THE NEW OUNDLE PILGRIMAGE ROUTE – Open from 12th August 2017
Registration can be made in August at The Oundle Volunteer Office, Glapthorn Road or at No1 ‘The Baptists’ St Osyth’s Lane.A £10 registration fee which goes to Sue Ryder Thorpe hall will provide a booklet guide and passport to collect stamps at each village; you can also use the sponsor form to collect funds though we advise to set up a justgiving page. Fundraisers will receive a certificate from Sue Ryder and there is an optional Oundle Pilgrimage one for £3. Leaflets will contain information on how your money will be spent at the Hospice. The full Oundle Pilgrimage Discovery Route is available all year and can be found at; http://www.oundlepilgrimage.org.uk
Guides may also be obtained for this and our smaller walks(6 miles) at Colemans Oundle.
Here is an insight into the proposed new route.
THE OUNDLE PILGRIMAGE
Dedicated to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, Peterborough
Personal Dedications to:
Dean Robert Ingram
Simon Peter Chester -‘ Skip’ (King’s Arms Polebrook)
Badger Books c 2017
Maps, photographs and illustrations
By Robin Moore M.I.L.A.M. (Cert)
The publisher wishes to acknowledge the efforts of his team and the contributions of local business people who have all supported the Pilgrimage project.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE OUNDLE REGION
Having evolved as a public school town with a semblance of Cambridge, Oundle is the centrepiece of Northamptonshire’s most abundant countryside. The whole region is steeped in history and endowed with eminent architecture that portrays an affluent world untouched by the tide of time.
Stepping away from the town, using footpaths and bridleways one can explore a Nene-dominated countryside of open agriculture and attractive stone-built villages. Crossing dew-drenched meadows with their exquisite resonance of flora captures the mood of a summertime walk. There are Nature Reserves along the way formed from remnants of Rockingham Forest; villages adorned with historical features and monuments, including poignant reminders of the region’s past connection with Royalty.
In addition to its great depth of history, Oundle comes across as a modern, commercial town comprised of shops, inns and bustling market square. Even during times of recession it appears sheltered from the cold winds of austerity that have blown across the rest of the Kingdom.
A visit to the region may be one of retreat from a hectic lifestyle or an inspiration for a fulfilling journey of discovery. Whatever your reason for visiting this beautiful unspoilt countryside I believe the Oundle Pilgrimage will occupy the memory banks for many years to come.
Robin Moore suggests an authentic village walk with plenty of pit stops.
TIMESCALE: This scaled-down version should be completed in a day. For those intending to do the full weekend, please visit the Oundle Pilgrimage website or obtain the complete guide (46 miles) from Coleman’s, Oundle.
START AND FINISH: St Peter’s Church, Oundle; the opening time is usually after 8.30am.
TRANSPORT: X4 bus Milton Keynes to Peterborough; no 25 bus village route.
WALK: (20 miles, easy, moderate) formed from the Nene Way public footpaths and byways. The journey crosses some main roads – please be careful!
INNS: The Ship Inn, Rose & Crown, Oundle. The Chequered Skipper, Ashton, King’s Arms, Polebrook, Montagu Arms, Barnwell and Fox at Thorpe Waterville. The King’s Head, Wadenhoe and Shuckburgh Arms, Stoke Doyle. Also we use The Rose & Crown, Islip on the extended route.
Taking in nearby hamlets and villages, the Pilgrimage sets off from St Peter’s Church along the thoroughfare to North Bridge, entering the pastures midway across at a stile on the right (marked Riverside Trail). Immediately, the journey transforms into miles of beautiful river scenery comprised of meadows, sporadic crops and ancient woodlands stretching across the Nene Valley.
Passing under the bypass, the river meanders through pastures and the wooded banks adjoining Ashton Estate. After half a mile, the trail crosses a large green bridge and then follows the Nene Way to Ashton Mill and village. The mill was converted by the Rothchild Family to supply water to the residents after the reed-thatched village was developed in the 19th century. Since its origin, Ashton has lived on in ageless prosperity appreciating its rural surroundings and rich location beside the Nene. Stop awhile at The Chequered Skipper and enjoy the enchantment of the village green.
