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25th March 2021

Northamptonshire’s Top 20 Outdoors Attractions for April.

Where to Visit Locally When Stay at Home Restrictions are Lifted March 29.

Prior to visiting, we recommend checking websites and social media for any possible adjustments to opening times and additional details of open days and special events.

1. Brampton Valley Way

This much-loved family friendly 14-mile walking and cycling route is built on the former Northampton to Market Harborough Railway. Home to Northampton & Lamport Railway, which reopens May 23rd with a Teddy Bear Weekend, much of the route is suited to off-road and hybrid cycling. When pubs and restaurants reopen, combine your visit to the Brampton Valley Way with lunch at the Hopping Hare or Brampton Halt.

Walk 20 on the Northamptonshire Walks website takes in the Bramptons and Brampton Valley Way:

2. Castle Ashby Gardens

Ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton, the gardens are set in the heart of a 10,000-acre estate and have stayed open throughout the past year. The 35 acres of extensive gardens are a combination of landscaped lawns, an 1872 orangery (closed during April unfortunately) and an impressive Arboretum. The full experience also involves a menagerie with meerkats and marmosets and children’s play area, also open throughout April.  Top off your morning or afternoon with a visit to the incredibly well stocked Castle Ashby Deli.

Admission fee applies. 

3. Catanger Llamas

Why visit Catanger Llamas this April? Not only is llama trekking an invigorating outdoor activity, but llamas are also naturally two metres long, so everyone is at a safe distance during their visit to the farm. Quirky accommodation is also reopening this spring (April 12th) and has previously been described as ‘social distancing heaven’; traditional Gypsy Caravan and Shepherd Hut on two separate locations with their own self-contained facilities. This spring the team will also be welcoming new arrivals; ten crias (baby llamas). They can’t wait to share them with you! When hospitality restrictions are lifted, lunch nearby can be enjoyed at the highly recommended Ten Hands Cafe Bar in Towcester. Equally recommended for dinner is the award-winning Truva Charcoal Grill & Bar in Towcester.

Admission fee applies.

4. Coton Manor Garden

This beautiful 10-acre garden occupies a hillside position extending down from the 17th century manor house. Reopening April 1st with restricted numbers, luxuriant borders delight the plant enthusiast while everyone will enjoy the garden’s charm and special atmosphere. Beyond the garden is a magical five-acre bluebell wood and a wildflower meadow. The Stableyard Cafe and extensive nursery are both open to paying garden visitors in April. The nursery has over a thousand varieties of plants, many of which are unusual and are propagated from the garden. Close by enjoy lunch or dinner afterwards (when hospitality restrictions are lifted) at the Red Lion, East Haddon.

Admission fee applies.

5. Delapre Abbey

This town centre Abbey is set in expansive gardens and the Walled Garden and dog / family friendly grounds remain open throughout April. Also available is the on-site ‘Common Ground’ for takeaways. The wonderful team at Delapré Abbey are committed to giving back to the local community and have widened access to heritage and culture through partnerships with organisations such as Warts and All Theatre. Nearby is one of the few Queen Eleanor Crosses as her body rested here on its route to London in 1290.

As soon as restaurants reopen, combine a weekend visit to Delapre with dinner at AA rosette-awarded Hibiscus; located in the Abbey’s Billiard Room and recently crowned restaurant of the year at the Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards.

6. East Carlton Country Park

Situated on the edge of the beautiful Welland Valley, Corby’s East Carlton Country Park is the highest rated of Northamptonshire’s country parks on Tripadvisor and for good reason. Lots of walking options, through fine mature woodland and grasslands, and a varied habitat with a great variety of wildlife. The Hall is unfortunately not open but can be viewed from the park which also has a children’s play area and takeaway teas and coffees etc when visiting in April.

When restaurants reopen, combine your visit with lunch at the Tresham Restaurant at Rushton Hall or the Italian Market Kitchen, Rothwell.

