Walk 17: A Wollaston Loop (just watch out for the Headless Horseman!)

Fellow walker Zoe & her husband are lucky to live in the lovely village of Wollaston & have kindly done one of their many “Walks from my Doorstep” in that area for us

Looking at the photos, we could best describe it as as a walk with big skies & views, especially on a clear sunny day, when it’s said you can see the radio masts at Daventry, & the microwave tower at Charwelton, over 30 miles away

We know the village of Wollaston, having previously explored its village trail (Click on the link below), but we have to admit it’s a small part of the County we don’t know that well & need to explore more

https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-80-hot-legs-around-wollaston/

Pending that let’s get Zoe & David to show us what it has to offer…

Lets Walk!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.39 miles (7.07 km)

Time to walk: Roughly an hour & three quarters, although we did keep stopping to take the photos

Difficulty: Easy & a mix of woodland & field paths, plus some road walking. Certain parts, especially along Green Lane, can be extremely muddy during wet weather

Parking: On road in Wollaston

Public toilets: None in this time of lockdown, but the local pub when open

Map of the route: 

1. For those not familiar with the village, Wollaston lies roughly 3 miles south of Wellingborough. The name comes from Old English & is believed to mean the farmstead, or village, of a man named Wulfaf

Wollaston was first settled in the mid Saxon period during the 8th Century. For a small village, it has some notorious industry as we’ll see on this walk

In common with the rest of Northamptonshire, Wollaston is noted for its shoe industry.

Equally famous is the starting place for our walk today, the Wollaston Inn. First referred to in 1787 as Mr Lucy’s Hostelry, this pub was known as The Nags Head until 2003. It was a formidable venue on the music scene in the late 60’s & early 70’s…

Bands & artists who played there included Rod Stewart & The Faces; Free played their first ever gig there; Edwin Starr; U2; Wishbone Ash; Yes; Medicine Head; Mott The Hoople; Status Quo; Elkie Brooks & many more

On top of this, Radio 1 DJ John Peel had a regular Friday night DJ spot at the venue

2. Walk down London Road until you get to the bridge – as you can see, Tilly knows where we’re going!

3. Just across the bridge, step over the barrier which looks to be preventing you from walking down there, but it’s a clearly defined track & everyone uses it

4. Exit the wooded path into the open – Tilly’s having a good sniff!

The path is clearly marked & we continue to follow the field round to the left. In the distance is a view of Poplars Farm. You’ll be able to see this throughout a lot of the walk, but you won’t actually pass it – that’s part of another of our walks over to nearby Bozeat

5. Carry on round the field. There’s a footpath which goes off back down to the industrial estate to the left, but we continue ahead on the track we’ve been following…

…past the field

6. Finally we arrive at a bridge & cross it. The footpath actually comes from the industrial estate we mentioned earlier

Once over the bridge the path is clearly defined heading slightly left across the next field. Do you see what we mean about the big skies & views on a day like today?

Tilly has clearly done this walk many times before as she definitely knows the way

7. Poplars Farm can still be seen in the distance. Continue across the field until we finally come to a another little bridge

Cross the bridge & continue across the next field in a diagonal direction. The local farmers have done an excellent job of marking & maintaining the clear footpaths

8. On reaching the other side of the field, there’s a gap in the next hedge, where also is the footpath which takes you up to Poplars Farm. Tilly thinks she going there today, but we actually turn left at this point

Finally she realises which way we’re going & seems to be saying “Stop taking all those photo’s, you’re holding me up!”

9. We continue straight on up the hill towards the big tree in the distance…

…& arrive at the road that’s called Shepherd’s Hill, walking around the plough in front of the gate to exit the track

10. Looking back you can see Wollaston in the distance & there are great views over the Nene Valley

If you wish to have a shorter walk, walking down Shepherd’s Hill takes you back down into the village

11. However today, we are following the tarmac road up the hill passing the entrance to Poplars Farm

12. Just past this point & near the bush in the above picture, the tarmac road changes into a gravel track which is a byway

Shortly the track arrives at a gate…

…on the other side of which is the start of Green Lane. A sign tells you that “off-roading” is allowed between April & October. We really love this part of the walk as we can imagine that it’s been a Green Lane forever & a day

13. It was once the main route from Wollaston to Farndish & Hinwick, & you can easily imagine the horses & carts travelling along it

Green Lane eventually meets a junction, where the right turn takes you to to the fascinatingly named Dungee Corner on the way to Hinwick. Beware if you’re heading that way though…that stretch of road is famous for sightings of a ‘Headless Horseman’!

