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!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Orlingbury, Lt Harrowden, Hardwick

Thu, 2015 Jul 23 9:18 AM  BST
With Gordon and Maureen. Fine, dry, cloudy. Dry underfoot. Good paths. Around 7.5 miles.

This was a very similar route to another walk from July 2012, in reverse with a few slight variations.

We left Orlingbury via Rectory Lane, passing Orchard Close on our left and turning right before Lammas Close, then left, and following a footpath out of the village.

The path kept the hedge on our right, and then crossed a field of wheat or barley, with a good path leading to the back of Little Harrowden Primary School, then through gates to the main road through the village. Here we turned left and very soon right as the path left on the opposite side of the road. 
More cornfields and clear paths brought us close to Great Harrowden. We crossed the road just before the village, and took the path leading sharp right - a wide track, eventually going past Blackberry Fox Covert and a row of electricity pylons before reaching the Hardwick Road from Wellingborough.
We crossed the road, and walked over another field, then along a shady wooded path behind the Sports Ground to reach Moonshine Gap, or Appleby Gate. This road is fairly busy, but we walked only about fifty yards along it before turning off along a bridle track to the right, opposite a road junction.  

In less than half a mile we took a footpath to the right, across yet more arable land. this brought us to the village of Hardwick, where we had a break outside the church.

About half a mile north of Hardwick, we took the second footpath on the left (the one near the top of the hill, not the one at the right hand bend).   More arable fields, more clear paths. In just under a mile we met the row of pylons and turned left along a bridleway. At a hedge we turned left again and followed this path until it met the more direct Hardwick to Orlingbury path, just after it crosses a footbridge. We turned right and followed the clear path uphill to the hedge, and northwards, over a stream and then uphill.

The fields become pasture as the route nears Orlingbury , and supports cows and sheep. We walked under the pylons again, and crossed pasture with a few stiles to climb before reaching the road and turning right into the village and across the village green.

We saw a fair number of butterflies, and the odd large blue dragonfly too.

Map and details

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hardwick, Sywell, Mears Ashby

Tue, 2015 Jul 21 10:06 AM BST
With Marta. Between 8 and 9 miles. Most paths fairly clear,apart from nr Hardwick Lodge Farm. Mostly arable or woodland edges. Warm, some cloud, some sun. Dry underfoot.
This is a very similar route to the walk we did on February 10 2015.
We started from the church at Hardwick, walked north as far as the right hand bend in the road, and took the footpath on the left, which leads northeast. At this time of year the footpath was clear, through the ripening wheat crop, over a coupe of fields, and led us easily to the footbridge over the stream. There was a clear footpath going uphill, and slightly right. When we met the hedge, though our route to the left was not so easy, so we followed tractor tracks to the next hedge and picked the path up as it went through the hedge. From here until Hardwick Lodge the paths were once again easy to follow.  Keep to the hedge until the corner, then go over the open field to the ruined brick building. Turn left, pass rusting machinery and continue through the field and round the small copse. Continue to the road. 
Hardwick Lodge advertises itself as the home of Happy Hens. Unfortunately we didn't buy any eggs - thought they could end up scrambled before we got home.

It's a little tricky to find the right paths around here - we ended up following the footpath between the fence and a stream round the edge of the property and over a footbridge, where dogs barked from the other side of a fence. At this point the path is unclear on the ground, but heads diagonally left over the field. We end up in the right place, pretty much at the corner of Hardwick Wood. Then we turned left towards Hardwick Short Wood. 
We followed the edge of the wood for about a mile, decided coffee was in order, then carried on to meet the road to Sywell near Wood Lodge Farm.
The stretch of road between here and Sywell is not very pleasant - a few hundred yards with no decent verge to walk along and fairly busy. At the Aviation Museum life gets easier as there is a pavement. 
In a short distance we cross the road and take the footpath left just before Sywell Hall. The footpath sign is invisible in the hedge from our direction.
that damned elusive pimpernel?
The path behind the houses and the hall is short and soon turns left at a small road. Today we followed the path alongside the hedge inside the field. This meets the path we need to take, turning left again and slightly uphill to this very pleasant bench. A sip of water and a couple of minutes of relaxation are not to be resisted.

Paths are again made good and easy to follow at this season. We cross one small section of field and another long one, downhill to a wooded stream, over a footbridge and up gently towards Mears Ashby. We meet Glebe Road, and decide to turn left and walk the short mile to Beckwith's Emporium and garden Centre to pick up sandwiches.  While we're there we are treated to an aerobatics display from nearby Sywell Aerodrome.

Our change of route means a stretch of road walking along a fairly busy road. We turn right and it's just over half a mile before we meet the footpath. We take this path to the left, and follow the hedge.  The path goes to the left through the hedge, and divides into two. We take the right hand one, which crosses a bridleway (this can be a bit tricky, but the route goes along to the corner of a field). The path carries on and turns slightly right heading into the village of Hardwick.