7. Evenley Woods Garden

This beautiful, 60-acre private woodland is set in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside near Brackley, and has stayed open throughout the past year. For families visiting this April, don’t miss takeaways from Uncle Geordie’s Shed, and the popular Easter Eggstravaganza (Easter Trail).

Admission fee applies, booking in advance recommended for Easter Eggstravaganza.

8. Fineshade Wood, Rockingham Forest

Top Lodge is at the entrance to Fineshade Woods. A great wood for all the family, really accessible too. Eco-facilities, nice children's play area, lovely walks and views, dog friendly, takeaway teas and coffees. The wonderful Fermynwoods gallery space ‘The Arches’ reopens here in May too.

9. Holdenby House

Holdenby will open its gardens every Saturday and Sunday from April 18th to October 10th with an enhanced visitor experience. The garden ticket will now include a visit to the Icarus Falconry Centre located within the grounds, with it’s wonderful collections of eagles, falcons, hawks, buzzards and owls. In addition, visitors’ enjoyment of the stunning Grade I listed gardens has been improved with new features to see and more fascinating information to bring to life its time as a Royal Palace and the prison of Charles I.

Refreshments will be available from Connie The Vintage Travelling Tearoom and lunch or dinner can also be enjoyed nearby (in due course) at the Red Lion, East Haddon or Saracen’s Head, Little Brington.

Admission fee applies.

10. Kelmarsh Hall

Kelmarsh reopens its gardens for the 2021 season on Sunday 4th April. The grade II listed gardens offer beautiful long walks around the flowering borders, woodland areas and a new lake side walk. Perfect for all the family - little ones will love the Fairy Walk - and dogs are very welcome. So much so, Kelmarsh now offers Dog Walking Season Tickets.

When restaurants reopen, combine your visit with lunch at the Tollemarche Arms, Harrington.

Admission fee applies.

11. Nene Valley Way

Networks of footpaths and bridleways are all the inspiration that’s needed to plan anything from a short walk to a full day's hike in Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley.

Walk 100 on the Northamptonshire Walks website takes in the Northamptonshire stretch of The Nene Way long distance path, and is highly recommended. 

12. Nene Wetlands

As featured recently on BBC Countryfile, the Wildlife Trust in Northamptonshire's Nene Wetlands nature reserve is a great place for family adventures. Central to the Nene Valley, this unique one square mile of both wild and man-made habitats is managed for wildlife and people. The reserve is rich in wildlife, and a destination for thousands of migratory birds each year, as well as home to a large numbers of species including kingfishers, dragonflies, butterflies and otters. Along the trail around the edge of Skew Bridge Lake, large carved wooden sculptures depict much of this wildlife, along with interactive installations in a Wildlife Discovery Area, including an abandoned barge and an otter holt.

This Easter an Eggs-treme Easter Trail around Skew Bridge Lake is not to be missed. The mile-long trail is on hard surface paths, there may be puddles so wellies are recommended in wet weather; tickets include a trail sheet and craft activity prize to take home.

The Nene Wetlands Visitor Centre is closed during the Easter holidays so this event is a bookable, click and collect activity.

To book visit

Future visits to the Nene Wetlands can include a lunch stop at the popular and award-winning Vegan House Cafe, Rushden.

13. New Lodge Vineyard

New Lodge Vineyard - often likened to vineyards in France or Italy - has stayed open for wine sales throughout this past year and proven hugely popular.

From 12th April 'April Saturdays' resume; wine and cheese boards for two people served on the lawns of the vineyard, hopefully in the sunshine.

No booking required and everyone assured of a warm welcome.

14. Old Rectory Gardens, Sudborough

Open twice weekly from 21st April this privately owned, quintessentially English country garden of 3 acres is set within a very pretty Northamptonshire village location and has a magical and welcoming feel. The gardens have been developed over fifty years and include deep colourful borders, ornamental and specimen trees, over 40 varieties of old roses and a Potager designed by Rosemary Verey. The present owners have carried on developing the gardens adding new features such as The Twisted Hazel and Slate gardens, whilst ensuring they maintain the timeless and tranquil feel The Old Rectory Gardens have always been known for. No need to book ahead, unless for the pop-up restaurant collaboration with Nest in July.

