Muddy walks: Irchester Country Park
It has an adventure course with zip lines, a huge outdoor play area, a cafe and a network of trails in a 200-acre area of woodland. What's not to like?
When I was a kid, I always wondered why grown-ups went on walks. Was there a mysterious coven that covered up the real reasons they willingly decided to go out in the cold for two whole hours!!! A secret party they never told us about…Of course, as I’ve grown into a, ahem, mature lady, the appeal of the walk has miraculously made itself clear (also deciding to own a Labernese who gazes forlornly at the front door if she doesn’t walk, kind of forces the issue).
And to be honest, what’s not to like. Fresh air, a chance to drink hot chocolate, and you never get back from a walk and think ‘Pah, I wish I hadn’t bothered.’ But apparently millions of Brits don’t bother and are living a ‘mushroom’ existence during the winter – never venturing outside during working hours! Apparently six in 10 people don’t go outside at all during office hours, how mad is that? And worse still, around half of people admitted there are weekends when they DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE AT ALL in the colder months (how do they get to the pub?).
As more and more of us begin to suffer from ‘seasonal blues’, Muddy is pledging a commitment to get us off our backsides by featuring walks of all lengths and abilities, so we really have no excuse.
Because let’s face it! Northamptonshire has some amazing walks that you can do with buggies, with dogs, with ageing Nanna’s, and there’s loads of info online too. Just Google ‘Northamptonshire walks’ (other search engines are available) or click here. One of my fave walks in Northants, Irchester Park, is fortuitously very close to home, so it’s a fail safe option if I’ve only got a small window of time (i.e. it’s gonna bucket down). Here’s a lovely little infographic of Irchy (as we like to call it) from Northamptonshiregov.co.uk, but there’s loads more to see and do when you’re there. There’s a mixture of long and short walks (colour coded) through 83 hectares of woodland, so something for most levels.
Readers around the Irchester/Wellingborough area will know all about this park (I’ve probably bumped into a few of you over the years), but for those on the more nether regions of the county, it’s definitely worth a visit, a superb destination for all of the family. It’s a former ironstone quarry, which gives it the feel of an adult playground, where you can create your own adventures (ok, maybe that’s just me). And it has this kind of timelessness to it which makes it feel like you’ve stepped out of the rat race into another world. My kids are older, so I can leave them in the kid’s play area (or increasingly more, the cafe) and go off and amble – always putting a note in my phone, ‘must remember to pick kids up’ – but often these days, they fancy the walk too (last week we even managed to get the awkward teen and his girlfriend out). They have been going to this park from being babies, and they’re still not bored of it (yet)!
The afore mentioned Quarryman’s Rest Cafe, does homemade meals and cakes. It’s licensed too, and those cold ciders/wines *delete appropriately, definitely appeal in the warmer summer months (admittedly, the below picture is of one of the Park’s many features designed for little legs on longer walks – but is a pretty good representation of how Muddy might have felt if rehydration wasn’t around just around the corner).
There’s a high wire Jungle Parc, a huge play area and the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway museum too, so if your kids prefer more than just a shuffle with the oldies, they’re really well catered for.
There’s loads of parking, and even when it’s heaving, you can walk into the forest and feel like you’re far away from the bustle. If you don’t fancy the Quarrymen’s Rest, or the weather is a touch warmer, take a scrummy picnic, because a walk’s not a walk without an edible reward (ahhh the child inside me is still there ; )
There really are loads of great, free walks in Northants, so my aim this spring is to eat mushrooms, not be one! Are you with me?
Free admission. Parking £3.00 for up to 4 hours
Irchester Country Park, Gipsy Lane, Little Irchester, NN29 7DL; Telephone – 0300 126 5934