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!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nene Way 6 - Irthlingborough - Thrapston

With Marta. Just under 10 miles. Wet all day, muddy underfoot in places.

Wet - a day for testing your outdoor gear.
Ready for the pole? The trekking pole . . .

Not many photos, and I'm not entirely sure we appreciated what views we saw. Lunch at Woodford in the Dukes Arms, where they even had a wood fire in the bar. Oh August in England . . .I  ♥ underwater walking.

We set off from the football ground, and found our way to the lock nearby and followed the towpath.  Slightly off the official route maybe, but near enough as we soon saw the signs.  We followed the river bank past the Frontier Camp, until we reached a Nene Way sign near a footbridge, pointing away from the river and uphill across fields - recently harvested and sticky with mud. We walked round the edge of these fields - it was slightly less sticky.  Eventually we emerged, several inches taller and with worked-out leg muscles (I wish) into Little Addington. We walked through the village, and almost decided to wait for half an hour in a bus shelter, along with copious quantities of swallow or martin droppings, either for the rain to stop or the pub to open.  No, we carried on, womanfully.

We left the village loop road, and shortly after we joined the Irthlingborough - Woodford Road we turned off to the right and followed a path back down to the river.  Over a couple of bridges and through a gate which gives access to anglers' cars, and past the marina and disused railway track, and the path becomes a road leading to the old Ringstead Station. At the T junction we turned left towards Willy Watt Mill and Woodford.  The pavement is raised above the road level here - useful if the road floods. It has recently been improved with non-slip planking.

At the mill, which unfortunately doesn't run to a cafe for wet walkers, we found the Nene Way path leaving a track to the right, before you reach the bridge over the dismantled railway.  It crosses the disused railway line and turns right again shortly before Glebe Farm.

We crossed this field diagonally,  passing some wet and uninterested cows grazing there, and continued following the signs until we reached Woodford.  Hunger had to be heeded, so we went to the Duke's Arms.  Good food and even a fire helped us begin to dry our clothes slightly. 

From Woodford the signs took us between groups of houses and through a stile into a field.  The path takes you diagonally downhill to the bottom of Woodford Shrubbery, then through the woods.  When we came out of the shrubbery we should have turned right and right again to get back to the Nene.  We did make a slight deviation, but were soon back on track.

Then we followed the river for a short distance, crossed the dismantled railway again, and headed towards Denford.  The church is slightly to the right of the lock we were aiming for.

At the lock we turned left and the path led us across fields towards the A14.

Crossing the A14  under this viaduct.
The path goes east under the viaduct, doubling back west to make its way across fields to where the road bridge into Thrapston crosses the river near the Woolpack Inn.  Was the rain starting to ease off? 
I swear it's not quite so black over Bill's mother's! Ever the optimist.
My verdict on the wet weather gear - coat not really effective, waterproof trousers ok, but encourage condensation, boots dry inside, though some water got in via my socks I think. A long time since I've been wet all day like this.

Map and details

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rutland Water by bike, clockwise

15 miles.  With Harry. Sunny and dry - the rain spots arrived just as we got back home.

From Normanton, following the waterside path to the nature reserve and up the hill this time.  Ice-cream break at Whitwell café after about 12 miles.

Route and details

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lamport - Scaldwell - Hanging Houghton - Lamport

With Barry, Gordon and Maureen.  8. 7 miles.  Sunny! 

We left Lamport on the road towards Old, and shortly after this rather tall and beautifully situated house we took a footpath to the right. The house has decorative brickwork patterns, and displays the initials CEI (Charles Edmund Isham, the local landowner, gardener and reputedly the man who brought garden gnomes to Britain).
The path goes behind Lamport Hall - we caught just a glimpse through the trees from this side, and continues for a while, across a harvested field. In the middle of the field two paths cross and we took the one to the left - not very easy to see now the crop has been lifted.
The photo above is a great example of how not to compose a photograph - how many arms does Barry have?

We walked on and slightly uphill into Scaldwell, by way of a stile close to a row of houses.

It looks as though the tradition of garden figures is thriving in the locality.

Scaldwell contains several Grade 1 listed buildings, including some of those we walked past before we left the village.
Sundial House  has datestones (no not the fruit) from 1650 and 1772."The large sundialdated 1650 between first-floor windows, probably C20 restoration. Datestone 1650
and 1772 to left and right gables"
This is Scaldwell House, though I'm not sure whose initials R S are.

