The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 8 miles (12.8 km)
Time to walk: Can be done in 3.5 hours, but depends how many stops you take – today was plenty & it took us 5 hours
Difficulty: Mainly off road & along canal paths. Mostly flat easy walking.
Parking: Use the parking at Collingtree Golf Club in Windingbrook Lane, East Hunsbury, Northampton
Public toilets: Use the Greyhound pub at Milton Malser, The Drovers Return Cafe in Hunsbury Hill Park, or Tesco’s at Mereway
Map of the route: None available
The beauty of this walk is that you’re never far from civilisation, but it shows how you can make the most of the open spaces that are around you. It’s also very varied with open fields, leafy tracks & canals – another one to be done throughout the differing seasons.
So let’s get going…
1. Park in the car park at Collingtree Golf course or in any of the residential roads in the area. The path actually starts just before you get to the club house on the right hand side marked by the sign below
You feel like you’re trespassing but keep going as it is a genuine public footpath even though it might not look like it. There’s a house on your right before you come to the first tee that has two very yappy little dogs running up & down so be ready!
Anyway, after 25 yards you arrive at the 1st tee so please go quietly & stand still if golfers are teeing off (FORE!). When they swing at the ball The Westie wants to chase…bless.
You’re now on the golf cart track & make sure to keep to this. There’s some of the most expensive houses in Northampton on your right now & try & spot the Koi carp in one of the first ones (£££££££££).
Keep an eye out for people hitting golf balls behind you as you walk down the track. Soon you’ll come to the 1st green & again, make sure you stand still whilst people are putting. In The Westie’s case standing still are words that don’t go together so apologies to the guy that missed the short putt with a dog having the time of her life rolling on her back, legs flailing in the air by the side of the green!
Continue to follow the path round & have a look at the house on the right – how big is that & who lives there? Wouldn’t we like to know!
2. After you’ve gone round the back of the 3rd green you’ll come across this sign & it’s where we must turn left, leave the cart track & get back to solitude.
Now follow the track (like a tunnel) up the side of the golf course – at times you wonder where you’re going, but trust us you’re heading in the right direction.
Finally we come to a gate so turn right, go through & keep going in the same direction keeping the edge of the field on your left.
They’re thinking of building houses here hence the archeological digs but we suggest you keep to the path or else…
3. Now it’s up to another stile & here there’s an option to turn left & follow a track into Collingtree Village where you must visit a fab pub The Wooden Walls of Old England, but hey that’s for another walk..so we head straight ahead & over the M1 & round the corner into a garden where we got completely lost the first time we did this walk. So…here’s what you’ll see
4. At the bottom of the garden you’ll see your way ahead marked by a sole large tree…we like those ;-).
Then it’s over some more stiles (mind the barbed wire) & then the path is well marked in summer, but in winter head for this building
5. The path’s really easy from here & our marker is the church spire of Milton Malser.
Soon you’ll come to the railway line – tried to get the train, but got focus wrong…
6. So across one more field & we arrive in the middle of Milton Malser. Keep heading for the church will will get you on the right road
7. It’s amazing when you walk through a village the amount of things you see you didn’t know about it. Head in, bear left past the Compass Inn
& have a look at the blue plaques etc. For example in MM here’s the local ‘Pound’ – never seen that until yesterday
8. So keep on straight across the village green & you come to one of Northampton’s best know ‘outside’ pubs – The Greyhound. Mind you at 11am it’s a bit early…
9. So now the fun of today starts…in the past I would have said turn left out of the car park & turn right down the road signposted Gayton. You know what just do it! The Westie & I had 30 mins of trying to follow a new path across fields with poorly signed footpaths, got stung, attacked by thistles & the final stile gave way resulting in cut knees & badly grazed shins!
Anyway if you go down the road you cross the A43 & come to a T-Junction.
Turn left towards Gayton & then at the canal bridge go down the right side to join the path
10. So now we’re on the canal path & it’s time to head back towards Northampton..
11. The Westie’s in pure heaven now, rolling in long grass & also fascinated by the sound of water in the locks. We now come to a flight of locks leading down the Northampton arm so just keep following it down. Here’s a selection of photos of things to look out for…
12. There’s an unusual bit to now negotiate & the first time you do it it’s a bit scary…the tunnel underneath the M1.
Have to admire the grafitti artists here..one of them has a fantastic tag of saying “If I was Banksy you wouldn’t clean this off” – love it
13. So eventually we arrive at the stunning bridge below & it’s time to say a sorry farewell to a great stretch of water & head back towards where we started.
14. So now basically we need to head back East past a new development & through a couple of pocket parks – just keep going & eventually you’ll come to Hunsbury Hill Country Park – lots of history here.
15. Now have a look to your left…there’s a building that looks like some toilets & yes it used to be (look at this Daily Mail article), but down to a fellow dog walker it’s now become a fabulous little cafe called The Drovers Return – go, sit & enjoy – The Westie loved the food & the fuss.
16. Replenished? Did you get offered a free 2nd cuppa? Well we now now need to close this walk out by heading straight through 3 or 4 pocket parks. Keep heading North under underpasses & via Tesco’s & then joining the road back into Collingtree Golf course
So…..very varied & close to home so try at different times of the year & please don’t get injured