Walk 3: Braunston Circular: An ancient footpath, a gunpowder plot, a tale of woes, fab jams & marmalades & a canal finish

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 7.5 miles (12.07 km)

Time to walk: It is possible to this walk in 2.5 hours, but there is so much to stop off & look at that, first time, it’s best to allow 3 – 3.5 hours

Difficulty: Mainly off road. There are quite a few hills and it can get muddy in winter, but it’s great to enjoy the changing seasons

Parking: Use the free street parking in Braunston ( if you can, park outside the building with the Hovis signs. You’ll know when you see them…)

Public toilets: None, but plenty of pubs etc en route

Map of the route: None but see route & photographs below

We’ve done this walk so many times but it’s easy & there’s lots of places to stop & take in a lot of history & facts.

Right…flip flops off & boots on

Let’s Walk!

1. So Braunston’s the start for our walk. A lovely little village just to the west of Daventry split in two by the Grand Union Canal. There’s free parking on the street here & one of the best places to park is outside the ‘Hovis’ house

2. Walk further into the village going away from the church. Over the road is a fantastic butchers shop, so when you get back we suggest you pay a visit to see what’s on offer. At the fork in the road bear left past The Wheatsheaf pub & head up the hill.

3. Keep ahead up the hill until the road turns sharp right. Ahead is a sign marking the route which joins the Jurassic Way towards Ashby St Ledgers

Head on down the lane, but be careful…many people seem to ignore picking up the poo. There’s great views to the left over Warwickshire

4. Keep an eye out on this lane for birds & wildlife. Today we saw two Jays & several Buzzards who were being chased by an angry group of rooks. The lane finally ends & passes through a gate into a field (usually cows here) & continues to climb the hedge on your right

Go through another gate, still climbing through another field, then stop, take a breather & have a look back at the views over Braunston. We started near the church you can see so have already made a good climb.

At the top pass through the gate onto the road, then take care as you’re on a busy minor road, but turn right &, after about 25 yards, spot the somewhat hidden path sign in the hedge on the left

5. Although it’s late the oil seed rape at this time of year is a fantastic spectacle. The path sticks close to the hedge

Keep going into the next field & then it’s down the hill until you meet the main road. PLEASE BE CAREFUL HERE…this is an extremely busy road & traffic travels at speed & is often blind

Go straight over & into the stunning hamlet of Ashby St Ledgers

6. Ashby St Ledgers is one of those villages where you can just sit, admire, wander a bit, sit a bit more & then take in the incredible history & sights that it offers. First stop on the right, if you’re thirsty, has to be The Olde Coach House, especially if it’s a hot day as you can sit out in the garden. Good food & ales

When wandering through the village have a look at all the old cottages which are simply stunning

So…if you can resist the pub, there a good bench to sit on outside the village hall to watch the world go by

7. Continue further into the village – peek down at the huge house on the left with the Godfather horses heads on the pillars – what’s that about!!!!

Now we start delving into the history of this village. On the left you’ll see a pair of pillars & a gateway which shows where the old road used to run down to the manor

Keep straight ahead ignoring the turn to the right which is our path after we’ve explored. Now walk up towards the church & look at the wooden building above you.

Many years ago this is the room where the Gunpowder Plot was hatched. “Remember, remember the 5th of November…” Wow what could have been if what was planned in that small room had come to fruition…

Now let’s have a look at an incredible church – the door’s always open although it was sad to see the notices about thieves. Note the signs about staying away from the tower (Ashby St Ledgers’ leaning tower of Pisa). Go into the church, stick some money in the box & treat yourself to a fantastic leaflet guide, admiring the very old frescos – we can’t recommend this enough.

Afterwards, come out of the church, turn right & wander down the lane to the gates of the stunning manor. The Queen bought it for the Crown Estate in 2005

8. Retrace your steps & turn left down the lane signposted Welton & Daventry & head past the ‘The Old Dairy’. Be careful as you’re walking down country lanes so dogs on a short leash. Eventually you’ll come to a kind of t-junction but if you look straight ahead you’ll see a stile & a footpath sign – that’s our path!

