Walk 72: Earls Barton Circular: Tea & Kinky Boots Vicar?

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4 miles (6.44km)

Time to walk: Allow a couple of hours, or maybe a bit longer if you fancy a stop at a great Tea Room halfway round

Difficulty: A combination of field paths & hard surfaces. The climb into Earls Barton itself is steady, but not strenuous

Parking: Car park just over the bridge on the B573 between Earls Barton & Grendon. Alternatively park in Earls Barton & start the walk from there

Public toilets: Cafes etc in Earls Barton & White Mills Marina

Map of the route: 

map

This is a walk for all seasons – a good short cardiac workout on a winter’s day or a meander & picnic along a lovely stretch of the River Nene

There’s also an opportunity of a stop at one of Northamptonshire’s most established & best Tea Rooms, although we can also highly recommend the cafe at the new White Mills Marina

Come on then…Let’s Walk!

1. The car park is on a tight bend just over the river & the traffic lights…

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Head towards the information board & river at the end…

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2. The path goes left towards the bridge, but it’s worth having a look at the tributary river as this is a charming spot…

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3. On reaching the road turn right & cross the bridge over the main river…

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4. Once over the bridge cross the road & enter the field by Whiston lock…

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5. On the right’s the excellent White Mills Marina which also has a lovely cafe if you fancy an early stop

6. We’ve not walked this stretch of the Nene before, although now seem to have walked most of the long distance path in different walks…

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Nice family

Nice family

7. Cross the stile & continue to follow the river…

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On a day like today this is ‘sit & watch the world go by’ walking…

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8. Cross the next stile &, over the river, a herd suddenly began to take an interest in us…

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…& we were extremely happy they couldn’t swim…

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9. What we didn’t realise was that 100 yards further on we needed to cross the bridge onto the same side as this unruly bunch

Cross the bridge

Cross the bridge

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10. After crossing turn right & follow the riverbank on the other side. Luckily they decided not to follow us…

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11. Again, it’s stunning here…

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…& there’s plenty of wildlife about!

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12. Cross the stile & we’re in the open again…

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The next lock is where our riverside walk ends…

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13. Cross the lock & the next bridge heading into the woods…

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14. It’s only a small stretch in the woods, but there’s some very tall birches…

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The exit’s across another bridge where a squirrel took off & scared us witless!

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15. Continue ahead through the gap…

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…& then, at the post with the footpath marker, bear diagonally right across the well-maintained path…

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16. Along the next mile or so of this walk into Earls Barton is some of the worst fly-tipping we’ve ever seen…

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Turn left at the rubbish & follow the wider track, which is obviously where people drive their trucks down…

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17. When the path forks take the narrow left route up the hill…

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Even The Stig’s here!!!

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18. Climb steadily through some very fine cherry trees…

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…& eventually it opens out at the footbridge over the A45…

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19. The path now turns into a grassy track & starts to rise steadily…

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…passing straight across the lane…

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20. Eventually it runs out at the road up into Earls Barton…

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Cross over to the footpath & head up the hill into the village…

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22. Fork right up the street to the T-Junction at the top with West Street…

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…& then turn right into the village itself…

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23. Earls Barton is particularly known for its Anglo-Saxon church & shoe-making heritage. The first Anglo-Saxon settlement was one of several settlements built on the northern bank of the River Nene. The site is on a spur above the flood plain. Originally the village was known as Bere-tun which means “a place for growing Barley”

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Following the Norman invasion, the Domesday Book records the village as being called Buarton, with Countess Judith, the King’s niece, listed as both the land & mill owner. She married Waltheof, son of Siward, Earl of Northumbria who in 1065 AD became Earl of Northampton – it was from these links & with another Earl, the Earl of Huntingdon, that gave the village its prefix “Erles” from 1261 AD

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24. The pretty church is at the end of West Street…

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…so enter the churchyard for a closer look

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25. The tower part of the church dates date to AD 970 & the Normans added to it over the years…

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The bell openings are quite unusual…

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Behind the church is Berry Mount which was the motte of a Norman castle. Local legend has it that an army’s buried there

26. Exit the churchyard towards the Market Place…

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27. Ready for a cuppa? Then head across the road past the excellent butchers E Lee & Sons

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…to arrive at the fabulous Jeyes of Earls Barton

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28. Within this large building is a chemists, a superb tea shop, a gift shop, a museum & a dolls house shop

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The family also has a long history including in 1870 being responsible for inventing the world famous Jeyes Fluid

Fluid

29. Go down the steps to the road & turn right. Earls Barton’s Square is rather lovely…

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30. At the crossroads turn left into Station Road…

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31. On the right’s one of the village’s remaining high class shoe makers…Barkers

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Barkers have been producing shoes since the 1880’s. The new factory was built in 1986 & employs several hundred people producing 200,000+ pairs of shoes per annum, many of which are exported all over the world

The village was the inspiration for the film Kinky Boots & part of the film was shot here. It’s based on the true story of a local boot factory which turned from DMs, their own Provider brand & traditional boots to producing fetish footwear in order to save the ailing family business & the jobs of the workers

32. Continue down Station Road into it runs out…

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33. Not far to go now. At the bottom of the track turn right, then left under the A45…

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The Blades were out & about again

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34. Emerging back into the light bear left up the small track & cross the road into Puddephat Pocket Park (what a great name!)…

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It’s very ‘pocket-sized’ so at the end turn right & then left to join the main road again…

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35. This is the road that in a couple of hundred yards will take us back to the bridge we crossed at the start…

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There we are…

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Sounds interesting

Sounds interesting

36. Cross the bridge & turn left down the narrow riverside path again to arrive back at the car park to complete the walk

So that’s a very varied short walk including rivers, woods, fields & a delightful village which is worth stopping at for a cuppa anytime!

Go Walk!

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