Walk 65: Wansford Circular: Watermeadows & Dick Whittington

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6 miles (9.65km)

Time to walk: We had a tearoom stop & with photos about 2.5 hours

Difficulty: A mixture of meadow paths & hard surfaces. Pretty much all flat though so easy walking

Parking: We parked on the street in Wansford over the bridge near the church

Public toilets: A couple of pubs en-route

Map of the route: @ Northamptonshire Teashop Walks

Map

We’ve moved right across to the east of Northamptonshire for this walk which dips its toe briefly into Cambridgeshire

Most of it’s around the water meadows of the river Nene along the Nene Way, amongst lovely villages that remind us of the Cotswolds. It starts & ends in pretty Wansford renowned for its arched bridge & The Haycock Hotel coaching inn

Wansford lies literally just off the busy A1, but you could be miles away from this busy road. According to local folklore, the name ‘Wansford-in-England’ comes from the tale of a local man who fell asleep on a hayrick &, upon awakening, found himself floating down the River Nene. He asked a traveller on the riverbank where he was &, upon hearing the reply, “Wansford”, asked, “Wansford in England?”

The name stuck!

It also takes in Yarwell which has its own tales as we’ll see & the opportunity to have a ride back in time

So…Lets Walk!

1. We parked up on the Church side of Wansford’s old bridge in Peterborough Road. There’s plenty of space round here. To start our walk just head towards the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

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…& then turn down towards the old bridge…

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Some nice properties here

Some nice properties here

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2. Wansford Bridge is quite famous & unfortunately, on this walk, we don’t get a really good view of it. Given the flood plains around here it’s been an important crossing for many years having been built around 1600

We don’t cross the bridge today, but take the footpath by the sign on the right…

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If you have a look back you get a glimpse of the bridge which doesn’t really do it justice so  we’ve also attached a photo we found elsewhere…

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Bridge

3. Pass through the gate over the stream & keep straight on across the field…

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The trodden path’s pretty well marked so keep to the right & straight on…

It's our old friend again...

It’s our old friend again…

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…& eventually there’s another gate in the corner…

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4. Pass through that one & then keep straight on through the next field…

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It's only early May, but the corn's already well ahead...

It’s only early May, but the corn’s already well ahead…

5. At the end of this field’s a telegraph pole & an advertising sign where it’s a left turn to head back to the river…

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6. Turn right & it’s only about 300 yards, but this is a lovely stretch of the Nene..

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7. Round the corner we arrive at a lock…

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8. But don’t cross…instead turn right through the gate & head across the water meadow…

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…& out of the gate the other side…

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9. To our left’s Yarwell…well we’d better follow that dog & have a look at it…

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…&, at the wall, exit through the gate & pass down the alley into the village…

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10. Now you could turn left & just continue this walk, but Yarwell’s Church has a story to tell so why not turn right instead & have a look…

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Yarwell’s name comes from ‘the spring where the yarrow grows’ & can be dated back to Roman times

11. So head up the hill & into the church…

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In the church is a memorial to Humphrey Bellamy & local folk lore has it that he was born a poor beggar who decided to make his way to London to make his fortune – it’s thought this is the person who inspired the story of Dick Whittington was based on. He fell ill in Yarwell & the local people treated him so well that he promised that if he became rich he’d be buried in Yarwell & leave his money to the poor.

He did become rich & was made Alderman of London, dying in 1715. He stuck to his promise, leaving money to provide bread for the poor, to be put on his tomb in the church

His tomb is in the Chancel…

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12. Right let’s crack on. Across the road from the church is a local watering hole…The Angel Inn

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…but there’s no time to stop so head back down the street, passing where we emerged from the fields, & round the right hand bend…

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…past the vets & looking for a signpost into the field on the left…

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13. The path’s well marked again as it heads back towards the river…

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On reaching the other side of the field bear right & follow the track to the end & through the gap in the hedge to the lane…

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14. Turn left down the lane into Yarwell Mill Holiday Park

Pass through the barrier

Pass through the barrier

…following it round & across the back of the mill itself

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15. After passing the mill, turn sharp right & across the bridges below…