Admission fee applies.

15. Canoe 2 Boat Hire on the Nene

“Paddle-out-n-back” canoe & kayak hire on the beautiful River Nene reopens at the Boathouse at Rushden Lakes April 16th, and Pedalo and Katakanu hire on the lake (great fun!) on 17th.  Longer full-day downstream canoe trips follow from end April, as well as a great range of canoe, kayak and SUP courses for those keen to learn or improve skills. From mid-May serviced Canoeing B&B Short Breaks from 2 to 4 days are available… an opportunity to experience your favourite stretches of the Nene Valley in your canoe with a lovely selection of accommodation options, pubs & tea rooms along the way.

Admission fee applies.

16. National Garden Scheme

Northamptonshire National Garden Scheme continues to open gardens in April as follows:

Sunday 11 April - Briarwood Barton Seagrave, Flore Gardens, Titchmarsh House.

Sunday 18 April - Kelmarsh Hall & Gardens, The Old Vicarage Daventry.

Sunday 25 April - Cottesbrooke Hall Gardens, Limetrees East Haddon, The Bungalow Maidwell, Nightingale Cottage Maidwell.

Gardens range from the traditional to the eccentric but all are highly regarded, with special collections of magnolias, spring bulbs, iris etc. and all the things that make April so thrilling; prodigious sweeps of primulas of many kinds, trees in blossom, spring sunshine (hopefully!).

Booking in advance is essential at:

17. Saxbys Cider

Saxby’s - apple and fruit ciders made on the family farm - are based in Farndish, a small village on the Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire border near Wollaston. 

Visit the farm for a Cidery Tour and tastings on April 17th and book tickets in advance for BlossomFest, a Cidery Festival in the yard with music from Lunaxis on April 24th.

Admission fee applies.

18. Stanwick Lakes

Stanwick Lakes is a hugely popular 750-acre attraction and nature reserve located in the heart of Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley, with extensive and imaginative play areas, open spaces and paths that families, walkers, cyclists and nature lovers can explore at leisure.

As soon as restaurants reopen, combine with a visit to The Bell Inn, Finedon.

19. Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal

The Grand Union Canal is the UK’s longest canal, from London to Birmingham. It enters Northamptonshire near Cosgrove and takes a north westerly route, leaving the county at Braunston north of Daventry. The canal is well maintained by the Canal & River Trust and provides good walking along its towpath and the excitement of the Blisworth Tunnel. If you would like to explore the history of the canals, a visit to Stoke Bruerne (and in due course, the Canal Museum) is highly recommended, as is the nearby Plough at Shutlanger. Although the museum is currently closed for refurbishment, Stoke Bruerne remains a beautiful place for exploring the outdoors, with historic locks and a woodland walk.

20. Wicksteed Park

At Wicksteed Park, a Grade II listed park in Kettering, play is at the heart of everything they do. It’s a place where the whole family can have fun; this April that means leisurely strolls, picnics on the park, and absorbing the wonderful heritage.

When restaurants reopen, combine your visit to Wicksteed with dinner at The Exotic Dining, Kettering or nearby Barton Hall.

21. Rockingham Castle

From April, Sunday strolls through the gardens at Rockingham Castle can be enjoyed. Perched atop an escarpment, with masses of big open spaces for children to play, the Castle has dominated the Welland Valley for centuries and is magnificently surrounded by 18 acres of formal gardens; a striking 17th Century yew hedge, a colourful rose garden, and a wild garden with over 200 species of trees and shrubs. Children can follow the trail in the gardens helping Wentworth, a haphazard Griffin, on his quest.

Admission fee applies.

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