Walk 23: Towcester town centre: A short walk back in history

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3 miles (4.82km)

Time to walk: You can do this one in an hour, but then there’s Towcester Tea Rooms on the way……

Difficulty: Mainly hard path apart from a short stretch in the watermeadow which was a  bit muddy in mid December

Parking: We parked in Towcester Leisure Centre car park. It’s free & no restrictions.

Public toilets: Plenty at the start & en route

Map of the route: 

Here’s a map of the town centre are too. It’s dated 2012 so may be slightly dated…

centre

So what can we tell you about Towcester?

Location-wise it’s about 8 miles south of Northampton & lays claim to being the oldest town in Northamptonshire & possibly, due to the age of the Iron Age finds in the town, one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the country.

Today the A5 runs straight through the middle of the town. In Roman times this was known as Watling Street & a garrison town called Lactodurum was established on the site of the current town.

In the 18th & early 19th centuries the town became a stop on the major coaching road between London & Holyhead. Many of the pubs & inns in the town today remain from that period.

Anyway…it’s a miserable, cold, late winter’s afternoon & the light’s fading. We’ve got 3 miles to get done so let’s get going…

1. As mentioned above we parked up in Towcester Leisure Centre car park on the outskirts of the town.

Opposite are the offices of South Northamptonshire Council

Exit the close & turn right onto Springfields & head down the hill

2. At the bridge turn left along the gravel path beside the River Tove.

We’re now going to follow the river for the next half mile.

Across the road picking the path up the other side

Cross the road picking the path up the other side

And across the road in the distance

And again, across the road in the distance

3. Follow the path again for 25 yards with Waitrose on your left & then we turn right over the bridge…

…& then immediately left along the path again

4. By now we’re getting soaked so we need to get a move on & get dried off. So turn left over the bridge…

& head up to the main road

5. On reaching the main road (Watling Street) we turn left & head back into the town…

…Towcester’s one of those South Northamptonshire towns that’s flourished recently & now has many fantastic independent local shops

6. On the left as we walk up the road is Towcester Museum

7. Keep heading on up & now on the left hand side is one of our favourite jewels of this town…Towcester Tea Rooms

Whether it’s a full meal, or just tea & crumpets go & indulge

Mention must also be made of The Dolphin Cafe a couple of door further along which also does a good cuppa & is open on a Sunday which the other tea room isn’t

7. And a little bit further up is another gem…Elliotts Butchers – (secret…..try the sausages). A real traditional butchers.

We’re not supposed to promote too many businesses, but one of our favourite Chinese restaurants has always been the Rice Bowl.

8. Right refreshed? Let’s cross over the road. Got to admire the Towcester retailers for each having a xmas tree on their properties. In the square is Towcester Town Hall.

9. Let’s head down the side of the Town Hall (Chantry Lane) towards the church…

…St Lawrence’s Church has a 12th century Norman ground plan probably laid over a Saxon 10th century stone building. It probably dates back to Roman times as St Lawrence  was patron saint of the Roman Legions. The building was reconstructed in 1480-85 when the tower was added. It contains a ‘Treacle Bible’, a table tomb & cadaver of Archdeacon Sponne. The Archdeacon started what was thought to be the oldest Grammar School in Northamptonshire.

The church tower contains more bells than probably any other – 12 & a chime of 9 bells which ring the hours & chime tunes at frequent intervals

Today when we visited there was a rehearsal for the Christmas Carol Concert…click on the link here

IMG_6599

9. How good was that? Right…now let’s head down the left hand side of the church & turn left along the road

This is no Augusta Golf Course!

This is no Augusta Golf Course!

If you fancy a swift half The Plough‘s on the left…

10. Ahead of us now lies Bury Mount…

Bury Mount Motte is the remains of an earthwork motte & bailey fortification or ancient castle and has been designated a scheduled ancient monument. The Motte probably dates back to the 11th Century when it was a Norman fortification. The Motte fell into disrepair but the council has recently undertaken a restoration project.

We head round to the right of the Mount…if you want you can walk straight over the top…

11. Turn right over the bridge…

We’re now entering Towcester Watermeadows.  Have a look at the link. The Watermeadows cover 60 acres & were originally part of the Eaton Neston estate. Now owned by the public they are registered as Grade II in English Heritage’s Parks & Gardens Register. Although their design is predominantly early 19th century they have older parts that date back to 1700.

What we’re going to do now is basically a loop of part of the Watermeadows intially following the boundary on the right.

12. Eventually we come to a stream crossing our path & this is where we saw our kingfisher darting along. He eventually sat on the corner of the wall below. In the enlarged version you can make out colours. Note to self take all the lenses next time!

kingfisher

13. Now we turn left & follow the stream past the bridge until it reaches the hedge boundary. In the distance on the hill you can see the grandstands of Towcester Racecourse

Now follow the hedge with the stream on our right until we reach the weir

14. Our path now lies across the field heading back towards Bury Mount & then exiting through the gate in the corner up to the main road.

On the right here is the entrance to part of the Eaton Neston Estate…

…our next steps lie across the road & on the path through the park

…& when it splits we take the left fork below

15. We now need to take either of the bridges across the stream & continue to follow the hard path…

The first bridge was blocked today...

The first bridge was blocked today…

…& keep going until we emerge near Tesco’s.

16. Turn left & follow the road until the T-junction & head straight over Watling Street into the park…

Simply follow the hard path

Simply follow the hard path

…& cross the wooden bridge below…

Careful!!

Careful!!

17. We now bear right & can either follow the left hand or right path around the small lake…both join up again in a short while. We’re now approaching some new houses on the edge of the park.

At the T-junction of the path below we bear right to exit the park…

18. Although there’s no signs we’re now turning right into Belle Baulk & simply follow the road through the housing estate…just keep to the one road.

19. Eventually ahead of us we can see a roundabout…

…where we need to go straight over back into Springfields…

…& now follow the road round the bend where we arrive back at our starting point.

So…that’s our little walk done around Towcester, a small town with a big history! What we particularly like is the small independent shops & we’ll definitely return to try & snap that kingfisher.

Now….back to the tearoom!!

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