Walk 13: Odell Circular: Take it on….The 7 Churches Challenge

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 11.5 miles (18.5km)

Time to walk: With rests & photo taking this walk took us almost 5 hours.

Difficulty: There are quite a few slopes, but nothing too strenuous. Most of the walking is across fields, apart from one stretch mid walk. We walked this on a very hot day in mid May &, at some stages, the paths were quite overgrown & a struggle (so it might be advisable to wear long trousers)

Parking: On road in Odell

Public toilets: We’re walking through 7 villages so there’s pubs etc en route

Map of the route: @Walkingworld Because of the size of the route there’s two maps but you won’t really need them

So what can we tell you about this walk…

Well, it visits the churches of 7 of North Bedfordshire’s most lovely villages situated around the River Great Ouse & known as ‘The Ouse Valley Villages’

Starting & finishing at the village green in Odell we visit the Anglican churches in Harrold, Carlton, Chellington, Pavenham, Felmersham, Sharnbrook and Odell, hence the title ‘The 7 Churches Challenge’. There’s some great views across the countryside &, at one point, all 7 of the churches can be seen (on a clear day)

This is a walk for taking your time to explore the villages as you go, perhaps going off route occasionally to have a look around. It also starts by passing through Harrold Odell Country Park – somewhere we immediately wanted to explore more so will definitely be back

Right…we have almost 12 miles to go, so come on…Let’s Walk!!

1. We’ve parked up outside The Bell Pub in Odell which is a fine establishment selling some excellent Greene King Ales…

The village of Odell is one of the smallest of the Ouse Valley villages situated near to the borders with Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. The influence of these counties can be seen in Odell’s old association with lacemaking and the leather industry

In his book “Down the River” HE Bates described the village as “half asleep…”,inhabited by “…..soft spoken and soft thinking people – a village embued with a timeless natural beauty which is quietly cherished by all who live there”

We’ll come back & look at the church & castle when we pass these at the end of the walk

2. In the meantime, facing the pub, we need to turn right & head down Horsefair Lane…

Our newest best friend...

Our newest best friend…

…& eventually arrive at the gateway into the beautiful Harrold Odell Country Park

3. It’s the first time we’ve visited the Country Park & today had to head straight through it as we were on a long walk. However it’s somewhere we’ll definitely go back & explore. Our path lies straight ahead…

Past the play area on the left

Past the play area on the left

The park also now has a real family of otters living in it…not these chaps though!

Fab carving

Fab carving

4. Like we said, our path lies straight ahead between two lakes so it’s always worth a quick peep either side…

Not a bad view of the lake on the let from this bench

Not a bad view of the lake on the let from this bench

Many paths to explore...

Many paths to explore…

No time for swimming today anyway...

No time for swimming today anyway…

5. Many of the fishing pegs along here have names or sculptures which blend into the surroundings…

Mum wasn't happy we were getting too close

Mum wasn’t happy we were getting too close

Tons of places to explore

Tons of places to explore

We loved this little bridge with the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ sign for the kids…

Trip trap…trip trap...

Trip trap…trip trap…

6. Keep heading straight on keeping the main lake called Grebe Lake on the right. It has some stunning views. Keep quiet along here to stand the best chance of seeing otters…

…& through the overflow car park…

…there’s a great hide on the right…

…on the left’s one of the churches we’ll visit later…

7. Eventually we come out into the main car park…

…where on the right is the park’s cafe & visitor centre…

Not a bad place to watch the world go by...

Not a bad place to watch the world go by…

8. We now exit the park passing another sculpture…

…& our route lies over the road through the gate ahead…

9. We’re now entering Harrold & the cemetery of St Peter’s Church…

We don’t see a great deal of Harrold on this walk. It’s the second of the 7 villages so what can we tell you about it…

The village is on the north bank of the River Great Ouse, and is the site of an ancient bridge, which we’ll cross soon, linking the village with Carlton. Harrold was recorded in the Domesday Book as a parish within the Hundred of Willey

An early medieval sword mount was unearthed by a metal detector in 2006. It’s believed the tiny decoration could have adorned the sword belt of a high-ranking Saxon warrior

10. We keep following the path around the churchyard & eventually come to St Peter’s Church itself – one of the few that were open today…

To find the entrance pass through the lych-gate below & turn left into Church Lane…

Brings back memories for people of a certain age eh eh eh…calm down like!!

Brings back memories for people of a certain age eh eh eh…calm down like!!

