More Rambling Explorer

 

{The Rambler strives to give accurate descriptions of the walks on this site but is aware that any text is always open to a variety of readings and possible (mis)interpretations.
He therefore strongly recommends that walkers are equipped with a relevant O.S. map (Explorer 223 or 222) and decent compass which should enable them to regain the intended route should they be unintentionally misled  - please do not rely only on his meagre attempts at sketch maps!
Constructive comments and/or criticisms are always welcome here.}

Quick links to walks on this page:

Walk 11: Yelvertoft Wharf – Yelvertoft Fieldside Covert (near Elkington) and return.

Walk 12: Bridge 37 (Grand Union) – Sybolds Spinney – Former Rugby and Stamford Railway – Bridge 37

Walk 13: Around Long Buckby

Walk 14: Bridge 31(Grand Union) - Stanford on Avon - Bridge 31

Walk 15: Pitsford - Holcot - Pitsford

 

Rambling Explorer Walk 11

Yelvertoft Wharf – Yelvertoft Fieldside Covert (near Elkington) and return.

Begins and ends at : Yelvertoft Wharf (adjacent to Bridge 19).

Distance: about 5 miles

Difficulty: mostly easy walking on a suprisingly wide, level towpath and waymarked footpaths.

Parking: room for several cars at the Wharf on the Yelvertoft side of the bridge.

This walk takes you along the Grand Union Canal, through typically fine Northamptonshire Uplands countryside to reach and explore Yelvertoft Fieldside Covert (Woodland Trust). You return by fieldside footpaths.


 

From Yelvertoft Wharf follow the towpath (initially South East) passing Flint Hill Farm on your right, then New House Farm on your left and Winwick Grange on your right. By now, if the weather is poor, you will have had the chance to shelter under four bridges in only about one mile!

Your next 'landmark' is Larch Spinney. You then pass under another two bridges (the first serves Winwick Manor Farm on your right) before arriving at the wooded area which is Fieldside Covert. The area of the wood open to the public (and maintained by The Woodland Trust) is gained by crossing to the opposite bank via Bridge 27.

Do take time to explore this sensitively managed, traditional woodland habitat before re-crossing this bridge and continuing North on the access track until, at the far edge of the second field you turn left (West) on a footpath which links Elkington and Yelvertoft. There is no waymark at this point but you will soon spot several arrows as you make your way through the field margins on a fairly well-trodden path back to Yelvertoft. In order to emerge on Wards Lane, you need to cross a footbridge more or less straight ahead as you enter the last field.

Once in Wards Lane look for Church Lane - which is the narrow, mainly unsurfaced track on your left - and follow this to the church. The church, which is normally open to visitors is well worth a visit (see notes below).

From the church take the continuation of the lane to join the Yelvertoft to West Haddon Road and turn left again to walk the final short stretch to your starting point.
 

Historical Notes

Yelvertoft is believed to be a Danish settlement ('toft' indicates this), though many such settlements in this area actually have Saxon origins.

According to a small leaflet 'Ramble Round Yelvertoft' (published by J. Platt, Elkington Rd) which the Rambler purchased some years ago, Spellow Hill (somewhere vaguely on your right as you return to Yelvertoft) was an ancient meeting place. The name probably translates as 'Speech Hill'.

Yelvertoft is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

This walk is on a section of the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. You will see a milepost, en route, giving the distance to Leicester.

All Saints Yelvertoft is a very attractive church, dating from the 12th Century – see this link for details.

Houses in the Wharf area and the Church at Yelvertoft suffered extensive damage as a result of a mid-air collision between two bombers in the Second World War – the Rambler discovered the details after reading a memorial to the airmen in the church. Click here for more information.

Much more History available on this excellent local website.


*This walk connects with Rambling Explorer Walk 2

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Rambling Explorer Walk 12

Bridge 37 (Grand Union) – Sybolds Spinney – Former Rugby and Stamford Railway – Bridge 37

Begins and ends at : Bridge 37 over South Kilworth Road near Sybole Farm

Distance : 2 miles

Difficulty : a short stroll, mostly level on wide towpath, bridleway and trackbed.

