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Bugbrooke Strollers

Please note that Countryside Walk leaflets are available on line for most villages in South Northants. 

They can be viewed and downloaded via this link

The walks below written out for the canal users magazine ‘Endeavor’ for the benefit of boat owners.  They all start from the Wharf and could be useful to LINK readers looking for a good walk.

Route One - Views across the Nene Valley

Route Two - Old Bugbrooke and the Nene Way

Route Three - Old Bugbrooke

Route One - Views across the Nene Valley

Take the towpath south to Rainbows bridge (so named after Jimmy Rainbow who managed the level crossing over the railway at this point for many years). The remains of his garden can be seen although well overgrown. His house stood right next to the line.

Leave the towpath and cross the canal bridge and head for the new footbridge over the railway. This replaced the level crossing when the line was upgraded in the 1990's. If children are with you they can usually get a 'toot' from the train driver if they stand half way down the bridge facing south and level with the drivers cab. Wave vigorously!

Take the marked path to Littliff Farm at the top of the hill. Pass in front of the house and look for a stile and small gate in the top right corner of the paddock. On clearing the gate turn sharp left and head across the field towards Eastcote. A wire fence with stile will be about 300 yards ahead. Clear views of the Nelne Valley are availab1e from this hill back atross the canal. Northampton is encroachingto the north east whilst the clear sighted will see the last radio mast standing on Borough Hill at Daventry when looking north west (MR 675561).

When reaching the stile in the wire fence a short cut can be contemplated. If you turn right and head downhill you will meet the path from Pattishall that leads under the railway and canal tunnels back to Bugbrooke.

Otherwise head straight on across the grass field where a series of stiles will bring you to the old Banbury Lane at its junction with Eastcote Lane. Turn right along this road for half a mile to the crossroads at Pattisball. then right again to Pattishall Church. As you take care of traffic you might peruse that this is the old animal drovers road between Northampton and Banbury. The villages close to this road and the A5 (Eastcote. Astcote. Dalscote. Caldecote. Grimscote) all bear testimony to those days. Cote means shelter, particularly for sheep. (MR678546).

On reaching Pattishall Church walk through the churchyard and turn right as you descend the steps at the far end. This takes you onto a farm track where a path is marked on the right hand side. Pass through the farmyard where vehicles are stored and go straight ahead. The A5 will be visible 400 yards away to the left.

On reaching the top of the hill (MR671548) you will again get excellent views over the Nene Valley.  Follow the path down to the small brook, locally known as the Washbrook; and head down stream towards the aqueduct underneath the canal that you passed over early in the walk. As you approach the railway you will come into contact with past and present.

About 300 yards from the railway, close to where two streams meet, evidence has been

found of a Roman Villa although it has never been fully explored. At the railway you

will see extensive new works to the embankment which the stream and the footpath pass

under. This has been necessitated by the intrusion of rabbits and foxes ever since the

line was built in the 1830's and accentuated by the extra pressure caused by the speed and

impact of the Pendalino (tilting) trains on this long bend.

On exiting the aqueduct a wooden bridge on your left will take you to the old part of Bugbrooke (West End) and The Wharf. The wooden structure on the bridge covers the remains of the Clapper Bridge that dates from medieval times. Only the uprights remain as it was destroyed when the Hoarstone Brook was widened in the 1970's.

 

The walk will take about 2-3 hours but if the short cut is taken it will be about 1 hour 30

minutes.

 

Route Two - Old Bugbrooke and the Nene Way

Leave the towpath at the Wharf Bridge and head east towards Bugbrooke. In 200 yards cross the road at the T junction and go through the Kissing Gate into the Park. Go straight ahead noting on your left the large house. This was built in 1813 by the Harrison family who were Rectors in the parish from the 1780's to 1970s, a span of almost 200 years. It is now in the ownership of the Jesus Fellowship who operate from the local chapel since the 1970's. They are reflective of the non-conformist traditions of Bugbrooke which had the third largest congregation of Quakers in Northamptonshire in the 1600's

On reaching the end of the field turn left towards the Church and into Bugbrooke's Millennium Green. This was planted up in 1999 with all the native trees of Britain. They are clearly labelled and a time capsule rests underneath the small stone wall in the green. Continue on to the Church where a peep inside will reveal one of the oldest Rood Screens in the County. Note the Five Bells Public House on the left (named after the number of church bells) and head east up Church Lane over the brook and towards the village school. Laddermakers Yard on the left is built on the site of the last laddermakers (John Ward and Son) to survive in the county. They closed in the 1980's. Cross the bridge and you will see the current Rectory whilst on the other side are the Sunday School rooms built by the Harrison family in the 1830's. A further 100 yards along is Baptists Close, the first meeting place of the Baptists when they took over from the Quakers in the late 1700's and early 1800's. The farmhouse, now called The Byre and formerly Ivy Nook, was their early meeting house. (MR 676575).

Ahead is the village Primary School, formerly the Board School, built after the Education Act of the 1870' s. Turn left at the junction at Waggon and Horses Green, so named after the pub that once stood here and received passers by on their way from Northampton to Banbury. Carry on for 200 yards and turn left into a track known locally as Smiths Lane. On your right is the Manor House. At its furthest end is an archway. This is the entrance to the previous Manor House that stood behind the present one. The archway is the oldest structure in Bugbrooke other than the Church.

