Walk 165: Harpole, Harlestone & Nobottle Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.8 miles (9.33km)

Time to walk: About 1hr 45mins, with plenty of sky gazing watching the kites…..

Difficulty: Quiet country lanes, farm tracks, grass paths, well marked paths, but some good climbs too!

Parking: Plenty on street parking or at the side of the church on Upper High Street (NN7 4DJ)

Public toilets: None around route, however the Live & Let Live pub is close to the start/finish in Harpole

Map of the route:

This legwork on this walk has been done for me by Elaine Pearson & I know this is one of her favourite walks, so thanks Elaine

It begins in the village of Harpole, before heading north to Harlestone & then south-west to Nobottle. There’s some big skies, hills & great views on this walk, so come on Elaine…

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts in the village of Harpole, which lies 4 miles west of Northampton & roughly 1 mile from Junction 16 of the M1 motorway. Locally the village is probably best know for its annual scarecrow festival weekend in September

Harpole was originally called Horpol, meaning “Dirty or muddy pool”. As mentioned above there’s plenty of parking on Upper High Street, just down from All Saints Church, opposite Larkhall Lane

All Saints Church dates back to Norman times &, if it’s open, the Norman font with its two dragons is well worth seeing

Sometimes you’ll see the farmers dogs on top of the wall here – they get on from the farm side, but still makes you look twice if you see them!

There were some fresh duck eggs for sale opposite today, at Orchard Cottage…

2. Head off to the left (opposite direction to the church) towards the pink Carlton Cottage…

…keep following the road, passing Provident House, with its pump in the garden

There was beautiful blossom out today (March 2021)…

3. The path ends at this point…

…but we’re staying on this road, going round the corner to the right, past the farm buildings – interesting shape

4. We’ll be on the road for a little while. It’s a quiet lane, but take care, although the verges are big enough to go up onto if you need to avoid any cars or ducks 😊…

There are plenty of sheep & lambs to see all the way up the lane, on both sides…

…plus a lot of  things that look like vines. To start with, from a distance, I thought these were solar panels, but they’re actually fruit staging as this is part of the famous Harpole ‘Pick Your Own’ farm

Looking back, you can start to see some great views over the town

5. Carry on up the hill. You can see the water tower over to your left standing proud up above the countryside…

and more lambs – you can see this tower from various angles on this walk

6. At the end of the lane, cross over (please be careful as people tend to whip along this road pretty quick!) & go through the metal gate to right of the junction…

following the bridleway to Harlestone

7. Continue straight ahead along the hedge on your left…

…saying hello to the inquisitive horses on the other side of it

8. Go straight through the gates, clearly marked by the footpath sign…

…& keep going straight with the trees/hedge to your right. As they end cut over to the left of the hedge…

…aiming for the gate in the bottom corner of the field

They are marked, but please be careful here as the fences on your left are electric

9. Go through the gate, being sure not to trip over the mounting block local riders use to help mount/dismount when using the gate…

…& carry straight on up the well-marked grass path through the field

It’s a really popular bridleway, so don’t be surprised to see horses out enjoying it too. The  riders are really friendly, so give them a smile 😊

10. Continue straight, enjoying the views all around, until you come to a crossroad of paths, just after the blue container…

We are going down the track to the right, & through the gate to the road…

11. You can see some of Harlestone through the gate. We are now turning left onto this road, but as you’re walking into a blind corner, you may be best to stick to the grass verge on the left side until you can see clearly enough to cross & walk across on the right…

12. Carry on down the road into beautiful Harlestone…

Harlestone is divided into two smaller settlements, Upper & Lower Harlestone. The villages name means ‘Heoruwulf’s/Herewulf’s farm/settlement’

To the north-west of the village is the country estate of Althorp, & estate still owns much of the land and many properties in the village. The area is probably best known for Harlestone Firs, laying just outside the villages 

If you wanted to add on a little extra, you could pick up some of Walk 87 by taking one of the footpath signs you pass on the right

13. We carry on through the village until you see the triangle…

…taking the left fork with the tree on your right

14. Go through the signposted gate on the right in the picture below…

…& walk up through the paddock to the large gate at the end

Turn left through the gate, then turn right at the hedgerow…

…& continue along the path, keeping the hedge to your right. Quite often pairs of Kites are seen flying overhead here

15. Keep on following the path as it winds through into the next field…

…where it goes across the field. The path was really clear when I walked it but, if its not, then aim diagonally towards the brick barn

There’s some owl boxes nailed to a couple of trees here…

16. Follow the signposts to the right of the barn, straight across the next field…

…turning towards the farm in the far left corner of the field at the next hedge – again clearly signposted & well marked, so very easy to follow

17. Follow the path to the right around the edge of the wood, & aim for the bridge into the woods in the corner of the field…

Follow the path through the woods to the gate at the other end

18. There were Red Kites swooping & hunting above me when I walked through this next field & a fair few old cow pats too….

