Holcot, Sywell Woods, Mears Ashby and Overstone walk


With the virus restrictions on exercise slightly eased we had more time for a longer walk on this occasion.Although it turned out to be a bit longer than we actually anticipated. Throughout the walk social distancing in line with government advice was adhered to.

The start of the route was the same as the VE Day walk on a previous blog. This time the fields were a riot of gold with Buttercups taking centre stage. We even stumbled upon a different pond that we had somehow missed last time.

Walking across the fields to the pretty village of Holcot. This time instead of following the direction of Pitsford Reservoir we went the opposite way.  It was a bit of an ordeal finding the right footpath in the mass of fields as it was quite obscured. Soon enough we were back in the peace and tranquility with just the birdsong for company.




Another pond

Golden Buttercups




Looking back towards Holcot Church
The peace didn't last long though as we had to navigate the usually busy A43.Quieter than usual but a horrible road , always best to err on the side of caution.

It was familiar territory for me having lived in the parts a few years ago for a while. I often walked the trails seeing numerous Deer, Foxes and birds of prey. Nothing in sight today though on what is a perfect day for walking. We stick to the outer edge of the woods , very close to Sywell Airport .

Back on the road our next port of call is the village of Mears Ashby. We take a path at the back of the church , somewhere I had never been before.








All Saints Church Mears Ashby

'The Ducking Pond'

 The sun has really come out now and it is hot! A good time to take on some fluid. The village pub is not an option as it is still in lock down. Have to make do with some Blackcurrant cordial that goes down well.

Even the Churches are closed to parishioners at the moment so I think it will be a while before we get a pint of beer...

Mears Ashby, apparently, has a long tradition of witchcraft would you believe? Not much evidence of any going on today however. as late as 1785 a local resident, Sarah Bradshaw, was so accused. The Northampton Mercury on 1 August 1785 reported that neighbours accused her of being a witch. In order to prove her innocence, she was submitted to the no win situation of the 'ducking stool'. When she immediately sank to the bottom of the pond and died, it was undeniable proof that she really wasn't a witch after all.....

We leave the village heading through more lush green fields on a marked footpath.We cross the road and head down towards  Sywell Reservoir which is also a country park. Covering an area of 280,000 square metres it is a great place to walk around. Not today though,not a bad thing judging by the number of people streaming through the park gates.
Numerous illegally parked cars have also been ticketed. An unpleasant surprise for the unsuspecting driver after a nice walk.




 Just below the Reservoir is the site of the former 'sheep dip' or 'Wash Pit' as once used by local farmers. Dating back to 1777 it is brick lined and mentioned in the Mears Ashby Enclosure Act.
The pit was used to wash sheep before shearing since a clean fleece produced less waste and gave more wool.
Traditionally the sheep washing took place from the end of May. Maintenance work was always completed on Good Friday by a local Carpenter.
There is a reference to a 'sheep washing pool' in the novel 'Far from the Madding Crowd' by 'Thomas Hardy'.
Our journey continues on and  uphill in the direction of Overstone and the Scout hut.
We do manage to get off the road and skirt the edge of Ecton Brook.
It is sad to see the stream that follows the path so polluted with rubbish. Everything from old tyres, chairs to children's toys.  It is pure laziness simple as that and quite pathetic.
We move towards Southfields , avoiding theroad by finding a path through the overgrowth at the back of houses. This is by far the least pleasant part of the walk. We cross round Spinney and then back into the fields linking Crowfields Common in Moulton. Some 15 miles covered!

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