Walk 2909 - printer friendly version
Long Buckby to Braunston Walk
Author - John Norfolk
Length - 13.5 miles / 21.9 km
Ascent - 850 feet / 258 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference SP628678
Lat 52.304737 + Long -1.080394
Postcode NN6 7QQ (approx. location only)
This is a lengthy circular walk from the village of Long Buckby (grid ref. SP628678) that takes you across open countryside to join the Jurassic Way, which is then followed to Braunston. The return leg follows the tow path of the Grand Union Canal to Norton Junction, and then again across farmland back to Long Buckby. The route involves crossing the Northampton to Rugby branch railway line, as well as using bridges crossing the M1 and the main Birmingham to Euston line. You will usually encounter cattle en-route so be aware if you are planning to take a dog along. Long Buckby is well served by bus routes and has a railway station, so your own transport is not essential. Public houses at Braunston, Ashby St Ledgers and Norton Junction, as well as the village itself, provide an opportunity for refreshment.
Some car parking is provided in the Market Place (grid ref. SP628678). From here, cross the road to The Peacock public house and keeping it to your left, head north and turn left opposite the Co-op car park entrance into Church Street to the church of St Lawrence. Follow the gravel path through the churchyard to the right of the church, where you may notice the final resting place of Stanley Unwin, the great family entertainer, on your left … let's hope this walk brings you some 'Deep Joy'. Go over the stile as you leave the churchyard and follow the track over a second stile and down across a small brook and continue north. Follow the well defined track through a gate and uphill to some derelict buildings on the horizon. Here a further stile leads to a designated Conservation Area where you continue north, down the slope to the distant hedge. Turn left here and follow the hedge along through a small gate. Continue, keeping the wooded area on your right. After about 200 yards or so, the path turns right over a small brook and then continues with the brook on the left. Follow to a way marker where you turn right onto path FF9 keeping the hedge to your left and head west. Cross the farm track and continue in the same direction.
At the end of the hedge you come to a small spinney and the path continues through it, although the entrance may not be clear - see photo. Go through the spinney for about 100 yards, keeping on the ridge, until the rail crossing point (grid ref. SP614688) appears on down the bank on your left. Cross carefully as trains are regular and continue west through the spinney on the far side, over a stile and to a double farm gate. Through the gate, the path continues west for a while against the hedge and then turns north west to a stile close to the corner of the field. Once over the stile, cross the road and continue down the lane opposite for 100 yards or so before turning left into Church Street. You are now in Watford Village. Turn right at the end and follow the road to the left hand bend (grid ref. SP600688), where you leave it, and continue straight on along the Jurassic Way. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path keeping the fence to your right. Cross the small bridge and continue roughly west to the bridge which takes you under the M1 motorway. Once through, continue in the same direction to wooden steps which lead up to the Grand Union Canal at Watford locks.
Cross the canal by the footbridge and continue keeping the buildings to your left. Turn left on the A5 and in a few yards cross the road taking the footpath signed to Ashby St Ledgers. You pass under the main Euston to Birmingham rail line via a pedestrian tunnel and after a stile, the path leads around the edge of the field which you follow for about 1000 yards or so. When you come to a telegraph pole on the path, turn slightly left across the field, heading for the far corner.
Leave the field through the gate and follow the overgrown path, keeping towards the left edge of the wooded area. At the end of the wood, a way marker points you west over the brow of the hill and here Ashby St Ledgers comes into view. Follow the track down over the stile and to the left hand end of the brick wall. Go through the kissing gate and continue with the wall on your right until you reach the road. Continue in the same direction through the village, past the pub, cross the A361, and continue across the next two fields. When you come to a lane (grid ref.SP558675), turn right and then, within a few yards, left at the sign, through a gate and continue south west along the Jurassic Way until you reach Braunston. When you reach the village, turn left down the hill, follow the road round to the right and then in a few yards, turn left down Dark Lane. As the lane bends left, keep straight on over the cattle grid to join the canal at Braunston Marina. Cross to the far tow path and turn left. The Lord Nelson pub comes up shortly on the far bank and makes a good 'halfway house'. Opening days / hours are restricted in the winter so check on 01788 890075 if you plan a break there.
Continue along the tow path to the Braunston tunnel where the path goes up over the hill, where you will notice the tunnel's brick ventilation shafts. Descend, cross the A361 and continue for 100 yards or so along a concrete road. At the cattle grid where the road bears left, take the path straight on and follow it until you come back down to the tow path. Continue for about 2 miles until you reach Norton Junction. Take care along here, especially if the ground is wet as it can become muddy. At bridge 10, leave the tow path via the steps and cross the canal. Follow the path round behind the cottage to the footbridge over the Leicester branch of the canal, cross and turn right, following the tow path until you see the New Inn on the far side of the canal. Just before you reach it, take the track to the left of the house directly in front of you to the A5. Turn left on the wide verge and in a few yards cross the road to the entrance road to Ryehill Farm, but go over the stile in the hedge to your left. Continue north east, following the track, through the gate and then over a small bridge into a large field. From here, head in roughly the same direction, up the hill towards the bridge on the horizon which crosses the M1.
Having crossed the motorway, continue north east, following the way markers through a gap in the hedge. From here head off in the direction of the distant phone mast, pass through a gateway and on to a small bridge across a stream. Here the path continues north east over the brow where it crosses a farm track and into a large field via a stile. Continue down hill and under the Victorian railway bridge. Once in the field head uphill following the track north east and over the stile. Continue along the track which brings you into Harbidges Lane. Turn right at the end by the Kings Head and then in 100 yards fork left into Church Street to complete the walk.