Walk 73: Wicken Circular: Solitude & a rather damp climate

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.24km)

Time to walk: Roughly a couple of hours, although we spent longer as we couldn’t find the path in a couple of places from the instructions we were following – hopefully ours will be better!

Difficulty: Virtually all off road & therefore it’s likely to get muddy in places in wet weather

Parking: Outside The Lion pub in Wicken

Have to say that we love this quote from the owner’s website who have returned to it a second time – it did look good!

“Returning to the pub three years ago following a twelve year break we have worked and continue to work tirelessly to restore and preserve the traditions of the village free house country pub. We pride ourselves on our warm friendly atmosphere, the homely feeling of a country welcome; our freshly prepared home cooked food and above all our service, you’re not just a table number here. We invite you to take a step back in time and get away from the rigors of modern living and enjoy the traditions and relaxing atmosphere of the good old country pub.

So why did we return? Hopefully for the same reasons you will; we love it and look forward to welcoming you very soon. Why not combine your visit by taking a stroll around the village and visit some of our historic sites”

Public toilets: The Lion in Wicken if open, but that’s it as this walk is so rural

Map of the route: 

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So…want to walk somewhere in complete silence where you’ll probably never meet another person?

Then this one is for you. It’a not a long walk &, at times, you have to trust your direction instincts as the path isn’t the easiest to follow. But…go with the flow & enjoy the complete solitude that walking can sometimes offer especially as you’ll probably see muntjac

Wicken lies between Northampton & Milton Keynes & is a small village. The modern name of Wicken dates from the 1587 union of the two manors. The names of the two earlier villages derive from the name of respective landlords. The wealthier Wick Dive takes its name from William de Dive, who acquired it in 1242, while Wick Hamon derives from the de Hamon family, who held the estate in the 12th century

The Wick portion comes either from the Saxon Word Wick for farm, or the Roman ‘vicus’, for settlement, often associated with an adjacent Roman garrison, farm or centre of industry

The earliest archeological remains for the area are a prehistoric ring ditch, although the first identified settlement is a small Roman settlement on the edge of the modern village. The modern village dates from Saxon times & is mentioned in the Domesday Book

An episode of the Channel 4 TV programme Time Team featured multiple archaeological digs in Wicken & researched its history. The archaeologists concluded that Wick Hamon, adjoining the Roman site was the older of the two villages by two centuries & that the pre-existing (or abandoned) Roman settlement attracted the Saxons to that location

Ready? Then Let’s Walk…

1. Park up outside the pub – plenty of room & not a villager in sight

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2. Backs to the pub, turn right & walk along the street…

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…turning right into glorious Cross Tree Road

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3. There’s some fabulous properties along here…

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Fancy a cuppa?

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4. The road splits at the end & we need to bear left…

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Beware the yappy Jackie Russell who lives on the right

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5. Turn the corner into Leckhamstead Road…

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…but before continuing up this road, look for a footpath on the right down a narrow alley…

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6. Look for & cross the footbridge on the left…

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After crossing turn right & follow the field edge

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7. There obviously used to be a gate & fence here, but now ignore the road to the left & carry straight ahead…

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Autumn’s coming…

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8. The path sweeps along the side of the hedge & then through the gap into the field which was pretty bare when we walked here…

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Love this farmer as he knows how to mark out a path…

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9. Upon reaching the far side of the field turn right at the hedge & head straight towards the next one in the corner…

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It was at this point that the light & surrounding storms met in a camera moment – love it when that happens…

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10. Go through the gap in the hedge & turn right onto the bridle path…

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11. This isn’t the easiest of paths to follow & will become worse as there’s no signposts & it will eventually get overgrown. The thing to do though is to trust your instincts & keep heading straight…it’s also quite a mile or so

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Eventually the path arrives at an open area

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Although there’s a temptation to follow the path to the right, ignore it & continue straight ahead to follow the overgrown small path through the trees – this is where it can get muddy

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12. Finally it arrives at a cross-path where we turn left & follow a much clearer route, initially along a grass track, but then a much clearer harder surface route…

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It might seem that we’re heading in the wrong direction, but eventually the path will turn north again…

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…to reach the outskirts of the wood & a car park

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13. Turn immediately right across the ditch & keep the wood on the right – we’re heading back to Wicken now

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Shortly the path turns right & dives into the woods again…

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14. Once in the woods turn left & follow the bridleway – you’re never from the edge of the woods on the left

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Along here we saw more deer

15. After roughly half a mile the path exits the woods into open fields once more…

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It was at this point the weather began to overtake us…

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16. Follow the left edge of the field to the entrance to the hard road…

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17. Unfortunately now the heavens opened so we spent 20 minutes standing under the hedge on the left…

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18. Eventually we decided to (wrongly) make a run for it so follow the track to the gate to join the lane back to Wicken…

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It’s about half a mile back to the village, but the rain’s really coming down now…

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19. Turn right into Church Lane…

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20. Pass St John’s Church

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Pop up the private drive to have a look at this fab view…

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21. Carry on past the church & turn left again along the road we first walked…

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22. Well…you can see how wet it was along here & we were 5 yards from the turn back towards the pub when a lovely driver decided it would be fun to drench us – so kind & a credit to Northamptonshire

So that’s the end of an interesting little walk around a part of the County we don’t know that well. If you want to walk somewhere in complete peace & without seeing a sole then this is one for you

It’s fab…so

Go Walk!