Walk 25: Abington Park, Northampton: Ever walked in one of the UK’s top 5 parks?

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.75 miles (3km)

Time to walk: Well we’ll leave this one up to you depending how long you want to wander, chat to the birds in the Aviary, visit the museum, work out on the fitness gear, fish in the lake, eat at the cafe, play on the swings…..come on there’s so much to do here!!

Difficulty: All flat & all on concrete paths although you may wish to wander off to explore.

Parking: We parked for free in one of the many side streets

Public toilets: The Cafe or over the road near the Lake

Map of the route: Here’s our route, but it’s great to just explore

So….what can we tell you about our beautiful Abington Park? Well it’s Northampton’s oldest park & covers 117 acres & has so much to offer for all ages from just walking to activities, a great cafe &, in summer, band concerts

In 1892 Abington Manor House’s future was in the balance. Local land owner Lady Wantage, whose family also owned Overstone Park, was prepared to see its preservation by gifting it with 20 acres of land to the town as a People’s Park at the suggestion of the Mayor of Northampton. Northampton Corporation purchased a further 45 acres encircling the Gift. In 1903 Northampton Corporation acquired more land from the Wantage Estate & the park was extended to 120 acres. Lots of these deals depended on the development of the surrounding roads, including the one that splits the park

The park was opened by Mayor, Alderman Randall on 21st June 1897 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The event is commemorated on the stone gate pillars at the main entrance in Ardington Road.

Anyone been to Kew Gardens in London? Well if you have you need to know that Abington Park has the second largest number of different species of trees in the country…Kew has the most! That’s why this is another walk you have to do at different times of the year for all the changing colours etc.

There’s also another side to the Park as the Abington Gallows were situated here which were used to hang 5 women following the Northamptonshire witch trials in 1612

Anyway…we’ll give you loads more facts & figures as we go around the park but, as it’s a glorious January 2014 day…

Let’s Walk!

1. We parked at the Wellingborough Road end of the park as we just love the gates. Opposite the entrance to the park on the Wellingborough Road is one of the town’s famous pubs…The Abington (also known locally as the APH)

Just behind the APH are the floodlights of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club

2. Our entrance to the Park lies through the gates opposite the APH

3. We have a choice of 3 paths now, but choose the wide one that heads straight ahead…

Head towards the buildings in the distanceOver to the right are the bowls greens & tennis courts which are all available to hire. The bowls club has a long history too

4. The Park has also put in a fitness trail, which we’ll come across later…

It’s worth keeping your eyes & ears open in the Park as there’s an abundance of different wildlife, especially birds. We were lucky to catch this Green Woodpecker both on the ground & up the tree

5. Want to see some more birds? Well by now you should be able to hear them as on the left is the Park’s well known Aviary. Have a wander into it – it’s very well maintained

6. It’s a great place to bring kids. Head back to the path you were following. The building on your left is the Abington Park Museum

However..before we look at that let’s take another little detour following the path to the right towards the cottage.

7. On the left is the Rose Garden…

There’s a great notice board pointing out the different types of butterfly that inhabit this area

Turn left along the path down the side of the cottage to arrive at the Sensory Garden

8. Head back to the Museum which is only open April to October…it was home of Shakespeare‘s granddaughter, Elizabeth Bernard who is buried in the nearby church

9. Turn right away from the Museum & walk right, down towards the corner of the park, passing the Church of St Peter & St Paul

10. Head over the very busy road & into the other side of the Park…

…& then walk straight ahead down the hill under the avenue of different trees

At each different time of the year it will look different...This area of the Park contains the main part of the Fitness Trail…here’s the map if you fancy a go!

Go on….you know you want to!!

Go on….you know you want to!!

11. As we descend the hill we get a glimpse of one of the lakes & we’ll come back to this one later

At the bottom of the hill we need to take the right hand path…

12. The path now follows a wooded area on our left which today was really boggy, but we’re walking on concrete.

With the streams running through it, it’s a great place for kids to explore in the summer. The other amazing sight here was the Rooks already starting to build their nests high in the trees.

At the end of the path there’s another lake on the left. Today a lady was feeding a multitude of birds

13. Walk around the right side of the lake & then up the hill on the grassy path that runs parallel to the road…

On reaching the concrete path turn left…

The two stone pillars that you can see over to the right once had an arch on the top & were a late 18th century folly, along the lines of “The Spectacle” that can be seen on Walk 135

14. Carry on down the path…have you ever thought that the trees have eyes & ears….

The path eventually rises to give one of my favourite views..the first lake again…

15. Bear right, keeping the lake on your left & take the right fork at the end

On the right there’s a stone tower, a 1678 water tower, which was a combined well-house & dovecote

16. Having had a look at the tower, walk back to the path & pass between the lake & the boating pond…

At the end of the lake bear right back up the hill

17. On the left’s the kids playground which is a hive of activity & ice creams in the summer…

…& on the right’s another part of the Fitness Trail

18. Now it’s time to head back across the road again into the part of the Park we started in. The Museum’s straight ahead…

19. Follow the right hand path to arrive at another Northampton institution – the Abington Park Cafe

It’s very good & worth buying a drink & sitting for a while

20. To continue, come out of the cafe on the right side…

Now it’s time to see one of the Park’s most famous residents….”The No No Tree”. Walk behind the cafe…

…& there it is…telling you all off!!!

 21. Go back & continue along the hard path. Just before the gate turn left along the other path

22. Now we keep the wall on our right & follow this path which takes us back to where we started.

On the way though we pass a carved tree stump…

…& some very cheeky squirrels…

23. Also on the left is the Park Bandstand where numerous concerts are held during the summer

The path now continues back to our start point…

Well that’s our quick walk around one of the top 5 parks in the country. Like we said Abington Park is well worth experiencing at different times of the year…

There’s so much history here & please don’t miss the Museum

It’s such a gem…Thank You Lady Wantage!

Go Walk!

9 Responses to Walk 25: Abington Park, Northampton: Ever walked in one of the UK’s top 5 parks?

  1. Ruth Thomas says:

    This is most interesting and as a regular walker in the park I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    May I mention something about the Hunting Gate ? This is not the entrance to the medieval village; it is a late 18th century folly or decorative mock ruin designed to add character to the area. It actually frames the north view to the water tower. Another similar local folly is the Spectacle at Boughton which I’m sure you incorporate into one of your walks.
    Thank you for your attention.

    • Hi Ruth & thank you 🙂
      I’ll get that changed. I do indeed have a walk that takes in The Spectacle – it’s No.135 & it’s one of the most popular. Keep Walking! Dave 🙂

      • Ruth Thomas says:

        Thanks Dave ! You put in a great deal of work to encourage walking which can only be applauded. I think your site is excellent !

  2. Thanks, Great stuff. I walk round almost the same route about 4 or 5 times each week, so enjoyed your pics etc. The only thing missing is the Edgar Mobbs Memorial.

  3. Amanda smith says:

    What days and time and where do you meet please

  4. Kevin Foreman says:

    Thank you so much gor posting this very interesting piece with such good pictures. Abington Park has played such a big part in our family life for generations and we never tire of strolling around it.
    I often wonder about the exact location of the Gallows where 5 supposed witches were hanged. Quoted as being at the crossroads in the Park, is this where the pedestrian crossing is by the Museum gates?

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