A few slightly tricky sections here. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bainton, Ufford, Helpston, Ashton

Another outing in John Clare territory. 

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 9:28 BST
With Gordon. A dry morning with cloud, then sun, then cloud. Coffee at John Clare Cottage. Very flat, very pleasant.  Between 6 and 7 miles.

I followed a walk from this leaflet, and extended it to include Helpston. The possibility of a coffee at the John Clare Cottage may have been a factor. 

We set off from the Buttercross near the church in Bainton, turning left along the main road and then right on the road to Ufford.  When the road forked we followed the right hand branch - the left hand one goes to Ashton.

We pass the Wash Dyke sheepwash, where sheep were cleaned before being shorn. A lot of wool was exported to Flanders for weaving.
Shortly after this we followed the footpath past the conservation area, where there is a sort of moat and wetland habitat, then some woodland. This took us southwest for a short half mile, and we turned left, heading more or less south towards Ufford.  The path west leads to Barnack. We could see Ufford church on its mighty hill.  After a few fields we reached the road at Moors Corner, and continued into Ufford. We passed a few houses, then turned left on to a public footpath track.  At first the track is to the right of the hedge, then crosses to the left. It heads east past The Jubilee, a wood planted to mark Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1893 (97?). 
At the road we turned left then soon right at the next footpath. This is a farm track and takes us past Hilly Wood and on to King Street. 
We turned right and almost immediately left, joining the Torpel Way for a while. We passed one footpath to the left, but took the second one. This cuts through Rice Wood, before following a field edge. When we met Heath Road we turned left. The road becomes Woodgate Road, and before long we found that the John Clare Cottage was indeed open and serving coffee and tea. 
The flowers have gone now - photo from 11 July

We made a short diversion to tip our hats to John Clare's grave, and that of his parents. A friendly woman was tidying up, removing the wilted Midsummer cushions placed there in a ceremony each year by children from the local primary school.

 We passed the almshouses, and took a footpath to the left, behind the school and then across fields.
 We joined King Street and the Torpel Way again. We turned right alongside the road and walked to the junction.  Here our path was on the left, and crossed Torpel Manor Field, once the site of a fortified Norman manor house, held by the Torpel family in return for the feudal service of six knights. It eventually passed to the de Camoys, and then royalty, before falling into ruins by the seventeenth century. It was surrounded by a small deer park.
The site of Torpel Manor
 The area is now managed by the Langdyke Trust.  The path crosses the site, then continues between a wire fence and a hedge all the way to Ashton.  It looks as though this could get pretty overgrown, and is definitely a single file and pay attention route.
 In Ashton we made use of the seat below the village sign, and had the snack we'd not had earlier.
Yes, I flipped the pic so that we can read the sign!
 We left the Torpel Way at Ashton, and went a little way along the road north, before taking a different footpath to the left. This section contained several stiles, passing fields of horses, and a stables. 
 In the field after the stables there is a footbridge over a stream down to the right, then the path leads along the edge of fields and past a poultry farm back to the B1443 and into Bainton.  We crossed over and took Church Lane back to the car.

More thatched animals in Bainton.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Southey Wood, Upton, Castor Hanglands, Ufford.

John Clare - Footpaths

Now tracking fields where passenger appears
As wading to his waist in crowding grain

Wherever as we pass the bending ears

Pat at our sides & gain their place again

Then crooked stile with little steps that aid
The climbing meets us & the pleasant grass
& hedgerows old with arbours ready made
For weariness to rest in pleasant shade
Surround us & with ecstasy we pass
Wild flower & insect tribes that ever mate
With joy & dance from every step we take
In numberless confusion all employ
Their little aims for peace & pleasures sake
& every summers footpath leads to joy

Pet MS A54 p415
Middle Period IV 318

Fri, 2015 Jul 17 9:59 AM BST
With Marta. Lunch at Granary Tea room, Willowbrook Farm Shop. Underfoot mostly dry, weather fine with some sun. I think between 9 and 10 miles.

Today the car was left in Southey Wood car park, and we crossed the road to walk south along the bridleway. A quick glance at the Observation Tower, surrounded by nettles and brambles in summer, didn't tempt us to explore further.

The way ahead is clear and easy heading towards Upton. The church is locked, though opening times can be found here.  A peep through the window showed a large stone tomb with effigies and carvings.
It is dedicated to St John the Baptist, and  is a 12th century Norman church with a north aisle rebuilt in 17th century, chancel restored in 19th century. 

 This pillar is in a nearby field. I think the cows may be fed in there too, as they became quite interested when we went to have a look.

From here we turned left through Manor Farm yard, and picked up the path from a footpath sign close by. After crossing a couple of fields we turned left along a cart track heading east. At the point where another path crosses, we turned left towards Castor Hanglands Nature Reserve. The place is alive with butterflies, and true to form, there were muddy patches near the entrance gate. 
There were several ponies, fenced off from the main path. This white one is a bit plagued by flies.
Just after the reserve . . .
. . . cows peer over the fence . . .
. . .and this one pretends not to be bothered. We head for the Granary Tea Shop. A little early for lunch, but it's the only convenient place, so we stop. 

