Walk 78: Crick Village Walk: Everybody knew everybody…

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Probably only a couple of miles (3.22 km)

Time to walk: Although a short stroll there’s a lot to see & read about in this village walk, plus there’s 3 pubs to stop for refreshments at!

Difficulty: All on hard village paths apart from one small stretch on meadow land

Parking: We parked on road near the small grass triangle in Lauds Road

Public toilets: Pubs

Map of the route: @ Crick Heritage Trail

map

Given the turn in the weather in December we’ve been looking to explore some of Northamptonshire’s villages where the hard surface means it’s possible to walk in all seasons

We’d heard about the ‘Crick Heritage Trail’ by Jim Goodger & didn’t know the village very well. We followed the trail in our walk, but if you want to go into the history etc in more depth then we suggest you buy a copy. The book’s for sale in the rather lovely Crick Post Office towards the end of Main Street – it costs £5 & we were rather lucky to get the last one they had. They are reordering though!

So what can we tell you about Crick?

Crick lies in the west of Northamptonshire close to the border with Warwickshire & 14 miles from Northampton. The villages of Crick and West Haddon were by-passed by the A428 main road from Rugby to Northampton when the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) was built in 1996. The terminal is a short distance east of junction 18 the M1 motorway which is next to the village

Crick takes its name from the Celtic word for ‘hill’ (Cruc). The Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal passes just east of Crick & the village is well known for its marina & annual Crick Boat Show

Bradshaw’s Railway Hand Book says about Crick…”The village of Crick lies to the north of the station and is a place of no importance” – how rude people of Crick & how wrong!

We’ll pick up more history as we go so…

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts on the bend in Lauds Road at the triangle of grass…

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2. Apparently the grass area used to be larger & was used for Maypole Dancing on May Day. Turn left along Lauds Road towards Watford Road…

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3. At the junction our route lies up High Street, but before we do have a look across at the house on the left…

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The above house is Frant Lodge which dates back to 1645. The property is a bit of a mish-mash which indicates that there may have been a fire here some time ago. Next to it is the impressive Buswell House…

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4. The High Street was part of a medieval road known as the Oxford Way running between Oxford & Lincoln. Many of the houses along here are at least 350 years old. The corner house used to be a grocery & drapery…

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5. Hunter’s Gap is a stunning cottage dating back to the 18th century. Note the small copper plaque of Britannia above the door…

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This is known as a ‘fire plaque’ to let the firemen know that if the house was on fire it had insurance & therefore they’d get paid

Next door’s Low Thatch which is almost 100 years older!

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6. Across the road’s another thatched cottage (No. 14) which used to be a boot & shoe shop…

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There’s also fine examples of Victorian properties along here…

Well Hill House

Well Hill House

7. Phoenix House on the right is strikingly different with dark blue-red bricks…

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These bricks are similar to those used in the construction of Crick Canal Tunnel &, of course, there are all kinds of rumours about where they came from, including one that a worker used to sneak them back after his shift! They were actually left over from the canal & were used to build this & several other houses in the village

The properties over the road used to be part of a working farm right in the middle of High Street

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8. Back across the street are Cowper Cottage & Spencer House…

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These used to be 3 properties that were demolished. Behind Spencer House is an 18ft deep well. Cowper Cottage is a listed building & one of the occupants made & mended shoes

We’re getting towards the end of High Street now…

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9. There’s another old farmhouse on the right, Hill Farm, but the property across the road, Curfew House is more interesting…

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Another listed building, this property used to be thatched & dates back to the mid 1600’s. Apparently there’s a large step down from the pavement into the house. There’s a well nearby & a pump by the kitchen door. A story goes that a woman was so fed up with her husband’s drinking she killed herself by jumping down the well. The ghost of ‘the lady in brown’ haunts this area

10. Today’s Co-op replaced the previous one that used to be in the property opposite in the 1950’s. The shop below used to be a butchers with an abattoir attached…

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11. We’ve not been going long, but over the road’s The Wheatsheaf if you fancy a stop – we’ll come back to this pub later in the walk so will look into its history then

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In the meantime turn left down the road known as Blacksmith Hill. At the side of the Co-op is a blossom tree planted for the two churches

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12. Northgate House is a large extended property that in the late 18th century used to be a coaching inn called The George…

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The property has also been a girls’ boarding school in the 1870’s & was called Crick House

Next door is another listed building…Hillside

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In the late 19th century this used to be the blacksmiths, hence the previous name of the road

13. Continue down the hill & have a look at the small window with the bars at the corner of No. 36

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This is the remains of the village jail. Records show that in 1821 one villager was sentenced to death for stealing a waistcoat & a pair of breeches!