Continuing beyond the village, the byway on the right (formed from a mud track) crosses Ashton Estate as far as the Barnwell/Polebrook junction (one mile). The two miles to Polebrook are dominated by agriculture which provides a habitat for native fauna. Foxes, badgers and game birds are among the species that frequent the estate; even the red kite, once deemed a relic, majestically soars aloft again.
From the byway, there’s a paved section to Polebrook culminating at the popular King’s Arms which is another good pit stop for ramblers. The traditional stone-built inn is not only a well-frequented dining venue but also a Mecca for real ale drinkers; it hosts theme nights, beer festivals and folk music.
Leaving the pub take either the lane and grass cut to Circus Grove or the road on the right which passes the village church on the way to Polebrook Circus. Beyond this point either follow the byway to Armston Estate (cycle route) or walk 300m along the back of the circus perimeter to a footbridge where the trail climbs a crop field on the right. Looking back atop the hill affords unobstructed views of Polebrook with church aloft. Away to the left are flat green meadowlands shaped by the circuitous winding of the Nene. As the river disappears behind the woodlands, the path descends through the pastures to Armston Estate which is reached from a byway to the left of a gate. At the top of the estate, cross the donkey paddock and follow the public footpath beside Barnwell Manor, which was once the home of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. A little further on is the Montagu Arms. Having enjoyed past associations with Royalty and nobles, Barnwell appears serene and olden as if trapped in a web of time. The enchantment of its castle, interspersing brook, fords and medieval stone bridge portray it as a timeless village reluctant to embrace the modern world.
Uphill from the bridge is the church of St Andrew, a grocer shop and Barnwell Cricket Club. Those wishing to return to Oundle at this stage (4 miles) can do so by following our pub route. This journey continues past the church and cricket ground, crosses the by-pass and follows the pavement to Oundle Mill. It then joins a trail by the river as far as Lower Barnwell Lock; after crossing the river and its tributaries exit the pastures at Riverside Close and walk into Oundle via South Road.
For those continuing the Pilgrimage, turn left at the front of the pub and join the Nene Way. At the end of the village the footpath crosses a mile of farmland to the hamlet of Wigsthorpe – once the home of beloved celebrity Geoff Hughes. Continuing beside the course of the old disused Nene Valley Railway, cross the Clopton Road at a small bridge and follow the old track bed as far as Thorpe Waterville. There is also a bridleway at the bridge which gradually veers left away from the dismantled railway (it is even possible to reach Titchmarsh using this path). It links with a permissive farm track between Clopton and Thorpe. If you choose this route, or find yourself lost, turn right at the track and follow it back to Thorpe.
The Fox Inn is situated across the busy A605 if you need to stop; otherwise the next footpath begins beyond the last residence near the old railway crossroads. Signposted to Titchmarsh at a stile, cross the arable land to a foot bridge. Following a ditch through the remaining fields brings ever closer the majestic sight of St Mary’s Church towering eminently above the agriculture.
TITCHMARSH TO OUNDLE
The unique collaboration of stone architecture amid the sublimely picturesque landscape is what sets the pilgrimage apart from town and city life, and this section along Nene-dominated countryside takes in some of the most character-rich villages in Northamptonshire. Leaving the path at Titchmarsh turn right and walk to the busy A605 road junction. Cross the road and descend along a solid byway parting the arable land. At Titchmarsh Local Nature Reserve cross the bridge to join The Nene Way. For most of this section the Pilgrimage adopts The Nene Way as its main course: it also forms part of a suggested alternative route to Wadenhoe via Islip. For this excursion, cross the bridge and turn left to follow the Nene Way to the Rose & Crown Islip; then continue to Aldwincle along the lane to the right of the pub where the route is marked by tape and shell. Part of the walk skirts the opposite bank of the Nene, exiting at a boating club where it joins a lane. At the Lowick/Aldwincle Junction turn right and continue by road, although if you wish, there is a footpath a short distance on (right entrance to the field). At Aldwincle walk to St Peter’s Church where a kissing gate marks the next phase of the journey to Wadenhoe.
