Walk 47: Irchester Circular: FeeIing irked….

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Supposed to be 4 miles (6.4 km), but turned into 6.5 miles (10.5km) as we’ll see!!

Time to walk: Normally a couple of hours, but was nearer 3 with the diversion & could be longer if you fancy looking round Irchester Country Park for longer

Difficulty: A mixture of hard & gravel paths plus some grass tracks along the River Nene so may get a bit muddy at times

Parking: We parked in Irchester Country Park, not cheap at £2.60 per day. An alternative would be to park on the roadside in Irchester & start this walk from there. The Park does have a very good cafe though & it’s always nice to end with a cup of tea & a treat!

Public toilets: Irchester Country Park at the start & end

Map of the route:

So…what can we tell you about this, supposedly short stroll which we did on a lovely early autumn September’s day?

It must be almost 30 years since we last visited Irchester Country Park where this walk starts & ends & it’s worth a visit on its own – lots of trails along decent paths & plenty of wildlife to spot

The walk then heads down to Victoria Mills in Wellingborough before following the river to the railway viaduct & then cutting back to Irchester – well that’s the plan anyway…

It’s a fab little walk, even with the unexpected diversion, so why don’t we go & see what happened…

Let’s Walk!!

1. As mentioned, this walk starts from Irchester Country Park which is well marked just south of Wellingborough between the B570 & A509. The link to Wellingborough isn’t that informative so have a look at our walk below around the town…

https://northamptonshirewalks.wordpress.com/about/walk-16/

The country park is managed by Northamptonshire County Council & was created by opencast ironstone quarries which were allowed to revert to a natural landscape. The park has many trails & open grassy meadows, a children’s play area, and café

Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum is based in the country park which we’ll pass shortly

Park in the bottom car park beside the excellent Quarryman’s Rest Cafe…which has some great wood carvings around it that are made on-site…

Made in the Park

Fab & made in the Park

There’s also an excellent Ranger’s Hut which has some local leaflets plus a chalk-board showing the wildlife that’s been seen in the Park recently…

We can add a couple of stunning Jays to the list…

Not our photo

Not our photo

2. Facing the Cafe we need to turn left & pass by the barrier down the track with the open grassland on the right…

That's sounds worth a look!

That’s sounds worth a look!

In the top photo you can just see a brown object that’s worth a closer look at…

Whilst not too sure what it’s about, it’s a structure with windows & inside are references to railway & mining etc. We’re sure they’re good, but just very hard to read trying to peek through a narrow window…

3. Continuing along the track there’s lots of signs that Mother Nature is moving into her Autumn season which, along with Spring, is our favourite time of year…

Ahead is a view to the outskirts of Wellingborough…

4. On the left is the Park’s Railway Museum…

From the outside the Railway Museum doesn’t look much, but have a look a the link & also the Youtube clip below – it’s actually very deceptive & well worth a look…

5. We need to take the right hand fork of the path & follow it until we reach the wooden steps on the left…

If you’re feeling peckish there’s some more of autumn’s larder…

Up those steps!!

Up those steps!!

6. At the top pass between the hedge & allotment fence…

…& exit through the gate into the road…

7. We take the next turn left into Milton Road, descending down to the main Wollaston Road…

…before turning right & heading towards the bridge under the A45…

Passing the war memorial on the right

Passing the war memorial on the right

8. On the right is one of Wellingborough’s most iconic companies…

No not that one although it's intriguing...

No not that one although it’s intriguing…

…it’s the world renowned Whitworths…

Whitworth Bros’ Ltd is one of the UK’S leading dried fruit, home baking and snack products company, established in 1886 by the three Whitworth brothers John, Herbert and Newton. In 1971 they were awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and in 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II

9. The view of the factory’s more impressive from the bridge over the river which we cross before doubling back on ourselves & turning left along the riverbank path below…

Surely that can't be years of pigeon droppings? We think it is!!

Surely that can’t be years of pigeon droppings? We think it is!!

