Walk 58: Fotheringhay Circular: Off with her head!!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6 miles (9.7 km)

Time to walk: On a good day this one’s about 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Pretty much all off road across well marked paths – well done the farmers of East Northamptonshire

Parking: On road in Fotheringhay. We’ve done this walk several times & always park outside The Falcon for ‘convenience’ at the end…

Public toilets: The Falcon in Fotheringhay or The Red Lion, Warmington

Map of the route:

We’ve done this walk at different times of the year & it’s always a cracker with a good mix of field, water & woods walking so you’re always likely to see varied wildlife etc

There’s also a lot of history attached to it, especially in Fotheringhay, our start & finish point

Fotheringhay lays about 4 miles north east of Oundle & 10 miles west of Peterborough. It’s most noted for being the site of Fotheringhay (or Fotheringay) Castle. Today all that’s left is the motte on which it was built which provides excellent views of the River Nene

The castle was the birth place of Richard III & the execution place of Mary Queen of Scots. We’ll look at the historical links when we come across the castle site later

In the meantime we’ve got a great walk (early March 2015) to do so…

Let’s Walk!

1. We parked outside The Falcon which has always been one of our our favourite pubs, especially in the summer when you can sit in the garden…



The Falcon Inn was named after the House of York, ( Richard lll) whose heraldic shield depicts a Falcon. Richard III was the last king of the House of York & the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. He’s also been in the news recently as his remains were discovered in Leicester – click on this link

Check out the website on the link above – it really is well worth a visit

2. Facing the pub turn left & walk along the main street…


Good to see some local business even in a small village…here a link to their website


3. On the right’s the Church of St Mary’s & All Saints



The present church was begun by Edward III who also built a college as a cloister on the church’s southern side. After completion in around 1430, a parish church of similar style was added to the western end of the collegiate church with work beginning in 1434. It’s the parish church which still remains

The large present church is named in honour of St Mary & All Saints & has a distinctive tall tower which dominates the local skyline

We’ll have a look at the ‘classic view’ at the end, but come on… we need to crack on!

4. Opposite the church turn left down the Nassington road…




There’s some signs of spring here…


5. Keep following the road towards the bridge, but be careful as there’s no paths & the cars move quickly along here


There’s a shell on a tree with the initials ‘OP’ – what’s that about then?


6. Be careful crossing the bridge as it’s only wide enough for one car at a time & it’s like a jousting competition to see who gets across first. The stream here’s very clean…



7. After about 50 yards on the right there’s a fingerpost & old farm machinery where we need to turn right across the field


When the crops are growing it’s easy to spot the path…


8. At the bridge over the ditch next to the stream is another one of those shells on the tree…



So…it’s Oundle Pilgrimage, a 43 mile route normally starting on the second Saturday in August

9. The path towards the derelict farm’s really clear…



…& upon reaching it pass between the derelict farmhouse & the barn…


Shame because it's a nice property

Shame because it’s a nice property


…turn left at the end – there’s obviously been some fab cabbages grown along here in the past…


10. The exit from the farm’s easy to spot, diagonally right towards the next hedge…

IMG_8823…crossing the bridge & another field to the old railway line…


IMG_882511. We’re now crossing the water meadows of the Nene & Elton can be seen in the distance…



Pass through the lovely new kissing gate…

It’s a beautiful early March day & the ‘legs were out’ for the first time this year!


12. To get to the village we need to cross firstly a subsidiary, which we think is called Willow Brook, & then the Nene itself. The first is via a narrow bridge…


Oooo 'eck, so careful as we go

Oooo ‘eck, so careful as we go


13. This is a lovely stretch of the Nene…


…& we head right towards Elton Lock which will take us across the main river into the village…



It was 'rattling' through here!

It was ‘rattling’ through here!


