Earls Barton


Mum suggested a walk from Earls Barton, which has an interesting church, to Northampton along the River Nene.

It was a grey, overcast day - but there was still significantly more light than later on in the walk! The last eight pictures were actually taken at night. Not ideal but an interesting change, perhaps.

Earls Barton

From Northampton station we got an X4 bus to Earls Barton. There, the church is notable for its architectural features. We had a look and walked around it. It was locked, so we didn't think we would have a chance to see inside.

Base of tower, bulging slightly.
1/60 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′56″N 0°45′11″W
Doorway with multiple layers of carving (including faces).
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800 52°15′57″N 0°45′10″W

By chance, somebody arrived to do some cleaning or preparation of some kind in the church. He let us in so we were able to look around.

The church teddy bear has his own pew.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 52°15′58″N 0°45′11″W
Window to the tower entrance.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800

Leaving the village, we took a footpath to a road on the outskirts.

Tennis courts.
1/160 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′50″N 0°45′15″W
Pointy roofs.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′50″N 0°45′18″W

Another path beside the road took us to a footbridge over the main dual carriageway in the area (which we could hear for most of the walk) and then to the river.

English country welcome.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′24″N 0°45′39″W
View from footbridge.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′15″N 0°45′36″W
More of the above.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°15′15″N 0°45′35″W

River Nene

We reached the river at a lock. Until we got to the city, all the locks had this strange arrangement; the upstream gate was a traditional pair of manually operated swing gates, but the downstream one was an enormous 'guillotine' gate that lifts vertically. This is apparently so they can more easily be left open (letting the water flow straight through) in times of flood.

Guillotine gate.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′51″N 0°45′40″W

By the lock, we encountered a couple of surveyors with some kind of device on a tripod; they seemed to be surveying the river, moving their equipment from point to point in a small dinghy. We moved faster than they did and soon left them behind. The river made interesting twists and turns, including some loops which were now backwaters, the river having presumably been straightened.

At the first of several mobile home parks we left the river by an old watermill and headed uphill to Cogenhoe village. Tentatively, the sun came out.


Tree demonstrating newly-arrived sunlight.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′31″N 0°46′59″W
Nice window in church (the church was locked).
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′28″N 0°47′7″W

Marked on the map was a 'factory'. This seemed astonishingly unlikely, but we found it... sort of. It turned out to be a small group of buildings that had once been a mini industrial estate but were now boarded up ready for later conversion into houses. Possibly at one time it was an actual factory.

Gate high in 'factory' wall; light fitting.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′23″N 0°47′2″W
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′19″N 0°47′1″W

We followed the main street through the village, which was mostly unremarkable. It's called Station Road but the railway is long gone. However, we did encounter a puzzle house. The house wasn't anything special but it had two stone markers in the wall where you would normally find the date of building. Can you work out that date? We were inordinately pleased when, between us, we managed to do so. :)

Puzzle markers. (Image quality is not very good, partly due to some fairly severe perspective adjustment. But it's a much better view than we had; the left-hand one was high on the wall.)


Eventually we reached the river again and promptly got lost. There was a sign for the Nene Valley Way which pointed across the bridge, but that isn't the right route. After negotiating a complicated mess of waterways and bridges past a chain pub, we found the path in the other direction and did a complete loop just so we'd walked it all.

The elegantly-restored bridge.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′29″N 0°48′30″W

Having emerged only briefly, the sun rapidly began to set as we passed another lock and the enormous Billing Aquadrome caravan park (yes, another one).

1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′19″N 0°49′30″W


There's a large area of open space called the 'washlands' which is designed to flood when necessary. It also has some large lakes all year round. We crossed it, for a mile or so, on raised embankment. The landscape was pleasantly bleak but it was now getting rather dark.

Leaving the area of a small marina.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO400 52°14′13″N 0°50′29″W
Purple sky across the lake.
1/30 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 52°14′3″N 0°51′5″W
Last of the sunset in the west.
1/30 at f8, 23mm, ISO400 52°13′57″N 0°51′29″W


Entering Northampton proper, the path and river split in two. Night had fallen but we decided to take the longer way beside the narrower section of the river - perhaps the original route of the river or perhaps an old millstream. There were two locks, this time with normal gates at both ends. Office buildings and the like occupied both sides of the building, including those of such ill repute as Barclays Corporate Banking and a Holiday Inn.

But there was also this interesting pipe bridge, reflected in the water.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1250 52°13′42″N 0°51′38″W

After that we crossed both parts of the river.

Steps up to a bridge across the smaller bit of river...
1/15 at f2, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′35″N 0°52′6″W
...and the footpath across a weir on the larger bit.
1/15 at f4, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′43″N 0°52′1″W

Once across, we eventually figured out that a very odd set of bizarre concrete forms and metal poles were some kind of canoeing facility, but in the dark it seemed quite mysterious.

We continued on the riverside walk until we reached the part where it joins the canal. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out where that actually was! But we worked it out eventually.

Shadows under a bridge in the dark.
1/20 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′38″N 0°52′17″W
Avon offices across the river.
1/60 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′55″N 0°53′2″W
Part of the Carlsberg factory.
1/30 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′52″N 0°53′59″W
Another part.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′53″N 0°54′0″W
Pipes from the factory, and impressive gasholder superstructure in the background.
1/40 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 52°13′58″N 0°54′2″W

Having finished the walk, we went into Northampton centre and tried to find a place to eat, but failed - apparently on Saturday night all the restaurants are fully booked because of the theatre. So we went to the railway station and home.

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.