Walk 171: Alderton, Grafton Regis, Pury End & Paulerspury Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 11.4 miles (18.35km)

Time to walk: 4.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy but tiring & very flat, but long & would be very wet in the winter months

Parking: Street parking in Alderton

Public toilets: The Barley Mow in Paulerspury

Map of the route:

This is another ‘longer distance’ Northamptonshire Walk, the legwork kindly being done for me by Richard Parkes – thanks Richard

We won’t actually go into the village itself on this walk, but I recommend you spending some time here if you have few extra minutes, The village is a beauty & it has some very impressive properties

The name Alderton is though to have meant “an estate associated with a man called Ealdhere”. There’s evidence of settlement here in the Iron Age & later the Romans built major roads including Watling Street (now the A5) 0.5 miles southwest of the village

Over the years the village has also seen occupation by the Saxons & Normans. Alderton was a very small community throughout the 14th & 15th centuries. By 1541 Henry VIII had included the village within the Honour of Grafton. The village population grew in the latter half of the 16th century with the arrival of William Gorges who built a very large mansion house with landscaped gardens

In 1605, the Queen, Anne of Denmark stayed at Alderton Manor. By the early 18th century the village was a thriving agricultural community. The Manor House was demolished & its site was occupied by Manor Farm. The village population remained small and largely involved in agriculture. Recently, it has changed character & is now a dormitory settlement for professional people & also a conservation area

Shall we get this long walk started?

Let’s Walk!

1. I parked outside this beautiful house just down from the church in front of the paddock…

With your back to the paddock, walk a few paces to the left to the big property on the other side of the road where we join our first footpath just before the actual gates on the left

2. Pass through the gate & walk diagonally right towards the telegraph pole, where you’ll see the gap in the hedge to head for…

3. After crossing the stile, head across the next two fields towards the houses in the distance. Then bear left at the field edge & follow the hedges on the right…

4. At the corner of the field cross the stile & continue across the field towards the houses. Pass over another stile & cross the busy A508 road. Head down the lane opposite…

5. Welcome to Grafton Regis where you’ll find some very helpful boards detailing the history of the village. There are others at the Church & by the canal 

The name means “farmstead in, or by a grove”. The word ‘Regis’ is obviously a reference to the village’s royal connection

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

6. Turn left at the island…

…& keep following the road through the village as it circles the Church of St Mary the Virgin…

In the church there’s 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 around 1400

7. Continue out of the village to arrive at the canal…

Cross over the bridge & turn right along the canal (don’t go under the bridge) where we now follow the tow path until bridge 59

8. On arriving at bridge 59 don’t go under it. Climb the bank & cross the bridge. Now follow the track for a short distance, before bearing left & then diagonally across the field towards the A508 (see footpath in the picture below). Cross the stile

9. Carefully cross the road as above & go through the gate opposite. Turn right & follow the field edge, keeping the hedges on your right

There were some beautiful horses along this stretch

10. Now follow the path in an easterly direction through 9 gates, always keeping the trees & hedges on your right. See the map below – the path is the long one at the top that goes between the ponds…

 

Upon reaching the vertical path on the far left of the above map, go through the gate…

…& turn left towards Queens Oak Farm at the top of the hill. Follow the way marker through the paddock & over the stile opposite

11. Turn immediately right, passing a small paddock in the corner of the field…

Pass through the gate…

…& then continue left around the edge of the field, passing the tennis courts, as the field bends right continue forward to the gate on the left in the picture below

12. Go through the gate & turn immediately right, heading through a couple more gates & keeping to the paddock edges, with the hedgerows on your right until reaching the road. (Don’t go into the farm buildings at any time)

Pass through the final gate & walk down the slope. Assuming you didn’t buy a hot tub, cross the busy A5 & continue on the Grafton Way footpath opposite…

13. There’s now more paddocks to pass on your left & you may get the feeling you’re being watched…

At the end of the paddocks keep walking in the same direction, straight ahead, & avoid any temptations to turn left or right. Pass the old farm building in the picture below & just keep following the field edge to the corner

14. You now arrive at  bridge…

After crossing it, turn right & continue, with the hedge on your right, to the very top of the field

