Walk 5: The Daventry Circular

This fabulous “Walk from my Doorstep” has been sent to us by one of our twitter followers, Bill Gibbon who did it whilst in “lockdown”.

All the words & pictures, including those of beautiful Poppy are Bill’s. In fact, it’s so good that Bill has kindly allowed us to include it under our main “Northamptonshire Walks” tab.

Take it away Bill…Let’s Walk!

We had this walk in mind for a few years – although we had walked every inch of it already on shorter excursions, we had never done the whole circuit. It took the strange limbo-world of the Covid-19 lockdown to finally give us the time and motivation to actually go and do it.

Bear in mind that although they were all shut at the time, there are no less than 5 excellent pubs either on or within a few yards of the route. I just hope that when we come out of this crisis, these businesses can still carry on.

Stuff you need to know;

The ‘Needs to Know’:

Distance: 14 miles (22 km)

Time to walk: Roughly 5 hours actual walking time – but many opportunities to linger in pubs (when they re-open)., and you’ll probably need to take a break or two – it’s a long way!

Difficulty: Pretty straightforward; mostly well-marked paths and field tracks, canal paths, some rutted farm tracks, small amount of quiet country roads

Parking: Depends where you start but freely available in any of the villages.

Public toilets: You’re reliant on the pubs I’m afraid

Map of the route:

We started from Newnham because….we just happen to live there! But the route goes through the villages of Badby, Staverton, Braunston and Norton, and even touches the northern edge of Daventry, so there’s no shortage of potential starting points. However, from Newnham;

I should mention that on this walk I was accompanied by Elaine and our spotty dog, Poppy.

Park around the Green, or on School Hill, and head west out of the village on Badby Road, passing pub no.1, the Romer Arms on your left. A great pub to end your walk at, superb Portuguese cooking to top up those exhausted energy levels.

Not far after the speed limit de-restriction signs, you’ll see a gate on the left and a Nene Valley Way footpath sign – this is the upper end of this long-distance path and the babbling stream you’ll follow across the next couple of fields is the embryo Nene.

You will cross the Nene as you approach Badby – follow the path straight across the field in front of you.

Go through the gate at the opposite side of the field, head straight ahead, under a very low-hanging tree, and up into the village to emerge opposite pub no. 2, the Maltsters. Probably a bit early in the walk to take advantage of its garden, good range of beers and entertaining cocktail menu, but maybe another day…..

Turn right on the road in front of the pub, head down towards the junction with the A361 Daventry-Banbury road. At the junction, look across the main road, you will see a footpath sign and stile.

You need to head over to the far right-hand corner of this field where you’ll find a stile and bridge over the now even smaller Nene.

Over the bridge, turn sharp left and stay following the stream, on your left, for the next couple of fields. When you come to a stile next to the relic of an old farm-house, complete with an interesting culvert that the stream flows through, you need to keep following the stream across the next field.

This field is pretty boggy so you might have to do some creative routing to get to the far side. There’s a fallen tree in a prominent position – you need to be aiming well to the left of that. Don’t do what we did and treat it as a target – you’ll get wet and be way off the track!

Keep following the path across a couple more fields. There are a few mildly intimidating “KEEP TO THE FOOTPATH” signs dotted around as you get close to the village – not sure what their problem is but the path was perfectly clear when we walked it, even though it does cross diagonally through a couple of crop fields.

This is the last field before Staverton – the footpath crosses through the crops although the locals seem to use the perimeter strip for their dog-walks!

At the far side, walk through the wood and emerge into the sports ground.

Go diagonally across the field, cross the A 428 Daventry-Southam road and head straight up the old Daventry Road which is almost opposite, over to your left.

In happier times, you will be close to pub no. 3, The Countryman – another lovely country pub, allegedly a great place for a Sunday roast if that’s your thing.

The road you are walking on now used to be the main road through the village until not that long ago – scary thought now when you see the bends and narrowness of the street! Some lovely old stone houses dotted throughout the village whose twisted little back lanes are worth a wander if you have the time.

Keep on until the road bends right, where you keep straight on along Glebe Lane, past the school on your right, and then right into Braunston Lane and keep straight on to the end of the tarmac road and where the footpath begins.

The path heads north towards Braunston – after about half a mile it drops down into a steep rutted track, which can be all but impassable in wet conditions, so use the field boundaries on either side. But from the top of the hill, there are spectacular views across Braunston and Flecknoe….

At the bottom, the track becomes a bit of a tractor motorway – nice and wide and level but be prepared to leap out of the way as massive John Deeres hurtle to and from the farms.

After almost a mile of this, the track bears off sharp right – you need to head straight on, into the crop field in front of you. Don’t follow the field perimeter, go just to the right of the huge pile of silage and you should see a track heading through the crops. Disappointing that although you are on a well-known LDP here, the Jurassic Way, there is absolutely no signage.