14. On the bend is The Old Post House, another listed building dating back to the early 18th century…

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…& the white building further down called Well Cottage used to be the laundry

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15. Further down the road is an open area on the left…

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This area was the site of the village Washbrook, which was a ‘Dam & Sheep Wash Pit’ owned by the council which charged farmers 4 shillings per 20 sheep. It was filled in when the M1 was built

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Nearby’s an old restored milestone

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16. That’s as far as we’re coming down this road & now need to turn round & walk back a couple of hundred yards to the close on the right called The Derry

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The Derry used to be called ‘The Wells’ & was also the location of the village workhouse

17. At the bottom is The Mill House – it looks private, but there’s a public footpath down the right hand side to the kissing gate…

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It was a delight to meet the owner…

“Are you looking for me?”; “No”; What are you doing then?”; “Walking on the public footpath that goes through you garden”; “Hrrrrrrrumph!”

Well, you shouldn’t buy a house with a public footpath attached then should you my dear!!

18. Anyway, ‘sport’ over…go through the gate & up the grass hill keeping close to the hedge on the left

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There’s a gate on the left that leads to Vynters Manor…

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It’s known to have existed at the time of William the Conqueror, but the first reference to it is in 1249 when Henry III was on the throne. Parts of the present house date back to the 14th century & has had several different uses including a Sheriff’s House with a dungeon for prisoners

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This is another haunted property that used to be a farmhouse. There used to be barns alleged to be haunted by ‘The Lady in Grey’

19. At the top of the field is a stile to exit. This area is known as Well Hills & was where the spring that fed the Washbrook surfaced

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Cross the stile & walk through the garden of Orchard House to emerge in Marson’s Drive…

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20. At the junction with Watford Road cross straight over into Boat Horse Lane…

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The house in the picture above was previously the home of Sir Robert Marriott, who was responsible for building the London to Crick section of the M1

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Boat Horse Lane gets its name from the canal’s heyday in the 19th century when the horses that pulled the barges were walked down it to link up with them again after they emerged from Crick tunnel

21. Just past the new houses on the right, look across the fields besides them…

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There apparently used to be windmills up here. The lane narrows now & it must have been a squeeze for the large horses

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The property on the left, White Hall, is another listed building dating back before the 17th century

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22. The Lane bends right then left & there’s two interesting properties on the right. First The Long House which was originally a row of 5 separate small houses built for agricultural workers…

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…& then the thatched 17th century Tudor House

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23. At the bottom of Boat Horse Lane look right across the fields to a grassy mound

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This is one of the mounds created from the excavations of Crick Tunnel

24. We’re now back in Lauds Road where we parked the car. The house on the corner appears to have a slight problem with a tree…

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Continue along Lauds Road. Both Furlong House & Highfield House Farm are listed buildings…

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Next we come to Monks Cottage named so because residents here may have provided food & shelter for monks travelling along the medieval Oxford Way

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White Cottage across the road is reputed to be the oldest house in the village & the oldest front door

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Number 21, is coloured black & white for a reason…

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25. Back at the triangle where we started this walk, turn right along The Marsh to begin the second loop…

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This area is thought to be what remains of pre-enclosure medieval land

The Marsh opens out into grassy spaces & the area in front of the United Reform Church is officially the village green

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26. The church was built as a Congregational Chapel in 1820 & united with the Presbyterian Church in 1972

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Follow The Marsh past the Church to the junction with Main Road…