14. Across the river on the right’s what remains of the old Mill. A Grade II listed building, it’s the only remaining one of two that used to existing in the village…




15. The path into Elton’s past the Mill…



…& then through the gate…


16. Our time in the village’s limited so we’ve only really time to look at the green…


…because we take the first road on the right past the chapel down Chapel Lane…



17. This is a very picturesque street, but unfortunately there’s some building work going on…



..& the road shortly runs out into a dirt track…


18. We’re now into the parklands of Elton Hall, which we’ll get a glimpse of shortly. In the meantime the track’s easy to follow…


The rooks are building & are very noisy…


19. On the left & right are lots of very ‘level’ fields that are part of a turf growing business…



There were several Red Kites circling above along this stretch…


20. Eventually the rough road track runs out & becomes a grass one heading down to a bridge over a stream…


Nice birches

Nice birches


21. Now there’s a short climb up the hill &, looking back to the left, we begin to see Elton Hall


Elton Hall has been the ancestral home of the Proby family since 1660

The hall lies in an 3,800-acre (15 km2) estate through which the River Nene runs. The building incorporates 15th, 17th, 18th & 19th century parts

Elton Hall is two miles (3 km) from Fotheringhay Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was executed in 1587

The Victorian gardens have been skilfully restored in recent years & contain a knot garden, a new rose & herbaceous garden, fine hedges & a gothic orangery built to celebrate the Millennium

22. Exit the field through the gate below into the woods again…


A nice area for a spring walk...

A nice area for a spring walk…

Or maybe a glass of wine...

Or maybe a glass of wine…

23. The path is quite narrow here, but keep the edge on the left…


In the field to the left are vast numbers of poly tunnels…


Spring's coming!

Spring’s coming!

The tunnels then give way to sand & gravel pits…


24. Finally the path opens up. There’s a new bridleway, but ignore this & continue to follow the original footpath (with the signs) as it & descends towards the busy Peterborough road…



Be careful along here, but turn right past more excavations on the right…




25. Follow the footpath sign on the left to reach the road. Carefully cross over & then up the steps on the other side…



…turn right at the top & follow the field edge past the nursery…


IMG_8926There’s a view across to the right of Warmington Dovecot, which we’ll pass shortly…


26. The exit onto the road looks messy, but is a simple gate when you get there…


…& turn right to enter the village passing the small industrial unit on the left…



27. The old main Peterborough road used to pass through Warmington, but now it just leads to a dead end. Our route lies down Eaglethorpe on the right, but this is a good place to have a stop & some refreshment as The Red Lion is just a bit further on…



28. Right suitably refreshed…it’s time to head back to Fotheringhay, so retrace the last 100 yards & turn down Eaglethorpe…


The oldest part of Warmington village is thought to be an area named Eaglethorpe, a small hamlet adjacent to the River Nene. A 1500 year old skeleton was found during an archeological dig in Eaglethorpe during the completion of the A605 bypass in 2002

There’s a really good information board on the green which says…

“Warmington’s earliest known inhabitant –  who died some 4000 years ago – was buried here. The man, who was about 35-45 when he died & was 1.75 meters tall (5 feet 9 inches), was buried in a ‘crouched’ position. Crouched burials may have been to replicate a sleeping position for the dead person, or possibly the body was tied up with the knees against the chest, to stop the person coming back to walk amongst the living

He was perhaps a member of the privileged elite of local Bronze Age society – even a tribal elder – because he was buried with a perfectly formed flint arrowhead, a knife & flint for striking sparks to start fires (the perfect tool-kit to take into the afterlife), a pair of conical jet buttons used to fasten clothing & a decorated pottery beaker – hence the term ‘Beaker Burial'”


29. The oldest property here is Eaglethorpe House built in 1607…


The board also shows how Eaglethorpe looked in 1621 & 2010…



30. So…carry on down the lane…


Back on an old friend...

Back on an old friend…


…to the gate at the bottom…

IMG_895431. Before passing through though just walk 20 yards up the path on the right to see Warmington Dovecote…


The lower part dates from the 14 or 15th century, but the top was rebuilt in the 16th or 17th. It contained 797 wooden nesting boxes. Here’s how it looked…


32. Back through the gate & head into the underpass which contains some really good murals depicting the local points of interest in the village…





The final one’s of The Mill which we’re coming to next…


33. There it is at the top of the rise…



The water mill functioned until the mid 20th century & has been restored following a fire that destroyed the roof & quite a lot of the wooden interior in the 1990s

Head around to the right side of the building as we look at it & over one of the Mill Runs…





34. It’s all very serene on the other side…


…so pass through the gate & have a look back at the picturesque Mill from this side…