Our route continues across the road, slightly to our left past some cottages. On the left is Swaddywell Pit Nature reserve, complete with a poem by John Clare. We don't have time to explore today, but I make a note for another time. The path goes alongside, then across a reclaimed tip, where the path is decent. It continues with woodland on our right, then crosses a field to meet the road (Heath Road). Here we make a very sharp left turn, about 45 degrees, without crossing the road.  We walk with the hedge on our left. 

In the distance we spot a hare sitting on the path. Photo opp - again I only have the little camera, but get a few shots - at least you can tell it's a hare, and see its ears and eyes.

Eventually we move forward and the hare decides it's time to leave. We pass a pond with plenty of dragon and damselflies zipping around, then an area dedicated to shooting, with lookouts and a pile of used cartridges.
When we reach the road we turn right, with Hilly Wood on the opposite side of the road. We dodge the cars (not too many) for half a mile before turning left on a footpath at the end of the wood.  There are lots of these giant bellflowers, along the roadsie, and woodland margins here.
After another half mile or so, we turn left at the next road, and walk a couple of hundred yards before turning right on another footpath past woodland called The Jubilee. This footpath takes us with the hedge on our right, past golden cornfields, with a view of Ufford church over to the left.  
This was the site of a warning beacon for the Spanish Armada, as it's one of the highest points locally at 44 metres and a whisker above sea level. The path crosses to the other side of the hedge just before the first houses in Ufford. 
We walk through following the main road, and make use of a bench at the top of the hill opposite the church.
Just after leaving the village of Ufford, after the road bends to the right, we take a cart track to the right, which goes past Lambpits Spinney and after a while turns through a gate into Southey Wood at The Severals. The main woodland track turns south after a while and delivers us back to the car.

Lots of information about Ufford, Southey wood, Swaddywell Pit and Castor Hanglands can be found  on this website.  Look under places of interest.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Southwick circular.

Thu, 2015 Jul 16 9:30 AM 
With Gordon. From Water tower, to Southwick, then through Woods. Fine dry weather with some sun. 8 miles.
We parked in the lay-by near the water tower on the Southwark to Glapthorn Road, and walked down to the village, to take the footpath just before the church - this passes the Hall gardens, where the metalwork figure of Henrietta (Moraes) is barely visible at this season. We walked almost exactly this route, but in reverse, on January 30 2012 and there is a picture and info about Henrietta there.

Down the lane past the hall we cross a footbridge and follow a path straight across the field heading for the woods. There is a bench at the edge of the wood.  Just inside the wood there is a choice of a path straight on, or a turn to the right. We turn right and follow the path just inside the wood. It turns left and continues until it meets a track. We don't take the track, but cross it on to a path with a "no horses" sign. We follow this for half a mile or so, until it emerges from the wood, at another bridge.
Here we turn left along the edge of a cornfield, then follow the field edge right and uphill. I meets a small road, going to Apethorpe Grange. We turn right and before long follow a diverted bridleway sign to the left. There is a lake nearby, but today we saw nothing of it as the hedges are now high and thick. 
The bridleway comes out near Lodge Farm, where we take the small road to the right, heading for the corner of Tomlin Wood. There is a choice of three tracks, and we take the middle one leading to Morehay Lawn.
A hare enjoying the warm sun on the track by the woods of Morehay Lawn - it waited some time before running off

The path turns left at a fenced off building, then downhill and right towards another footbridge and into Holey Brookes Wood. Part way through we take another path to our left, and at the next path junction we turn right and join the track southwest past Boars Head Farm, and eventually Crossway Hand Farm, down to the Bulwick to Southwick road.
Looking back from near Boars Head Farm

where some kind person caters for tired walkers and their dogs!
We cross the road and take a track to the right just after the bridge. We cross a footbridge, and head uphill along the field edge - a short, steepish climb.
Mallow flowers
Today we vary our previous route slightly, and when we reach the ruined Tottenham Lodge we continue on the track, turning left at Westwood Lodge, with its horse manege, and noisy dogs.
A fungus of some stature

Gordon is there to show the scale of the beast!
The path heads straight on from here to Provost Lodge Farm where we meet our old route, and turn right through a gate, between two large barns, and on to the track past two fairly large fields. At a gate with a waymark sign we turn left and follow the ridge for a good mile and a half heading slightly north of east through fields of cane, towards the water tower and the car. We pass Short Wood Nature Reserve on the way.

We walked it in reverse, without the section from Glapthorn, and took a slightly different route near Provost Lodge Farm.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Another afternoon wander, in grey weather - the rain came later once again.


My usual subject from the road near the reservoir