pile”, mainly because of the way it rises out of the land, built initially on local stone & then developed through six centuries of differing architecture. Somehow though it all just seems to blend together in glorious unity

Aubrey de Vere I participated in the Norman conquest of England & was awarded the Manor of Drayton near Northampton. In the early thirteenth century, Sir Walter de Vere dropped the “de Vere” family name, & assumed the surname “Drayton”

The core of the house was built by Sir Simon de Drayton around 1300 & still survives. He received his licence to crenellate in 1328. There have been changes to the house in each century since, including works recorded by Isaac Rowe, John Webb, William Talman, Gerard Lanscroon, William Rhodes, Alexander Roos, George Devey & John Alfred Gotch. However, the house is important for the transformation it underwent during the late 17th & early 18th centuries. There is a unique spiral cantilever oak staircase dating from around 1680 & an embroidered State Bed from 1700

In 1770 the house passed to the Sackville family. Two rooms were redecorated in the Adam style. The house today preserves its medieval origins & the changes in the Baroque period, & is a family home. It is built of squared coursed limestone & limestone ashlar with lead & Collyweston stone slate roofs

The house is open to groups of visitors by prior written appointment

8. The road arrives at a junction & there’s nothing for it but to turn right & pass through the gate into the grounds themselves. Yes…the path goes straight down the side of the House

Note all the hooks hanging from the eaves of the buildings on the right

9. Walk right to the end & follow the road as it bends left & then right, before bearing sharp left at the footpath sign along a fenced track…

This really is glorious estate walking. At the top of the track exit the estate past the gate & cottages

10. The small, quiet road bends right past the cottages (lovely garden & chickens!) & continues towards another farm…

On reaching the junction turn left…

11. The next stretch of this walk downhill towards Slipton is simply stunning…massive skies & magnificent, rolling Northamptonshire countryside

Soon the hamlet of Slipton comes into view as the traffic-less lane winds its way down in a David Hockney’esque picture style manner…

12. At the bottom of the hill, look for a turning on the left into the church…

Walk into the turning & then take the narrow, fenced track up past the church

13. This is the small, yet beautiful Church of St John the Baptist, which was initially built in the 13th century, although it was rebuilt in the 14th century. If you’re lucky enough to go inside, you’ll find there are pews, but no aisles. Have a walk around the churchyard as the building is lovely & note the open bell

14. Continue up the grassy track towards the hamlet – watch out for the friendly chickens!

15. The track arrives in the hamlet of Slipton…

The name Slipton derives from two Old English words meaning probably “muddy farm.” Slipton was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was a small village of only six freemen. The freehold was held by the Abbot of Peterborough. By the reign of King Henry I of England, the land had been divided. William de Courcy held a hide in it whilst Richard FitzHugh held two-thirds of a hide with the nephew of the Abbot owning the remaining third. By 1235, the Knights Hospitaller owned part of the village. All the land eventually ended up in the hands of Walter de Drayton who merged it into the Drayton, Northamptonshire estate

Like Lowick, Slipton was heavily involved in the Iron Ore industry

16. On reaching the road, turn left & walk along to the T-Junction. Slipton was another of our local haunts, this time the wonderful Samuel Pepys pub – sadly also now closed

At the junction look across the road to see a footpath sign pointing through a private driveway…

17. Walk through the large gate & walk straight ahead & through the small gate leading into the field. Watch out for Wilma, a beautiful spaniel who’ll hopefully be waiting to greet you

Once in the field continue straight ahead up the hill & you’ll see the gate ahead of you…

Pass through that gate & again walk straight ahead up the side of the next field to exit onto the road through two large gates

18. After passing through the second gate, look immediately left to see a stile in the hedge. Cross it into the next field…

This is another meadow. I stuck to the hedge on the left, until reaching the cross hedge & then turned right towards the farm looking for another large gate leading onto a track by the barn

19. Pass through the gate & follow the track down to the hard road…Welcome to Twywell!

Turn left & walk down the road into the village…

The name “Twywell” derives from two Old English words meaning two springs or streams

Twywell is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Twowelle’ but can be dated back to the Iron Age. It’s likely that this manor was given to ‘Northman miles’ (“Northman the knight”) in 1013 by King Æthelred II. This Northman is thought to be Northman, son of Leofwine. The charter was preserved in the archives of Thorney Abbey, which in the 1050s was one of those controlled by Northman’s relation Abbot Leofric of Peterborough

20. The lane arrives at a more open area which is the starting point for Walk 38: Twywell Circular where you’ll visit the Hills & Dales. If you fancy a full day’s walking then do Walk 38 from here & then continue with this one

On the left’s another well-known watering hole…The Old Friar. Many years ago this had the best Sunday Carvery for miles around. It still has one

21. Follow the road past the pub & continue for about 1 mile. This stretch is noisy as it runs parallel to the busy A14. The road you’re walking on was the old winding one before the A14 was built. I only encountered two cars along this bit

 

22. Eventually you’ll arrive at a staggered crossroads & it’s time to move back to the peace of the countryside by turning left…

Immediately after turning left look over the road to see the entrance to a bridleway that’s blocked by a large concrete block

23. It’s surprising how quickly the sound of the A14 disappears. The bridleway initially climbs steadily & the views across the rolling countryside begin to appear again 

Pass a farm on the right. Shortly the bridleway arrives at the avenue of trees in the picture below…

24. When the bridleway bends left, look for the gate on the right with the footpath signs…

The post shows two footpath directions. Ignore the one pointing up the right side of the field. The one you want heads left, initially following the hedge on your left before cutting across to the exit in the corner of the field

When I did this walk they were drilling the field & I had to walk around the left edge to arrive at the gap

25. Walk through the gap & go straight across, ignoring the bridleway going left & right…

This is the bridleway that’s going to take us pretty much all the way back to Lowick. Ignore all the paths going off left & right & keep straight ahead. If you look across to the left you’ll see one of the gates into the Drayton Estate

26. Soon the bridleway begins to descend & ahead, through the trees, you’ll see the tower of Lowick Church once more

The track eventually passes a shed…

27. Walk past the shed & the paths going off to the left & right. After these the bridleway bends left, but the path you’re looking for is straight ahead, keeping the hedge on your right – you may have to scramble over a bit of rubble, but should be able to see a marker post ahead in the corner

28. Isn’t the view of Lowick from here rather special…

At the above mentioned marker post follow the edge of the field round to the left…

…to arrive at some marker posts telling you to cross over & walk straight ahead over the field passing the pocket park & trees on your left

29. Just before reaching the brook bear right to arrive at a bridge…

Once over the bridge walk up the field heading towards the left of the house to exit onto the road

30. Turn left & walk back through the village passing The Snooty Fox which once used to serve the best gammon steaks in the County!

So that’s it…a walk through three beautiful hamlets, all well known to me, but yet again…Northamptonshire throws up another surprise!

Go Walk!