Walk 38: Twywell Circular: ‘Up Hill & down Dale’

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.25km)

Time to walk: This walk can be done in 2 hours at a steady pace

Difficulty: Mainly off road with a variety of field & forest walking. There are a few hills and it can get muddy in winter as you may be walking across ploughed fields. When we did this walk at the beginning of May it was a bright sunny day & we have to congratulate the local farmers on their maintenance of the paths

Parking: On road in Twywell village or use the pub car park if you’re having some refreshments later

Public toilets: Pubs in Twywell & Cranford St John

Map of the route: You can see the blip on the left where I went wrong

Our walk today starts in the east of Northamptonshire in the lovely village of Twywell recorded in the Domesday book as Twowelle (Two Wells), but there are records dating it back to the Iron Age

It was the birthplace of the writer Hester Chapone whose book ‘Letters on the Improvement of the Mind’ (1773), addressed to a 15-year-old niece telling her how she should behave, remained influential & regularly reprinted for over 50 years

The village is centred along the High Street & The Green & there are 9 buildings of special architectural or historic interest in the parish

In the 1870s Twywell’s rector, Reverend Waller was a good friend of David Livingstone the explorer. When he died his heart was buried in Africa, but his body was embalmed in bark & brought back to England. Eventually his body was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, but the bark wrapping was taken to Twywell where you can still see it in the church today

To the south east of the village lies the area which in the 1940s was mined for iron ore. This has now been turned into a great walking park & Site of Special Scientific Interest known as ‘Twywell Hills & Dales’ – we’ll explore it on our walk today

So…enough of the history lesson…

Let’s walk!!

1. Our walk today starts in the centre of Twywell at ‘The Old Friar’ pub…

Years ago this pub was famous for its carvery & it’s great to see it’s still going strong today

2. In the entrance to the pub car park we made our first new friend of the day…

There's a carvery in there…keep moving!!

…& then headed into the village…

…where we see a sign showing us where we need to go…

…down The Lane towards The Hills & Dales

3. At the end of the lane is an allotment sign where we need to turn right…

…the path along here is obvious but a bit overgrown…

Blossom's still blooming!

…but we finally reach a kissing gate through to an open paddock

4. We ‘re now in a lovely little paddock & need to keep to the left hand edge…

…& who’s that looking at us through the fence?

Awww - how gorgeous are these little ones?

5. Exit the paddock via the kissing gate in the left corner…

…& then be careful going down the steps into the open field

6. We’re now going to turn right & cross this open meadow on the path which will lead us into ‘Twywell Hills & Dales’. Keep heading straight, ignoring the other grass paths that go off to the left & right

On reaching the wood pass through the gate…

7. So what’s the ‘Hills and Dales’ about. Well it’s a fantastic conservation site &, if you’re a butterfly fan then you’re in for a treat. Here’s a clip we found on Youtube

After passing through the gate we climb the steep steps…

…& immediately we’re in a tranquil world, although maybe on a weekend summers afternoon it might be slightly busier!!

IMG_0471

8. There’s quite a number of walks around this park so it’s worth going back a few times (there’s a car park at the other end too), but for this walk we need to turn right at the signpost below & head up the hill…

…& at the top we turn left & follow the boundary fence

9. The quarry works are obvious along here & you can see why the whole area is called Hills & Dales…

Ignore the gate & path going down into the gullet

10. The path now continues straight ahead…

Another path leads off to the right into an area now known as Twywell Woods – we’ll save that for another day

When quarrying stopped around 1948 the area was planted with a mixture of pine, larch & sycamore. The Woodland Trust now looks after the area

New season pine cones

New season pine cones

11. The noise of the traffic on the A14’s getting louder & eventually we come to the boundary where we have to turn right through the gate below…

…& here’s why…

12. Unfortunately we now have to walk parallel to the A14 for a short time, but the path’s actually quite picturesque…

Ignore the steps going up on the right…

13. Shortly after the steps the path bends right. Ignore the gate on the right & bear left past Gullet Pond before ascending the steps

Gullet Pond is a very important area as it’s home to the Great Crested Newt

 14. Head up the steps…

…& finally there’s the exit through a gate into the field at the top of the hill on the left

15. After going through the gate, turn immediately left & & pass through the gap in the hedge below…

Walk across the grass, bearing slightly right heading for the fence & gate…

Pass through the small gate on the right & continue past the notice board…

…this area of the ‘Hills & Dales’ is called ‘Whitestones’…

It was the white limestone that gave this are its name. Quarrying began in 1920 & later a railway line was laid to carry the stone to Islip – this was closed in 1948.

