The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 2.75 miles (4.43km)
Time to walk: It would normally take 82 minutes, but Annie took longer as she was stopping to take photos & write notes
Difficulty: Easy, flat & mainly along tarmac paths
Parking: Carefully on the road down the Old Towcester Road, or in Cotton End
Public toilets: None
Map of the route: None, but these are easy directions to follow
Annie & Nina describe this circular stroll as an “Unofficial Countryside” walk, as some parts are at the back of industry. However, there’s plenty of wildlife to see, including Red Kites & sometimes the Peregrine Falcons that nest on the Express Lift tower. Plus occasionally (according to friends, I’ve never been that lucky) an otter!
Come on then Nina (who’s looking decidedly frosty!)…show us the way…
1. This walk starts in the Cotten End area of Northampton (postcode NN4 8DS). Cotton End is a small district of Northampton, about half a mile south of the town centre. The district population is included in the Delapre & Briar Hill Ward of Northampton Council
The area was established as a small industrial site in the late 19th century. The area appears to have been entirely industrial in contrast to the area south of the railway line which is the residential area of Far Cotten
In the 1990s the area was cleared & used for housing. The Northampton Branch of the Grand Union Canal runs adjacent to the north of the site, just south of the River Nene, joining with the river via a lock
Turn right down the Old Towcester Road, off Cotton End. Turn right down a path when you see the old restored crane
2. At the crane is a noticeboard…
…&, on the other side of the canal, another noticeboard, which is on a spit of land, called, by old Cotton Enders, The Island (though it’s not really an island)
This is the start, or end, of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Cotton End Wharf at Lock 17. The arm is quite short at 4.75 miles & links up with the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction
3. Head left up the towpath…
4. All along the walk, look out for artwork by Binty Bint…
For those that don’t know, ‘Binty Bint’ is our very own version of Banksy The mum-of-four’s identity is shrouded in mystery. We do know she grew up & lives in Northamptonshire, & her trademark is “happy chickens”…
She’ll also, for a fee, put a “happy chicken” on your rubbish bin!
5. On the left after the flats, the Flood Defense Wall starts…
…which was built in 2000 & incorporated over 200 bricks designed by pupils at Delapre Middle School
In April 1998, many residents of both Far Cotton & Cotton End had to leave their homes & seek temporary accommodation elsewhere, after part of the whole area, along with another part of Northampton, St James, suffered flooding, when the River Nene broke its banks. Flooding occurred on Good Friday, 10 April 1998, a day which became known locally as “the long Good Friday”. Since then river banks have been raised & flood mitigation lakes created west of the town
6. Continue along the towpath until Bridge 13…
…when you head up the slope, & cross the bridge over the canal & then turn right into a field before getting to the next (newer) bridge
7. Follow the path through a few fields, & at the first bridge on the left, carry on, onto a tarmac path along the side of the river, signposted St James Mill Road & Town Centre
8. Cross over the second bridge you come to, signposted St James Mill Road & Town Centre and Nene Way…
…& then turn right along the path beside the river, now signposted Town Centre & Becketts Park. Ahead can be seen the spire of St Mary’s, Far Cotton….
9. Under the second bridge you walk under, have a stamp & listen for the unusual acoustics. After this is the start of The Island over the river. Follow up the ramp on to the road for two minutes…
…and then bear right down the riverside path again…
Stay on the path until you have to bear left by the roundabout in the path
10. Now turn right over the first bridge, so you are facing the Carlsberg Factory (it can be quite smelly!).
Turn right on the path, and round the bend, ahead you will see South Bridge (photo) going back into Cotton End.
So that’s it…Annie & Nina’s walk from their doorstep…it’s a route I know & love well as it’s also part of the Nene Way &, if you’ve walked from the trickle in the ditch near Badby, then this is where it finally becomes navigable
Love it so thanks Annie & Nina!