Walk 179: Great Oakley, Newton, Geddington Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 8.5 miles (13.7km)

Time to walk: Roughly 3.25 hours

Difficulty: This is a very flat walk

Parking: Carefully & considerately on the road in Great Oakley. We parked on Church Drive

Public toilets: The Star in Geddington

Map of the route:

Our Geddington & Newton walk covers a short part of this route, but I wanted a walk on the website that started to the south of Corby & took in Great Oakley which we haven’t touched on the website yet 

With that in mind 003.5 Richard Parkes was dispatched back to the Corby area with a task to do the legwork & report back. This is a walk taking in three beautiful villages & some lovely local countryside

Shall we go & explore?

Let’s Walk!

1. Today’s walk starts in lovely Great Oakley. Oakley is a fairly common name with Anglo Saxon origins & means ‘wood or clearing where oak trees grow’

It sits on Harpers Brook, a small tributary of the River Nene, which was once the boundary of Rockingham Forest. There’s a well in the village called Monk’s Well where the villagers drew their water supply

Great Oakley was once a small agricultural parish, but the expansion of Corby close by has crept ever closer. Despite this many of the original properties survive & it’s retained it’s village identity

Look for green paint on the doors of some buildings as you wander around. This signifies that they were, or still are, under the ownership of the Great Oakley Estate

From Church Drive, enter the Great Oakley Estate through the white gates…

2. The history of the Great Oakley Estate is a rich one. It has been under the ownership of the Brooke & de Capell Brooke family in some form since the late 1400s. However links with previous Lords & Stewards go as far back as the late 11th century

Continue straight along the path, passing the church on the left…

St Michael’s church, Great Oakley, is an ancient & beautiful building of various dates. The original church was built in the early 13th century (1200-1250). This building was extended to the west in the late 13th century, when the three western bays of the nave were added. The roof of the nave is made from slate from nearby Collyweston. There is a curious pillar in the centre of the arcade that marks the join. The oak choir stalls are said to have come from the Cistercian abbey at Pipewell 

3. Go past the church & bear right at the fork…

Cross over the bridge to arrive at the two gates in the picture below. Pass through the one on your right…

4. Follow the left fence to the sign in the picture below…

…& then turn left & head up the hill towards the houses. Walk through the gate & into more of the estate village

5. Turn left & head down the road through the village, passing the old post office…

Just after Tom’s Cottage walk through two gates into the field

6. Climb the staircase, which is rather a novelty to find in a field…

This path will take us to our next checkpoint which is a gate at the top on the left. Go through this & then quickly cross the stile.

It’s worth looking behind you from here for a great view across Corby. You can see how the town continues to grow & is creeping ever nearer the villages

7. After crossing the stile our route continues opposite through a gate…

Now head slightly diagonally right towards the train track. Go under the bridge

8. Now at this point it gets interesting for a moment! If you’re following an OS app, then my advice is to ignore it for a while…

Believe me…”I go wrong so you don’t have to” (Dave’s words have always stuck with me)

So the path has been diverted for the new bypass, the maps haven’t been updated. So here goes…it’s easy!

9. After coming under the tunnel turn right & head up the grass path to the road bridge in the distance…

10. Cross the bridge on the left hand side until reaching a gate on the left just after the bridge descends…

Pass through the gate & initially keep the trees on your left. Once you reach the lower field continue along the right of it, with the trees now on you right, as in the picture below

11. Shortly you’ll reach a bridge on your right which needs to be crossed…here’s Richard making that crossing!

Now head straight up the hill, keeping the hedgerow on your right. On reaching the gap go through it & then head diagonally right towards the electricity pylon at the top of the hill

12. On reaching the pylon, it would be easy to lose your way. So enter the field to the far right of the pylon & follow the edge down…

The OS Map takes you a bit wider in the field but, with no clear path through the crops, it’s easier to stick to the edge until reaching the gate at the very bottom left corner that leads onto a road

13. Turn left along the road & head towards the village of Newton. At the junction turn left & then right down the lane into the village…

If you fancy visiting the famous Dovecote Farm Buttery & Tea room it’s 200 yards further on down this lane

However our route is down the turning on the right where I’m going to show you a hidden gem!

