Castle Ashby and Whiston Walk

 

A walk I've wanted to do for a long time now. Today I shall be following the route detailed on the Northamptonshire walks website. 

Starting point is the rural shopping yard at Castle Ashby. I don't feel guilty about leaving the car there as I'm sure we shall enjoy a cup of tea when we finish the walk. 

We set off  to the left after leaving the car park with a view of Castle Ashby house close by.

A 10,500 acre estate that is still lived in by Lord Compton 7th Marquess of Northampton.

  

 


Autumnal colours on this lovely cottage

It's a pleasant Autumn day and I've probably gone with a clothing layer too many. We veer right at a  signpost in the direction of Chadstone. Some lovely Autumn colours are already on display. 

Another signpost directs us uphill with some great views. Looking back we can make out Castle Ashby House and Whiston Church standing proud. 


Whiston Church  






The path takes us through a small spinney and down to a smashing free flowing stream. It's a lovely scene with the fallen logs and the calming sound of the water.









  






  We cross the small bridge out of this oasis of tranquility.   

 

 

This involved climbing a flight of stairs known locally as 'Jerusalem Steps'. They are quite steep actually and we are in an area known as 'The Firs'. 

We follow the path ignoring another set of steps to the right. With hindsight I think we have deviated slightly from the marked route. It doesn't make a great deal of difference as we reach the road in a slightly different place. We cross the road and over a well marked path in a ploughed field. 

We are now in the village of Cogenhoe and can see the church to our left. Walking down the lane takes us into the Cogenhoe Mill Holiday park.  It is here that we pick up the Nene Way footpath, an area that I have walked in the Summer and on previous occasions. It is now a matter of following the river path for about a mile until Whiston Lock is reached. 


Cogenhoe Mill

River Nene

The next part of the walk is a little dull and quite muddy today. It's the track that takes you to the road and on to Whiston. 

It's a steady climb up to the village of Whiston and there are some nice houses too. A stone memorial commemorates the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977. However it is nothing compared to the last hundred yards or so climb up to the church ... Having played badminton already in the morning my quad muscles are starting to protest. Thankfully there is a bench by the church and I am grateful for a sit down ! The views are superb though, in the distance you can see the church at Earls Barton. Looks pretty dark over there and somebody is getting a soaking. Thankfully I think it has swerved around us. 

Silver Jubilee memorial

 

















The Church of St Mary the Virgin was built to the orders of  Anthony Catesby ( 1500 – 1554) of the significant Northamptonshire Catholic family whose main seat was at Ashby St Ledger ( and later “ famous” for their involvement in the Gun Powder Plot ). Anthony Catesby himself owned the Manor at Whiston and he built his new church adjacent to his house at the top of the hill ( it can only be reached up the steep path mentioned). The most striking element is perhaps the iron and limestone striped tower which can be seen from miles around.

It is believed that the church was completed in 1534.  On the left hand side is a crypt. Sadly the gate is padlocked, I could easily have climbed over for a better look but decided it would be disrespectful . It looked as though a local bird had been busy building a nest in the entrance though. 


 



Rear view of the church through the trees

We exit to the rear of the church over the wall and into fields. From there on it is a matter of following the path all the way back to the road. The road in question leads back in to Castle Ashby and is another climb , easier walking on the road than on the verge. 

We pass the old Falcon Inn which was derelict for some time but has now re-opened as a hotel. 

The village war memorial looks very smart and well cared for, preparing for Remembrance Sunday I expect. Rounding the bend we are back to our starting point and the walk is complete. 

Around about 6.5 miles and quite testing in places it's been very enjoyable . Now for that cup of tea! (Herbal of course).












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