35. The path back to Fotheringhay is pretty much dead straight initially across the two bridges in the middle of a field…


No group parties then

No group parties then

The second bridge is over a tributary of the Nene…



36. Now bear left & keep the fence on your right…

At the end turn right through the gate…

& follow the fence again to the lock. Cross the lock





…& then head diagonally left across the next field – you can now see Fotheringhay Church in the distance…


37. Through the next gate the grass path turns into a track which will lead us straight back to the village…



There’s some nice views along here & we get our first view of the remains of Fotheringhay  Castle…



38. So let’s go & have a closer look…




Fotheringhay Castle has lots of history

It was probably built around 1100 by Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton. In 1113 possession passed to Prince David of Scotland when he married Simon’s widow. The castle then descended with the Scottish princes until the early 13th century when it was confiscated by King John of England

By 1220, Fotheringhay Castle was controlled by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester. In January the following year, it was briefly captured by William II de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, in his rebellion against King Henry III. Forz abandoned the castle & Henry III took it under his control. It remained in royal hands until the reign of Edward II

It was a favoured residence of the Dukes of York & King Richard III was born here in 1452

It was also the final place of imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was tried & executed in the castle in 1587

50 years later, in the 1630s, the castle was dismantled & most of the masonry removed, leaving only the earthworks

Here’s how it would have looked…



39. Told you it had lots of history!

To return to the village follow the track round to the right & back to the road…


…where it’s worth making a slight detour left to have a look at the river & take a photo that you see every time Fotheringhay is pictured

40. So firstly walk over the bridge &, ignoring the signs, quickly pop into the field on the right to get your snaps…



It’s also pretty from the bridge looking down the river on the other side…



41. To finish off the walk head back into the village & turn left. On the right’s an old property with a blue plaque about Richard III…


Carry on up the road back to The Falcon for some well-earned refreshment…


And that’s the end of one of our favourite walks in Northamptonshire

It’s got a bit of everything (including The Falcon) & changes with the seasons. Our next visit will be get the shot across the river with the reflection when (if) there’s snow on the ground as that would be good

It’s a treat so…Go Walk!!


16 Responses to Walk 58: Fotheringhay Circular: Off with her head!!

  1. Donna Leonard says:

    Thanks dude we walked this today and bloody loved it. We got slightly lost at point 9 hubby thought it meant go through the barn and house not past it but after a few stinging nettles we headed back up to the beautiful abandoned farm house and got on track. Pleasant walk , took our own beverages and took some strawberries which we ate on the Fotheringhay mound. I loved finding this site as others were trying to get us to download and pay. I am aiming to do many more walks …do you have a favourite?we are Peterborough but willing to drive a fair distance for an awesome walk. Thanks again your humour and little personal things you find are brill.

    • Awww thanks Donna. Isn’t it a fabulous walk! Thanks for your feedback re point 9 – we’ll update that & hope the nettle stings recover! Go & try the Oundle water meadows one or one of the ones around Kings Cliffe. Shout me & I’ll give you a recommendation

  2. jamesjoyce says:

    Can i leave an observation or am i missing something! i was keen to do this walk but after having seen how many pages i would have to print off decided not to, i just wanted the printed directions

    • Thank you for your feedback. Unfortunately I’m not that technical &, as we receive no income or sponsorship, the blog is what it is. One option would be to download on your mobile & take screen shots. Thanks

  3. Suzanne Price Tate says:

    Our first walk from your website (No 58) today. It was a beautiful walk – thank you. Will find another one tomorrow!

  4. Sally says:

    Loved this walk today blew the cobwebs away
    Thank you for the help with the route

  5. Gillian Beeby says:

    Unfortunately Northamptonshire County Council approved Ingerbourne Valley to dig up the beautiful and picturesque flood meadow from Warmington to Fotheringhay for another gravel pit! 🙁
    Please join the No To Warmington Quarry page on Facebook

  6. Nan Jojo says:

    I did this walk today on my own with two dogs. I didn’t know the area and have no sense of direction. I printed off the entire route description and followed it carefully. I didn’t get lost once and had a great walk. Than you!

  7. Pingback: northamptonshirewalks

  8. Catherine Windus says:

    I create a pdf of the directions and save it to Books. No need to print out anything.

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