19. Go through the next gate & turn diagonally left cutting across the corner of the field to the next gate. I was quite glad this was a very short cut, as I realised there were some lovely brown cows at the very far end of the field to the right of the house…

You can see the gate to go through on the left edge

20. Go straight over the next field & through the gate (in between the 2 houses) to come out opposite the red phone box on the main road…

This is quite a busy main road, & the traffic really flies down here sometimes, so please be extra careful

21. Cross over the road, & head towards the little lane at the end of the cottages…

…stopping to have a look at the lovely cottages on both sides of the road before you venture off down the lane

Note the really novel way in & out of the garden

22. Carry on down the lane, following it round to the right & then turning left just before red house at the end…

Go down the path to the kissing gate at the end

When its been raining heavily, this gate can get flooded as there is a natural spring just to the left in the field. We’ve had to climb this gate before as it’s been so bad, & the evidence of logs to stand on are still there, so be prepared to climb or paddle!

23. Go straight up the hill, aiming for the tree in hedge at the top. When you get there, take a second to look back & admire the rolling countryside….

24. Follow the hedge until you come to a double kissing gate…

…stopping to admire the views on the other side…

…before turning left & following the hedgerow again. I’ve nicknamed this hedgerow “Watership Down Hotel “because of all the rabbit holes – every one a room with a view 😊 

25. This old log is just perfect to stop & rest a while…

…taking in the beauty of the views, watching yet more Red Kites in the skies above, horses in the fields below, & pheasants running like road-runners all over!

26. Go straight on through both kissing gates…

…& carry on up the track…

…past the horses on the right…

…looking out for the pheasants and hares in the surrounding fields

27. Again, keep looking all around at the views. These are big open skies & you can see for miles & miles in all directions!

28. Follow the track along the wood. You’ll see the markers in the corner which will lead you down some Jerusalem steps….after you’ve stopped at the top & just taken in that view

29. The path takes you diagonally across the field to the marked kissing gate…

Please be aware that there are usually sheep in all these next fields, so dogs need to be on a lead.

30. Turn slightly to the right, & the path heads over the brow of the hill towards the big trees…

When you come over the hill you’ll get another stunning view, as well as the kissing gate coming into view in the middle of the two sets of big trees

31. Keep going straight through the next field to another kissing gate. I had lots of mum’s & lambs lining my way & waiting for me at the gate…

…as well as following me down the path 😊 all very friendly, & so lovely to see the lambs up close

Again, I had an aerial display of a pair of Red Kites over the fields here, seemingly grabbing breakfast on the wing…

32. Go through the kissing gate & down the hill towards the gap in the hedge/gate…

This is a working entrance into the farm, so be aware the farmer might be shepherding sheep through here into the fields. The farmer actually had one of the sheep herds penned in with his dogs when I came past…

He was very chatty, & explained that one of the lambs was in the wrong field so he needed to find it & put it back. I can tell you that us both trying to see a little lamb with a red number as opposed to a purple number took a good few minutes! But it was found, caught & put back in the right field (twice, as it didn’t want to go the first time & ran back trying to jump the fence!). It was lovely to see them so close…

…& watch the 2 dogs keeping the sheep in line. I was so fascinated, I didn’t get their pic!

33. There is a well marked pathway between the two fields here that you follow…

This pathway can get VERY muddy & it can flood when it rains. Thoughtfully the locals have put some stepping stones through some of the worst areas, but even so, if there’s been heavy rain be prepared to paddle! This was earlier this year…

34. Keep following the path round to the left, then the right between the buildings, & come out through the metal kissing gate onto School Lane, back in Harpole

35. Turn left & walk up the road. The Red Kites were still above me, flying over The Old School Hall, built in 1835…

The beautiful church is on your left…

I went in through the gates, looked around the churchyard, & came out through the gate by the war memorial…

…back onto the road, finishing off where we parked

So that’s Elaine’s lovely stroll. I too know this area quite well & can definitely recommend it for the views alone so…

Go Walk!