Is the date on the right 1706, 1716 or 1776? »

We walked past some very attractive cottages, and finally the Grange, before taking the marked footpath to the right. This led us across cultivated fields, including one which was full of flowering plants and (for once) some insects, gently downhill and then up into Hanging Houghton.  

Why this name? Because it hangs at the top of the hill?
Because it hangs on to Lamport? Anything to do with hanging? I haven't yet found out.

There we turned left following a minor road which goes steeply down to the Brampton Valley Way.  Just off the road and on the disused railway path there was a convenient bench, where we had a slice of Gordon's birthday cake. (Thank you Gordon and Maureen!) 

We didn't take the Brampton Valley Way but carried on along the unfenced road which took us very gently up to Blueberry Grange (no blueberries, just sloes).  We turned right, north-east to Blueberry Lodge. Just after that we took a bridleway (though it was more like a path) to the right, following a hedge.  There is a break in the hedge but it is possible to walk either side as there is another chance to cross after a quarter of a mile or so.  Next we had to walk gradually uphill along the edge of a huge field where the corn stubble was shining in the sun, then down to meet the Brampton Valley Way again.
We followed the bridleway up to Lamport.
pausing to admire the view from time to time
until we reached the A 508, and arrived back in Lamport

For details and map

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cycling round Rutland Water - anti-clockwise

With Harry. Weather warm, overcast. 14 miles. We didn't do the peninsula.

Great cakes at Egleton Church Hall, and we even got an extra large portion as they were just about to close.  We didn't go into the church this time - last year we saw a pipistrelle bat on the wall inside.

Several changes have been  made in the last year or so to the cycle route between Egleton and Manton.

Amusing to see my garmin route has us cycling in the water once or twice.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Barnwell Country Park - Ashton - Polebrook - Barnwell

With Barry and Gordon.  Ten miles ( including parts where I went wrong!) Quite a lot of this walk is along the Nene Way.  We had at least two hours of rain - the wettest I've been this year.

A few examples of the fauna spotted en route

homo sapiens sapiens

ardea cineria 

Carterocephalus palaemon - chequered skipper

Felis catus culmis - the thatched cat
Apart from these we saw Canada geese, a goldfinch, house martins,  horses and donkeys, one sheltering from the rain.  Then lots of cows, calves and bullocks, swans and cygnets, and a couple of piglets, who seemed quite excited to spot us from across the road.  By this time my camera was tucked away in my rucksack, and I was too wet to take photos. Worth keeping a change of clothes handy for wet weather wanders.

Ashton church

We started this walk from Barnwell Country Park, making our way to the Mill (Oundle or Barnwell?) with its guillotine lock gate.  Just opposite this the Nene Way goes North East past Oundle marina, along to another lock where we crossed to the left bank of the river.  We walked across the flat field to a gate where we turned very sharply right to return to the river.
We followed the water , going through some trees under the A605.  The path and river meanders, and the land is quite flat on the left, but rises more steeply on the right. We could see New Lodge Farm, which we would pass later in the walk.
Along the river there are a couple of weirs and another lock. At one point we watched a heron standing on a long wooden platform, not bothered by our approach. 

Still following the Nene Way we turned right to cross the river via a footbridge and the path led us into Ashton, an estate village built by the Rothschilds.   The pub, the Chequered Skipper , was  renamed from the Three Horseshoes in 1966 by Miriam Rothschild, the celebrated zoologist who lived in Ashton Wold.

After the pub we followed the road as far as a small wood, where an unpaved byway ( a boreen in Ireland) turns right towards Polebrook, leaving the route of the Nene Way. When we reached the road from Polebrook to Ashton we crossed it, walking as far as New Lodge and Red Lodge farms.  There is a stile at the gate just before Red Lodge, which leads through fields, past a stable and after another couple of stiles (beware - they can be slippery in wet weather) the path led us into Polebrook, into a lane from where we could see the pub and the church.  As it was already raining cats (on a warm thatched roof) we didn't hang about to explore, but made our way down the lane, which turned into a track, then an overgrown path before emerging near an industrial building.  

We should have turned slightly to the right here on another byway, and ignored the surfaced road off to the left.  Eventually on track we walked until we saw a footpath sign pointing up across a recently harvested, and unusually (for this year) muddy field, so we attacked the path, and followed it through yet another field of cows.  It rejoined the byway at the farm (Armston Hall).  A little way along the road, and another footpath sign showed the way to the left across fields, and past a couple of donkeys, one of them sensibly sheltering from the downpour. 

