A few miles south of the village lies Arbury Hill at 225m (738 ft) is the highest point in the County of Northamptonshire. The surrounding area gives rise to three major rivers – the Nene, which travels north-easterly to The Wash; the Cherwell, flowing sweetly to meet The Thames at Oxford; and The Leam which heads westerly to Leamington Spa to join The Avon and thence into the Severn. Having recently completed a 7 mile walk along the River Nene Alex and I decided to try something more ambitious and complete an 11 mile circular walk that encompassed the sources of all three rivers. The route also passes Four Pubs and in earlier less restricted times it would have been possible to have found refreshment at each.
The start of our walk has been well documented before – starting from the public footpath to Badby, where you cross a field by the vets, walk though a conifered border and across a well defined path through a crop of beans to a soggy field where the earliest waters of the River Nene are to be found. With the Nene on your right hand side you eventually cross it to veer left to the infamously wobbly stile that leads to the busy A361
The Churchyard at Badby had been recently mown and only a few solitary wild flowers remained. Last time we were here the churchyard looked like this
Now it was reduced to this
We were on the well-signposted Knightley Way, except that in spite of walking this route several times although in the opposite direction, and the fact that it was not so well signposted as all that, we took our first wrong turn and wandered back and forth amongst the fallen trees in Badby Wood. We eventually found the path which led us to the point where we should have entered the woods. Emerging from the woods it was time to consult one of the OS maps (our walk took us across the edges of OS maps 151 and 152), as we had a choice of two paths, either of which would bring us to the road we needed to be on. Having made the decision to stick to the possibly longer one as it was a path we had taken before I picked up my soggy backpack, took a sip of what little water I had remaining, and on we went towards Fawsley Hall. (Note to self: Must but a new water bottle – preferably leakproof).
Down through the parkland to the road where we turned right and followed the road alongside the lake on the right and Fawsley Hotel and Spa on the left, looking for a signposted bridleway on our left just past a stone farmhouse. The very farmhouse it turned out that was the home of someone we had been to school with, which gave rise to a moment of anecdotal reminiscence on our part as we walked by.
The bridleway to Charwelton took us by The Granary – now a Wedding and Function venue, along a well defined track which led into a large field where the track was not defined but if you carry on in the same direction you eventually come to a gate and waymarker.
Cross the minor road and carry on straight ahead between some farm buildings to Church Charwelton – the church stands at the end of a gated road some way away from where the village now is. The original village was moved in the 15th century – another victim of enclosure when the Knightley family, amongst others, replaced the villagers with more profitable sheep.