The traditional pilgrimage bears right after crossing the bridge and follows a course along the Nature Reserve bringing into view the lovely All Saints Church of Aldwincle. Crossing another bridge the trail leads to a small car park and then turns right onto the road. Walk a few hundred metres to Baulks Lane where a footpath leads into Aldwincle. Turning left along the road walk through part of the village to the next footpath sign post. There is not an inn here but you can obtain refreshment from the Pear Tree Farm Tearooms: there is also a B&B and provision for camping at the farm.
Like Barnwell, Aldwincle is a twin village originally derived from two Anglican Churches, All Saints and St Peter. St Peter’s Church holds two Sunday services for its population of 350, but All Saints, now in the hands of the Churches Conservation Trust, is no longer in use: (apart from a service on ‘All Saints Day’) though one feels its spirit lives on in this quiet little corner of Northamptonshire where all is peace.
A short distance from the tea rooms on the opposite side of the road, the next sign points to a footpath across a small paddock beside St Peter’s Church. Following the path beyond another gate to a crop field a grass trail continues left towards the next village. After a tranquil descent beside the agriculture, it takes in a woodland section and a large field. The track encounters several gates alternating from mud to gravel as it nears the river in conclusion at Wadenhoe. The lush green meadowlands and unique charm of the Nene sum up the simplistic beauty of this region; the colourful views from Wadenhoe Church coupled with the sound of distant mill waters add a hint of magic to a walker’s world. Standing on an imposing site, the parish church dedicated to St Michael and All Angels dates from the 13th century serving a population of about a hundred. It is easily reached via a sealed path marked ‘Lyveden Way’ – the link route to Rockingham Forest, which provides good walking access from Weldon, Brigstock and Benefield. A trail is marked from Benefield Church via Lyveden New Build to Wadenhoe Church.
Despite only holding 2 services a month, the church remains a popular attraction with its idyllic location above the Nene.
The next landmark after entering the village along Church Street is The King’s Head which is steeped in tradition and widely known for a good food and ale. With a spacious patio outside and beautiful riverside garden sloping gently to the Nene, the inn offers a tranquil repose for all types of travellers. Leaving the pub, ascend to the top of the road. The cycle route bears left and then right at the top offering a concised walk of 2 miles along a byway to Pilton. For a more diverse and fulfilling experience along the traditional route, walk down to the mill where the Nene Way provides a splendid journey to Lilford.
In harvest season tractors ford the mill pond to gain access to the village; fortunately for pilgrim walkers there is a way-marked trail skirting round the mill to the footbridge. After crossing the stream, advance through a small field to the next gate and follow the Nene Way to another bridge. There are usually cattle in both of these fields; the latter forms the passage to Achurch. The church is a key landmark for walkers and is easily reached by a gate in the corner of the field. With an exquisitely proportioned tower and broach spire, The John the Baptist is the mother church of Lilford, Thorpe Waterville and Wigsthorpe. The village historically derived its name from the church, built as a monument of thanksgiving by Asceline de Waterville after pilgrim crusaders returned from the Holy Land. Continuing through the churchyard, the Nene Way passes up the lane turning left at the Lilford sign post which points into the woods. A quarter of a mile on, turn left towards the river descending on a set of steps as you near the lock, eventually joining the road next to an estate building. As The Nene Way continues its course uphill towards Barnwell, turn left following the road down to Lilford Bridge. Three hundred metres beyond the second bridge is a footpath in the hedges on the right which takes a diagonal course through the meadow to Pilton Church. A short distance into the walk, veer left to open a farm gate (ensure it is properly closed) and walk towards the church path. The church, set on a hill overlooking the Nene, stands isolated from the village close to the Manor House. Emboldened by the sumptuous manor buildings, its location affords a scene of intimate riverside beauty in an exclusively rural backdrop. The alternative route to this quiet, secluded place simply follows the road from Lilford Bridge to Pilton Village. Crossing the cattle grid beyond the village enables you to join the church trail and locate the next section of the Pilgrimage.
Use the steel gate to the left of the church path to gain access to next right of way. The track faces right towards Oundle and forms the next leg to Stoke Doyle.