The path touches the edge of Armston Grove woodland - giving us enough shelter for a well-earned snack stop, but not stopping me from making yet another small detour - that'll teach me not to believe footpath signs!  Within a hundred yards or so the mistake was clear - no way out of the field.  Back we trotted, and from now on we followed the path into Barnwell.We passed behind  Barnwell Manor on a grassy path and came into the village just before the Montagu Arms. Here we turned right along the road,then right again to rejoin the Nene Way as it follows Barnwell Brook past the manor again and the remains of the castle.  We were too wet to bother looking around in any detail. At a T-junction we turned right along the road and carried on until we saw a sign to the left for the Nene Way. This took us to the Oundle bypass (A605) and across to the old road which we followed back to the country park. 

Map and details - once again one or two unintended detours, but they bumped the mileage up to almost 10! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nene Way 5 Wellingborough Embankment to Irthlingborough

With Marta. About 11 miles in all. Weather variable - some showers, but mostly warm and dry. A test of map-reading today! 

We followed the original Nene Way route, which meanders into and up to various places of interest along and above the valley. 

A shaky sort of start - the map and the signs on the ground were at odds, and the directions in Mia Butler's book left us confused!  Near the car park at Wellingborough Embankment, across the river from the Victoria Mill the Nene Way signs indicated following the river, either up stream towards Northampton, or downstream towards Irthlingborough.  On the map the Nene Way crosses the A45 towards Little Irchester.  But how? 
Victoria Mill from the Embankment

Quarter of an hour's wandering - back to Upper Wellingborough Lock, then downstream for a while, and we were not a lot wiser. Though we had met the biggest collection of swans I've seen in one place:
Swan lake has nothing on the Nene

Eventually, after much thought, consulting the map and the guide, we went back to the London Road, and took the road to Little Irchester, which crosses the Nene.   When we reached the bridge we could see a path coming up from the river - the spot where the signs directed us along the river bank.  Maybe an alternative route has been developed, along the river, rather than with the diversions.  The meandering path marked on the OS map is more varied.

The path leaves the riverside just before the bridge on this pic. Then you walk over it! 

So, over the bridge and under the A45 into Little Irchester.

At this point we knew we were going the right way, as the instructions and the map now made sense!  We walked down Daniels road, to the end, just after Newtown Road, where we turned right along the path which follows the railway cutting into Irchester Country Park.  After a few minutes we passed the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum (open only on Sundays).

When we got to the Cafe we decided a coffee was in order - 
BIG coffee cups

According to our book the path is clearly signposted, but, alas,  not clearly enough for us!  More map study, and we made it to the next reference point - where the path almost touches the layby on the A45, before making further fools of ourselves - this time because we'd failed to check instructions. Navigating by nose, we headed off on a very clear path, too far south, and failing to notice we should have crossed an open field!   All the same, our native intelligence (hmm),  judicious use of map, instructions and even a compass, put us right, and we found the track with steps leading out of the quarry at the northern end. 
As we emerged from the quarry the view of St Katherine's church spire was impressive.

Pathway to heaven?

The weather vane is a catherine wheel - the way St Katherine was tortured to death, so not too jolly.
We followed the path as far as the cemetery, then went down St Katherine's Lane as far as the main street, where we turned left.

The path runs alongside this road, Chester Road,  right up to the A45.
We had  to cross the busy road on foot - there is a central reservation, but it's not ideal.

Obstacle overcome,  we crossed a field next to Chester House, which is dilapidated, but clearly being renovated - maybe this will be the latest health spa and hotel? 
  The field is full of the bumpy remains of the old Roman settlement of Chester-on-the-Water, a village which existed in the fourteenth Century, but was deserted by the eighteenth. Chester House was the manor house.

(Update October 2012 - there are plans to open this as a heritage site)
Deserted village of  Chester on the water

The bridge was built when the Nene Way was opened.
We crossed the two wooden footbridges, then walked through two large grassy areas where horses were grazing, in spite of what looks like vast amounts of ragwort, which, it appears is not normally a great danger unless incorporated in silage, and under the viaduct which carries the mainline railway to London.

