The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 10 miles (16.1km)
Time to walk: Best foot forward you can crack this one in about 3 1/2 hours, but why would you want to as there’s lots to stop & explore. On a sunny day (ha!) relax, & stroll & take around 5 hours.
Difficulty: A mix of off-road & on country lanes. As some tracks are around a lake & across fields it can get muddy in wet times
Parking: Park at Delapre Abbey (see below)
Public toilets: Delapre Abbey & several pubs along the route
Map of the route: apologies for the poor quality…
Another fantastic walk with a chance to see lots of wildlife. Today we saw various water birds, 3 Jays, a great display, a hunt from an adult dark buzzard & hundreds of swifts feeding on ‘the wing’ (see pictures). There’s also quite a bit of country lane walking here so care’s needed. Enjoy!
1. Our walk today starts from the car park at Delapre Abbey. Set in acres of fantastic parkland, the old Abbey was only one of two Cluniac Nunneries in England & was founded by Simon de Senlis, the mighty Earl of Northampton. The meadows around the Abbey were the site of the Battle of Northampton in the Wars of the Roses. To hear more about the history & today at Delapre Abbey click on this link by a well-known sibling 😉
2. Right, history lesson over & our walk will end up here with a little ‘treat’ so walking boots on, we’ve got 10+ miles to cover. So from the car park in front of the Abbey let’s head straight down the left hand side as shown below..
2. So carry straight on from here, although after going through the bollards, if you have time now or on the way back, venture into the old walled garden which is currently being restored – fabulous.
I remember a couple of years ago spending an hour just sitting here watching blue tits dashing in & out of a hole in a tree feeding their young. Watch out as there’s green & spotted woodpeckers here too. When the track goes off to the right at a bench just keep straight on down an avenue of young oak trees.
3. We finally get to the lake & need to turn left & follow the well marked path. Several years ago this lake was a fisherman’s paradise, but is now virtually empty due to netting by the Eastern European influx – sad & they’re still fishing it today. It can get boggy on this track but there are ways through
4. Finally (& after much chasing rabbits!) we come to a t-junction. Turn right here to follow the path round the lake, but our route goes left. Follow the now concrete path underneath the dual carriageway & keep going past Wickes distribution centre until you come to the sign below…
5. So left turn here & under the old railway track & keep going until you come to an arched bridge. We need to turn right here just before the bridge.
6. Right…now in the summer this narrow path gets overgrown with nettles so beware – today’s shorts meant many stings! Also there are a few barges parked along the river here (we’re now on the Nene Way by the way!) which have a few “non pleasant” dogs so, not a problem for us but just beware. Our next landmark we come to is Rush Mills lock which actually not many people know exist even though we’re just off the Bedford Road.
Keep going on the right of the canal & we need to go through a short tunnel. A sign though now tells us we’re on the Nene Way
7. Wanna beer…tough you’re on the wrong side of the canal although if you go back to the lock & cross over you can get to The Brittania – great place to sit outside on a warm day!
8. Now carry on along the canal path passing offices on both sides & you then pass the next lock. Ahead now is the final bridge as the canal reaches the main river Nene.
So to get to the main river & the washlands we need to head through a gate that bears a somewhat worrying sign. Luckily today there were no sheep!
9. We now go up the bank & then out track along the river is clear…to the left the river, to the right the washlands – look out for all the different birds here.
10. We need to get across the Nene & here’s our route across the top of the flood locks. Just have a look at the next picture…there must of been 1000 swifts buzzing around us feeding on the wing – an amazing experience & the photos don’t do it justice.
11. Across the locks & then turn right & head for the boats in Northampton Boat Club go down the steps & through the gate – we’re heading for the crossing over the lock. Today we had to give a wide berth…
Once over the lock follow the narrow path to the locked gates of the Northampton Boat Club. Until I first did this walk a couple of years ago I didn’t know this little community existed.
Cross over the ‘No fishing’ bridge near the small millpond & then head up the lane. At the top you’ll see a couple of footpath signs. Go through the gate onto the lane, turn right & then turn immediately right again through another gate with a blue sign – you’ll see the path. Lots of flowers around in the hedgerows at this time of year.