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…to reach the entrance into the woods as indicated by the signpost

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16. Follow the path through the wood & along the edge of a field until reaching another bridge over the Nene – this is a walk where you’re never far from the river…

This area's popular with dog walkers

This area’s popular with dog walkers

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Turn left over the bridge

Turn left over the bridge

17. Cross the Nene again & head straight on for about 20 yards before turning left along the track…

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18. We’re going to follow this track for the next couple of miles until we (literally) hit the A1. At the junction after the gate continue straight up the hill…

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…passing the private fishing lake on the left…

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19. The track now starts to rise steadily…

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Lovely big skies

Lovely big skies

…until it reaches a road – care needed as cars move quickly along here

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20. Cross the road & continue straight along the track on the other side…

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On the right’s Sibson airfield…

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Built during the Second World War, the airfield’s now home to Peterborough Flying School & a very active parachute club

21. You can see & hear the busy A1 in the distance & we’re heading straight for it!

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Pass the farmhouse on the left & turn right to arrive at the A1

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22. Now extreme care is required as we have to cross this very busy road & there’s no gaps in the central barriers. So take your time & wait for the gaps

Safely across continue down the lane straight ahead…

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The Nene's on the right again...

The Nene’s on the right again…

…& ahead now is Wansford Station

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23. Wansford railway station is the headquarters of the Nene Valley Railway. The station building opened in 1995 & contains a ticket office, shop, cafe & toilets. It was formerly the junction for a branch to Stamford

Wansford station & the line immediately either side of it, including the level crossing & the river bridge, appeared several times in the James Bond film Octopussy

Thomas?

Thomas?

The tea room’s worth a cuppa…here’s the menu

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24. Suitably refreshed head down the narrow path by the side of the signal box & across the river…

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…& at the end, go down the steps & turn left under the track

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 24. We’re back in the water meadows & the path is marked & well trodden so follow it for a couple of hundred yards & cross what remains of the wooden bridge…

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Once across follow the grass path left towards the corner of the woods, crossing the stile on the way…

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25. On reaching the wood, there’s another marker post so turn right & head towards the gate in the corner of the field

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There’s a very impressive property on the left…

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Tennis anyone?

Tennis anyone?

26. Pass through the gate into the lane…

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…& turn left to head into the lovely village of Sutton

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27. Sutton can be dated back to Saxon times & the church on the left at the end of the lane dates back to the 12th century

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Turn left past the church & then look for a signpost showing the path on the right…

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28. The path leads through a gate to a playing field, but just keep heading straight towards the next gate…

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29. We’re back in farmland which is mainly meadow with several grazing horses

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After 200 yards, just before the track rises take a left turn & head towards the river, then follow the fence right by the tree stump

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30. We’re now going to follow the Nene all the way back to Wansford & it was at this point that we began to regret wearing shorts – there’s several dense patches of nettles along here…

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Nice stretch of the Nene

Nice stretch of the Nene

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31. It was along here where we came across every walkers’ fear & there was no way round it…

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…so it was back pack & cameras off & climb over – hopefully they’ll get it shifted soon

32. Pass through another gate & then through the gap in the hedge…

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33. Continue to follow the river…

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…towards the building in the distance

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34. There were some Red Kites swooping round our heads here…

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On reaching the fence containing the building turn right over a stile & up the grass bank & then left along the side of it to eventually arrive at another road

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35. The records show this as a county park type area. Really!! We found it quite seedy.Anyway…turn left & head down to the parking area & toilets (nice…)

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36. Just past the toilets turn left & head down to the river again – have to admit that this is one of the few times we’ve felt uncomfortable walking, but don’t worry as it soon gets better

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Turn right & walk under the A1 bridge…

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…& then, back in the open, turn right up the steep lane…

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37. At the top turn left & there we are back where we parked…

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So Wansford…there we are

Looking at how many times we’ve walked along the Nene Way we can’t be too far from having done its whole distance – that could be the next biggie though!

It’s starting to seem crazy that we recommend every walk we do to you, but again this is a little stunner so…

Go Walk!

 

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