Oundle, River Nene and Barnwell Country Park

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Start: Oundle Distance: 6.3 miles (10.1 km) Climbing: 39 metres
Grid Ref: TL 04216 88120 Time: 3 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Oundle
Start: Oundle Distance: 6.3 miles (10.1 km)
Climbing: 39 metres Grid Ref: TL 04216 88120
Time: 3 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: Oundle is an idyllic English country town. Sheltered on three sides by a wide loop of the River Nene, it stands on the site of a 7th century monastery founded by St Wilfred. A place of pilgrimage with a prosperous market in late Saxon and medieval times, today Oundle is one of the most attractive Georgian towns in the country. The main street is bordered by tall, dignified houses ranging over three centuries, displaying an interesting array of historical architectural features including gables, oriels and dormers.

North Street, OundleNorth Street, Oundle
River Nene, OundleRiver Nene, Oundle

The walk along the banks of the River Nene is easy and relaxing, but an initial short itinerary around the centre of the town is time well spent. The lettered street plan is designed to indicate some of the more noteworthy buildings that could be seen in the course of a short visit. he Talbot Hotel, which was rebuilt in 1826, has a fine carriage door matched by a round-arched window of the central bay, and flanked on either side by handsome bay windows in both storeys. The Talbot is beyond doubt one of the oldest inns in the country. Inside some features of an earlier building have survived, notably the medieval framed back range with what was once an open gallery.

Cobthorne House is an eye-catching building of unusual quality - even the adjoining barn has a stone mullion window in the gable. Cobthorne was built in 1656 for Major William Butler, a close associate of Oliver Cromwell, and a member of the Council of State in the Instrument of Government. Oundle School Chapel was built in 1922 as a memorial to the schools dead of World War One. The east window was designed by John Piper in richly coloured glass. As well as these example St Peter's Church, Laxton School, Latham's Hospital and the estate village of Ashton are more sites of interest to see on the way around town.

Located nearside Oundle in the heart of the Nene Valley, Barnwell Country Park comprises 37 acres of lakes, riverbank and meadows to explore. The Park was developed from abandoned sand and gravel workings and has three waymarked trails offering different routes around the park. The park is bounded on the north-west and south-west by a flood channel loop of the River Nene, known as 'the Backwater', and on the east by the A605 Barnwell Road. The present landscape consists of a series of willow fringed lakes, short mown grass, coarser vegetation, conservation grassland and small wooded areas. The lakes, picnic meadows, river and the resident water birds make the park very attractive to visitors and in particular young families. The irregular shapes of the lakes provide different views around each corner and a sense of progressive revelation to the visitor. The park is flat and very accessible with a network of stone paths suitable for prams and wheelchairs. See Friends of Barnwell Country Park for more information on things to see and do in the park.

Acknowledgment: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.

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