Keeping to the cut, carry straight on not deviating from your course until reaching the pastures. Here you need to bear left to locate a stile into the next field. Be mindful of the electric fence, and once across the stile follow the diagonal course through the crops to the road. Reaching the road, turn right and walk about 300 metres to Stoke Doyle Village. With a population of about 80, most of whom are retired the village also has 2 farms which would once have employed many of its residents. Turning right, opposite The Shuckburgh Arms, walk up the lane (next to telephone booth) to the church. The church is dedicated to St Rumbald, grandson of seventh century King of Mercia. Despite only living 3 days the young boy was proclaimed a saint after performing miraculous feats.
Twenty metres beyond the church turn left into a field and then keeping right, walk round the perimeter to a grass lane. Turning left onto the lane enjoy a sheltered walk through the spinney to a crop field. Enter the field and then follow the cut to the Oundle road. Using the road walk beyond Wood Lane, and the town cemetery. From here head into Oundle via the Catholic Church which is less than a quarter of a mile.
Make sure you collect pub stamps on your passport whilst enjoying a celebration drink; be mindful too that we sometimes hold a beer festival/music evening which, if available, will be advertised.
THE YOUNG FAMILY PILGRIMAGE GUIDE
Enjoy this pleasant section of the Nene Valley which caters for younger groups who would like to walk The Oundle Pilgrimage in support of Sue Ryder Care.
START: St Peter’s Church, Oundle
DISTANCE: About 6 miles.
ROUTE: Marked with scallop shells and yellow-taped sign posts, the walk starts at St Peter’s Church. Walk to the Oundle School Boathouse at the end of North Bridge – follow the river bank to Cotterstock – joining the cycle route beyond the meadows, continue to Tansor and the A605. Cross the main road and walk half a mile along the old Polebrook Aerodrome Road to the Nene Way path on the right. Follow the trail to Ashton Green (The Chequered Skipper). Cross the meadows to return to Oundle.
PLACES OF INTEREST: St Peter’s Church; Oundle Museum; The Chapel Gardens; The Boathouse; Cotterstock Mill; Elmington Ranges; Ashton Green; Ashton Mill;
EQUIPMENT: A Pilgrim Passport (to collect stamps – see main Pilgrimage Guide).
You are advised to carry bottled water; picnic lunch; a basic first aid kit; a good pair of boots, wet weather clothing and a fleece to keep warm after the event.
Leaving the churchyard at North Street (traffic lights), walk to the boathouse at the left end of the stone bridge. The entrance is marked by a yellow-taped sign post and scallop shell’, beyond the wooden structures, the path follows the Nene as far as Cotterstock Mill. It is roughly a mile from the boathouse to Cotterstock Lock.
Across the meadows from the lock stands the beautifully restored restored mill which, for over 150 years, was an important feature of local commerce. In those days, the river was an artery of trade, and barges transported grain along the Nene Valley.
Cotterstock is a small village, comprised of a few traditional stone buildings, a 17th century manor known as Cotterstock Hall and the Church of St Andrew nestling close to the river bank. Its history dates back to Roman times, and in the 13th century it was the base of a religious institution founded by John Gifford who was at the time the Rector. He succumbed to the Black Death and later the college was dissolved.
Continuing to Tansor, east of Cotterstock, exit the meadows via the gate and turn right to cross the bridge; now follow the cycle route to this diminutive community. On reaching Tansor, keep to the byway (pointing right) which passes through the village and over the old railway bridge where a few houses occupy what was once the track bed below.
Beyond the bridge, continue along the cycle route to Tansor Crossroads and the A605.
Cross to rejoin the byway which is only a short distance away to the left. This country lane once served Polebrook Aerodrome between the years of 1941 – 1963. After walking half a mile, locate the Nene Way Trail/Public Footpath on the right. This section stems from a farm track at Warmington which crosses the aerodrome road to renew its course along a dirt track to the Elmington Ranges. From here the path becomes a solid track traversing pleasant rural landscape to the woodlands to Ashton Estate. Turning right at ‘Murder Cottage’, follow the Nene Way from Ashton Wold to the village green and The Chequered Skipper. The green provides an opportunity to savour a special part of the Oundle Pilgrimage. Originally a farm, the surrounding reed-thatched stone-built village affords a unique ambience that is still kept in traditional style.
