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High Five Northants – Bargain Days Out

It’s almost March, and I don’t know about you, but I’m still paying off the excesses of last Chrimbo (I really don’t remember ordering proper Champagne in the restaurant that time, doh). In a bid to counteract me sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself, Muddy contributor Lucy Banwell has curated the best free days out in Northants. No excuse Mudsters, wellies on!

Fineshade Wood

A long walk or cycle around this ancient woodland near Corby is good for the soul, the waistline and the wallet! Choose a two-, three- or six-mile trail and then follow the clearly marked paths through glorious countryside. There are bikes to hire here from Rutland Cycling and Top Lodge Café serves up a mean hot chocolate. Entry to the wood is free but parking costs £4 per car per day.

Barnwell Country Park

Barnwell Country Park, just outside the pretty market town of Oundle, has miles of idyllic lakeside walks and meadows to explore. But the children’s play area is the star of the show here. There’s something for all ages including a sand pit, a pirate ship, a zip wire in the woods and an elevated wooden walkway. Afterwards, come out of the cold into the Kingfisher Café where you can enjoy a good value drink and a snack in cosy surroundings. Entry to Barnwell Country Park is free but parking costs £2.70 per car so why not come on foot or cycle to save money?

Kirby Hall

A visit to this stunning half-ruined Elizabethan mansion north of Corby is a real treat with its gorgeous, honey-coloured stone and geometric formal gardens. Watch the peacocks wander around the gardens as you take in the history of this historic house via the engaging audio guide. Free entry if you’re a member of English Heritage otherwise it costs £6.60 per adult and £4 per child to visit Kirby Hall. NB Kirby Hall is only open at weekends during the winter.

Lyveden New Bield

The grounds at Lyveden New Bield are a sight to behold whatever the weather. When it’s cold, hours of fun can be had sliding twigs across the icy moat and on sunnier days the acres of orchards which surround the Elizabethan lodge are a must to explore. An audio guide will fill you in on the story of Sir Thomas Tresham’s doomed attempt to build an enigmatic garden lodge – the project was never completed because of his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. Once you’ve had your fill gallivanting around the parkland, why not chow down on a scone or two in the charming Cottage Tea Room? Entry to Lyveden New Bield is free for members of the National Trust otherwise it costs £6.40 per adult and there is no charge for under 18s.

Ferry Meadows

500 acres of free entertainment awaits you at Ferry Meadows where you can walk, cycle, run or just ‘be’ in the great outdoors! It’s such a beautiful country setting it’s hard to believe it’s just a few miles away from Peterborough city centre. There are several cafes to choose from but the dog-friendly Lakeside Kitchen is a particular favourite of ours with its stunning views of Gunwade Lake and great value snacks and drinks. Admission to the park is free and parking costs £3.50 for up to three hours.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Northamptonshire