Walk 32: Litchborough & Farthingstone Circular – a little cardio exercise!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)

Time to walk: About 1.5 hours, although there’s a couple of decent ‘watering holes’ en route so you might like to combine it with a Sunday lunch at one of them

Difficulty: Mainly across fields & then footpaths in the villages. The fields were pretty dry when we did this mid March 2014. The terrain is quite hilly at times so it’s a good cardio workout. There’s also several stiles & bridges to negotiate

Parking: We parked in the main street in Litchborough outside The Old Red Lion Pub

Public toilets: The Old Red Lion in Litchborough, or The Kings Arms in Farthingstone.

Map of the route: cc ‘Walks for all ages’

So what can we tell you about this short walk? Well the countryside in this area is quite hilly for Northamptonshire & the two villages we’ll visit are quiet & unspoilt

Litchborough, our starting point, is a small village about 10 miles south west of Northampton and 5 miles west of Towcester,  just 2 miles off the A5, although it is a world away from the hustle & bustle.

It’s well worth keeping your eyes & ears open for wildlife on this walk. As well as numerous sheep & lambs, we saw several buzzards, kestrels & a lovely little wren (who wouldn’t stay still long enough to have his photo taken!!)

We’ll expand on the features & history of the villages as we pass through them but, as it’s a glorious day….let’s get walking!!

1. As mentioned above, our walk starts outside The Old Red Lion pub in Litchborough…

IMG_8464

The Old Red Lion has been run by Radmore Farm in Litchborough who have farmed there since 1937. The menu is therefore sourced from their own and other local farms

2. Across the road is St Martin’s Church, a grade II listed building…

The church dates from 13th & 14th century. It was closed today, but apparently on Sunday afternoons during the summer they serve tea & cakes. The graveyard has a tale to tell…

In the 19th century a gravedigger turned up one November morning to inspect an area where he was due to dig a grave. He found the body of a man slumped across a mound where a local had been buried the previous day. The dead man was George Bates, a regular at the Red Lion & a doctor confirmed the death from a heart attack. However his face was contorted with fear & he was also clutching a sword which passed through his tailcoat into the soil

A group of men who had been drinking in the Red Lion the night before had been discussing Albert’s funeral, the man who had been buried the day before. They had all been praising Albert, but George, who had been drinking heavily, didn’t agree. A sword hung over the fireplace of the inn & a local wag, Nobby Clark, dared George to plunge it into Albert’s freshly dug grave. He went into the churchyard carrying the sword & that was the last time he was seen alive

Obviously this was the talk of the village for many weeks, but it was eventually assumed that when plunging the sword into the grave, a drunk George speared his tailcoat & pinned himself down. Having tried in vain to get up, George must have thought that Albert had grabbed him from the grave to take his revenge, hence the heart attack & the look on his face

Next door on the green is the war memorial…

3. We’re moving down the main street & on the corner come across some wrought iron gates which mark the entrance to Litchborough Hall…

Another grade II listed building, it dates back to 17th century. We’ll get a closer look in a bit. Occasionally the gardens are open under the National Gardens Scheme yellow book

4. Further down the road there’s 2 great different examples of a Monkey Puzzle tree

…& over the wall we get a glimpse of Litchborough Hall

5. At the cottage on the right with the thatched peacock on the roof we need to turn right down Kiln Lane…

…& turn left along the grassy path …

Some fabulous raised beds along here...

Some fabulous raised beds along here…

…& walk down between the 2 hedges to the stile ahead

6. Just over the stile is a Wellingtonia tree

This is from the same family as a Giant Sequoia tree which we saw many of when visiting Yosemite USA some years ago – one of the most stunning places on this planet

Our first encounter with many sheep today...

Our first encounter with many sheep today…

…& we head diagonally right across the brow of the hill towards the fence & the footbridge & stile in the corner of the field

 

7. Right…head down & let’s get those lungs going!!! Head straight up the hill keeping the hedge on your right. Come on…best foot forward…it’s good for you you know!!

We can see the end of our suffering beside the pines below through the kissing gate…

Ermmm..excuse me but we're coming through there!!

Ermmm..excuse me but we’re coming through there!!

Gorgeous ladies

Gorgeous ladies

8. After passing through the kissing gate we now add diagonally left across the field keeping the farm buildings on our left & heading for the gate in the hedge

That's Farthingstone in the distance

That’s Farthingstone in the distance

The hedges are in flower now...