10. The next stage of this walk’s really easy as we simply have to follow the river. Those of you that know the Embankment in Wellingborough will know there’s a huge population of swans along here…

You can just make out the first of many swans!!

You can just make out the first of many swans!!

11. Carry on past the water play area, known as The Splash Park, on the left & over the stone bridge…

…where the river bends to the right past the warnings of submerged rocks…there be dangerous waters around here Jim Lad!!

Where the path forks keep straight ahead – basically we’re following the river for the next few miles now

Phew…made it!!

Phew…made it!!

Autumn’s now beginning to show her beautiful display…

12. As we move further out of the town, the path turns more to gravel passing under a footbridge before it finally runs out & turns into a grass track…

…before passing through a stile into the water meadow…

13. We’re now back on a familiar path…

…& it’s a very pretty stretch with lakes on the left. There must be some pretty big fish around here as there were lots of overnight anglers. It’s a great wildlife area too so keep the eyes peeled…

Night fishing's never appealed

Night fishing’s never appealed

None shall pass!!

None shall pass!!

14. After safely squirming around the goose there’s a girder bridge to negotiate…

…before passing a lock…

…& over another bridge…

15. After crossing this bridge it could easily go wrong (don’t worry…it will shortly!!) as the path appears to head straight on but, after crossing the bridge, we need to turn sharp right over the slightly hidden bridge…

…& then another one…

The river along here’s very pretty…

…& in the distance we get our first view of the train viaduct (we didn’t expect to see at close quarters later today)…

16. They’re also hay cutting along here & there’s plenty of grazing ponies so be careful where you tread…

IMG_4374

There’s also a reminder that the East Coast Main Line passes through this area…

17. And this is where it all went wrong!! The route we were supposed to be taking was across the river via the wooden arched bridge below…

If you look closely you see that both ends of the bridge have been boxed off by steel barriers & it’s been deemed unsafe…

The notice states that this was a “temporary” closure in December 2011 (almost 3 years ago!). We have contacted Northamptonshire County Council asking when it will be repaired but to date sadly there’s been no response…

The slightly worrying bit on the notice stated “Alternative routes:- Nil”

Right…so decision time! Do we return (in a very grumpy mood) the way we came or carry on looking for another route? Knowing the area & the fact that we’re on the Nene Way, we know there’s a road that crosses the river nearer Rushden, but that must be a couple of miles further on & there’s no guarantee we can get access to it from the path…

Oh come on…stop dithering & let’s go!

18. We hadn’t intended to have a look at the viaduct but now our way ahead lies through it & it’s mightily impressive…

19. Well at least the path’s still well marked following the river. Shortly the silence is broken by the shriek of a speedboat towing a waterskier on the lake over the river. We’ll pass by this later…

We come to a sign for a weir &, if there’s a weir, maybe there’s a way across the river…

BINGO!!!

BINGO!!!

20. It’s a weir & purpose built fish pass but let’s cross the river & get back on track!

We said that the path along the river was very well cut & marked. On this side it’s…….Nettles!!!!

No way through there in shorts!!

No way through there in shorts!!

21. Dejected we head back over the weir & continue along the path again…at least we can see this one!! It’s a pretty spot this though…

Eventually we come to a gate with a footpath marker, at which point we didn’t see the bloke fishing on the right & startled him somewhat by remarking out loud how grateful we were that we’d found a way out!! Oh dear, walk on quickly….

22. Through the gate we can see the Ditchford Road ahead…

…& eventually we arrive at the lovely old stone bridge which finally is our way across the river. So you see Northamptonshire County Council…there is an alternative route!!