We followed the Nene downstream to Ditchford Weir,  and crossed the bridge over the weir, but soon realised that the path was too overgrown to be much use.  The path we wanted ignored the bridge and continued to Ditchford Mill, which is labelled simply Works on the OS map.  We crossed Ditchford Road, to a somewhat overgrown area. The blackberries were good!  It looked like a rather odd smallholding, with a few sheep and some chickens, some out-buildings and notices about fishing in  Isabelle's Lake.  One of the fairly rare signs for the Nene Way was stuck to the side of a shed.

The path took us past sewage works, and an abandoned caravan, where someone had clearly spent a bit of time.  Skew Bridge Water Ski Club and lake was hidden by trees.  The path was easy to follow through Higham Ferrers Pits Nature Reserve , eventually taking us over the river and the A45 via a striking footbridge, with views over the noisy road and the tranquil fishing lake beyond. 

It's clearly too tempting for the local motorcycling youth, in spite of barriers!  Now, in my day . . .

On the other side of the bridge we soon came to a road leading up-hill, and letting us know that Higham lives up to its name.  We left the Nene Way itself in search of food, and explored the main street, ending up in a small cafe and deli - 'Savour the Flavour'. Great £4 meal deal - sandwich, drink and a 'treat'.  
Not sure about our morals, but food improved our morale

The town itself is very attractive, with its church, market place and further down the hill the remains of Chichele college.

The Nene Way follows Saffron Road, parallel to the main street, passing the cemetery, and Vine Hill Road. 

We continued behind the Kings Meadow estate on a rough track which took us to another footbridge over the A45.

Straight ahead across the valley, then climbing up towards the odd-looking church tower of St Peters.
We went past the church to have a quick look at Irthlingborough market cross in the High Street, before returning to walk through the churchyard and along Nene View.  Then it was downhill across fields to the A6, and we finished the walk outside Kettering Town Football Club's new ground.

Total so far - 50 miles - 5 separate days - average 10 miles per walk. I think we have three walks left to make it to Wansford, though the whole Nene Way in Northants is 70 miles.  We did cover 5 and a half miles twice on the second leg.

Map and details, including our deviations from the route: You can work out where our coffee stop was, and our lunch stop, by the criss-crossing lines, like scribble!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fineshade - Kings Cliffe -Blatherwycke - Fineshade

With Mel, Norma, Barrie and Sue . 6.6 miles.  Weather fine and sunny.

We took the same route as on April 6th and 18th 

Wildlife - a heron, a red kite, a buzzard, a kestrel . . . blackberries but not ripe yet.

Apollo Belvedere still  stands clear against the sky.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kings Cliffe - Apethorpe - Blatherwycke - Kings Cliffe

A last minute route, led by me, with Maureen and Gordon. Just over 8 miles, Dry, windy, some sun.

We set off from Kings Cliffe church, following the road down to the crossing of Willow Brook,  where it became a path shortly after an open area where an old lorry has found a home. The path leads rapidly to a track (Morehay Lane. We turned right and very soon left the track for a path to the left.  This leads up and then past some clay pits, through fields. You can see Apethorpe church in the trees ahead. We didn't go right into the village, but when we arrived at a threeway junction took the road signposted Lodge Farm and Spa Farm.  After a fair walk we met a turn to the left 'Private Road - Lodge Farm only' . This told us that we'd not taken the track we expected to take, so a bit of map-thinking was needed.
Quick change of plan, and we continued towards Spa Farm Cottages, and Spa Farm itself. 

The path carried on in the same direction (S.W - ish) and just after a hedge,  we found a trig point 85 metres above sea level according to the map.

 On along the clear path through the cornfield, touching the corner of Briary Wood.
A slight change of direction to our left ( more to the south now) took us past the corner of Hostage Wood and in the direction of an abandoned building. 
Nice place - how do I get the furniture in though?
 We didn't cross the stream, but continued round the edge of the field, turning sharp right. 
We were slightly off track, as we follwed the stream rather than the edge of Bushey Wood, but there is a gravel track which led us up to Hostage Wood again.  We kept the wood to our right and followed the path slightly up hill, until we turned a corner and found a convenient bench for a snack break.

Straight along the path still, in the middle of trees forming the field boundaries, past Keeper's Cottage, with its crowing cockerel and barking dogs, and down to the road into Blatherwycke.  A hundred yards or so along this road, past the alpacas in the field, and on the corner we followed the footpath off to the right.
Cool haircut

Wistful thinking?

The path passes Blatherwycke church and a large building where a lot of work is being done.  We saw the statue on the skyline to the right.