We’re luckily turning left to continue along Green Lane. Today the tracks that can clearly be seen are made not by carts, but by the off-road vehicles

14. Eventually you arrive at a clearly defined junction. As mentioned, this walk obviously gets very muddy in the autumn & winter with lots of potholes

There’s a small track heading off to the right, but maybe that’s one to explore another time

We continue along the main track where you get some great views looking back towards Wollaston

15. The track finally meets the road that takes you to Hinwick by turning right, or left to Wollaston

We’re walking straight over as if you’re heading towards Irchester. This is an old Roman road & actually forms the boundary between Northamptonshire & Bedfordshire

Wollaston was occupied by the Romans & remains of an 86 acre Romano-British vineyard were found in the village. It was one of the first such sites confirmed in Britain

16. Continue along the road

Looking across to the left you can clearly see the water tower. The road reaches a junction where the right fork leads to Farndish. However, look for the footpath sign on the left which shows us our route back towards Wollaston

17. Again the route is clearly defined. Like Green Lane, before 1788 this footpath was once a road

The farmer’s really good as he keeps the footpath well marked & there’s actually an airstrip off to the left. The water tower has a wind sock next to it. Today the wind sock was limp as it was windless & just a stunning day to do this walk

18. We carry on across the field until coming to the gate

Turn left along the road passing the water tower on the left hand side. The water tower you see today was built in 1972. It replaced the original one built in 1912 for £200

19. Continue along the road past my old school, ‘Wollaston School’…

…& Scott Bader’s. Ernest Bader & his wife, Dora Scott, founded this chemical company & gave it to the employees under terms of common ownership, forming the Scott Bader Commonwealth in 1951

Scott Bader Ltd was founded in 1921 with office premises in Finsbury Square, London, & moved to Wollaston in 1943. It makes synthetic resins & composite materials. Since 1951 it expanded & employs around 600 people internationally as well as in the UK

Originally of Swiss nationality, Ernest Bader had been a conscientious objector in his home country. He was a Quaker, co-founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1957, & a member of the Committee of 100 (UK)

When he died in 1982, aged 91, at his home in Wollaston, Bader owned no personal business assets, private house, or car

20. Continue down Bell End which, over the years, has had its street sign stolen several times…

On the right’s Wollaston Jubilee Pocket Park that today’s sadly currently closed because of Covid 19

21. Continue past a very nice Indian restaurant, the Khandan – we’re so lucky to have this. In the background is the imposing spire of St Mary’s Church

Carry on down High Street turning into it between another famous resident of Wollaston, Dr Martens & a very nice thatched cottage

Dr Martens is a footwear & clothing brand, & its headquarters are here in the village. They also make a range of accessories, such as shoe care products, clothing, bags, etc. The footwear is distinguished by its air-cushioned sole (dubbed Bouncing Soles), upper shape, welted construction & yellow stitching

The boots have been the choice of footwear among various groups in British culture. In the 1960s  skinheads started to wear them, “Docs” being the usual naming, & by the late 1980s, they were popular among scooter riders, punks, goths & new wave musicians

In 2006, Griggs’ 1460 Dr. Martens AirWair boot was named in the list of British design icons which included Concorde, Mini, Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin DB5, Supermarine Spitfire, the Tube Map, World Wide Web & the AEC Routemaster bus

22. Continue past Wollaston Museum

The site consists of the Museum, Beacon Hill & Curiosity Cottage. The Museum displays the history of Wollaston from boot & shoes to paintings, lacemaking to agriculture, archaeology to the old school bell! Beacon Hill is a scheduled ancient monument of a Norman motte & bailey castle, & Curiosity Cottage is a little gem showing village life in the early 20th century

23. Walk past Dr Martens factory shop…

…& the former ‘Boot’ public house. It was severely damaged by fire in April, 2011 & has since been converted to a family home

24. Go past Whibleys to the end of High Street, turn left onto London Road & you’ll then see the Wollaston Inn, once more, in front of you

So that completes our (plus Tilly’s) “Walk from my Doorstep. We are lucky to live in Wollaston & have so many walking footpaths around the village

We hoped you enjoyed it & come & try it out soon

Thanks Zoe & David…

Go Walk!