14. Welcome to Newton, or Newton in the Willows as it’s properly known. The name ‘Newton’ is very common & means ‘new farmstead or settlement

At the bottom of the road turn left, passing the old dairy on the right. Go through the gate & continue down the path to the church…

St Faith’s church & the Manor House that once stood beside it once belonged to a branch of the Tresham family who are well know throughout the County. The church was the private chapel of the Trishaws

It ceased its religious role in 1959 & the memorials were removed to Geddington church. The graveyard remains consecrated ground

The church also used to house the Newton Field Centre, but this is now permanently closed

15. Pass the church & go through the gate & continue to the gate opposite. The dovecote on the left’s one of the largest we’ve ever seen & the rooks were having a great time. There were lots of Red Kites too

The dovecote was built by Maurice Tresham in the late 16th century & is all that’s left of the Manor buildings. It still has its original door

It contains 2000 nesting places & has undergone restoration. Although this is beautiful, quiet countryside, it was once a battlefield when the peasants tried to destroy the fences that enclosed their common land. Their leader was called Captain Pouch, due to the fact that he claimed to have enough in his pouch to ensure success. The local landowners quickly overcame the peasants here at Newton . When Captain Pouch’s pouch was opened it was found to contain nothing more than a small piece of green cheese!

16. Go through the gate & continue through the woodland area. Just before the next gate (don’t go through it) head right down the hill. Pass through another gate & over a bridge, before turning immediately left & over the stile…

On the Geddington Circular Walk 84 there were bulls in this field, but none today, just these little chaps & they were super friendly…

17. Follow the right hedgerows, which then become gardens to reach a stile…

Cross the stile &…welcome to Geddington. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it could be ‘estate associated with a man called Gaete or Geiti

Now that the bypass has been built & lorries no longer thunder along the A43 this village has mainly returned to a peaceful haven & is lovely to stroll around once more

Geddington’s got lots of history attached to it & there have been several ‘finds’ dating settlements here back to Iron Age times. Much of the area was once covered by the vast Rockingham Forest & there was once a Hunting Lodge here. In 1188 Henry II held a council in the village to raise funds for an expedition to the Holy Land. Later in 1194, Richard I played host to William, King of Scotland & then in 1201 King John granted & sealed the Borough Charter of Cambridge here

18. Cross the road & continue down the path opposite to reach Chapel Lane…

Cafe Oak is well worth a visit – you won’t be disappointed &, other than Monday’s, it’s open 9am – 4pm. This was the first time Richard had visited Geddington & like many people, he says it won’t be his last

19. Continue down towards the centre of the village, passing Askew’s Hairdressers’. Hold on…Askew…could it really be? Sadly there was no time to check & equally no hair to trim so let’s keep walking

20. Next up’s the medieval bridge over the River Ise, which also has a ford…

The bridge, built in 1250, has five arches & three pedestrian refuges. The ford is a more recent addition. The village is famous for its annual boxing day “squirt” in which a barrel attached to a rope across the river is squirted from one side of the ford to the other by competing fire crews from Geddington & Kettering. To see the bridge at its best you need to walk down the bank

21. Cross the bridge & head up the street to another famous landmark…the magnificent Eleanor Cross

Designated a Conservation Area in 1977, Geddington’s centre piece is this cross erected on the order of Edward I around 1294 in memory of his Queen, Eleanor of Castile who died in 1290 at Harby in Nottinghamshire. The funeral cortege on its way to London made overnight stops at many places, including Geddington & also near us at Delapre in Northampton. Crosses were built at these stops & this one & the Delapre one are 2 of the 3 remaining

Prior to this journey her husband is said to have laid her heart in Lincoln Cathedral