9. The path is now well marked across the next 3 fields as it heads towards Welton. You’re now walking on arable land so it could get muddy in wet weather, but this is a considerate farmer who marks the paths well at all times. The first field this year is full of maize & we then cross into corn

Continue across the next two fields. The 3rd field at this time of year looks like oil seed rape, but it’s actually a wild flower meadow & these are buttercups…

Now look through the gap & there’s the path to Welton. The path is deceptive as it dips down & there’s a bit of an uphill climb later on

10. So come out of the fields, down an alley & you’re in Welton, another lovely village. Turn left after the alley & walk along the street. At the junction turn right down the High Street & pass the school on the right. There’s another lovely pub here if you fancy a stop…

…but we prefer to head on lower down to the bench on the green for more drinks & biscuits.

Pass by St Martin’s church

& look up to see a stand-alone gravestone over looking the wall

Now continue done the main road & on the right is something you don’t see very often…a person who makes the most amazing marmalades, jams & pickles & leaves them outside. There used to be an honesty box but, due to theft one was then asked to put money through the letterbox. How long this tradition will continue we don’t know, but it will be missed as the produce is amazing

Purchases made & backpack now weighing significantly more, carry on down to the main road & turn right, crossing over to the footpath – there’s  a big tree in the middle of the junction.

Now we follow the path beside the road until it arrives at the Grand Union Canal – this is our route back to Braunston.

11. It’s time to leave the roads again & our path lies on the right side of the canal bridge down the steps

The canal path arrives at Braunston tunnel. It’s a 20 min trip through by boat, but if you fancy a quick tour click on the above link

Climb up the side of the tunnel. Here the path splits but the one to take is head straight. Sometimes in the summer this gets overgrown & narrow, but eventually opens out onto a concrete drive that joins the main road. Look to the left to see the first aeration chimney – we’re following the tunnel here…

12. Cross a very busy road & head straight up the track.

There are several marked paths off the track, but keep straight ahead. After a short climb Braunston church comes into view once again

There’s the next tunnel tower on the right…

Keep on down the hill & the path arrives at the other end of the tunnel – here’s the plaque recording the opening

13. Keep on the canal path & descend along side the Braunston locks. Many of these are doubles & are usually busy so you should see plenty of fun. Eventually you come to a great place to stop for a well earned drink & a bite to eat, The Admiral Nelson. If it’s fine sit outside

If you have stopped then cross back over to the left canal path & carry on into Braunston. Cross the footbridge & have a look at all the boats in the marina.

14. At the next bridge (the one that mentions Coventry Angling Club) cross over to the other side. Our route back to the Hovis building lies ahead up the hill. Have a look out for the friendly horse in the field on the left…call her & she’ll come over. Plus there’s a bench half way up the hill if you fancy another stop.

Well that’s it…the end of another great walk. If you fancy an end of walk drink by the canal you can either drive back to The Admiral Nelson or go back over the main road to The Boat House

It’s a fab stroll so…

Go Walk!

 

2 Responses to Walk 3: Braunston Circular: An ancient footpath, a gunpowder plot, a tale of woes, fab jams & marmalades & a canal finish

  1. Graham Brown says:

    Completed 29/06/20

    Braunston is lovely and this was a very pleasant walk, although the initial climb up the hill was quite tiring. I had no idea Ashby St Ledgers was the source of the gunpowder plot!

    There is currently some redevelopment work going on above the Braunston tunnel and the towpath has been sent on a somewhat poorly signposted diversion through a country park area, but it was easy enough to pick up the path again at point 12 after a short walk along a grass verge.

    • Thanks for the heads-up on the development. That seems to have been going on for years. Braunston has several walks going off it. I wouldn’t mind living in one of the flats overlooking the marina

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