12. Basically we’re now on the other side of the Boat Club & just follow the track round & through the gate into Billing Aquadrome. TIP: We don’t suggest you do this walk when the wind is blowing from the east… Billing used to be a caravan sight but now it’s more homes where you’re allowed to live x number of days a year. There’s quite a few nice little pads around here…
Continue along the road with the river on the right until the road bend left (not far) & you can see the bridge ahead – we need to cross that so leave the road & walk along the grass.
After crossing the bridge continue alongside the millpond & then through the gates & over the river to join a lane. Here you feel like you’re walking through someone’s back garden but just keep going. Note the security cameras…
13. The path we need to follow to Little Houghton is straight ahead, but before you go too far, stop turn back & look over your left should – see the mound with bushes & trees on top?
Clifford Hill is one of the largest ‘mottes’ in Britain. Most motte & bailey castles had a bailey but this one only has a ‘motte’. Have a look at the Little Houghton link below which tells you about it.
Right…onwards up that hill here’s the path. This year there’s corn in this field & to the right is Little Houghton church – our trig point
Even in winter the farmer marks this out well & today we got a friendly wave from the tracker driver in the field.
14. Once through the gate turn right & follow the road into Little Houghton – the cottages here know how to do the gardens & when you reach the end turn right, but maybe you want to buy half a dozen first…
15. The road now arrives at a t-junction &, if you want a cuppa at the in-laws (as we did today) go straight over. Our path turns right but before you do that go across & have a look at the old stocks outside the village shop – love that type of history.
16. So back on our track towards Northampton, but we’re not going there straight away. It’s maybe time for a stop at The Four Pears (try the seafood stew!). Seriously great pub!
Also have a look over the wall to the washes where we’ve come from. After leaving the village sign look for a footpath sign on the left & enter the field (there may be cows here). Head down the field – the exit is well marked & then take care crossing the A428 & drop down the bank into another field.
17. Here’s a picture of our next path into Great Houghton & beware there’s always bullocks in this field. Today they were calm…they’re not always!
Ok our route out of the field takes us through a gate & into Great Houghton & past another fabulous pub, The Old Cherry Tree….if you’ve been having a sneaky one at them all stop here for a tinkle, but beware there’s another great one around the corner
Carry on down the lane & if you’ve bought a few sarnies there’s a great bench under a big tree (we like big trees..) on the village green
Right you’ve now been fed so fancy a drink? Let’s walk 50 yards & on the left is another great pub The White Hart (no website)
18. Right enough sitting around eating & drinking we’ve still got a long way to go…The next couple of miles aren’t my favourite as they’re all road walking, but they have to be done. So head out of Great Houghton & just keep straight on ignoring all footpath signs. Eventually the road bends sharp left but we need to take the straight on fork
So straight on down here past the Lodge & some great sloe bushes (shhh…) & you’ll soon see Wootton ahead of you
At the end of the lane we join the main road in Wootton & it feels our walk’s over – fear not it’s not. Turn right & keep on the footpath until we come to this point going through & onto the field path.
Keep straight on, across the road & then here’s our path towards Hardingstone – mind the dog poo on this stretch – PICK IT UP !
19. Ok back at the main road turn right & let’s head into the village centre keeping the green on our right & take the left fork, Oh another pub…The Sun!!
Keep straight on & our path should veer right but…it’s time for a diversion so head on up past Collins Per Food Stores & go through the church gates on the left – how stunning is the approach.
Right go round the back & search & you’ll find a small wooden cross with this inscription…
The unidentified man was burned to death in a car in Hardingstone Lane in one of the most famous cases in modern legal history ‘The Rouse Case’. It was an insurance fraud by a promiscuous man who needed money to look after his many ‘indiscretions’.
20. About turn & walk back past Collins & left down Back Lane. There’s our footpath sign on the left so head down the track past the new Security Centre & under the underpass into Delapre Golf Course car park.
Head up the road out of the golf course and where the road bends right there’s our path ahead through the bollards…
Continue straight on this path until you come to where we almost started. Turn left (at the dog bin) retrace your steps up towards the Abbey
21. It’s now time for a treat so, if the weather’s fine head through this gate into the fabulous garden, head up the hill, sit down & wait to be served by the Friends of Delapre Abbey – the best tea & cake in Northampton
So that’s a great little 10 miler. Give it a go & let us know what you think…