8 of the best waterside walks in Northants
We're blessed in Northants with more than our fair share of gorgeous waterways, from rivers and canals to natural lakes, reservoirs and rejuvenated quarries, so take your pick from these 8 lovely rural walks. What are you waiting for? The world's your freshwater crayfish.
The Grand Union canal slices through the bustling village of Stoke Bruerne, bringing with it all the character of canal side living. Painted narrow boats float past permeating the air with woodsmoke, whilst swans and moorhens dally near the lock side pubs, waiting for a spare crumb to be thrown. Walk up from the locks at the centre of the village towards the historic (and slightly spoooky) Blisworth tunnel, the longest self-navigable canal tunnel in the UK at 1 3/4 miles and dating back to 1793. Turn back down towards the village and carry on past the small flight of locks to explore the nature reserve where kids can enjoy pond dipping in what are the former clay pits once used for the tunnel works.
There’s something for everyone at beautiful Barnwell, from the adventurous hoards to the more sedate. Set in the most stunning countryside just outside Oundle, the path around the lake is fully surfaced – perfect for those who are less steady on their feet or use a wheelchair. There’s also a riverside route along boardwalks and meadows, as well as nature trails and fishing spots. Plus there’s always the Kingfisher Cafe to come back to after an arduous pootle.
Circumnavigate the reservoir along a lovely meandering path, it’s fairly well-surfaced all the way around but there are a few wobbly bits here and there, it’s great for dog-walking, jogging and cycling and you’ll spot loads of wildfowl on the water. There’s also a pretty epic new kids play area here to keep the kids entertained for a nanosecond.
The Nene Way
This one covers a blistering 114 miles of footpaths along the meandering River Nene, all the way from Badby to where it eventually meets the sea at The Wash. Don’t panic though, we won’t make you walk all that way in your stilettos, but take your pick from a number of pretty walks at some of the loveliest spots in the shire. There are some particularly beautiful stretches around Wadenhoe and Fotheringhay, so pack a picnic and have a paddle while you’re at it.
Former gravel pits that have had a majestic makeover and form a series of both deep and shallow areas of habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. There’s meadows, marshes, scrubland and woods to explore, an incredible sculpture trail and a swanky new visitor centre at Rushden Lakes retail park, which is a great place to park free of charge. There are regular pond dipping and mini beast sessions for kids during the holidays, so check the website for details AND you can even hire a canoe from Canoe2 and get out on the river.
Mo gravel pits, mo gorgeous gorgeous nature reserve and pretty walks by the water and loads of gorgeous wading birds to look out for. And if you’re really lucky you might even spot an otter here, not that my kids have ever stayed quiet for long enough. Now is the perfect time of year to visit with an abundance of dragonflies and butterflies to spot too. Summer Leys is an internationally important nature reserve so take your picnic wrappers home and please don’t swim or paddle.
A whopping 750 acres of parkland and nature reserve, there’s adventure trails, cycling routes, accessible paths, bird-watching, a visitors centre, heritage trail, a huge kids playground and a spacious cafe, so you can easily enjoy a day out enjoying what nature has to offer here. There are even BBQ facilities available so grab a gang and make a day of it.
A lovely reservoir surrounded by accessible paths that make for a family friendly place to pootle, it’s an easy 2 and half miles all the way round and it’s perfect for joggers too. You can even buy a permit to go fishing here and there are play areas and a visitors centre. Don’t forget to pop in to Scotch Lodge Farm Shop on your way home.