10 of the best spring walks near you
It's National Walking Month! What better way to celebrate than striking out on one of these lovely lockdown-friendly circular walks across the gorgeously bucolic landscapes of Northants?
It’s so hard to pick just ten, but we’ve kept things relatively easy and lock-down friendly in length, making this round-up perfect for families wanting to enjoy a little socially-distanced stroll.
Hellidon circular walk. Easy, 6 miles
A walk that starts and finishes at the Red Lion in Hellidon, you say? Go on then, twist my arm. And yes, they are currently offering flippin’ amazing take away meals on Friday evenings and Sunday lunch times, so time it right and you can round off your walk with roast dinner and Yorkshire puds or fish, chips and mushies. You’ll cross the golf course and join the Milleneum Way, taking in some panoramic views and pretty scenery. Route here.
Althorp circular walk. Easy, 4.5 miles.
We are fortunate to be blessed with some majestic landscapes and stately homes in Northamptonshire, but Althorp, the final resting place of Princess Diana and home of the Spencer family, is definitely in the running for top banana. You can start the walk from here if visiting the house and grounds (provisionally due to open to visitors on July 1st), or alternatively from the village church in Great Brington, meandering across agricultural land that affords some stunning vistas. Route here.
Moreton Pinkney to Ashby Gorse circular route. Easy, 5.7 miles
A lovely easy walk starting in the chocolate box village of Moreton Pinkney, with its fairytale turreted gatehouse and thatched ironstone cottages, you’ll cross dismantled Victorian railway lines and ridge and furrowed farmland before passing National Trust Canons Ashby (pictured), once home to an order of Augustinian monks and known for its ancient fish ponds. In normal circumstances there’s a lovely stable yard cafe and plant shop here too. Route here.
Lyveden Way. Moderate, 9.5 miles
This picturesque route will take you through the ancient Rockingham Forest and landscapes barely touched by the passing centuries. Beginning in Fermyn Woods Country Park, head east towards National Trust Lyveden Manor. The property is currently closed due to coronavirus, but the route sticks to public rights of way, so no deviating. Ordinarily, you’d be forgiven for stopping to have mooch around the historic ruined lodge and grounds and even a well-deserved scone in the tea room, but you’ll still be rewarded with stunning views. Onwards for a circuit of the pretty village of Wadenhoe. We’re keeping everything crossed that refreshment in the lovely beer garden of The King’s Head will be available again soon but taking a hip flask in case of emergencies. Route here.
Byfield and Boddington Reservoir. Easy, 5 miles
A figure of eight walking route, which can be chopped in half for the less vigorously inclined, this sedately meandering route circumnavigates the ‘new’ (erm, if 19th century can pass as new) reservoir and passes the original eighteenth century pool and local sailing club, before returning to the bustling village of Byfield. Route here.
Castle Ashby circular walk. Moderate, 6.5 miles
Starting at the rural shopping courtyard that is home to Castle Ashby Deli (who, it is worth knowing, are currently open for click and collect), this stately route skirts the edge of the Castle Ashby estate, the family seat of the Marquess of Northampton. The gardens and cafe here are well worth a detour when open. You then head towards the hamlet of Chadstone and across open farmland and woods for some great wildlife and bird spotting. This walk will also reward your efforts with some beautiful views towards the north of the county. Route here.
Helmdon viaduct. Moderate, 8 miles
Grab your anorak and a Thermos, it’s time for some train spotting as this route takes you past the impressive ruins of Helmdon viaduct. It may sound dorky, but this massive thing is one of our fave bits of rural industrial history-geek chic and the kids will think it very Harry Potter. The route pootles about villages, along ancient paths, over streams and past Sulgrave Manor, ancestral home of George Washington, and Weston Hall, family home of the literary Sitwell family. The Crown Inn, Weston is on route and currently does a pretty fabulous Friday night takeaway (order in advance). It’s a hefty old trek at 8 miles if you want to cover everything, but there are several options to shorten the route here.
Thrapston and Titchmarsh Nature Reserve circular walk. Moderate 8 miles.
If you’re feeling a bit ‘twitchy’ after eight weeks on lockdown then this may be the walk for you as it’s a bird spotters dream, skirting the River Nene and the numerous lakes around the nature reserve. You’ll likely spot herons and kingfishers if you can stay quiet. There isn’t much chance of that with my very loud children but even we were lucky enough to spot a family of swans. Route here.
Kings Cliff and Blatherwyke circular walk. Moderate, 7.5 miles
Rolling landscapes, country estates, ancient woodlands… there’s definitely a theme developing to these Northants walks, isn’t there? Well this one is all of those things on steroids. Kings Cliffe is just one of many villages in this part of the shire that always makes us thankful that we are just as picturesque and quintessentially English as anywhere in the Cotswolds, minus the price tag and the coach loads of tourists. You can easily do this walk without passing another living soul. Well, apart from the wildlife, of course: you’re bound to spot birds of prey, skylarks and possibly wild orchids around this time of year, so take your time and then stop of at the Cross Keys Inn at Kings Cliffe, on the way home to fill up your flagon of ale or grab a takeaway curry. Route here.
Badby Circuit. Moderate, 4.3 miles
Explore Badby village before heading down towards the ancient woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the spectacular Elizabethan grandeur of Fawsley Hall. It is my duty to note here that Fawsley Hall are currently offering afternoon teas to take away at weekends, so be sure to order one in advance of your walk and either have it as a picnic or take it home with you to refuel after your exertions. You’ll walk along the Knightly Way and Nene Way, two long distance walking paths that intersect here. There is also an option to chop this walk in half to create two shorter routes, shown here.