Walk 182: Barnwell…a short, yet beautiful stroll

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4 miles (6.44 km)

Time to walk: Roughly one & three quarter hours

Difficulty: Mostly flat on a mixture of surfaces. Shouldn’t be muddy

Parking: Considerately on the road in the village or in the Montagu Arms car park if you partake of their services

Public toilets: The Montagu Arms in Barnwell

Map of the route:

This lovely short walk was done for me by 003.5 Richard Parkes. He enjoyed it so much he did it twice!!

Barnwell lies in the east of the county, approximately 2 miles south of Oundle. Most people have heard of Barnwell Country Park, but not so many know the village where this walk starts

The name is thought to mean “spring or stream of the warriors, or of a man called Beorna”. However some people think its name is a corruption of “Bairn’s well” & is said to have arisen from an old superstitions belief, that some wells in the neighbourhood had a miraculous efficacy to cure the diseases of children

For many years the village has had a royal connection as we’ll see on this walk. There has been evidence of a Bronze Age settlement & the Romans were definitely here. Initially it was two separate parishes, St Andrews & All Saints, divided by a stream, but these came together as one

Shall we go & have a look…

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts outside one of the two churches in the village, St Andrews, which dates back to the 13th century…

Having met the church warden & being shown around, I have to say I was in awe of this building. At the back of the Church, by the door you go in, is a book which is a fascinating read about the church & the village itself. It was a lovely way to spend some time

Inside’s a monument to Nicholas Latham, who was a great local benefactor, especially in relation to the almshouses which we’ll see later

2. Outside the church, head down the bridleway opposite…

Go through the gate & follow the path to the left, leading to a further gate. Pass through this & then head over the field to the gate opposite…

3. Go through this one & continue in the same direction…

To the left, & well worth looking around’s the churchyard of All Saints Church…

All Saints dates back to the 13th century, but only the chancel remains after the rest was demolished in 1825. The chancel was maintained as it had been the burial place of the Montagu family in the 16th & early 17th century. Indeed the Montagu Earls of Sandwich continued to be buried here into the 19th century

4. Continue past the church, passing through another gate…we are now walking on the famous Nene Way

At the tree keep right…

5. When you reach the gap, bear left up the track to take a look at this wonderful village…

As the track ends continue up the road which has bridges over the river Nene in the middle. It really doesn’t matter which side of the road you walk, So if you fancy walking on the right side just head over one of the many bridges!

6. Oh I’m in love with this place ……… Thanks Dave for this mission!! Its like Northamptonshire’s very own version of Venice…

Presently you’ll arrive at the Montagu Arms, or ‘The Monty’ as it’s known locally. It’s got an interesting story attached to it, when it was built in the early 1600s, as three or four cottages. Have a look at some of the unusual features inside the pub. This is because it’s thought the workmen who were constructing what was then the new Barnwell Manor practiced the skills they were going to be using on the manor…

One of these cottages would become Barnwell’s first inn in the early 1800s, being extended into a second cottage in the early 1900s. By the mid 1900s all four cottages would now be absorbed to become the pub, with later extensions in 1982

7. Follow the road directly in front of the pub & head deeper into the village…Hello Rudolph!

Pass a house called ‘The Bigleys…

This was a free school, founded in the reign of James I by the Rev. Nicholas Latham, who also established an almshouse for 14 infirm men & women, bequeathing estates for these purposes, & for the relief of persons in distress. The income was augmented in 1824, by a bequest from Mr William Bigley, of London, who also left an endowment for building a school house, & educating and clothing 15 girls of Barnwell St. Andrew& Oundle. We’ll visit the almshouse at the end of the walk

9. Pass the bridge on your left…don’t go over it

Because it’s so quiet, it’s easy forget you’re walking on roads so please be careful in the event of any traffic (I saw none)

10. Pass the entrance to Barnwell Manor, which we’ll see properly later, & the castle which you can just about see from the gates…

Built during the reign of King Henry III by Berenger Le Moyne this elegant, large rectangular castle near Oundle was encased by a high curtain wall flanked by huge two storey towers, its walls being over 12 feet thick. It passed to the Montagu family & during the English Civil War was used by Sir Edward Montagu, as an arsenal for the Royal cause

11. Continue following the Nene Way to the right…

…&, as the Nene Way goes off to the left, continue straight up the road

12. Pass a row of houses on the right & follow the road out of the village passing the speed signs…

Keep following it as it bends right & heads up the hill

13. On arriving at the junction, bear right towards Armston. Ignore the footpath sign & walk straight up to this very small hamlet…

Earlier we saw Rudolph – now here’s the rest of his friends in the fields as we head up the road

14. As we get to the top of the hill, it’s time to head back towards Barnwell. Pass through the gates on the right…

Walk across the field to the next gate in the far right corner. There’s some nice views from up here…

15. Go through the gate & walk right along the field edge to the next gate in the corner…

After passing through, head slightly left down the hill to the tracks 

16. It’s all about the gates at the moment, so go through this one & continue down the tracks…

On reaching the footpath sign in the picture below turn left & walk directly opposite along a grassy path in the field…

The next gate is behind the big trees in front of you

17. Pass through the gate & head to the metal gates opposite…

Look across to the right to see Barnwell Manor, the historic former home of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester & part of the Barnwell Castle Estate. The manor was granted to the Montagu family in 1540 by King Henry VIII

In 1938 Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, bought the house & estate & lived there with his wife Princess Alice until he died in 1974. In 1995, however, it was announced that Alice, her son, daughter-in-law & their children would be vacating the home to live at Kensington Palace

They still retain ownership, but the high running costs mean that the property is now rented out

18. Go through the next gate & head down the track…

On reaching the road, bear right & walk back into the village

19. This walk is now almost finished, but….I stopped at the pub! Wow it was excellent

To finish the walk head over the bridge & up to the church

20. However, don’t forget to stop & have a look at the almshouses…

The history of the building’s on a plaque to the right…

My guide who showed me around the church also encouraged me to go up the stairs into courtyard, so don’t be afraid to take  a little look at the amazing buildings

So that’s it – I really hope you enjoy this short stroll around beautiful Barnwell as much as I did & I’m sure I will be walking it many more times in the future

It’s fab so…

Go Walk!