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 side streets near Northamptonshire Cricket Club
Public toilets: The Cafe or over the road near the Lake
Map of the route: Not the best, but our route’s easy to follow…
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.
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 get moving!
1. Before entering the park & starting this walk we parked & walked up one of Northampton’s most ‘cosmopolitan’ streets, the Wellingborough Road. It’s full of different individual shops & restaurants catering for all parts of the world. 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. Right then… our entrance to the Park lies through the gates opposite the APH
3. We have a choice of 3 paths now, but let’s choose the wide one that heads straight ahead…
Over 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, but another addition are the table tennis tables – brilliant!
Although it’s early January there’s already signs that spring’s on its way…
5. 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
6. 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. Click here for a Youtube clip we found. Plus here’s a couple of photo’s we took today
7. We could have spent hours here & it’s a great place to bring kids, but we need to move on, so let’s head back to the path we were following & the building on our left here 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.
8. On the left here is the Rose Garden. In January it’s pretty dormant, but when in full bloom is a mass of colour & aromas…
…& then a bit further on is the great Sensory Garden
10. Facing the Church of St Peter & St Paul turn right down the small path which will lead to the main gates
The church wasn’t open today, but the link above will give you a flavour of it
11. Ok…it’s time to head over the very busy road & into the other side of the Park – be careful
…& then walk straight ahead down the hill under the avenue of different trees
This area of the Park contains the main part of the Fitness Trail…here’s the map if you fancy a go!
12. 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…
13. 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, we can imagine 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
14. Follow the path out of the Park & turn immediately left following the railings & path.
After about 300 yards & opposite Weston Way we turn back into the Park on the concrete path again.
…& at the bottom we come across the first lake again…
16. Continue ahead keeping the lake on our 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 and dovecote
…& if you brave the mud you’ll see the current residents
17. Having had a look at the tower we walk back to the path & pass between the lake & the boating pond…
…& at the end of the lake bear right back up the hill
18. On the left up here is the kids playground which is a hive of activity & ice creams in the summer…
…& on the right’s another part of the Fitness Trail
19. Now it’s time for us to head back across the road again into the part of the Park we started in. The Museum’s straight ahead.
20. Follow the right hand path & ahead is another Northampton institution – the Abington Park Cafe…
It’s very good & run by the same people that run the cafe in All Saints Church in the town centre
21. Right…cup of tea finished let’s keep the cafe on our left & head up the path towards the gate
…& 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 along here is the Park Bandstand where numerous concerts are held during the summer
The path now continues back to our start point where there’s more of those squirrels!!
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, although in the summer be prepared to dodge the ice cream vans.
There’s so much history here & please don’t miss the Museum