The Geddington Cross was built 4 years after the journey & was carved from Weldon Stone plus a darker band of Stanion stone. On its face are roses, shields & representatives of the Queen. The Geddington Cross is quite different from the one at Delapre in that the shaft is triangular & the statues of the Queen show her wearing a veil. It’s also thought to be the work of a sculptor from Peterborough, rather than one from London

The picture below shows the sunken well which has been in use since Roman times…

22. Turn right past the Church of Mary Magdalene…

The church these days is mainly restored from the 14th century, although there are parts. dating back to Saxon & Norman times. Unusually, there are three surviving chancel screens in the church. The earliest is late 14th Century. The second is a superbly carved work given by Maurice Tresham in 1618.  The current chancel screen dates from 1908 & is by Gambier Parry

23. Turn left up Wood Street & continue until reaching the woods themselves…

At the top of the rise leave the byway, taking the path on the left

24. Continue with the hedgerow on your left, following the field edge to the gate in the picture below…

Go through the gate & head up the hill. We are now walking on Geddington Chase which was part of Rockingham Forest

Covering 39.1 hectares Geddington Chase has been designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Most of the Chase is commercially managed, & the ground flora is diverse. The site is private land with no public access so stick to the walkways

25. At the house at the top of the Chase, turn immediately left & follow the road…

…leaving the woods

26. Leaving the main gate turn left & follow the main road, keeping to the verge on either side. There wasn’t much traffic when I did this walk, but what there was did past very quickly so please be careful – the verge is wide

After roughly 200 yards look for a gate on the right (shown in the picture below & go through it

27. Now bear diagonally right across the field & pass through the gap in the hedge…

Here’s map from the road of this next bit showing it crossing the fields towards Cobley Lodge Farm…

Like the map shows, most of the next stretch is in a diagonal line

28. Follow the tree line up the hill, keeping them on your right. Pass through the next gap in the hedge…

…& continue in the same direction to the top left corner of the next field. Cross over the bridge & go straight across to the next gap

29. This walk at the moment’s all about gaps, so go through another one & cross to the waymarker opposite

Continue diagonally up the hill right to the top where this time a stile awaits to be crossed

30. Head towards the farm, leaving this field by the gate & cross the track to walk down the hill between the dog walking enclosures

We’re heading to the far right corner under the telegraph pole, passing through the gate on the left

31. You can see from the map below that the path now splits…

Our route is the left one

32. Cross the bridge & walk straight across the field & down the hill to reach the village of Little Oakley. The parish was so small that in 1935 it was abolished & merged with Great Oakley to form Oakley

At the village our path continues opposite…

Walk down the path, following the signpost & past St Peter’s Church on your right…

The church has been converted into a private dwelling so don’t try & visit. The oldest parts date back to the 13th century & the tower to the 15th

33. Walk through the gate at the end & enter the field on the other side of the track – Do Not go down towards the ford

A quote from Richard…”Now I’m going to say…it’s impossible to get lost here”

Follow the well marked path until you reach a stile. Do Not cross the stile. The farmer has been very clever as cattle are kept in the field, but fear not! He has fenced a walkway all the way around the edge. Keeping the fence on your right, just keep walking

34. This is a massive field so just keep going until reaching the gate in the picture below…

Pass through the gate & under the road

35. The path now carries on & passes under the impressive viaduct

The path all the way home is nice & easy now so just keep walking as we’re nearly there…

36. Continue under the telegraph pole to enter the Great Oakley Estate once more…

The next gate is under the tree in the picture below

37. After passing through the gate, head diagonally right towards the woodlands…

There are plenty of signs along here telling you to keep to the paths

38. Enter the woodland area…

…& go through the final gate. Head back to where you left your car, keeping the church on your right

39. Before heading straight back to your car, why not make a quick diversion to go & have a look at the impressive house

So that’s the end of this walk & wow…what a walk. It certainly has a bit of everything, including…cake! 

So…

Go Walk!