and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out, and you always have a signal. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ashton to Salcey Forest circular

Thu, 2014 Apr 17 9:36 AM BST
With Maureen. Probably just over 10 miles. Lunch at SF cafe. A bit too much road coming out of SF, and too much close to the M1 - noisy. Otherwise very pleasant, pretty flat. Weather beautiful am, turned dull and cooler pm.
We park in Ashton (near Roade), and walk up past the church and the bright blue primary school. The path goes off to our right, under the mainline railway bridge, then turns at a right angle to bring us out on the Hartwell road.
We turn left and walk a short distance before turning right along a footpath. This takes us south east to a minor road. We cross this and take the footpath angling left across a field, well maintained and signposted.
It is easy to follow over two fields, then cuts a corner of a field near Hartwell Park Farm, follows a line of trees and joins the drive just after the farm gate. We walk along the drive towards the village, and turn right along a footpath just before another gate which leads to the road into the village.
This path follows the edge of the cultivated field, then goes into another grassy one and turns right. We follow it south west past Ravenshead farm, until we rejoin the Northamptonshire round footpath, and here we turn left, almost due east.
The path is clear through crops across two fields, then we get slightly confused. We know the direction to go, we know where we are  - heading towards the lane to Chapel Farm, but we choose the wrong side of the hedge. The real path goes through two wide farm gates, downhill. There is a sign, but it's not easy to see, almost concealed by the hedge. And yes, there are more footpath markers at the bottom of the slope. We don't take the NR this time, but head straight up to the lane, turn right for a short distance then take the path onthe left hand side. According to the map this goes through the medieval village of Hartwell, but we see no evidence of it. The path turns left and meets a different Hartwell Road. A left turn and just over a hundred yards of walking takes us to Stone Pit farm, where our path goes off to the right. We walk behind the farm, and across one field, through a hedge and into a more sheltered field with a grassy edge - perfect for a short break.
We follow the path along the hedge for a couple of fields, through some awkward gates, past a pond and Hartwell End House and Farm.  
Turn left and then right over a stile, then through a gate and the muddiest section of the walk. Turn left here and go into the next field, keeping straight on  (north west here) as far as Elms Farm, and turn right along the hedge.
Follow the field edge to the right again, then turn left into some very attractive woodland, spoiled only by the din of the M1. Celandine, primroses, a few bluebells, stitchwort are some of the flowers growing here.

Our path takes us through a tunnel under the motorway, then we turn left and walk through the grassland and trees of Sandpit Copse. Very noisy, of course. It's a relief to meet Forest road and walk away from the M1. At the crossroads we turn left into Wootton Road, and eventually into the car park and cafe area in Salcey Forest. Lunch. And a forty minute break. Then another mile or so of Wootton Road, which is quite busy today, so we have to keep hopping on to the verge, which is not designed for walking.  It also runs near enough to the M1 to be unpleasantly noisy with the wind from the west.  We pass the dismantled railway, which now seems to be the access road to the wind farm. A little further on at Quinton Green, we join the midshires way and walk west towards the M1. This time we cross it via a footbridge and head a bit further west. Now the wind is carrying the noise away from us. Judicious use of map, garmin and footpath signs (and diversion signs) keeps us on track. We follow the midshires way as far as the road, then turn left and walk as far as Ashton Lodge Farm. A footpath to the right goes through the yards behind, and we follow it , crossing the railway by a bridge, then crossing a road and picking up the footpath opposite which brings us into Ashton. We leave the footpath and take the road downhill past the school and church and back to the car.
At various points in this walk you can choose different footpaths for variation. The big disadvantage is the proximity of the M1!

Map and details

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