The path winds through some woodland, where we saw a magnificent hare very briefly, then crosses an open field – bit of a slog this, as you climb a long gradient on loose and uneven ground….

You emerge at your third major road – the A45 Daventry to Coventry. This is always likely to be busy and traffic hurtles along this stretch so take care!

At last some Jurassic Way signage, and you just have to cross the road, through a farm gate and onto the farm track.

The track takes you down towards Braunston, via some nice views over the village…..

…and you emerge right by the Admiral Nelson, pub no.4. As we are now just about halfway round our half-marathon-and-a-bit, it is almost sacrilege not to stop for a brief refreshment. Obviously that wasn’t possible, but we did make use of their outside tables to sit and eat our sarnies, so here’s to happier days…..

You now follow the towpath, up to the right of the bridge – so you should be following the canal up the flight of locks with the Grand Union Canal on your left. After half a mile you come to the western portal of the Braunston tunnel, an impressive bit of engineering for the 1790’s, over a mile long and with a dodgy little S-bend in the middle that many boaters curse about!  Take the flight of steps up that take you to the old horse path over to the other end of the tunnel.

The track climbs up with fields on either side, and just one field away you will see the edge of Daventry, in the form of the Middlemore housing area. This northern side of the town is expanding rapidly, as we found out when we got down to A361 Daventry to Kilsby road and found that the continuation of it on the other side of the main road had just disappeared into yet another new housing area which has just started on site!

So it was a short and slightly perilous walk to the right along the main road to the Middlemore roundabout and the entrance to the parkland on the edge of the Lang Farm area.

Follow the path down to the bridge over the stream (actually the feeder to the canal from the Drayton reservoir up behind you) then turn left onto the narrower un-surfaced path. Poppy was very happy to be close to some water for the first time for a couple of hours here!

When you see this gate and stile, head over the grass to it, go through up to the concrete track, turn left and almost immediately you’ll see it drop down to the canal – you are now at the eastern end of the tunnel.

Walk down to the towpath and continue through this peaceful deep wooded cutting – look out for kingfishers, we have seen them here before.

Walk along the towpath for about a mile, till you come to Bridge 17, where you will see a set of steps heading up to the right. Up the steps, do not cross the bridge, head up the slope on the field track following the hedge towards Norton.

You then come to the Daventry-Long Buckby road – go straight over through the gates.

The grassy track is a bit lumpy due to it being a popular bridleway, but leads straight ahead until it crosses the Daventry – Bringtons road just outside Norton…..

…and just the other side of the village is pub no.5 The White Horse. However, we are crossing the road, heading left a few yards, then turning off into Weedon Lane.

Just under a quarter of a mile, you see a footpath sign on your right – over the stile, squeeze your way past the chicken coop in front of you, out into the farmyard and head over to the right of the barn where a track heads out into the fields beneath Daventry’s Borough Hill.

When the track does an S-bend by some derelict buildings, look for a narrow footpath on the left heading through the crops to a gap in the hedge beyond – although to be honest, it doesn’t matter much if you miss it (as we did), just follow the track into the next field and turn left, follow the hedge until you come across the official footpath again. Cross this scrubby field (well it was when we were there!) to a gap into the crop field beyond, right underneath looming Borough Hill.

Cross this field, heading for the steel radio mast – difficult to miss this as a target!

You’ll go through a bit of woodland and come out onto a vehicle track, but almost immediately, hop over a stile into a grassy field……

Follow the hedge on your right, till you come to this gate – go through it and head diagonally uphill to the prominent stack of bricks – which I conveniently forgot to photograph…..

There’s a very dodgy stile but you are better off just going through the gate nearby. Then cross the nicely mown grass in front of Borough Hill Farm and come out on the narrow and little used public back-road that runs from Norton to the south of Borough Hill.

Almost there now – just a couple of miles to go. You emerge once again onto the A45, the Daventry to Weedon section this time – cross straight over but be very careful, traffic is fast and dense here.

Just a short but steepish climb up the exotically named Poet’s Way (no, I have no idea why) takes us up to the highest point on the whole walk. Probably not what you want to hear after 13 miles – but the views are lovely…..

And at last the end is in sight. Dropping down back into Newnham, cross the Newnham – A45 road into Mounts Lane, then look for the Nene Valley Way sign leading you to a narrow little footpath dropping down and back up again through the churchyard.

And then – its all over. Just through the churchyard gate, turn left and go find your car.

Hope you enjoy the walk – I know its a long way but there’s something very satisfying about walking around an entire area, and the variety of villages you go through, paths and tracks that you walk along, and the views and scenery that you experience made this a very memorable day. Not sure I’ll be rushing to do it again any time soon though!

Well Bill, that’s a fabulous walk & I’m sure lots of our followers will definitely tread in your footsteps once all this is over!

Go Walk!