Miss Alice's landscape walk, Canons Ashby
Built near the 13th-century Augustinian priory, our Elizabethan manor house is set in a tranquil ancient landscape which is a pleasure to explore. Take care as there may well be livestock on this route. There are stiles which are inaccessible to dogs on this route.
Car park at Canons Ashby, grid ref: SP577506
Turn right out of the car park and go down the hill until you reach a footpath sign on the left, before the farmhouse. Follow the sign straight over a paddock, through a kissing gate and over a little bridge. Then across the next field to another kissing gate in the hedge.
Go through the kissing gate and turn right, keeping on the right hand side of the road for a short distance. On your right after you pass the wood yard (the site of the old Moreton Pinkney Station), there is another kissing gate which takes you back onto the footpath.
Cross the field diagonally. Head towards the middle of two telephone masts, where you will see a gap in the hedge. Go through the kissing gate and across the next field, over medieval ridge and furrow earth features, to reach the stile bridge.
Medieval ridge and furrow
The ridge and furrow were created many years ago by medieval ploughs led by oxen.
Go over the stile and across the next field to another stile, then onto a path which leads into Moreton Pinkney village. Turn right at the main road to walk through village stopping to admire the impressive Victorian gatehouse. Just past the Gatehouse, set back from the road, is the 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin.
The fine Victorian Scottish-baronial-style gatehouse in Moreton Pinkney features wonderful relief carving of a thick rope with knotted terminals. This charming village has early medieval origins, although most of the buildings date from the early 18th century. The houses are built of the local brown ironstone, and many feature decorative squared coursed stonework.
On the opposite side of the main road to the church, by Cherry Cottage, is a short path. Follow this to Prestidge Row, admiring the 18th-century cottages around the green. Turn left at the end of Prestidge Row, go down the hill and cross the footbridge by the ford over the brook.
Church of St Mary the Virgin
The Church of St Mary the Virgin dates back to the late 12th century. Later alterations were made in 1846, in collaboration with Sir Henry Dryden of Canons Ashby. He also donated an antique pipe organ. There is a fine peal of six bells in the tower.
Stay on the main track, bearing slightly left just before a bench. This leads through a beautiful tree lined path. Follow this until you come to an old railway bridge on your left. Do not cross the bridge, bear right and continue on the track, passing Foxhill Farm on your left. Continue on this track, passing between the walls of a dismantled railway bridge and on until you reach a crossroads.
Cross straight over and follow the road to Crockwell Farm. Just before the farmhouse, turn sharp right up a short steepish hill. Enjoy the view and then continue to follow the track which bends to the left until you reach the next road and then turn right.
The Jurassic limestone geology of the Northamptonshire hills forms part of the spine of England, running from Yorkshire to Dorset. The walk features some spectacular views of the hilly countryside around Canons Ashby.
Continue along the road, passing Cherry Tree Farm on the left, until you reach Mitre Barn. Turn right through the farm gate, onto the byway.
Walk straight on with the wall on your right. Then keep to the left of the trees. The path forks at a large tree marked with a byway sign. Turn right into the right hand field. Keep to the left and follow field boundary until you reach a pond.
At the pond, follow the concreted track to the right. When you reach the wood, turn right and follow the field boundary which will turn sharp left. Continue round the edge of the field with the hedge to the left to the end of the field.
At the footpath sign, straight on and just beyond the field boundary, follow the direction indicated. After a few minutes you will see a kissing gate on the ridge ahead. Go through the kissing gate and continue in the same direction to another kissing gate in the far hedge, which takes you to the road. Pause, as you walk over these fields, to admire the splendid views of Canons Ashby across the lake.
Medieval fishing and farming
The two lakes at Canons Ashby were developed by the medieval Augustinian friars - the canons of Canons Ashby - to provide food for the monastery. Today the lakes are some of Northamptonshire's premier match waters, with many coarse fish, including carp. The ancient landscape around Canons Ashby carries many reminders of medieval farming practices. Several fields show the distinctive ribbed undulations formed by ploughing with a single-sided plough. Each strip belonged to a single family, cultivated within a larger field.
Turn left at the road and head back towards the car park. Then visit the tea-room for some well-deserved refreshments.
Car park at Canons Ashby, grid ref: SP577506
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