16. We now need to exit the ‘Hills & Dales’ so at the marker post, continue straight up the hill

At the top is another marker post, but before it, look for a small diagonal left track that leads to a fence. Turn left & there’s the gate

On passing through the gate you’re faced with two fields split by the hedge in front of you. Walk down the right hand field with the hedge on your left…

17. At the bottom cross the bridge & gate into the next field…

Walk forward & exit through the gate on the left…

The path meanders through some shrub & across a new bridge…

…to emerge in the open at another kissing gate with Cranford St John now visible in the distance

18. Continue straight ahead across the meadow. There was cattle here &, although I passed quite close, they weren’t interested Exit the fields up a lane next to the sewerage works passing through a gate…

…following it up past a farm on the right to the road…

They were a bit nosy!!

They were a bit nosy!!

19. We didn’t have time to have a look round Cranford St John so click on the link to learn more. On reaching the road our route lies to the right, following the road up the hill away from the village…

Beautiful properties

Beautiful properties

20. Keep heading up the hill on the road until you reach a footpath sign pointing across another field. In the summer the path’s well maintained. The problem is in winter as the sign isn’t pointing in the right direction. It’s aiming too far right!

You need to head diagonally left to the far corner of the field. You can see a spinney in the left of the picture below, so aim for that….

21. On reaching the spinney turn left & follow the edge of the field towards the large windmill…

Pass through the gap keeping the hedge on your right into the next field. The farmer must have known about people getting lost as they’ve put new signs in…

Continue straight before passing through the gap just before the trees – another helpful sign

22. Having passed through the gap, bear left & then follow the field down the hill with the hedge on your right…

…& at the bottom of the field cross the bridge…

23. Turning immediately left we follow the hedge on the left to the gap into the next field

There was a marker post…

Pass through the gap & walk diagonally right across the field towards a large oak tree. In the summer this is a well-defined path, but you still make it out

Fancy a swing?

24. Cross the bridge in the corner…

…& bear diagonally left towards another large old oak tree

When I last walked this you could see the tree had lost a large branch

25. Pass through the gap beside the tree. Unfortunately the large branch has damaged the gate & blocked the route (Nov 2020). Update 30th December 2020 from Graham – the branch has been removed, but the gate still won’t open. Now, if you could, the instruction would be to pass through the gate & keep the hedge on your left, across the field to exit on the road (as per the pictures below)

Until that is mended just walk up the side of the field you’re already on, keeping the hedge on your right

26. Be careful as this is a busy little road, but we turn right & follow it back round the bend into Twywell…

Lovely cottage garden

Lovely cottage garden

27. At the green take the left road & keep heading down into the village…

We're seeing more & more of these…so sad

We’re seeing more & more of these…so sad

& we're back!!

& we’re back!!

A bit of close up nature on our car!!

A bit of close up nature on our car!!

So that’s another fab walk completed & it’s a long time since we’ve been to Twywell – we’ve great memories of the carvery at the Old Friar (unfortunately we didn’t get time to eat there today)

What we haven’t done before though is visit the ‘Hills & Dales’ & it’s somewhere we will definitely come back to. This is a great area of Northamptonshire with, besides Twywell, some lovely villages such as Lowick (try The Snooty Fox)

So get yourselves across there &…

Go Walk!!

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to Walk 38: Twywell Circular: ‘Up Hill & down Dale’

  1. Sue says:

    That was beautiful. Dog is to old for this walk now but I enjoyed virtually going on it with you.

  2. Graham says:

    Dec 2020 – the tree branch on the gate has been cleared enough to climb the gate and access the field. The gate is still heavily damaged though and does not open yet.

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