You are entering the area that would have represented Bugbrooke in Medieval times. The village moved it centre of gravity at some stage. The fact that the Church had three

rectors in the space of five years at the time of the Black Death might be a clue. In the fields to the left of Smiths Lane have been found a stone mace, whilst in the fields near the brook are the remains of medieval fish ponds (MR 675577) (not apparent to the naked eye but clear from aerial photographs - see 'Bugbrooke 2000 BC - 2000 AD' available from the Post Office for £10) .

Carry on down Smiths Lane. When you get to a sharp left hand bend you will see Bugbrooke Mill straight ahead. This was clearly a route to the Mill at one stage. Follow the lane to its conclusion and enter the field at its end. Walk straight forward and in 300 yards you will join Nene Way which runs from the source of the River Nene at Badby to its end at the Wash (Mr 6773586)

The narrow field immediately in front is called Charity Meadow and was once one of 12 such meadows between this point and Nether Heyford to the west. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, there being only two of its kind in Northamptonshire. It has never been ploughed or fertilized and, consequently, grows over 100 species of wild flowers and grasses. It is at it best about June time.

At this point you have two options. Option One is to head east towards Northampton and in about half a mile you will come across Heygates Mill, the largest independent millers in the country. It has grown since 1940 from a small agricultural mill and now produces flour for many bread and biscuit manufacturers. On reaching the Mill look out for the footpath to the right that runs straight across the centre of the field. (MR 680587) Follow this path until it reaches Bugbrooke at the Telephone Exchange and Garage. Turn right at this point and retrace your steps to the Church and Canal.

Option Two is to turn west towards Nether Heyford. Follow the path into the village and turn left into Watery Lane. Turn left again towards Bugbrooke taking care at the double bends in the road. At the first bend take the footpath across the fields towards Bugbrooke Church in the distance (MR 665582). You wilt pass by the Sewage Works in 300 yards and head into brook meadows. Before being straightened in 1970 the brook between Bugbrooke and Nether Heyford meandered a considerable distance. Look to your left as you near Bugbrooke and you will see the remains of these meanders.

As you near the village you can go straight ahead to the Church and Five Bells or take a diagonal path to the right leading to the Heyford Road (MR672578). Cross the road and 

take the track to the Old Crown, on the canal, then follow the towpath south to the Wharf. As you approach the Old Crown canal bridge if you look closely you will see the remains of a Lime Kiln, a reminder of the industrial past of the Grand Union Canal.

These walks will take about 2 - 2 hours 30 mins

 

Route Threee - Historic Bugbrooke

If you want a shorter option taking about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes when you get to the village school, at Wagon and Horses Green, turn right and head south down the village High Street (MR 677575).

On the right in about 50 yards you will see the former Bakehouse and at 80 yards there are two examples of the fine farmhouses that are common in Bugbrooke. On the left is Merriefields Farmhouse at the entrance to Badgers Close, whilst on the left is Brook Farmhouse at the entrance to The Paddocks. Roth of these houses would have hacked on to the fields they served before the large expansion of Bugbrooke in the 1960's and 1970's.

In a few more yards there is the Post Office and Bakers Arms on the right whilst on the left is Bugbrooke Baptist Chapel built in 1808. It is one of the largest village chapels and, since 1960's, it has been taken over by the Jesus Fellowship. This is an evangelical group who tend to live communally in large houses in Bugbrooke and surrounding villages.

A further 50 yards will take you to Elm Tree Hank, recognised locally as the centre of the village. The Elm Tree has been replaced by a Cherry Tree and The Stores convenience store is next to it.

Overlooking 'The Green' is The Grange, another example of a former farmhouse. This one has been considerably extended and during the 1960's to 90's the wing in Ace Lane housed the local doctor's surgery.

Almost opposite the shop, up a driveway behind a five bar gate, stands Quakers Cottage. This is the site of the Quaker Chapel that was the centre of the non-conformist tradition in Bugbrooke - the village had the third largest congregation of Quakers in Northamptonshire in the 1600's. The Quakers subsided in influence as the Baptists took over. 

About 100 yards further on the right is the Dower House. It has a large garden extending down to the village cricket ground and in the 1920's to 1960's two rooms were used as the doctors surgery.

A further 30 yards along on the other side of the road are outbuildings attached to the Pet Store. In these barns it is reported that the first soap factory in the country was set up" j)y John Wheeler, the first Baptist Minister in the village. He was skilled as a candle maker and plied his trade from these premises. He also started to make soap from the raw materials used in candle making. As he used to dip candles in wax to make them and dip (Baptise) converts in the local brook in his role as Baptist Minister he became known locally as John the Dipper!

At the junction of Pilgrims Lane (named after the Quakers who used this route to go out into the fields to hold services when they were being persecuted) there is an option. Either go through the signposted footpath to Pattishall or carry on up Camp Hill for 200 yards and take the signposted footpath opposite Pound Lane. Both will take you back to the canal towpath where you turn right to arrive back at The Wharf.

Happy walking!

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