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27. Turn right into Main Street passing the Post Office which from about 1890 to 1930 was a pub called The Flying Horse…

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28. Pass through the two gates on the right…

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…eventually emerging at the West Haddon Road & the bridge over the Grand Union Canal. Turn right down to the canal before the bridge

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29. Crick Marina’s a pretty place & each year at the end of May is host to a Canal Festival. If you’re hungry it’s also worth popping into The Moorings which we can recommend from experience

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To have a look at the tunnel follow the canal to the right…

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Built in 1814 by engineers James Barnes & Benjamin Bevan, Crick Tunnel is 1528 yards long – the tunnel is just about wide enough for two narrow boats to pass. Have a look at this link to see inside the tunnel

30. Head back the same direction & rejoin Main Road. Main Road was earlier called ‘Inn Lane’ when the village had 6 pubs along the stretch from the canal to the Co-op. The dividing line between the top & bottom ends of the village has always been the white line down the middle of Main Road. Rumour has it that the kids from the Top End never mixed with those from the Bottom End

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We heading along the Bottom End towards the village centre

31. The property below has a name that really fits its look…

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We always like it when properties are named after their owner’s trade. Box Cottage below was the home of the Undertaker!

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32. Number 58 used to be a sweet rock making shop & a grocery…

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…& just along from it is The Old Forge. In the days of horses & the canal the village had two busy blacksmiths. It’s a listed building dating back to the 18th century

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33. It’s time for a stop now at the oldest pub in the village…The Red Lion

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The Red Lion is a traditional 17th century thatched pub offering a great selection of real ales. Before becoming a pub the property was a coaching inn. As with many old village pubs the entrance was once at the front with a passageway, on one side of which was an off-licence window used by children, or women who were not allowed, or who did not want to go into the pub

The pub also has that most traditional of all Northamptonshire pub games…Skittles

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It’s a great game – see this link for the rules

34. A couple of doors down are two cottages that used to be another pub called The Shoulder of Mutton which closed in 1970

It’s famous for one of its regulars, a certain Carl Dane who, for a free pint, would hammer a nail into a table with his bare hand. Carl’s other claim to fame was hitting the gong at the start of Rank Organisation films

Gong

35. At the end of this stretch we’re back at the Co-op &, on the right, The Wheatsheaf

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The Wheatsheaf used to be a popular meeting place for the Pytchley Hunt. It’s had several uses including a staging post in the 16th century when mail was delivered up & down the country by horses. We recently stayed there for a birthday celebration & can recommend the accommodation, food, beer & the overall experience. On entering the pub turn left & have a look at the handwritten history of the pub’s landlords in the frame on the wall – fascinating!

Turn down the side of the pub into Church Street. The impressive building that can just be seen over the stone wall on the left’s Crick Manor…

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For several centuries it was a working farmhouse. In March 1962 fire destroyed the old thatched roof & all the villagers turned out to save what they could

The impressive studded door came from Newgate debtors’ prison in London…

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You can’t see the front door of the Manor from the street, but this came from The Old Bailey

36. On the other side of the street’s an impressive Victorian Gothic building which is now Crick Ex-Servicemans Club

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It was originally built as a boys’ school in 1847. A new Infants & Girls’ school was built across the road in 1846…

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The schools remained until the present Primary School, which we’ll see later, opened in 1915. The Old School continues to be used for Church & village events

37. Let’s go & have a look at the magnificent St Margaret’s Church with its 100 foot medieval red sandstone spire

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The Church dates back to Saxon times with several restorations / additions over the centuries. We were invited to have a look round inside by some very friendly & informative locals

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In the corner near the door’s a strange looking box which is a rare sentry-like box that was used to shelter the vicar outside when he was conducting funerals…

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38. Crick War Memorial’s also in the churchyard. A copy of the village’s Roll of Honour can be obtained from the History Society

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39. Follow the churchyard wall round into the area known as Elms Farm & Bottom End Green

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The village has an active social scene!

