Walk 46: Whilton Circular: more stampeding

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 8 miles (12.9 km), although nearer 9 if you fancy a stroll into the centre of Long Buckby

Time to walk: Without stopping & taking photos you could do this in 3 1/4 hours. Today there was lots to see so we took over 4 hours, plus we had a diversion into Long Buckby

Difficulty: Mainly across fields so can be wet at times. Quite a few stiles to climb plus there’s some inclines. Take your time though & it’s pretty easy. The main problem we had was being chased by two very persistent herds of cattle & had to continuously turn & shout & wave. So be careful if they’re around

Parking: We parked in Whilton Locks Garden Village

Public toilets: The Garden Centre at the start & pubs etc in Long Buckby

Map of the route:  

We found this map quite confusing at times so just follow our guide notes & you’ll be fine

So what can you expect on this walk? Well…it’s a real mixture starting with canals, then railways, motorways, fields, villages – there’s lots to see & enjoy on this one!

Given the closeness to the railway & motorway you might think this is going to be a noisy walk &, at the start & end it is, but you’ll find peace too

We parked in Whilton Locks Garden Village car park. Be careful as the Whilton Locks Carpet Co has a car park, but there’s a privacy notice saying customers only. We had a cuppa in the Garden Village Cafe when we finished so will come back to it at the end

Ready to go then? Come on…Let’s Walk!!

1. As mentioned above, we park up in the Garden Village car park & head down the drive towards the main road…

That's the carpet business ahead at the end

That’s the carpet business ahead at the end

…& on the right we’re immediately reminded of where we are…next to the West Coast Main Line..

Whoa that's moving!!

Whoa that’s moving!!

2. So on reaching the road let’s turn left & head over the canal bridge ahead…

There were some young offenders institute chaps doing some work around here – nice to meet you guys & carry on the good work

3. So after passing over the bridge go through the gate on the left & down to the canal which we now need to keep on our left. Immediately there’s one of Whilton’s Locks & today the canal was very busy with lots of different nationalities

Come on girls…but your backs into it!!

Come on girls…put your backs into it!!

…& now we just follow the canal…

…& we told you it wasn’t a quiet place at this point…the M1 is close by & it really is loud around here…

4. The canal today was very busy so there were lots of barges queuing up to go up & down the locks so just keep walking & wave & say hi to all the ‘bargers’ – they’re generally laid-back, friendly people…

You can tell from the 'wash' there's a boat coming through in a mo

You can tell from the ‘wash’ there’s a boat coming through in a mo

They didn't seem keen on moving...

They didn’t seem keen on moving…

5. The West Coast Main Line’s still hammering by here & we need to pass underneath it…

What’s amazing in this part of our beautiful county is ‘contrast’. Above we have a 100 mph Virgin Pendolino & below we have a max 4 mph canal boat…

You can't rush canals...

You can’t rush canals…

6. The Whilton & Buckby Locks Association are in charge round these parts. Our canals need all the support they can get & people visit from all over the world, as we’ll see soon. Click on the above link & then click on ‘Tom’s Tales’ for a great insight

7. So where are we at the moment…canal-wise…

So now we know...

So now we know…

On the right is a hidden gate to Sunny Meadow Farm – a local B&B…

There’s a minor road bridge to pass under & then we’re entering a residential area with some great canal-side properties…

8. Firstly on the right is a newly restored property…

…& then the others are across the canal…

Ahoy skipper! Passing barges beware!!

Ahoy skipper! Passing barges beware!!

9. What’s great to see along here is the adoption by the canal locks by the local association…

The canal’s so busy today the boats are tied up & queuing to get through the locks…

Nothing to do but sit & wait...

Nothing to do but sit & wait…

…but there’s a fab little shop called Anchor Cottage to have a look around while they’re waiting their turn…

Anchor cottage also has a great garden

Anchor cottage also has a great garden

10. Amongst the boats lined up along here is a very green one…

…& then we’re back to some more beautiful properties along a great stretch of canal…

Stunning willow in the garden

Stunning willow in the garden

Even the bridges have wild flowers

Even the bridges have wild flowers

Wouldn't mind either of this pair!!

Wouldn’t mind either of this pair!!

…especially this one…

'Comfortably Numb' - obviously Pink Flloyd fans

‘Comfortably Numb’ – obviously Pink Floyd fans

11. Our canal are a great tourist attraction. The boat below had been hired for a week by a couple of families from the USA…

…it’s nearly time to leave the canal until the end of this walk, but firstly we pass under the bridge below…

…& emerge opposite another of the canal’s great pubs…The New Inn (no website we’re afraid)…

Nice signpost to the shop we passed earlier

Nice signpost to the shop we passed earlier

12. It’s now time to leave the canal & head across the fields towards Long Buckby. At this point we were happy & little did we realise what ‘encounters’ lay ahead…

Our route away from the canal lies up the lane to the right of the bungalow as below…

The road at the top is the very busy A5 so please be careful!