Parking : space for 3 or 4 cars off-road, East of Bridge 37

On this quiet, short walk you have the opportunity to see narrowboats on the canal and a variety of farmland birds, including a very large buzzard!

 

Take the towpath in a Northerly direction until reaching the next bridge over the canal (38). Here you can pick up the bridleway towards Sybolds Spinney which is clearly visible across the field ahead.

Pass through the Eastern end of the spinney and continue straight on to regain the canal towpath at the next bridge (39).

Head North West on the towpath to Bridge 40 where you take the the bridleway towards North Kilworth for a few yards to spot the old railway track and the stile and gate granting you permissive access (see below) to the old trackbed which you duly follow as far as the South Kilworth Road.

(Look out for the ageing steps, pictured in Historical Notes below, which connected the canal and former railway and the sad remains of (possibly?) a platelayers’ hut on the left of the track).

Climb the style (or go through the gate) and turn left (South East) on the Road for about 300 yards to regain your starting point at Bridge 37.

 

Historical Notes

This trackbed originally belonged to the Rugby and Stamford Railway. The section from Rugby to Market Harborough opened in 1850 as a single track but was doubled at the end of 1878. This stretch was originally between Welford & Kilworth and Yelvertoft & Stanford Park stations. The line and its stations were closed in 1966.

This section of the Grand Union Canal was probably opened sometime between 1812 and 1814. The proximity of these two transport systems – so obvious during this walk - reminds us that canals and railways, though obviously close competitors, were often equally viable until the early Twentieth Century when the Railways began to get the edge over their slower waterborne rivals.

NB : A longer walk can be achieved by connecting with Rambling Explorer Walk 5 at Bridge 40.

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Rambling Explorer Walk 13

Around Long Buckby

Walk begins and ends at: Market Square (Car Park).

Difficulty: Easy stroll (some ups and downs) and well waymarked.

Distance: About 3-4 miles.

This walk takes you from the centre of Long Buckby into the attractive surrounding countryside, returning to your starting point.

From the Market Place take the Brington Road (South East), passing the United Reform Chapel on the bend on your right and continue on this road for about half a mile, ignoring the first footpath sign on your left, until you reach the second sign on your left (pictured) which indicates the bridleway you require.

Follow this bridleway (East), at first along the field edge (with the hedge on your right), but straight across the next large open field to a waymarked gate and on, through more gates, to reach Cotton End on East Street.

Here, you cross the road with care and, after a few yards, look for a footpath sign on the right which indicates your route (Westwards) through the network of small fields behind the properties on East Street.

At the end of the fourth field you will reach a junction of paths. Take the right hand option which brings you to a footbridge and ultimately the narrow road to West Haddon. Take this road uphill in the direction of West Haddon , passing Grange Farm and its associated attractive housing on your right.

Continue downhill (keep an eye out for traffic as this small stretch is narrow!) to a sign just before a small bridge on the ‘blind’ bend at the bottom of the hill which indicates your bridleway to the left (West).

From this bridleway you will see Vanderplank’s Covert and a pond on your left.

Where you next have a choice of paths, follow the left waymarking (South) to keep the covert on your left but then strike out boldly and diagonally uphill across the open meadow, away from the covert and farm buildings on your right, to reach a stile at the top of the hill.

Here you walk due South, passing a roofless barn on the left and continue straight on, through waymarked gates and stiles, heading for the church.

The Rambler suggests you turn right on a footpath just before the entrance to the church and continue to Murcott via the footbridge.This enables you to appreciate the enviable setting of Lodge Farm (pictured) before returning to the Market Place by way of West Street.

 

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Historical Notes

There was a time when this walk would have joined three separate settlements : Buckby, Cotton End and Murcott.

The original pre-conquest village of Buckby was possibly in the area now known as Salem, to the west of the present village. The surviving mound of what was originally a ring and bailey ‘castle’ immediately east of Salem suggests that it once ‘guarded’ this original settlement.

The present core of the village, centred around the market place, seems to have been established by the Twelfth Century.