Apollo Belvedere

I found this picture I took in Feb 2008, with my comments: 

" I wonder who he is, with his cloak, and 
fig-leaf. His right arm is leaning on a 
tree trunk with a snake coiled round it. 
He stands on a hefty plinth with carvings.
He probably belonged to Blatherwycke Hall,
which was demolished in 1948. 
The Hall was used by troops in 
World War 2, and was in a poor state."
My thanks to Barry for pointing me to this information on East Northants website):
Sir Humphrey Stafford and his wife built Blatherwycke Hall in 1713, but it was pulled down in 1948 after irreparable damage by troops billeted there in WW2. The only remaining remnant of the estate is a statue of The Apollo Belvedere in an adjacent field.
Today we carried on along the path, past the recently  planted trees and views of the lake and a house by the water.  At one point we had to turn slightly to the left through a hedge, to keep on the path towards Alders Farm.  The path is clearly marked from here - some small trees have been cut down since I was here last.  

On through fields, keeping the brook to our left,  over stiles or through gates, over the brook by the footbridge.   We went through a field of cows, and another grassy field, along at the bottom of the allotments, and followed the road/track through the back end of the village until we reached the church.
There's something about allotments.

Map and details

Monday, August 8, 2011

Holcot - Pitsford - Moulton - Holcot

Barry, Maureen, Gordon. just over 9 miles. Dry, some sun, windy.

Barry led this walk. We started from Holcot just after 9 am.

Across the fields from Holcot, with the morning sun casting shadows on the ploughed earth. Luckily the ground was dry.

We made for the gap in the hedge.

Our first 'surprise treat' of the day - the view of Pitsford reservoir as we climbed the stile.

On we walked with the reservoir below us on the right - the southern part which we've walked round a few times, close to the shore. We passed a house some way off, on our left, surrounded by trees, but certain to have a great view of the water. 

 Then pretty high up, was 'surprise' number two, a cupola memorial just by the local cricket ground. It commemorates local businessman Lynn Anthony Wilson, who died in a car crash in 2008.

We followed the path coming closer to the water where we saw a large colony of coots.

The we continued into Pitsford, turning left and walking a short distance along the Moulton Road, before taking a footpath to the left. The path turns right then left across three or four fields and turns right again just before a stud farm.

We crossed the Pitsford - Moulton Road into Spectacle Lane. An unusual name, sure to whet the appetite.

So, to the first 'spectacle' - I should have taken the picture when we first spotted this 'ruined castle'. Life is just a bowl of should've's.
It is known as The Spectacle, and was built by William Wentworth in 1770, and was designed to be visible in silhouette from Boughton Hall.
I gleaned this information from the painted pixels website

We left Spectacle Lane and on the other side of the road from Boughton to Moulton is Holly Lodge, built between 1857 and 1861 for the Jeyes family, of Fluid fame. I seem to be stalking the Jeyes family - I had lunch in their Apothocoffee Shop in Earls Barton last Friday.
Holly Lodge echoes the style of the Spectacle, and boasts a pair of gates representing a dozen farm implements.

Philadelphus Jeyes designed the gates, which were erected in 1861.

They include replicas of 2 hay forks, 2 sickles, a scythe, a rake, a shepherd's crook, a ditch cutter, a stable fork, a flail, a spade and a woodman's axe.

From Holly Lodge we walked for a short distance along the road to Moulton before taking a footpath to the right, over a few higher than the average stiles. Some of the path includes horse riding trails from Moulton College.

We climbed up hill, and turned to the left, following the path into Moulton. This is a lively village centre with local shop, pub and stocks - locked to prevent fun-loving teens and walkers from playing silly games.

Instead, we sat staidly and devoured Maureen's scones on a bench in the square.

We walked out of Moulton on the road towards Billing and the A43, taking a footpath to the left. This involved crossing several fields of wheat, and a couple of recently ploughed fields. We walked alongside Marsh Spinney, where notices informed us that cycling was forbidden by local by-laws. It would have been a brave and slightly mad cyclist who climbed the stiles and tackled the uneven ground.

So far unidentified plant growing at the edge of a field of maize

Could it be the hallucinogenic and sometimes lethal Jimson Weed?
No fields of beans today, but we had to negotiate maize above head height with a narrow path through. Past Overstone Grange, we turned left Rectory farm, and followed the path back into Holcot.

Plenty of interest on this walk.

Map and details