Walk 180: Stanion, Geddington Chase & Brigstock Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 8.5 miles miles (13.67km)

Time to walk: Roughly 3.5 hours at a steady pace

Difficulty: You would do well to get lost on this walk. Flat & relatively easy on a mixture of paths including fields that may be muddy in winter

Parking: Carefully on the street in Stanion

Public toilets: Pubs in Stanion & the tea room in Brigstock

Map of the route:

This is the final leg of a challenge I set 003.5 Richard Parkes to devise some new walks covering an area around Corby & what a splendid job he’s done

Our route today begins in the lovely village of Stanion, whose name means stone houses or buildings. Like many villages in that area, Stanion is situated at the heart of Rockingham Forest & was known for stone quarrying & timber. Settlement here dates back to the Bronze Age & the Romans also inhabited the area

During medieval times the industry changed to that of pottery which supplied most of Northamptonshire & counties beyond

Let’s Walk!

1. Today’s walk begins near the church of St Peter with its imposing 13th church whose spire was once considered to be “the most valuable gem of Northamptonshire architecture” (picture @mapio.net)

The local village website states that in the church is a carved whalebone measuring almost 2 metres long, which perhaps indicates some distant connection with the sea. Local legend has it, however, that the bone is actually the rib of a cow which was so enormous it was able to supply the whole village with milk, until local witches caused her death & burial at a place called ‘Cow Common’ on the main Corby to Kettering Road

Picture @Secret Northamptonshire

2. Facing the church, turn right & head down the High Street, continuing to the bottom of the hill where we take a left into Willow Lane. Follow the lane onto the track in the picture below…

3. Pass a small pocket park on your left & cross the bridge to arrive at a footpath sign on the right…

Now follow the lovely, tree-lined path in the direction of the footpath sign. You can see the direction of the green-dotted path to follow in the picture below…

A cold morning gave this part of the walk plenty of atmosphere & beauty even in the autumn

4. Keep following the well-trodden path as it leaves the woods…

Look for & pass through the small gap in the hedge in the picture below. Turn right & follow the field edge to the right…

5. Look for & cross though a gap on the right just after the big tree…

Now the footpath crosses the fields directly towards the two big trees at the top of the hill. At the trees the path reaches a track. Continue in the same direction as shown by the map

6. We’re now heading towards the forest straight ahead…

On reaching the forest turn left through the gate & head up the hill towards the house…

7. We’re now walking in Geddington Chase woodlands which is a surviving fragment of the medieval Royal Forest of Rockingham. Most of the Chase is commercially managed, & the SSSI is an area of semi-natural wet ash/maple woodland on Midland boulder clay. The ground flora is diverse, with plants including bluebell, dog’s mercury, tufted hair-grass, and a few wild daffodils

In the 18th century there was a custom of catching squirrels on Geddington Chase. O Easter Monday these were taken to Geddington Village where they were released near the Queen Eleanor Cross. The squirrels tried to escape & the locals would pelt them with stones as they ran in & out of the stonework

8. At the house our path continues directly behind it in the same direction, So head around the side & pick up our path once more & head down the hill…

Pass through the gate & enter the field opposite, heading in the same direction with the hedgerows on your right…

9. At the bottom of the field head down the path in the picture below…

On reaching the end of the path, the village of Geddington lies to the right, but we are heading left & up the byway

10. We’re now going to follow this track for quite some time, Just enjoy the peace & quiet & never divert left or right. This path will lead us all the way into Brigstock…

The autumn colours along here were just lovely & you can take your time to admire them without worrying whether you’re going in the right direction

It really is a walk that keeps on giving

11. After what felt like miles we arrive at a gate, Head past the gate and keep heading down the byway past Chase Farm…

Ignore all the footpath signs & follow the byway & road until you finally get a glimpse of Brigstock on your left

12. At the junction continue straight ahead passing some big houses on your right…

…& welcome to Brigstock!

It’s generally thought the name means ‘outlying farm or hamlet by a bridge’ & as it sits on Harper’s Brook this certainly fits.

The village is surrounded by the remnants of the royal forest of Rockingham & dates back to the Bronze Age or Saxon period. Several properties in the village appear in the Domesday Book, in which Brigstock is referred to as “Brigstoc” & Roman relics have been found in & around the village

13. Continue to follow the road round & down the hill…

…passing the village hall & home of the local WI

14. On reaching the junction take a left & cross over the bridge…

…& then bear left at the island

15. On your left, pass the beautiful Church of Andrew. The village dates from Saxon times & the oldest parts of the church date back to that era. It was part of the Kingdom of Mercia. The Church Guide says that the earliest church is thought to have been burned down by the Vikings. Maybe so, but the definitive book on Anglo-Saxon architecture by H.M. & Jane Taylor in 1965, argues convincingly that there is evidence of two phases of Anglo-Saxon building here & that their best estimate of the first phase is between AD 600-800. Perhaps what we are seeing is a second phase that repaired & replaced the Viking depredations

The Anglo-Saxon church eventually had a chancel, nave, west tower and a stair turret. This stair turret survives & is one of only two left in the country, the other being at Hough-on-the-Hill in Lincolnshire

16. Continue up the hill to the centre of the village passing the market cross. The old stone market cross dates to 1586 before Brigstock market was founded in the mid 15th century. Standing on a small traffic island called Hall Hill the ‘cross’ is at the junction of Church Street & Mill Lane…

Edward IV granted the market to the village of Brigstock in 1466. The market cross was erected as a monument after Elizabeth I passed through. Today it’s used as the place where the May Queen is crowned every year

17. On reaching the Green Dragon pub, which in the 17th century was three houses, turn left onto the High Street passing yet another pub, The Olde Three Cocks

Continue up the High Street before taking a left into Bridge Street, A coffee shop is just on the junction & looks great, but sadly was closed for me…

18. After crossing the bridge & passing the doctors, look for a kissing gate on the right…

Walk through it & onto the playing fields. Head to the top right corner to find another gate to exit…

19. Go through this gate & walk straight across the next field to yet another one. There were some onlookers in this field, but they weren’t interested…

20. In the next field follow the edge to the right, passing some very noisy kennels. In the corner follow the waymarker to the right & cross the stream…

In the next field bear left & then head straight up, keeping the hedgerow on your left

21. At the end of the first field turn right & walk up the hill to join another hedge on your left…

Look for a gap in the hedge by the tree in the picture below. Pass through it & walk straight across the field to pick up another left sided hedgerow

22. On reaching the gap in the picture below, cross over & follow the field edge down, this time with the hedge on your right…

Head directly for the tree on the opposite side of the field

23. The OS Map now shows to walk straight across the next field as well looking for a stile…

Cross the stile & follow a path through the woods

24. Finally we reach a bridge which we cross & head to a further bridge shortly after on the right…

Cross the second bridge & bear left through the gate

25. Our next & final gate is on the left under the tree in the corner. After passing through walk along the drive & follow the road up the hill, past some new house that are being built…

26. Cross the main road & enter St Peter’s Close, almost opposite…

Beside No.1 is a path to enter the churchyard

Walk through the churchyard to return to where you left your car

So that’s the end of a lovely walk. Occasionally the path’s are not particularly well marked, especially across some of the fields in winter. This is where OS Maps may help to keep you in the right direction

It’s a lovely walk so…

Go Walk!