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30th July 2020

So that’s our third section of the Jurassic Way completed – 14 or so miles yesterday, including one of the great viewpoints of the Northamptonshire Uplands, Honey Hill near Cold Ashby. 

For those who have yet to discover it, the Jurassic Way is an 88-mile trail almost entirely within the county’s northern and western boundaries, but starting from Banbury in Oxfordshire and ending at Stamford in Lincolnshire.  It follows the line of Jurassic rock strata where they reach the surface and its warm, often iron-stained, limestones and sandstones are the vernacular building materials for many of the local villages.  Stones found in the ploughed fields – and even the building stone used in the villages – can contain the visible remains of shellfish, laid down in sea beds perhaps 100 million years ago. 

Over the last couple of weeks we had completed the two previous sections, also both around 14 miles, Banbury to Woodford Halse and then from there to Ashby St Ledgers.  Before yesterday we had enjoyed exploring villages such as Charwelton (with its charming and remarkably remote church), Staverton (sporting its Jurassic Way signpost, ‘Stamford 66 miles’) and Hellidon where we were delighted to find the Red Lion bravely open for the first time in three months.  We felt keenly obliged to support the pub’s welcoming management as they took the first steps to recover from their forced business interruption!

In our latest section, from Ashby St Ledgers to Welford we passed through some of the most remote parts of the county, almost entirely on footpaths through rolling farmland. In one 3.5 mile stretch after Winwick, we hardly saw a house, let alone larger settlements and the number and range of butterflies this year (due to the early summer warmth maybe) were astonishing.  The views along the way rewarded us for our efforts, with long vistas to the north and west, at a number of points.  Rugby cement works seems to have been a horizon feature, happily very distant, throughout our walks so far, its changing compass orientation charting our progress!

Virus-advice permitting we’ll be in the Alps for the next couple of weeks so our next section of the Jurassic Way – Welford to The Hermitage, north of Kettering – will have to wait.  But we’ll be back on the trail as soon as we can.  Let’s hope that somewhere along the way we’ll find another Northamptonshire hostelry open and awake from its hibernation - or whatever sleeping through springtime might more properly be called…  They do a great job for the weary and parched walker and surely deserve to be supported.

Richard Bunce

July 28th 2020


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