The exit out of the field is through the somewhat rickety gate on the left…

23. Right…our challenge now is to get back on the route we were originally supposed to be following. We know that if we had crossed the closed bridge we’d have eventually come to the A45 & crossed it towards Irchester

So to get to the A45 we need to head up Ditchford Lane over the river, but waiting for the lights to change first…

24. On the left’s an important conservation area known as Ditchford Lakes & Meadows

An important reserve for breeding and winter birds, this area also gets frequent visits from otters

Just over the bridge on the left’s a new concept…a canoeing holiday called Canoe2. Have a look at the above link, but it offers 1/2 to 5 day canoeing holidays down the Nene either camping or staying in yurts etc with a pick up service

Have to say we really fancy this…

Plus this doesn’t sound bad either…

25. This isn’t the best place to walk as it’s a narrow road with no footpath so please be careful…

..& on the right’s where all the water skiing was going on…


Nene Valley Water Ski Club has been around under various guises for many years, but may not be for too much longer as the area has been earmarked for a large retail development park…see this link

26. Eventually we come to the junction with the A45…

…&, after trying to decide the safest side to walk back towards Wellingborough, chose the immediate right slip pad against the traffic as there’s a path that side!

Absolutely hate this type of walking…lots of traffic, roads & no peace!!

Cursing Northants County Council big time!!

Cursing Northants County Council big time!!

27. Further up the road we cross over over the railway line we walked under at the viaduct…

…which is now on our right…

28. Well after this massive detour we’re finally ready to rejoin the original path by crossing the A45 & heading up the road towards Irchester. This is really dangerous as it’s on a bend with the traffic moving quickly so exercise extreme care…

Fly tipping…not good!!

Fly tipping…not good!!

29. Across the fields on the right we get our first view of Irchester church which we’ll visit shortly…

…passing the rather neat allotments on the left…

…& into the outskirts of the village…

30. We’re not going to touch the main parts of Irchester on this walk but head up the main street towards the church…

Pretty

Pretty display

Irchester was spelled Yranceaster in 973 & Irencestre in the Domesday Book. The name is thought to have been formed from the Old English personal name Ira or Yra with the suffix Ceaster denoting a Roman station. However, another theory is that Iren Ceastre was an Anglo-Saxon name meaning ‘iron fortress’. In the 11th century it was spelt Erncestre or Archester & had changed to Erchester by the 12th century

31. On the left’s Irchester Lawn Bowls Club – very welcoming chaps & happy for us to simply sit & watch…

 32. Right..let’s go & have a look at that church by turning right up St Katharine’s Way…

…it’s quite a pull up here & the church is on the left…

33. St Katharine’s Church is very pretty, but unfortunately like so many these days we come across was locked

It also has some stunning Yew trees…

34. As we can’t look inside we continue up the hill passing a graveyard on the right containing ‘Commonwealth Graves’…

…& then straight up the narrow gap between the fences…

..where at the top we turn right & make a new friend…

35. It’s a case of simply following the path along the railings to the gap in the hedge…

…& then turning left sticking close to the hedge on the left, before turning right to follow the track parallel to the telegraph poles…

36. After about 100 yards we need to turn diagonally left across the well marked path back towards the boundary of Irchester Country Park…

…& re-enter it down the steps…

37. Now it’s simply a case of getting back to where we left the car but….which track do we take?

Well it’s straight ahead & turn right at the junction where we appear to be following the edge of the park…

This is a nice path!

This is a nice path!

The best advice we can give (as we were lost too!) is to keep turning right…

38. Keep following the perimeter track past the storage area including where they obviously do the carvings…

…& then next stop’s where we left the car &….time for a cuppa!!

So that…finally is the end of our walk around the Nene area of Wellingborough. Like we said, it was only supposed to be about 4 miles, but due to unforeseen circumstances, turned into nearly 7!!

The river stretch is well worth it as is Irchester Country Park. However, unless the currently closed bridge is reopened, it’s not one that we’d recommend in its current form, mainly because of the annoying road stretch up Ditchford Lane & then along the very busy & noisy A45

But…hey…make up your own mind &….

Go Walk!!

1 Response to Walk 47: Irchester Circular: FeeIing irked….

  1. Richard Hickman says:

    Was walking from Rushden to Wellingborough today and the footbridge on the footpath TL5/UL10 is *still* closed, the public notice “expires” on July 23rd…. 2020. No rush then…

    All the horses were still there in the fields, but because there’s maintenance on the viaduct there’s only a narrow little route through under there… which all the horses decided to naturally stand in.

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