Walk 4: Delapre Abbey Circular: A 10 mile walk from an ancient Abbey, along the Nene way, through the washlands & beyond!

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:

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

Let’s Walk!

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 with the busy dual carriageway ahead & above….

Turn left & then bear right following the path underneath the dual carriageway…

Once under the dual carriageway the narrow path is straight ahead, passing Wickes distribution centre…

until you come to the sign below…

At this point take the left path under the old railway bridge

5. Continue straight ahead with another factory on your right. Cross a stream & look out for the heron…

Next you’ll arrive at an arched bridge, but do not cross it…

Just before the bridge on the right’s a post for the Nene Way. Turn right at the post down the track…

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 crossroads where the church is on your right. Our path is 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 diagonally left 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 diagonally right up to Great Houghton…

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. Walk up the village &, as soon as you go over the old railway bridge, turn right down Glebe Lane. Ignore the cycle path & follow the road past the houses to the end of the lane where the footpath turns left. Follow this path keeping the fence and the horse field on your right

19. As the path comes to an end, you need to go through the gap in the next picture, taking you into Brackmills Wood. This gap is well hidden by the hedgerow & impossible to see until you are almost upon it.

20. Once you’re through the gap, turn left & follow the path up the hill for about 150m, before picking up a tarmac path on your right.  Follow this path for a few yards, then as the path turns right down the hill, turn left just after the dog bin, following the open path through the trees

Just after this line of trees, turn right & follow the path down the hill, turning left when you reach the bottom…

21. Now follow the well marked path for about ¾ mile, keeping the warehouses on your right & ignoring any footpaths heading left into the trees, or right into Brackmills. As the path almost reaches a roundabout, take the left fork back up into the woods & continue to follow the path as it sweeps right…

Eventually you’ll come to this gap in the hedge. Head through the gap, turn left & the path leads to a gate taking you onto Landimore Road

Cross the road & go through the gate on the other side & follow the well marked path through the trees…

22. When you come to the concrete path turn left & follow the path as it winds its way up the hill…

There is a fair bit of uphill walking, but you should soon reach the top of the hill where you will have views back across the town.  When you reach the end of the path, turn right at this yellow post & head towards Hardingstone

23. At the end of this lane, turn right & follow the road down to the war memorial, where you follow the road round to the left passing The Sun Inn

24. 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’

Now…on a Tuesday or a Friday, you will find the community coffee shop at the church, known as The Well, serving teas, coffee, chocolate & homemade cake between 10am & 12.30pm, all for just a donation & run by volunteers. A toilet is also available. All are welcome

25. 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 cycle tracks & 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

26. Walk through the walled garden to the other side…

So that’s a great little 10 miler. Give it a go & let us know what you think…

Go Walk!

12 Responses to Walk 4: Delapre Abbey Circular: A 10 mile walk from an ancient Abbey, along the Nene way, through the washlands & beyond!

  1. Graham Brown says:

    Completed 01/07/20

    I love the section of the Nene Way that runs round the wetland past the boat club, no horses for me to talk to unfortunately! I got a little turned around in Little Houghton (I wasn’t entirely sure which direction I was supposed to be exiting the village), but using the map I was able to get myself back on course. The couple of miles of road walking out of Great Houghton I did in the rain, which wasn’t ideal and the cars don’t half fly down that section of road! I really enjoyed this circuit though!

    Thanks for describing these so beautifully!

  2. Darling Addison says:

    Were unsure of which direction to leave Great Houghton. Should say turn left at The Stag pub up the hill. Also went too far along the road from GT. Houghton to Wooton. The directions are sketchy here as there is a property called The Lodge along both roads. Also realised would have been a much nicer walk to have followed the footpath across the fields outside GT Houghton at the fork and gone through Brackmills Woods round to Hardingstone rather than along the road down fly tipping lane. A good walk, but would do it differently next time. You get to see a whole different variety of different parts of Northampton.

  3. Beryl Anderson says:

    Love this walk. A comment on point no 15 – it’s a 4 cross roads in Little Houghton rather than a T junction. Also if you want to avoid the road from Great Houghton to Hardingstone there is a path from Great Houghton down the old railway track, by the fishing lake and through Brackmills to Hardingstone.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. I do have two walks (148 & 149) on the website that explore Brackmills Country Park – what a gem that is!
      Walk 148 starts in Great Houghton & follows the old railway track you mention 🙂

  4. Caroline Morris says:

    When getting to Hardingstone Church on the Delapre Abbey Circular Walk on a Tuesday or a Friday, you will find the community coffee shop at the church, known as The Well, serving teas, coffee, chocolate and homemade cake between 10 a.m. and 12.30 p.m., all for just a donation and run by volunteers. A toilet is also available. All are welcome.

  5. Caroline Morris says:

    Thanks for including The Well in the main body of the walk. We look forward to welcoming any walkers.

  6. Emma says:

    Am thinking of doing this walk, but worried about the “not so nice dogs” bit?

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