Walk 94: Kinewell Lake Circular Walk: Kinda a kindly stroll

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.63km)

Time to walk: A leisurely couple of hours, especially if you stop for a cup of tea

Difficulty: Mostly off road & can be quite muddy after rain. Only one slight hill so nothing too strenuous

Parking: We parked in Meadow Close opposite the Axe & Compass pub

Public toilets: The Axe & Compass or the Tea Room about two thirds of the way round

Map of the route:

map

This is a really lovely pre or post lunch walk as it starts from a pub & takes in a tea room! It’s got a bit of everything including being flat & having lots of benches to have a sit & ponder on, so it’s a real take your time stroll

Kinewell Lake is a former gravel pit alongside the river Nene in Northamptonshire. It’s the largest pocket park in the county & is owned by the village & managed by Kinewell Lake Trust. The area is a designated SSSI & SPA & is of international importance for the breeding feeding & migration of rare European birds

Our walk today starts in Ringstead which lies between Wellingborough & Thrapston. Ringstead was the birthplace of William Tuttle, who settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1636. His descendants number in the tens of thousands & notable among them are: Ernest Hemingway, Bob Newhart, Sinclair Lewis, Humphrey Bogart, Winston Churchill, Gerald Ford, Lester B. Pearson, Jonathan Edwards, O. Henry, Margaret Warner, Drew Gilpin Faust, Norman Rockwell & Annette BeningAlfred Roberts, the father of Margaret Thatcher. According to tradition, the entrance to St Mary’s churchyard has been haunted by the ghost of a village girl, Lydia Atley, who disappeared in 1850. What were thought to be her skeletal remains were unearthed in 1864 in a local orchard. The village butcher, Weekly Ball, was tried for Lydia’s murder but acquitted because it proved impossible to conclusively identify the skeleton as that of the missing girl

During the 1980s, major sand & gravel excavations took place all around Ringstead leaving many man made lakes & islands

Possibly scared & ready to get going shall we have a look then?

Let’s Walk!

1. We’ve parked up in Meadow Close opposite the Axe & Compass

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If you fancy eating there then check the opening times. Opposite’s Meadow Close where we need to head down to start this walk…

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Turn right at the end of the close…

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And then turn left down the muddy path at the marker…

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2. You can see Kinewell Lake ahead so pass through the gate & then walk down the fenced path towards it…

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The gate at the end opens into a wide grassy area & straight ahead’s the lake – there’s a fab seat to spend a few moments on

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3. We immediately know that this is going to be a fabulous short walk as there’s Grebes & Cormorants diving all over the place. Walk to the left round past the car park – there’s a really good information sign here

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Continue round the lake where there’s more tables & chairs to spend a while at…

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And maybe admire the early signs of spring!

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4. Only a few hundred yards into this walk we’ve already decided its a place we’ll come back to as it will be completely different with each season…

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5. On reaching the western end of the lake, we have a choice – either keep going round Kinewell or add on another couple of miles. We, of course, chose the longer route, despite walking in wellies with socks that kept falling down!

You’ll know when you’ve reached the point of decision as there’s a jetty & a bench…

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Have a seat & watch the Grebes & Cormorants diving for food – they will come quite close if you keep still

6. Turn with your back to the lake & walk towards the gate exiting onto the road…

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…turning left &, then at the corner, right down the narrow lane

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7. Be careful down here. There’s not much traffic, but it’s worth standing on the verge when the cars do come past as it’s quite narrow. Carry on past another lake on the right which is Ringstead Grange Trout Fishery (a place we must come back & have a dabble at!)