15. Finally the path reaches the road. Cross to the left & continue slightly right, still along the Grafton Way

Presently you’ll arrive at some more farm buildings. Keep on the track towards the barn in the distance, looking to the right for a path through a gap in the hedge at the bottom of the hill

16. Take the path on the right & turn immediately left up the hill with the hedge now on your left. Cross the driveway into the next field, again keeping the hedge on your left, until reach the houses of Pury End

The map below shows the path crossing the green A5 past ‘The Gullet’  & Bradlem Pond, & then bearing right up to Park Farm & then Pury End

17. Pury End is a very small hamlet of roughly 100 houses. Historically the hamlet is noted as the birthplace of the missionary William Carey, who has significance on several other of our walks, notably for the chapel in Hackleton & his school in Moulton

Sadly the cottage where he was born no longer exists, but its site is marked by a stone memorial on Carey’s Road, which was named after him

18. Follow the Grafton Way over the bridge…

…& continue up Carey’s Road

19. At the top turn right into Scriveners Lane & follow this to the bottom…

At the junction walk across & into the field…

Head down the hill through the next gate & up to the church through the middle of the field which runs to the left of the churchyard

20. The Church of St James the Great dates in parts back to Norman times, including its font. Inside are effigies of Sir Arthur Throckmorton & his lady. Sir Arthur’s sister married Sir Walter Raleigh, much to the displeasure of Elizabeth I

At the church yard follow the fence, keeping the church on your right, to the path where we walk through the churchyard & out the other side.

21. We have now arrived in Paulerspury which is also visited on Walk 7. It’s meaning is “Place at the pear tree”, although the village became much better known for its potters & then later, lace making. At one point it’s recorded there were 136 lace makers here!

It’s also speculated that Cuttle Mill in the village may have been one of 3 sites thought to have been the site of the last battle of Queen Boudicca

Continue to the village green, passing the phone box on the right. We’re passing from one side of the village to the other &, if you fancy some refreshments, there’s always the Barley Mow

22. Continue past the school – an amazing building…

…& also the impressive “Hunt House” which was formerly the headquarters of the Grafton Hunt & one of a set of estate buildings erected for the Duke of Grafton. It now houses
the Henry Royce Foundation

Sir Frederick Henry Royce, OBE patented the bayonet light fitting, & made a priceless contribution to Britain’s prestige & prosperity in the years of peace with a long succession of motor cars from 1904, and a great series of aero engines including the iconic Merlin which powered the Mosquito, Spitfire, Wellington & other fighting planes of World War ll

The Foundation’s twin aims are to cherish Royce’s legacy & to promote his ideals

23. Pass another village green & one of those wonderful “libraries” in a phone box – we’ll get into trouble from librarians for calling them that 

Eventually we come to a bus stop & take the footpath directly opposite. Cross over the first stile & then another by the garage which allows for a quick chocolate stop!

24. Walk behind the garage to find our path is across the busy A5 under the telegraph pole, opposite the entrance to the forecourt for traffic…

From now on way markers are rare between here & home so, as well as the instructions below here’s a picture of the footpath from OS Maps. The footpath you’ll be following comes from the green road at the bottom left, past the Solar Farm & then turning left up into Alderton

25. Essentially though, we are keeping to field edges. Follow the field edge to the right with trees on your right past the solar farm. When you reach the corner of the solar farm, follow it round to the right until the track

Turn left on the track & follow it without turning left or right across to the next field…

26. After the poly tunnels on your left have finished, our path is diagonally left heading to the left corner of the next solar farm, where a lone post probably had a waymarker on in the past

On reaching the solar panels, keep them on your right & follow the field edge tightly. Just after the far corner is a bridge into the next field…

27. Turn right & follow another solar farm. Cross over the bridge in the picture below just after the panels & turn left up the bridleway

28. Pass the gate & continue down into the village…

…turning right at the junction & return to the village & your car. Alternatively, maybe explore Alderton if you have the energy after this walk. The village is actually laid out in a big circle so it’s easy to walk around

So that’s our 11 mile stroll, which is long, but enjoyable. There’s so many different things to see & quite a lot of wildlife too on the way

Go Walk!