A short walk across the field leads to Ashton Mill which was converted by the Rothschild family in the 19th century to supply water to the village residents. On the approach to Ashton High Bridge, the scent of indigenous flora and soothing sound of running water in summer months adds a special atmosphere to the journey as the tributaries of the Nene flow back towards the meadows. Across the bridge on the left is an alternative junior route (‘The Two Mills Way’) which also originates from Oundle and follows the Nene Way to Barnwell Mill (about 6 miles); our present journey continues straight ahead to the bypass.
Cross carefully, and follow the footpath to Ashton Road; turn right and walk to the Joan Strong Centre. Continue into town by turning left onto East Road.
The Junior Pilgrimage can also follow the course of the National Cycle Route from the bypass beyond Station Road as far as the Tansor crossroads – sign-posted 1 mile. The route offers the opportunity to visit Cotterstock; from the Mill, backtrack along the byway to Tansor where it naturally continues as the Family Walking Pilgrimage Route.
PILGRIM INNS ON THIS ROUTE
The Rose & Crown, Market Place, Oundle situated less than 50 metres from St Peter’s Church.
The Ship Inn keeps a very good selection of ales and serves food all day.
The Chequered Skipper, Ashton. Situated across the meadows from Oundle, the pub and green makes an idyllic family location which is noted as one of the best summer venues for The Oundle Pilgrimage Walk.
THE COUNTRY CODE
‘Leave only footprints and take only photographs’ is a well-known adage that sums up the country code. In addition to litter control, keep all dogs on a lead where farm animals graze and take extra care to respect the wildlife. Remember the countryside is their home!
THE PILGRIMAGE PASSPORT
Purchase a passport for £5 or buy the package and collect stamps at each location so as to receive a Certificate of Achievement.
ROBIN MOORE, CHARITY WALKS AND OTHER PILGRIMAGES
To find out more about Robin Moore’s past expeditions, (30,000 miles of walks), recent literature, how to support a charity and all fundraising events please visit
Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity On Facebook/YouTube.
OUNDLE PILGRIMAGE ROUTES
Family guide – a six mile walk along the river bank and Ashton Estate with a stop at the Chequered Skipper Inn.
The Pub Route – a six mile walk around surrounding villages with local inns.
The Cycle Route – a 40 plus mile round trip of the entire Pilgrimage. A great day out!
SUE RYDER THORPE HALL
The focus at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough is on quality of life – giving every patient the palliative care and support they need so they can spend their time as they choose. We care for people aged 16 and over who are living with conditions like cancer, heart failure and lung disease. That care is delivered in the community and at our 20-bed hospice. Our team of specialist staff work together so we can be sure patients receive all the care and support they need – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We look after their families and close friends as well, for as long as we can be helpful to them. Thorpe Hall also runs day services open to people living with long-term conditions. They join in activities and outings, helping to boost confidence and giving them the opportunity to meet and socialise with others. The team also supports Synergy Cafés for those living with dementia and their carers, which are held weekly at Thorpe Hall and at the Sue Ryder Café in Stanground, Peterborough.
To find out more about UK Pilgrimages please visit our websites below:
THE OUNDLE PILGRIMAGE covers a circular route of almost 50 miles around the historic villages of the Nene Valley. There is also a 6-mile Family Route, a Cycle Route and for pub dwellers we offer ‘A PUB WALK IN THE NENE VALLEY’ – 6 mile route.
Please visit: http://www.oundlepilgrimage.org.uk
The Cornish Pilgrimage consists of an ancient and modern discovery trail starting from Morwenstow in the attic of Cornwall running coast-to-coast along mineral trails, canal routes, ancient pilgrim footpaths, The Cornish Way and Coast Path.
The Gwennap Section (10 miles) of the Pilgrimage is walked each Bank Holiday in honour of Cornwall Hospice Care. To find out more about the journey and fundraising look at the home page and visit the website: http://www.cornishpilgrimage.org.uk