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40. The first house over the road on the left, Churchside used to have some famous residents. In the 1960’s it was home to the pop group The Fortunes

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Still going strong today they’re best known songs are: ‘You’ve got your troubles’; ‘Here it comes again’ & ‘That rainy day feeling’. They were also the singers in the 1960’s Coca Cola adverts “Things go better with Coke’ & ‘It’s the real thing’

41. The shop at the end of Griffin Cottage used to be a butchers with a slaughterhouse attached. It’s something much more sedate today

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Cross over the road behind the railings where we find Cromwell Cottage…

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…which is named after Sir Oliver Cromwell, uncle to Oliver Cromwell. Sir Oliver owned a lot of land in the area & the English Civil war both started & ended close to Crick. On 30th March 1643 Lieutenant-General Cromwell passed through Crick with his army on his way from Northampton to Rugby

42. Halfway along the railings used to be one of the village pumps, hence the name of the house close by…

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Look at the pavement – you can see the old cobbles showing through

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43. Carry on up the hill where the road opens up in front of The Royal Oak pub…

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The Royal Oak dates back to the late 1700’s. It was a regular meeting for both ‘The Pig Club’ & the village brass band – quite a mix then!

44. Our exit from this area is straight on down Yelvertoft Road…

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Have a look at the old sundial on the corner of Yelvertoft & Road & Oak Lane

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There’s some interesting properties down here, & over the road’s Manor Farm, which was possibly the site of Sir Oliver Cromwell’s Manor

45. At the bottom of the hill, as the road bends right, is a large impressive house called Ranmoor. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of thatch & brick which shows how it’s been developed over the years

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It’s thought that the wall round to Drayson Lane on the right may well be the original 17th century boundary wall

46. Turn right into Drayson Lane…

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Grayson Lane is named after Richard Drayson who, in his will, left land for the education of poor local children. Today the foundation is continued, but the emphasis has now changed more towards grants for higher education for Crick students

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47. The white cottage on the right’s called Pytchley Cottage, which is listed & dates from the 1700’s…

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48. At the top of the Lane turn left into Oak Lane & follow it into the close…

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Turning right down the alley beside Oak Cottage

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Oak Cottage is allegedly another of Crick’s haunted properties with a ghost partial to tapping people on the shoulder

49. The alley is quite narrow & there are some superb photo’s of it covered in snow in winter – not today though as it was extremely mild for December

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Not seen that one before

Not seen that one before

The white building at the end has a plaque on the side used to be a Primitive Methodist Chapel built in 1868

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The building sat around 150 people – it’s now a private residence

50. Head through the kissing gate into, what until recently, used to be open fields & the area known as Bury Dyke

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At the end of the narrow path turn left & then right into the estate road, the Primary School being on the right…

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The pond on the right has had several names & is the home to some great crested newts. There’s a local story that the pool contained a whirlpool & anyone that fell in would become deaf & dumb

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51. At the end of the road we arrive at Main Street again…

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Turn right & keep along the ‘Top End’ side of the village

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…passing the Primary School other entrance & the old sweet shop at No. 23

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We’ve arrived back at the Co-op area again & the attractive house next to the pub’s known as The Maltings which indicates it may have been a place where barley was converted into malt ready for brewing

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52. Turn left down Main Street again…

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…looking for the narrow entrance into Chapel Lane on the left

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53. The Lane becomes quite narrow &, when it does, look for a very small door in the wall (it’s about 3 foot high)…

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What’s remarkable about this is that it was built for a Bill Thornton to use as a short cut to Main Street – he was 6 foot 3 inches tall!

Unfortunately when we revisited in January 2017 this part of the wall had been demolished & the door was no longer there

54. The 6 cottages on the left have a claim to fame too. They were featured in the television programme ‘Charlie’s Gardening Neighbours’ presented by Charlie Dimmock

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The gardens were transformed into ones ranging from traditional cottage ones to Japanese style – there’s some holes in the fences so have a peep!

The bottom of the Lane emerges into The Marsh once more by the Chapel where we turn right to return to where we parked

So that’s our look at historical Crick. Although it might not seem so, we’ve not gone into as much detail as in the book. It’s a nice Northamptonshire village & well worth a stroll so…

Go Walk