The hedges are in flower now…

9. This is now simply a case of keep bearing left up & down fields & across stiles, bridges & gaps in hedges…

Down here was where we heard & saw the wren

Down here was where we heard & saw the wren

Over another ridge…keep heading left

Over another ridge…keep heading left

Over this stile...

Over this stile…

…& another bridge & stile - told you this walk would get you fit!!

…& another bridge & stile – told you this walk would get you fit!!

…& finally we emerge across an open field…

After such a wet winter the land looks to be drying out very quickly

After such a wet winter the land looks to be drying out very quickly

10. Right…one final climb below & we reach Farthingstone thank goodness. So we climb the hill keeping the sheds on our left…

…& cross a final stile to arrive at the road in the village

11. So…welcome to Farthingstone!, another lovely Northamptonshire village, probably best known for its undulating golf course

After climbing the final stile into the road we turn right & head into the village to see what treasures await us

Spring has definitely sprung in Farthingstone…

12. On the left up here we arrive at Joy Mead Gardens. The gardens were created by the Agnew family in 1922 to commemorate their two children who had died through illness and injuries from the Great War. The Gardens have been left in trust to the village to be enjoyed by the villagers and are managed by a Committee of trustees for that purpose

Joy, the mother, died in 1921 & the garden was started in that year as a memorial to her. Her husband, Philip, purchased an area of ground which was to be used as an “open public ground for the resort & recreation of adults & as a playground for children & youth” It was also intended that the Garden should be used for “lectures, bands, musical & dramatic entertainments, dances & other social amenities”

It opened on August 3rd 1922. Let’s pass through the gate below & have a look around…

The cloisters

The cloisters

The cloisters were erected as a war memorial

The cloisters were erected as a war memorial

13. Okay it’s time we moved on so we exit the gate & continue along the main street & have a look at the village pub on the right…The Kings Arms

The pub has an unusual & award wining garden… have a look around the back

14. Across the road is the local church…St Mary the Virgin

A very pretty little church which, like so many we come across these days, was locked

 

15. It’s time now to head down Maidford Road passing the village hall on the corner…

 

…& then the quirky Pansion Row with its embedded broken glass, china & shells embedded into the walls…

16. Further up the road we pass Wheelwright’s Cottage & on the right is a signpost indicating that we need to pass through the black gate…

However when one of our walkers did this walk in July 2020 he went through the black gate in Farthingstone, but there is what looked like a new electric fence in the horse paddock. He couldn’t see a way round it, so went back to the road & took the next footpath on the left which joined up with the walk

Carry along the narrow alley towards the stile

Carry along the narrow alley towards the stile

17. Ready for some more cardio? Climb over the stile below & enter the horse paddock…

…& firstly it’s down the hill the gate…

18. What goes down…..

It's a slog up to the corner

It’s a slog up to the corner

…& when you’ve climbed that stile…

It's another slog uphill following the hedge

It’s another slog uphill following the hedge

The view back towards Farthingstone

The view back towards Farthingstone

Just one more uphill field to cross

Just one more uphill field to cross

We disturbed a very large March hare in this field & he went off very quickly!!

19. Eventually we reach the hedge & there’s a bridge ahead, but STOP! We need to ignore this & turn left keeping the hedge on our right. Eventually we come to a gap & now continue straight ahead with the new hedge on our left…

Plenty of lichen on the wood in the hedges

Plenty of lichen on the wood in the hedges

…& ahead is our exit onto the road

20. We’re turning back North (left) now & heading back to our start point. Follow the road for a couple of hundred yards & then go through the gate at the signpost on the left

Spring farming is well underway

Spring farming is well underway

21. Turning right & following the edge of the farm we head towards the barn where we find another footbridge & stile in the hedge

Due to new crop growth there was no clear path, but we need to head straight towards the Wellingtonia tree we passed near the start of this walk

One final stile & we’re back under that huge tree…

…& we cross the site back down the narrow path we came up earlier

22. Now it’s past those beds again…

…& back out onto the road where we turn left & head back to where we left our car

So…what’s our verdict on this short walk?  Well it’s mostly across fields & there isn’t too much to stop & look at but if you fancy a good leg stretch & lung buster then this is one for you. Litchborough & Farthingstone are both lovely rural Northamptonshire villages

So…if you fancy a Sunday afternoon stroll…go walk!

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Walk 32: Litchborough & Farthingstone Circular – a little cardio exercise!

  1. Anarchorambler says:

    We did this walk today, very enjoyable, AND we managed to go inside Farthingstone`s St Mary the Virgin church. Finished off at the Red Lion in Litchborough with a fine pint of Timothy Taylor`s Bolt Maker.

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