Ramble by canal and over fields

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This week, our walk begins in Weedon Bec, combining a pleasant stroll along the Grand Union Canal with a more demanding ramble over fields and hills.

Starting from The Crossroads pub in Weedon, cross the A5 road outside the pub and take the lane signposted to Everdon. Just a few yards down from this you will come to a bridge which is, in fact, an aqueduct (for it carries the Grand Union Canal over the road).

Climb the steps to the right and you will find yourself on the towpath. Turn left and follow the canal along, with the water on your right-hand side.

Walking under three bridges, as the canal bends round in a loop you gradually leave the boating crowds behind. You pass beneath a line of pylons once and then again a little further on as the line of the canal swings the other way. Then, at the next brick-built hump bridge (Number 32) you finally leave the towpath.

Walk up the road, turn left if you wish to go into Nether Heyford, with its expansive tree-lined village green, or turn right if you wish to continue the circular walk uninterrupted.

Crossing over the canal you walk past a group of cottages and find a footpath signpost on your right, it is just before the road bends left and next to a water board electrical sub-station.

Two stiles will bring you into a field where the path leads onwards with the hedgerow on your left. After the next stile you bear left, down the edge of the field. The railway embankment is now in front of you. Follow this embankment along a little way until you find a stile, almost hidden by undergrowth. This leads through to a dark, long, narrow tunnel. You may have to duck as you walk through.

On the far side turn right. A very pleasant little path now leads you through the trees, with the railway line to your right. Beyond the next stile, which leads into a field, you turn right and walk up the grassy bank.

You are now standing at the top of an old, disused, railway embankment. The railway still in use, which you have been following has swung away from you – it is visible over to the right.

The walk along the derelict embankment is very pleasant. There are trees and undergrowth either side and occasional views across the fields below you. At one point you have to bypass the remains of an old bridge. In due course the embankment levels out and you can see the main road ahead. Bear right, behind a small brick-built store shed, to where a gate leads onto a gravel track. This leads up to the road (which is, in fact, the A5).

Cross straight over the main road, taking the lane up to the Church Stowe, otherwise known as Stowe-Nine-Churches, which has a Saxon towered church, and a lovely 16th century manor house.

The path back to Weedon begins to the left of the church. Over a stile, the path leads first across a little valley, and then, beyond another stile, across the enormous field that stretches out ahead of you. Aim to the right of the distant trees in the next valley. At the far corner, close to the railway embankment, you cross a stream. There used to be a plank bridge here, and perhaps there will be again, but at present there is merely a stepping stone.

Once over this stream you follow the line of the embankment through into the next field and right on to a gravel track. The bridge now in front takes you across first the railway line and then the Grand Union Canal.

From here you could return to The Crossroads all the way by towpath, but to vary the route you should walk through the village of Weedon.

Walk along the towpath a couple of hundred yards and take the steps down to the road below, where you see the sign marked ‘Nene Way’.

On the road turn left under the bridge into the village.

Once you have finished exploring, go under the railway line and the Grand Union Canal and retrace your steps to The Crossroads on the other side of the A5.

Contributed by Charles Whynne-Hammond from his Pub Walks in Northamptonshire book, £7.99, available from all good booksellers or direct from publishers at www.countrysidepublishers.co.uk