On reaching the A5 we cross & turn left & then immediately right down the track towards Ryehill Farm…

13. We don’t need to go as far as the gate, but there was an intriguing notice pinned to the postbox…

How lovely! Our route though lies through the gap in the hedge over the stile on the left…

…&, after the canal, it’s now good to be in the open fields, especially on a nice hot summer’s day

Our route across the first field's straight ahead towards the windmills in the far distance

Our route across the first field’s straight ahead towards the windmills in the far distance

…until we see what will shortly become a problem watching us…

Stay!!!!

Stay!!!!

14. Our way out of this first field is well indicated courtesy of the marker on the post…

The only problem is the above gate is just wedged against the wall of a crumbling bridge which has unsafe, moving stones underfoot – we’ll report that one

But, after passing through the gap, the path is well marked from here to Long Buckby…straight across the next field…

…to the bridge below…

15. Again, once through the gap we have to commend the farmer for keeping the path so well marked. It’s now getting really noisy again as we head towards the railway line & the M1…

The field we’re now in is Oilseed Rape & there’s poppies everywhere…beautiful…

16. At the top of the rise we come to a bridge that crosses both the rail & road…

It’s so noisy around here & we really need to press on & get back to peace so we quickly cross & our path’s towards the wind turbines (straight ahead)…

17. It’s a shame that Northamptonshire is such a stunning county, but get cuts through by major thoroughfares like this. Luckily today the wind direction was from the east which meant that the noise was soon left behind…

So across another field…& keep heading across bridges etc towards those turbines…

Through this gap’s another well marked path…if there’s no crop it’s just straight on…

18. At the next field turn right & follow the edge to the bridge into the another one (we told you this stretch was across the fields!!)…

Once across this bridge it’s time for another climb towards the mobile phone mast…

Past the turbine on our right...

Past the turbine on our right…

19. Finally we reach the top of the hill & cross the track & stile ahead…

…& into the field where our first problem encounter started…

20. Our route is straight through the cows (they’re heifers by the way) & out of the field through the railway bridge. Normally we never have a problem with cattle & know that if they come after you the best tactic is to turn, shout & wave…

These ladies were not for turning…

They moved aside as we passed through but every time we turned our back we could hear them galloping (& we mean galloping after us)…very scary &, no matter how many times we stopped, shouted & waved they kept coming

Obviously there’s no photos of this moment…

21. Finally & after much relief we get through the gate & exit under the railway bridge below where we met a couple with a dog looking to walk across where we’ve just come. Given the volume of our shouting they decided against it…

You can just make them out under the bridge

You can just make them out under the bridge

22. We’re hoping that’s the last of this (little did we know…) & that’s Long Buckby ahead so let’s head up the hill & get out of the fields for a short while…

Through the gate then

Through the gate then

…& straight up ignoring the right path & out into the housing estate…

…turning left at the top & then right to the main road junction

23. Straight across the road’s the Community Centre & the local Museum which today wasn’t open, but click on the link above – it does look good!

24. Our route should take us to the right out of the village, but we thought we’d turn left & have a quick look at the centre…

Long Buckby dates back around 1200 years to the Vikings. The village name is of Nordic origin, with ‘by’ meaning settlement or village while ‘Buck’ is derived from ‘Bec’ (pronounced ‘becker’ in old Norse) for stream/brook. The village is recorded in the Domesday Book as Buchebei

The village once had a thriving shoemaking industry, but is probably better know for its two famous celebrities…

Firstly…the comedian Stanley Unwin moved to Long Buckby in 1940 when he got a job with the BBC at the nearby Borough Hill transmitting station. He stayed as a resident until his death in 2002

Secondly…local BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith lived in the village for several years

Long Buckby railway station had a brief moment of fame in 1997 when, as the nearest stop to Althorp, it was the final stop on the journey by the Prince of Wales and his two sons during the funeral of the Princess of Wales and was seen on television screens across the world as they got off the train

So let’s have a very quick look around…

Sounds good

Sounds good

The long running joke is "I'm just off to Roger the Butcher!!"

The long running joke is “I’m just off to Roger the Butcher!!”

Lots going on in the village

Lots going on in the village

25. We didn’t have enough time to fully do the village justice as we need to head on so we retrace our steps to the Community Centre & then keep going past the fire station on the left…

…& then take the first left down South Close…

Local playing fields on the right

Local playing fields on the right

26. There’s a van parked down here with a great business name on the side…

When we reach the junction below we need to turn right into Wright Road…

…following it as the road bends right to a footpath sign on the right taking us left down the side of a house…

…& through the gate at the end…

27. And we’re back in the fields…

The next mile follows the hedge on the left & there’s plenty of butterflies & flora around…

28. The field eventually bends to the right below so look for a gap in the hedge on the left before the corner…

…& then right over the stile & railway bridge…

It's a bit overgrown

It’s a bit overgrown

…& then over the stile at the end…

29. The farmers have done a great job with the paths along this stretch & it’s pretty much straight ahead to Whilton…

…at the junction keep straight on keeping the hedge on the right & then over the stile at the bottom into the field

30. We can see Whilton ahead now so straight across this meadow & then across the wooden bridge & out into another…

We told you the paths were well marked. We don’t need the one directly ahead, but need to turn straight left & then take the one that heads diagonally left towards the big white house in the distance…

31. At the end of this field cross the bridge into the sheep field & turn diagonally right heading towards the left side of the white house…

At least these don't chase us!!