11. So how do we get in…there’s an amazing old wooden door to get through. Feel the wood & the weight of it. Given its age it’s incredible

The building of this church began before 1200 taking using the foundations of an earlier Saxon church. There’s a great leaflet in the church which explains the history with the earliest records going back to 1193

Come on…let’s have a look inside…

Great old organ

Great old organ

12. Right…come on we’ve many more places to visit so let’s crack on! Exiting the church we turn right through the metal Barrier into Hall Close…

…& then left along the close to the junction with the main road…

…where we turn right…waiting for the traffic lights of course…

…& onto the fantastic Harrold bridge over the Great Ouse

13. How fab is this bridge & we keep dodging into the gaps when traffic approaches…

If you're a fisherman there's big barble around here..

If you’re a fisherman there’s big barble around here..

…& keeping to the right we walk along the amazing flood defences…

Obviously the water come up high...

Obviously the water comes up high…

14. Made it safely across? Then after crossing the defences we turn right at the footpath sign…

…& then immediately left into the field, keeping close to the hedge…

T'was a beautiful day...

T’was a beautiful day…

…passing through the kissing gate on the left…

…& then bearing diagonally right to the gate which leads us into the allotments…

15. These are Carlton’s allotments & they’re crackers – wish ours had soil as good as this…

Our path's straight ahead...

Our path’s straight ahead…

Beautiful

Beautiful

Fennel - yum!

Fennel – yum!

Artichokes…airfreshner time ;-)

Artichokes…airfreshner time 😉

Look enough salivating & dreaming up recipes it’s time to move on. Just love allotments as they’re little oasis’ but let’s exit through the gate onto The Moor…welcome to Carlton!

16. So what can we tell you about Carlton then…well after researching not much actually, but it is another lovely village & there’s lots to see, so let’s go & have a look…

Turning right along The Moor we follow the road to the junction with High Street where we turn left…

Great properties around here

Great properties around here

Keep straight up the High Street

Keep straight up the High Street

There’s a potentially tricky bit here but, as soon as we arrive at Street Close on the left, stop & look across the road to your right…can you see the arch between the two houses? Well that’s our route, through there & down the right of the garages…

17. We’re in the ‘backwaters’ of Carlton now, passing along little alleys thinking where are we going, but trust us…you’ll emerge eventually…

Looks like a running track round here..

Looks like a running track round here..

There’s a couple of kissing gates to pass through before we finally exit this part…

…& then we’re out of the alley turning left & heading towards another gate…

18. And finally…we’re back out in the open fields where we can see Carlton Church…our next stop…

Our beloved cows have been in this field, but they’re not today thank goodness. This little chap is obviously happy feasting…

…but looking through the hedge we know they’re still watching us #paranoia

19. Exiting through the gate on the right…

…we come to the gateway into St Mary the Virgin Carlton which dates from 950 AD…

Unfortunately…it was closed…

20. Anyway….let’s continue & explore Carlton instead…

Coming out of the churchyard turn left along the road & follow it round the left bend where there’s another bench with some great views if you fancy a break

Carrying on towards the village we came across a fantastic Comma sunning itself in the hedgerow…

21. On entering the village continue to the junction below of the High Street & The Causeway. We need to head straight ahead down The Causeway

So what can we tell you about Carlton…this link will take you to the village site, but it’s hard to find much about the history of the place

It was recorded in the Domesday Book as a parish within the Hundred of Willey. In 1934 the separate parishes of Carlton and Chellington merged to become one as a parish named Carlton with Chellington.

We’ll just have to see what we can find

22. One thing we did notice immediately is it’s a very well kept village with lots of cottage gardens & some beautiful flowers…

On the left is Carlton’s local…The Fox

We like this!!

We like this!!

23. Just a bit further along we came across something else we liked…Puddleducks Bakery! Have a look at this link – we really like this now!!!

24. Enough salivating let’s quickly move on, but we are getting hungry!!

The Causeway eventually comes to a T-junction with Bridgend & on the left is another beautiful garden…

At the T-junction we take a left & are about to come across another of Carlton’s must sees…

Now we’d heard that Carlton Village Shop was a little treasure & we were not about to be disappointed…

Now if that doesn't tempt you inside...

Now if that doesn’t tempt you inside…

Inside it’s like being in a really good French Deli with fabulous bread, cooked meats & cheeses. We were greeted by Will & also chatted to a few other locals about walks in the area

Look at the list of cheeses etc on the blackboard & you’ll see what a ‘treasure’ this is. Will made us up an excellent ham & mustard oven bottom muffin – superb

If you do this walk please go & use this excellent shop!

25. So it’s lunch on the run for us today. Continue along the street & then take the right fork & after about 20 yards turn right through a gate into a field. Goodbye Carlton – we like you!

