Stage 1: Brixworth to Holcot

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.25 miles (5.23km)

Time to walk: Just over 1 hour, although it’s always nice to sit & admire Pitsford Reservoir so why rush?

Difficulty: All on hard paths or roads. Mainly flat with a slight incline into Holcot

Parking: There’s parking at Brixworth Country Park, but as this is a linear walk you’ll need a lift back!

Public toilets: Brixworth Country Park & The White Swan Inn in Holcot

Map of the route: @ Ten Foot Club

Map

The starting point of The Northamptonshire Round is traditionally Brixworth Country Park. It’s one of Northamptonshire’s newest country parks & is the gateway for walking around Pitsford Water

The reservoir was built in 1956 to supply Northampton, about 6 miles to the south. The water is the 34th largest in England & Wales, with a surface area of 2.85 square miles. Operated by Anglian Water, the northern half is designated as a nature reserve, & the southern part used for sailing, birdwatching, fly & pike fishing

Pitsford was granted funding from the Millennium Commission, which enabled the creation of Brixworth Country Park, including a cycle hire/shop, restaurant, many activities & play areas for children. There’s a 7 mile waterside track for walking or cycling round the main section of the reservoir, including a pathway along its dam

Anyway…we’ll see it again in 51 miles time so…

Let’s Walk!

1. It feels quite bizarre standing in the car park as we’re used to doing circular walks, but won’t be coming back here until we complete the final stage…

IMG_1441The park’s well worth a visit as is The Willow Tree Cafe

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2. Come on then let’s move as this is the first of 3 stages today totally 13.5 miles. The view from here is pretty good though…

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Head down towards the water & follow the signs to pick up the path on the left…

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3. As Pitsford can also be cycled, the tracks are really good…

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The early stage is aimed very much at children…

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4. As we circle the reservoir there’s a different view at every turn…

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…including one back across to the very active Northampton Sailing Club

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IMG_1456Plenty of flora too…

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5. In this bay we counted about 15 swans including their youngsters…

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…& also a couple of guys trying their luck

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6. Just continue round the water…

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…& above us we were treated to a display by the Sywell based air display team, The Blades

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The Blades are a British civilian aerobatic team based at the Sywell Aerodrome which we’ll see on Stage 2. They’ve been described as “the world’s only aerobatic airline” & are the only full-time civilian aerobatic team in the United Kingdom

The team was founded in 2005 by Andy Offer, a former leader of the Red Arrows & Chris Norton, a Royal Air Force wing commander. There are eight pilots including five full-time display performers. All of the pilots are former members of the Royal Air Force & the aerobatic team all flew with the Red Arrows

The team fly four Extra 300LPs & an Extra 330SC, the latter being used for solo sections of the performances. These two-seated propeller aircraft are used for four plane displays as well as corporate flying events during which passengers can be carried on board. The aircraft were originally painted orange & black, but later changed to light blue & black. By 2013 they had reverted to the orange & black colour scheme.

The Blades made their debut performance in 2006 at a party held by David Beckham prior to the World Cup. Since then they have performed as part of the 80th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, at the Bahrain Grand Prix & Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. They hold the world record for formation looping having completed 26 consecutive loops with blind bank manager Mike Newman taking control for the beginning of the stunt before co-pilot Myles Garland resumed control for the other loops

Alongside their aerobatic displays and commercial work, The Blades also help the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity that supports RAF service personnel

If you haven’t seen them you must – they’re fab!

7. Thankfully we’re now reaching the end of the water stretch & can see the causeway ahead…

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This is the other car park & picnic site, plus there’s lots of information boards…

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8. Head through the barrier & stop & buy one if you want!

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He didn't look very busy!

He didn’t look very busy!

9. On reaching the exit turn right & head across the barrier…

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10. Over the road’s another stretch of water, but you can’t walk wound this one as it’s a conservation area…

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Further up the road on the left’s Pitsford Lodge which sorts all the fishing permits etc. We can high recommend the introductory day…

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11. It’s a straight roadside path up the hill in Holcot now…

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…& on the left’s a very impressive property entrance…

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12. Finally we enter Holcot…

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Holcot literally means ‘cottage in the hollow’. It’s listed as Holecote in the Doomsday Book

13. Turn left down Rectory Lane which is the first road on the left just past Rose Cottage…

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…& follow this down to the end bearing right…

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It all happens in this village!

It all happens in this village!

14. At the end of the lane it joins the main street & over the road’s a well known Northamptonshire pub, The White Swan

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15. Continue right up Main Street to arrive at Holcot Church…

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The first Church in Holcot was built early in the 12th century by King David of Scotland. Building of today’s Church, dedicated to St Mary & All Saints, began in the early 13th century. The nave & chancel were rebuilt early in the 14th century & the tower was rebuilt later in the same century. It was around this time that the interior of the Church was decorated with wall paintings which have now faded. The final parts were added in the 15th century

16. Slightly newer is the Millennium Stone…

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…& the very impressive ‘library’

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So that’s Stage 1 of The Northamptonshire Round finished & it feels really good to be on our way

It was a gentle stroll, however Stage 2 will be slightly more hectic due another encounter with our ‘favourite’ boys…see below!!

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