At Cotton End (or, anciently, Coten) archaeological evidence of a separate hamlet has been found - ‘cot’ included in medieval place names usually indicates cottage (see the Rambler’s piece on the lost hamlet of Chilcote).

It has been suggested that Buckby became ‘Long’ when the evicted tenants from the enclosures in the 1700s settled along the Buckby to Cotton End road.

The settlement of Murcott appears to have been partly in what are now the parishes of Watford and Long Buckby.

The availability of pasture around the village helped the woollen industry become a mainstay of Buckby’s economy in the period between the enclosures and the rise of mechanization in Yorkshire, the arrival of which caused a period of deprivation in this village and many others. From about 1820, however, things began to look up as the boot and shoe industry grew in its place.

Footwear was produced here for over a century and a half but the Rambler believes the last remaining shoe factory closed circa 1995.

The two non-conformist chapels seen on this walk, Baptist and United Reform, were both established in the Eighteenth Century. The attractive Parish Church of St. Lawrence is believed to date from the Thirteenth Century.

 

For much of the information in these notes the Rambler is indebted to contributors to the following sources:

Northants CC walks leaflet 06

Rootsweb Long Buckby Page

Village & Family History LongBuckby.Net

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Rambling Explorer Walk 14

Bridge 31(near Hemplow) – Stanford on Avon – Bridge 31

Starts and ends at : Bridge 31 of the Grand Union Canal

Difficulty: good towpath generally (though narrow in places), wide bridleways, well trodden paths, mainly on the level, some road walking.

Parking: limited parking is available on the verge near the bridge.

Distance: 5-6 miles

On this walk you experience the attractive rural setting of the canal and associated flora and fauna, cross the trackbed of the former Railway, see a memorial to an inventor and early aviator, have views of a fine stately home and its parkland and visit the well-preserved site of a ‘lost’ settlement.

From Bridge 31 set off along the canal towpath as far as Bridge 34.

(At the time of writing, the towpath had been eroded in a couple of places making it rather narrow so do watch out for this).

At Bridge 34 take the left bridleway (North) but only as far as the end of this field. At the end of the field turn left (West) and follow the broad track (which is now designated Shakespeare’s Avon Way) for about a mile until you reach the Stanford Road.

Turn right for a short distance to locate the signposted bridleway on the corner which takes you up to and over the disused railway and on towards Stanford.

From this bridleway you get a good view of the Percy Pilcher Monument (see notes below) in the pasture before reaching the road where you turn left and walk towards the church, with Stanford Hall on your right, perhaps pausing to read the excellent board explaining the purpose of the monument.

Look for a gate (on your left) which gives permissive access to the site of Stanford Medieval Village (see notes below). The gate has a map of the site attached.

Enter the pastureland to appreciate the very prominent and extensive earthwork remains and make your way parallel with the road as far as the next gate which returns you to the road almost opposite the church. Here you will find another useful information board about the abandoned settlement.

Turn left at the next junction and make your way, by road, through this part of the ‘model village’of Stanford then taking the direction of Cold Ashby at the next signpost. Although this is a metalled road you are now officially back on Shakespeare’s Avon Way which you follow, parallel to the old railway, until you reach the bridleway you used on the way out.

Retrace your outward steps to Bridge 34,  cross the canal and turn right onto the bridleway with the canal now on your right. Pass the next bridge, keeping to the bridleway as far as Bridge 32 for Park Farm. Here you can cross the canal and rejoin the towpath back to your starting point.

** NB This walk can easily be extended at Bridge 34 to include The Hemplow Hills - click here.

Historical Notes

The trackbed you cross on this walk was originally laid down for the Rugby and Stamford Railway in 1850. The site of the former Yelvertoft and Stanford Park station is now occupied by the white house and its outbuildings in line with the old trackbed and on your right as you leave the village.

The Percy Pilcher Monument marks the spot where the pioneer aviator and aircraft designer was fatally injured on September 30th 1899, when his ‘Hawk’ glider lost its tail and plunged to the ground – more information on his career (and demise) here.