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8. Continue down the road into the car park at the end where there’s a reminder we’re back on an old familiar path

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We’ve walked along here before starting a walk from Little Addington & are now entering a fabulous part of this walk that covers Stanwick Lakes & deserted railway lines. There’s lots of paths to explore around here

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9. Walk through the gate & head towards the lock. There’s several tributaries of the Nene flowing along here & it’s a great place to stand & watch the water rushing by…

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Love this part of the walk as there’s a really good chance you may see Kingfishers etc

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10. This whole area’s a mire of water ways so pass over the next bridge & the lock…

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…& cross over the next wooden bridge to start turning back right towards the northern side of Brightwell’s Lake

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11. Now all hell broke loose. At this time of year the pink foot goose is visiting our country & today there were literally hundreds of them in the field on the left…

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But the other half of the flock was in the water, so the field ones decided to head for the water at extreme pace & volume…The photo doesn’t do it justice

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 12. Eventually they all settled, so keep walking round the lake. It was very muddy when we walked here due to horses have used the path, but it doesn’t stop our enjoyment

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 13. The track leaves the lake & follows a field edge & then turns left up the hill to the road…

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 …where at the top we clean our boots & turn right

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14. Ready for a cup of tea? Then lets descend the hill towards Willy Watt Mill, or Woodford Mill as it’s also known

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Willy Watt Mill has had many names such as Willicoat (1558), Williat (1624), Williot (1728) & Willowat (1691). The last spelling seems to come from Willow Ait or Willow Island. The word ‘ait’ means ‘small isle, especially in a river’ & refers to the mill holme

Unfortunately, little is known about the early history of the mill, but for many years it belonged to Croyland Abbey & then passed to the crown when the monasteries were dissolved in around 1539. In 1544 Henry VIII granted the mill to Lord Parr, Uncle of Catherine, Henry’s last wife. After the accession of Elizabeth I the mill reverted to the crown once more. In 1560, the mill was granted to William Garrard, but was surrendered two years later. It was then granted to Robert Lane & Anthony Throckmorton, who also owned the manor at Great Addington. They sold the mill & the manor to Henry Clerke of Stanwick in May 1562. Henry was the eldest son of William Clerke of Potterspury, who was Sergeant of Arms to Henry VIII, Edward VI & Mary. When Henry died in 1574 the mill passed to his son William & then to William’s brother Gabriel in 1604. Gabriel died in 1624 & left the mill to his nephew Robert. A condition concerning the mill can be found on Gabriel’s memorial tablet in Potterspury

The old mill wheel

The old mill wheel

From the middle of the 18th century, the mill was converted to a paper mill. During this time it was owned by the Shuttleworth family. In 1830, William Mitchell set up business, & he made paper here for about 4 years. Unfortunately, it would appear that Mitchell was unable to make a profit due to the large quantities of rags that needed to be imported & the excise duties that were payable on both the rags & manufactured paper. In addition to this, the supply of rags was often patchy. There were also the natural hazards of frost, flood & drought to contend with. Mitchell frequently owed rent & his machinery was inadequate. He moved to his operations to Cotton Mills in Ringstead & Henry Shuttleworth Bellamy, a relation of the owner, took the mill on & reorganised it to grind bones. The change to bone grinding took advantage of the increasing use of phosphates in agriculture. However, this did not last long & flour milling was resumed once more

What is here these days though & is what we’re looking for is a cuppa…

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15. Woodford Mills Tea Room is fab, especially in the summer when you can sit in the garden

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Just over the bridge pass down left through the gate to pick up Kinewell Lake again on the right…

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16. Now the next half mile of this walk is superb as, on your left, you’ve got the Nene & on the right Kinewell Lake

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Watch out for all kinds of wildlife. We were also following Toby & Jude along here (Toby was more friendly towards us)…

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17. Just when you think this walk’s nothing else to offer it enters a stunning birch wood…

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…& then all of a sudden breaks into the open again by the river

Beautiful willow

Beautiful willow

18. Keep following round the lake & there’s some more beautiful places to sit by – our guide book says this is the place to see Kingfishers, but they weren’t there today

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19. Exit out into the grassy area & turn left down the fenced track to arrive back at the start of our walk

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So there we are…we can’t believe we’ve not visited this lake before, although have been close to it on previous walks

It’s one that’s worth exploring at all times of the year so…

Go Walk!