The location of our current house sit in Northamptonshire is surrounded by some really good country parks. Here are our top three in no particular order:
Sywell Country Park
This is the nearest to us, about, half a mile away. The country park surrounds a former drinking water reservoir and the old pump house has been turned into a great cafe which is open every day. There is also a large children’s playground which was being well used despite it being a chilly day in January.
The parking charge is £3 and although this may seem a lot to some, it is only the price of a cup of coffee and we like to contribute to the facilities we have used. There is currently a fundraising initiative to raise £120,000 to provide a gravel path the whole 2km around the reservoir. At the moment about 75% has a gravel track. It took us about an hour to meander around what feels like a lake and watch the geese, swans and other birds. There were a lot of twitchers with their binoculars and high powered lenses. Dogs are allowed off lead here, apart from one small area through the woods which is clearly marked. Shame now all dog owners take notice of them! We didn’t have Molly, the Basset Hound we are currently looking after with us, 2km would blow her mind but we are sure she would love all the new smells.
Irchester Country Park
Lying on the outskirts of Wellingborough this park has similar facilities to Sywell but has a much bigger feel to it. There is a large children’s playground and a tree top adventure (similar to “Go Ape”) both of which are next to The Quarryman Cafe.
Jonno had done his research very well. He knows how much I enjoy a heritage or history walk and this park did not disappoint. The Ironstone Heritage Trail is 2.5 miles through the woodland with noticeboards giving lots of information on the ironstone quarry that was on the site and how it was removed and transported. (Hence the name of the cafe.) A light narrow gauge railway was built to move the ironstone from the quarry to meet the main line for it’s onward journey to Middlesborough for smelting. Excavations over the years has unearthed the remains of a Roman road and dinosaur bones.
Along the route there is a small area in the woods with replica dinosaur eggs and a skeleton. There is also a gantry hanging out over the remains of the quarry and any engineering buffs would love to read about the equipment that was built on site to remove the stone.
It was well marked walk and we finished up at the Railway Museum. It is free to enter but unfortunately is only open on a Sunday. Maybe a return visit is needed. Another Country Park under our belt and they seem to be getting better and better
Although this is a reservoir and isn’t a country park on paper, it is laid out as a country park with parking and a 7 mile walking/cycle track running around it. I think this qualifies in my list because it borders Brixworth Country Park and you can access this from the circular track. Pitsford Water is run by Anglian Water and provides water to over six million domestic and business customers but it is also a haven for birds, you can rent fishing boats and there were even a couple of kayaks out on the water.
We were blessed with crystal clear blue skies and walked about half way round the track before heading into Brixworth in the hope that The Willow Tree Cafe would be open. We followed the signage for some of the three walking tracks around the park and even spent a little time in the Little Grey Men Children’s Trail. Why wouldn’t we?
We were in luck The Willow Tree Cafe was open and coffee and a chocolate bar revived us for the return walk. I can’t get over what beautiful weather it was but it was time to head back for a late lunch and take our charge, Molly, for her walk.
So which was our favourite you may ask? Well, the answers differ and may surprise you. Jonno went for Irchester because he likes not knowing what is around the corner rather than seeing the whole park stretching into the distance ahead of us. The Heritage Trail would normally put that at the top for me but Pitsford Water and Brixworth win for me. Mainly because you get two for the price of one. Maybe the stunning weather helped as well. Hopefully we can get to see a few more in our last week or so here in CPC (Country Park Central).
30/12 – 08/01/2019