At least these don’t chase us!!

32. Exit into the next field through the gate on the left. The house is impressive & we can’t resist a look over the wall into a lovely cottage garden…

Our exit from the field is through the gate on the right into the churchyard…

33. The Church of Saint Andrew is made from the local Northamptonshire Ironstone and was built between the 12th and 13th centuries, although very little remains of this original, having been restored in late 18th century

The church clock is unusual as it was originally a one handed clock divided into ¼ hours and therefore does not have 60 minutes. The Church’s east window, the only stained glass in the building, portrays the crucifixion of Jesus and dates from 1878. Unfortunately today the Church was locked so we couldn’t see it

We had a rest on the bench in the churchyard for a short while – it’s a really peaceful place, but come on…we have more cattle to face!!!

Head out of the gate & into the main street turning right up the hill…

Another sociable village

Another sociable village

34. Whilton‘s a gorgeous little village & really well looked after. As we walk up the hill there’s some beautiful properties which at this time of year look even better with all the flowers growing…

35. The footpath out of the village into the fields again is quite obscured, but it’s near the raised kerb on the left, through the hedge & then over a very unstable stile into the meadow…

Oh no…what's like that at the top of the field?

Oh no…what’s like that at the top of the field?

36. Here we go again…before we’ve even climbed over the stile we’re challenged…

Our route out of the field’s only about 200 yards away through the metal gate diagonally right but, as soon as we step into the field, all hell breaks loose AGAIN!!

Yet again they ran at us when our backs were turned & we had to stand, shout & wave. Sorry there’s no photos at this point!!!

Eventually though we did make it out, but they still fancied a go…

37. We’re now in a field of calming sheep so….. relax & head diagonally left & over two stiles into another small field…

…& now head diagonally right to another stile which leads us out onto the road which we cross & over yet another stile into a field which was being cut…

38. We head diagonally left & over a stile into a very long meadow & then head for the top left corner & out through an old metal gate…

…& onto a hard track where we turn right & head down the hill with great views…

39. We’re now heading towards Muscott Mill & as we get nearer the sound of the M1 starts to become clear again. At the junction take the right fork down a bridleway…

On the left here we spotted a male Yellowhammer in the hedge – the photo’s not that good as we didn’t have time to change lenses…

40. We’re now entering the Mill so make sure you stick to the track…

Could do with some of that for the allotment!!

Could do with some of that for the allotment!!

Turn right across the front of the Mill

Turn right across the front of the Mill

…which bends through the farmyard along the track towards crossing the M1 again…

Still busy!

Still busy!

41. Back into the woods now & shortly we arrive at the canal again, heading down the steps on the right hand side & turning right along the tow path…

There’s a sign on the bridge down here advertising the Heart of the Shires which isn’t far away & is well worth a visit especially the amazing Abraxas Cookery Shop

42. We’re now going to follow the canal all the way back to Whilton Locks &, after the earlier traumas, it’s now good to back amongst the friendly bargers…

We're beginning to feel it again...

We’re beginning to feel it again…

Scooby Doo's not looking too good...

Scooby Doo’s not looking too good…

Plenty of these around here

Plenty of these around here

43. The railway track’s running alongside the canal again now so the two different paces of life are very evident…

…& we’re now entering Whilton Locks again where we met our new friend…

Gorgeous little Jackie

Gorgeous little Jackie

44. On the right is Whilton Marina & it looks busy…

…& we pass a barge that’s obviously still part of the working waterways which is good to see…

One more lock to go…

…& at the next bridge we head up the path to the road & back to where we started

So that’s the end of our great, if not traumatic at times walk around a beautiful part of our county. This really is great walking country & the paths are pretty well maintained so thanks farmers!

As we parked at the Garden Village we were gasping for a cuppa so visited their cafe (see the link)

The first thing we can recommend is the home-made cakes – they’re huge, especially the Victoria Sandwich. We fancied something more substantial though so went for the sausage bap which was a bit dry. The cafe’s good &, although quiet, there were lots of used plates etc waiting to be collected & the staff’s loud conversation about their private lives wasn’t really needed. We were suitably refreshed though

This is a great walk &, if you take in the local pubs in the summer, could take a whole day

Go Walk…

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