Walk 82: Rothersthorpe Circular: Bull or No Bull

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.7 miles (5.95km)

Time to walk: Roughly 2 hours

Difficulty: A mixture of hard surface, tow paths & fields, some of which can be muddy. There are a few hills, but nothing strenuous

Parking: On road outside the church in Rothersthorpe

Public toilets: None

Map of the route: 


 Rothersthorpe is a small medieval village that lies 4 miles to the south of Northampton. The Berry ringworks that can be found around the village are medieval fortifications built & occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They were small defended areas of buildings surrounded partly or completely by large ditches & earthworks topped by wooden palisades. They are rare nationally

The Berry is the site of a ringwork which stood at the centre of medieval Rothersthorpe. The site is irregularly shaped with a wide ditch on the north & west sides. There are the remains of an inner rampart in the north east corner & southern end. Features in the west of the interior of the works show the locations of former buildings. Remains of ridge and furrow farming are on the eastern side

The Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, built in 1815 passes near to Rothersthorpe. Seventeen locks, taking the canal into Northampton & its junction with the River Nene, take about two hours for a boat to travel through

So that’s a small bit of background information, but it’s a gorgeous February day so…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk actually starts in the churchyard!



This is the Church of St Peter & St Paul which forms a Benefice with others in nearby Bugbrooke, Harpole & Kislingbury. Unfortunately it wasn’t open when we visited. Spring has definitely sprung early this year…



2. Exit the churchyard through the small gate at the back & continue down Church Street passing the Baptist Chapel, which opened in 1841 & was rebuilt in 1892 on the right…



On the left’s the village Memorial Garden which contains an excellent noticeboard with a map & useful visitor information. Looking at the noticeboard, directly ahead is a footpath leading into a grassy area with lots of humps & bumps


These are evidence of the Medieval Ringwork, or Motte & Bailey that stood here between 1066 & 1539

3. Church Lane now begins to leave the village until it meets the junction with North Street, on the corner of which are the gates to The Manor…


Turn right & follow the road out of the village, taking care with cars as there’s no footpaths…


There’s a view across to The Manor on the right


4. North Street bends left up a hill & on the left are fields that are used for growing reeds for thatching. These are there every year


Just after the bend look for a footpath sign on the right. Pass through the fence & take the left direction away from the village…


We’re in open (& very muddy) pastureland now. Head towards the marker post down the hill…


5. It was at this point we were thinking that this was going to be a well-marked route, but things were soon to change! The path ends at the bottom of this field & there’s no clear marked exit. Checking the somewhat sketchy map we deduced that our route was through (or rather over) the locked gate at the bottom left corner, passing the large lake on the left…



The confusion now gathered pace as there’s a gate with a footpath heading off to the right. We followed this, but had to retrace our steps after 15 minutes as it was clearly wrong! So instead of turning through the gate, climb over the one directly ahead of the last one climbed. If you look closely there is a marker post hidden on the right side


Now try & work out which direction the marker is pointing. We need to reach the canal which is straight ahead keeping the wood in the picture above on your right, but as the post seem to be pointing to the right of it we headed up that hill – Wrong!

Whilst they’re very impressive trees, stick with your first thoughts & walk towards the lock cottage in the distance…


6. Well, not sure whether this was the proper path, but we’ve eventually arrived at the canal! Climb through the fence, now covered in mud, get the backpack caught in the wire & then carefully cross the lock gate (no we didn’t fall in!)



7. And so to some flat, not too muddy walking. Turn right after crossing the lock & head towards Gayton Marina, a path we’ve walked many times


Pass under the traditional canal bridge…



8. There’s an impressive new canal-side house on the right where used to be rather a run-down shack. It was home to a yappy little Jack Russell who would run up & down chasing walkers, but sadly he’s no longer here…


Pass Gayton Marina – there were lots of boats being over-wintered & some out of the water having repair work done. In the summer this is a place of activity & always good at weekends watching new boaties learning how to control their hire boat for the first time!



9. At the next bridge cross over the canal to the towpath on the other side…



…to arrive at Gayton Junction. We’ve been walking along the Northampton Arm. Running North to South now is the Grand Union Canal – to the right is Birmingham, to the left London. It was also good to see a familiar boat moored near the bridge…The Cheese Boat


The Cheese Boat is owned by Geraldine  & Michael Prescott who wanted a way to combine their passion for narrow boating with something to earn money from. They approached Snowdonia Cheese with the idea of selling their cheeses from their boat on the side of the canals & fortunately the cheese company thought it was a good idea. Success came quickly & they added Caw Cenarth Cheese to their list. Next came Mike’s Homemade Chutneys

10. Turn right towards Birmingham – a good idea as if we wanted to go towards London we’d have to get wet! There were several house boats along this stretch & we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the pack of greyhound, two pugs (including a ‘one-eyed’ wonder) & a jack russell


Cute one

Cute one

11. The next bridge (47) is a stunner, a classic example of a Turnover Bridge with the horse cobbles leading up & over…



This beautiful old Grand Union Canal bridge not only carries a small road across the canal, but also was built with a walkway so that the horses that towed the barges could go over the water without having to be unhitched

12. It’s worth walking over the bridge just to get the experience of days gone by, but come back as we need to keep on the same side of the canal passing underneath the bridge itself


They could have taken the decorations off it!

They could have taken the decorations off it!

Looking across to the right you can see the state of the fields…


13. The path back towards Rothersthorpe starts at the next bridge…follow the track up the side…



& turn right along the bridleway, keeping the hedge on your right


14. Cross the buried pipeline & look for the gap in the hedge at the bottom of the field leading into the small copse


At the bottom’s one of those lovely little places you occasionally come across whilst walking. The picture doesn’t really do the tranquility of the place with the water running through justice


Follow the path through the copse & out into the next field



15. After passing through the gap by the large tree above, look for another gap in the hedge on the right just past the telegraph pole below…



Go through & continue down the hill towards Rothersthorpe ahead keeping the hedge now on the left


16. There’s a  stile in the bottom left of the field…

What does the sign say?

What does the sign say?



200 yards from the end of the walk & we come across this!

17. Right…gotta just go for it so cross the stile into the beast’s lair. Our goal is diagonally right towards the thatched cottage besides the church…


Wait an minute…is that the beast in the field to the left?

No...it's an alpaca

No…it’s an alpaca

Hang on something’s rustling in the hedge…



18. The good news is the bull doesn’t appear to be home although the farmyard gate is open so best foot forward. There’s a stream running through this field with a crossing place near the cottage & a kissing gate to go through



19. Follow the driveway around the cottage to the end of the walk, back at the church, & safety once more



So that’s the end of a lovely short walk that had a bit of everything, including some frustration at the lack of directions at one point, so expect a bit of wandering. Some of the fields were very wet, especially the Bull’s one, so maybe a walk to do when the drier weather arrives

Maybe combine it with a walk round Rothersthorpe village itself using the details on the map outside the Memorial Garden. the Dovecote is really worth a look at…


Go Walk!