Stanford Hall dates from 1697.

Stanford Medieval Village, thanks to the emparkment associated with the Hall and subsequent lack of disturbance, is now a scheduled ancient monument. For a detailed description and map, the Rambler recommends British History Online.

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Rambling Explorer Walk 15

Pitsford – Holcot - Pitsford

Begins and ends at: Grange Car Park , Pitsford Water.

Distance: about 5 – 6miles

Difficulty: mostly level walking on field paths to Holcot, mainly hard surface along the shore of the reservoir.

Parking: In the Grange Car Park (£3 for 4hours) or in the village with due consideration.

This walk begins in Pitsford, takes you across parkland and fields via Moulton Grange and Moulton Lodge Farm to Holcot. Your return to Pitsford is along the shores of Pitsford Water.

The views of the reservoir and surrounding countryside are stunning in good weather.

If you park in the village you will need to walk down Grange Lane. You will see ‘ Reservoir Car Park Only -No Through Road’ on a signpost at the junction with Manor Road.

From the Car Park exit you walk further down Grange Lane which takes you over Pitsford Creek to the ‘Private Road’ leading to Moulton Grange. ‘Private’ or not, you are still legally entitled to walk along the tarmac which is a public footpath - to be fair to the landowner, in this case there is a small sign that explains this to the visitor.

You pass the Grange on your right and look for the footpath signage which directs you left, then almost immediately right off the drive and along the field edge with grand views of the reservoir and Moulton Grange Farm on your left.

At the time of writing (June 2018) this path was fairly clear and, though somewhat overgrown in places, well waymarked at the most crucial points.

At the end of the second field you make a sharp right, through trees then over a footbridge, to reach the third field, where you continue (East) along this field edge with the water still on your left but now quite close as you cross another bridge. At this point, if you’ve got it right so far, you should be close to North Farm Bay, though this is obscured by trees in summer.

Proceed along the next field edge until you reach this signpost and another forbidding 'private’ sign (pictured right).

Cross the field in the direction indicated and then turn right (East) and continue.

Do stop for a moment to appreciate the immaculately maintained memorial and cricket ground as you pass these on your right.

Continue towards Holcot, watching for the path which bears right at (yet another!) ‘private’ sign. Cross the final field before reaching Brixworth Road and the outskirts of Holcot.

To reach the shore path which returns you to your stating point turn left on the Brixworth Road and walk on the joint footpath/cycle track towards the causeway and look for the sign on your left virtually opposite Holcot Fishing Lodge.

Your return, using the shared cycleway/footpath along the shore is an enjoyably straightforward stroll in lovely surroundings … BUT keep an eye out for the odd over-enthusiastic cyclist and/or fisherman driving to his favourite casting spot.

You will find several, possibly unofficial, shortcuts over the grass at the sharper corners which are not only easier on tired legs and feet than the official track but safer for walkers when numbers of cyclists are about.

The final section of your return is through the attractive Pines area to rejoin Grange Road. Turn right here to recross Pitsford Creek and regain your starting point.

Historical Notes

Pitsford Water and its associated treatment works were built between 1952 and 1956. The total cost is believed to have been around £7,500,000. The project was officially opened on October 25, 1956 by The Queen Mother.

The reservoir now supplied by Holcot Feeder Stream, Scaldwell Brook and Walgrave Brook was built by damming the Brampton branch of the River Nene. There is also a pumping station which extracts water from the Nene and pumps this directly to the reservoir.

The original road from Holcot to Brixworth and its bridge were submerged. These were replaced by a new road and causeway about a quarter of a mile further south.

For Anglian Water’s Website click or tap here.

The Northfield Cricket Ground Memorial (pictured above) was constructed in memory of Lynn Wilson who, together with his brother Con, owned the building firm Wilson Connolly. He was president of Northamptonshire Cricket Club and founder of The Wilson Foundation. 

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For other Rambling Explorer walks please click here.

You may also find the Three Hills Walk page relevant.

The Cold Ashby Rambler thanks you for your interest - Happy Rambling and do come back soon for more walks in this area!


 

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