The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 10 miles (16.1km)
Time to walk: This is quite a long walk & can be done in around 3.5 hours, but why would you want to as there’s lots to stop & explore. On a sunny day 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, three Jays, a great display, a hunt from an adult dark buzzard & hundreds of swifts feeding on ‘the wing’. There’s also quite a bit of country lane walking so care’s needed regarding traffic
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. From the car park in front of the Abbey head straight down the left hand side as shown below..
2. Continue straight ahead, although after going through the bollards, if you have time now or on the way back, venture into the old walled garden
When the track goes off to the right at a bench keep straight on down an avenue of young oak trees.
3. The path finally reaches the lake & we need to turn left & follow the well marked track by the water. Several years ago this lake was a fisherman’s paradise, but is now virtually empty due to netting. It can get boggy on this track
4. Finally the track arrives at a t-junction. On another day it’s possible to turn right to follow the path round the lake past the hotel, 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. Turn here & pass under the old railway track, continuing until you come to an arched bridge. Turn right here just before the bridge down a flight of steps
6. 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 which have a few “non pleasant” dogs so just be careful. Shortly the path arrives at Rush Mills lock, which actually not many people know exists even though we’re just off the busy Bedford Road
Keep walking on the right of the canal & we pass through a short tunnel. A sign tells you you’re now on the Nene Way
7. Over the canals one of Northampton’s best known pubs, although if you want to visit it The Brittania you’ll need to go back & cross the lock. It’s a great place to sit outside on a warm day!
8. Continue along the canal path passing offices on both sides & the next lock. Ahead now is the final bridge as the canal reaches the main river Nene
To get to the main river & the Washes pass through a gate that bears a somewhat worrying sign. Luckily today there were no sheep!
9. Walk up the bank & then the track along the river is clear…to the left the river, to the right the Washes – look out for all the different birds here
10. When we walked along this stretch it seemed there were thousands of swifts buzzing around us feeding on the wing – an amazing experience & the photos don’t do it justice
11. On arriving at the barrage, cross over & then turn right & head for the boats in Northampton Boat Club. Go down the steps & through the gate, heading for the crossing over the lock
Once over the lock follow the narrow path to the locked gates of the Northampton Boat Club. Until we first did this walk a couple of years ago we 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 into the lane, turn right & then immediately right again through another gate with a blue sign – you’ll see the path.
12. Basically you’re now on the other side of the Boat Club so 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 site, but now it’s more mobile 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 bends left (not far) & you can see the bridge ahead which needs to be crossed, 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 to Little Houghton is straight ahead, but before you go too far, stop turn back & look over to your left to 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.
Continue ahead up the hill on a clear field path. This year there’s corn in this field & to the right is Little Houghton church – our direction marker
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 look after their gardens & when you reach the end turn left
15. The road now arrives at a t-junction. Our path turns right but before you do that go across & have a look at the old stocks outside the village shop
16. Pass The Four Pears (try the seafood stew!) which is a good pub that was saved by some of the local villagers
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 small 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 as there’s always bullocks in this field. Today they were calm…they’re not always!
The route out of the field takes us through a gate & into Great Houghton & past another fabulous pub, The Old Cherry Tree
Continue down the lane &, if you’ve bought a few sarnies, there’s a great bench under a big tree on the village green
After being fed if fancy a drink walk 50 yards where, on the left is another great pub, The White Hart (no website)
18. The next couple of miles aren’t our 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 you need to take the right fork
Continue down past the Lodge & some great sloe bushes & you’ll soon see Wootton ahead of you
At the end of the lane, turn right along the road-side path looking for the signpost onto another field path
Keep straight ahead, across the road & then here’s our path towards Hardingstone – mind the dog poo on this stretch
19. On reaching the main road turn right & head into the village centre keeping the green on your right & taking the left fork, passing the The Sun
Our path veers right but the church is well worth a visit so keep straight ahead & go through the church gates – how stunning is the approach
Go round the back & search to 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 & through the underpass into Delapre Golf Course car park
Head up the road out of the golf course & where the road bends right keep on the path ahead through the bollards…
Continue straight on this path until it arrives almost started at the lake. Turn left (at the dog bin) & retrace your steps up towards the Abbey
21. If you fancy a cup of tea, walk through the walled garden to the other side to find the tea room
So that’s a great little 10 miler. Give it a go & let us know what you think…