26. Our exit from this field’s in the top left corner, but as it’s been roped off we just need to make our way around the edge…

Through the gate...

Through the gate…

…& head right up the track past the sewerage works on the left…

By this time Will the muffin had almost been demolished!!

27. Ahead is our next church…St Nicholas…

On reaching the top of the hill we pass through the gap in the hedge & turn left heading towards the church. The views from here back across the valley are pretty spectacular!

Today St Nicholas’ Church is no longer a church & is now the Chellington Centre. It does good work – have a look at this link

28. Be careful to keep inside the path between the fence & the wall to the right of the church to find our exit around & then over the stile…

…& then the path lies diagonally left through the remains of an old gate & out through another one onto the road

29. In the non growing season the next stretch of our walk would be easy, but today it was tough. We cross straight over the road & through the kissing gate into the field on the left…

…& then up the right side of the field to a gate…

…which after passing through the path now follows the hedge on the right uphill for about 1/2 mile…Path! What Path!!

We really struggled up here, battling between the rape on the left & the nettles on the right, getting either scraped or stung so, if you walk this in summer, maybe wear long trousers!

Yes…this really is the path!!

Yes…this really is the path!!

30. Trust us though this is the path & eventually we arrive at a stile out of this mess…

We startled a Muntjac here so couldn’t get a snap, but we got another scarpering later!

The path continues straight ahead towards the left hand side of the wood where there’s another stile to cross…

Are they very old olive trees on the left?

Are they very old olive trees on the left?

Watching us…watching you...

Watching us…watching you…

Head towards the left of the wood

Head towards the left of the wood

And there's our stile to exit

And there’s our stile to exit

31. The next bit simply follows the left hand side of the wood to a T-Junction…

…where we turn left & head towards the small copse below…

Lovely views

Lovely views

32. On reaching the entrance to the copse life starts to get a little difficult as the path wasn’t that clear. We think that was because the crops were in full growth so it would be much easier at other times of the year

We enter the copse & look for a ‘plank’ crossing the ditch on the right which isn’t easy to spot…

It's there somewhere...

It’s there somewhere…

33. Keep straight ahead with the hedge on the left until reaching the corner of the field where we cross another bridge & stile…

…& then head straight on again until come to a bridgeway where we turn left…

…passing through a metal gate & continuing about 50 yards turning right at the footpath sign on the right…

34. We’re now heading straight towards Pavenham. After crossing the first field we go through the gap in the hedge & across 2 more stiles to the bottom of the field

Now we turn left through the gap in the hedge & continue ahead until reaching the white house…

…where we turn left & walk up the hill until reaching a footpath sign on the right…

Follow that path through the woodland & then into the field where we walk north-east across the field to a gap in the hedge where we emerge on the Felmersham Road

35. Our route should now be left up this road, but we’ve heard Paveham’s nice so decide to turn right down the hill & have a look around

Pavenham is another of the Great Ouse smaller villages. It was very quiet when we were there, but beautiful…

The local hostelry’s The Cock

A cunning plan...

A cunning plan…

36. Right…we’ve still got a distance to go so let’s retrace our steps to where we emerged from the field & head up the hill on the Felmersham Road passing St Peter’s Church on the right which is only normally open for services

The gate was also locked so we couldn't get a better picture

The gate was also locked so we couldn’t get a better picture

We’re going to follow the road all the way to the next village so be careful as there are no footpaths. It’s also uphill for the first part so a chance to get some cardio

After about 1/2 a mile we heard cries of ‘Fore’ & glancing through the hedge we saw we’re close to Pavenham Park Golf Club

It was along this stretch that we came face-to-face with a very startled Muntjac – I think we were both surprised to see each other & he turned & dashed before we could get a good snap…

37. Right it’s downhill all the way now into our next village…Felmersham

Have a look at this link for the village website which also tells the history. There’s evidence of life back there in Celtic times over 2000 years ago, but the name comes from Saxon times showing that the place was the riverside dwelling of Feolmar & his people.

At the bottom of the hill we arrive at a T-junction &, if you fancy some refreshment, where better than straight over the road at The Sun

38. We hadn’t time today so we turn right up the hill on Grange Road to the next T-junction where we head left down towards the church & river…

Lovely bus shelter

Lovely bus shelter

St Mary’s Church is now ahead of us. Have a look at the link for pictures of the inside & history

So that’s another 1 of the 7 ticked off…now let’s head across the fields to Sharnbrook

39. Continuing past the church & the tithe barn on the left we arrive at the Great Ouse again & cross over the bridge…

The river is beautiful around here…

Just over the bridge is a footpath marker on the right so pass through the gate…

…& then we’re going to going to follow the river for a short while. It’s worth just stopping & having a look back at the stunning bridge…

 

40. The weather now was very hot & we were conscious our water levels were running low so it was best foot forward!

Follow the river

Follow the river

That's not a bad place to sip a G&T

That’s not a bad place to sip a G&T

We can just make out the spire of Sharnbrook Church over to the left so after passing through the broken gate we turn left & then right running parallel to a nature reserve…

There's Sharnbrook Church

There’s Sharnbrook Church

Left after the gate

Left after the gate

Turn right keeping the nature reserve on your left

Turn right keeping the nature reserve on your left

50. After a couple of hundred yards cross over the concrete slab bridge & continue as before with the hedge on our left…

…before the path bears left through a gap…

There's Sharnbrook Church again

There’s Sharnbrook Church again

…& across another field towards the tower of an old windmill…

This wasn't too tricky

This wasn’t too tricky

…eventually emerging at a gate. The windmill tower’s ahead…

51. To get to the village now all we have to do is walk up the bridleway past the windmill to the main road. It soon becomes clear though that the windmill is in the garden of a very impressive property!

Not a bad little 'ranch'

Not a bad little ‘ranch’

There's our exit into Sharnbrook

There’s our exit into Sharnbrook

52. So….welcome to Sharnbrook! Let’s turn left along the High Street & quickly replenish those water supplies…

We’re now on The Ouse Valley Way, a 150 mile footpath running from the source near Syresham in Northamptonshire & exiting into The Wash near Kings Lynn

So what do we know about Sharnbrook? Well it’s another village with Saxon origins with the name meaning ‘dung brook’

Sharnbrook was once home to 8 manors, only 3 of which remain today. We’re only going to touch a small part of the village today so have a look at the above link for more details

Moving on down the high street we pass…

The Old Police Station

The Old Police Station

The Old Chapel

The Old Chapel

The pub on the left has an interesting name…The Swan with Two Nicks

53. Just past the Co-op (water stop!) we turn left up Church Lane & there ahead of us on the right is Church No.6…

This is St Peter’s Anglican Church & it’s the oldest surviving building in the village dating back to Norman times. It was remodelled in later years…

It’s now time to head back to our starting point in Odell. The signpost say 2.5 miles by road, but we’re going to head across the fields again shortly…

54. We continue past the Church up the Odell Road & after 1/2 mile or so we arrive at a roundabout. Our exit into the fields lies directly opposite on the right down a hard surfaced bridleway with a signpost…

55. We follow the hard track for a short while & it then heads straight into a dirt one – just keep straight on…

Across the next field

Across the next field

At least we can see the path this time…

56. Eventually we reach a hedge & pass through the gap with the yellow marker…

…& then follow the bridleway to the top of the hill. The grass was really long here &, 10 miles in, it was hard going!

57. Eventually shortly after passing straight on through a gap in the hedge we reach a wood on the right with a fenced access showing the Ouse Valley Way…

…where we turn left away from the wood & head south-west across the field…

This one's well marked

This one’s well marked

…where on reaching the hedge we pass through…

& then follow the track keeping the hedge on the left. You start getting glimpses of Odell on the way…

The Oil Seed Rape field on the right has loads of daisies growing in it!

58. Eventually the track leads into a well defined one which leads to the main road…

…where we turn left & head down Church Lane towards Odell…

Shows where we've been

Shows where we’ve been

59. On the outskirts of the village there are some lovely properties…

Sounds good!

Sounds good!

£850,000 if you fancy it!!

£850,000 if you fancy it!!

60. Further down the lane we spot our final No.7 church…

…another beautiful Great Ouse village…

…& eventually arrive at the main road which is the High Street

61. We’re on the final stretch now, turning right at the junction & heading up the hill…

…we now get a good view of All Saints Church…

Although there may have been earlier churches, the present one dates back to the 15th century & is built from Northamptonshire limestone

Continuing up the hill on the left is Odell Castle which was originally an 11th century castle. Nowadays it’s a splendid Manor House although some of the original castle stones were incorporated into the building

62. And now it’s all downhill back to the start of our walk…

Here we are back at The Bell

Here we are back at The Bell

So that’s our walk done & we’ve achieved ‘The 7 Church Challenge’

This really is a great walk, although we did it on a beautiful summer’s day. The negatives of unkept paths (only a few) are by far out numbered by the positives of stunning villages, the Great Ouse & just the general peacefulness of this walk, mixed with the opportunity to see some wildlife

So on achieving the ‘Challenge’ how did we feel…

It’s great…Go Walk!!

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s