Roade to Northampton


My mum and I are walking parts of the Grand Union Canal. On 17 April 2010, we walked a section from Stoke Bruerne to Northampton (covering the Northampton Arm of the canal).


We started from the bus stop in Roade, which looked about as much of a hole (hoale?) as last time we'd been there, and repeated the walk of a bit over a mile to the canal at Stoke Bruerne, where we again failed to visit the canal museum.

What remains of a stile on the footpath. Kind of looks like an asterisk.
1/180 at f8, 21mm, ISO200 52°8′58″N 0°54′54″W
The remains of a bridge on the disused railway line (which, if it had been working, would have been a very convenient way to travel for this walk).
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Pruned tree and cables at Stoke Bruerne.
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Blisworth Tunnel

A short distance from Stoke Bruerne, the canal runs through Blisworth Tunnel. Unfortunately, there isn't a towpath through the tunnel, so we had to take a footpath and country road over the hill instead.

Warning sign by tunnel entrance.
1/125 at f8, 55mm, ISO200 52°8′41″N 0°55′12″W
Sunlight shining into the tunnel entrance. The middle section of the tunnel was apparently redone in concrete in the 1980s, but the entrance sections are original brick.
1/60 at f8, 10mm, ISO200 52°8′44″N 0°55′16″W


The road passed a few moderately interesting air-vents for the tunnel (mostly also rebuilt in the 80s) and took us to the village of Blisworth, where the canal re-emerges. We stopped in the churchyard to eat lunch.

In the church; a small staircase leading to roughly nowhere. There's a glass plate protecting the 'IHS' lettering; presumably it's quite old.
1/20 at f4.5, 22mm, ISO400 52°10′26″N 0°56′25″W
Board in church.
1/10 at f4, 13mm, ISO400 52°10′26″N 0°56′27″W
What's the inverse of a shadow? Those, anyhow.
1/90 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°10′27″N 0°56′26″W

We had a look around the village; it had an awful lot of thatched buildings and also a few built in a local style that involves stripes of different-coloured local bricks.

Canalside building.
1/250 at f8, 17mm, ISO200 52°10′28″N 0°56′33″W
Same building with sign.
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Then we followed the canal to the junction with the Northampton Arm.

Railway bridge over canal. This is the main line, and this bridge was originally designed (supposedly) by Robert Stephenson. The original girders were concreted over to strengthen it for modern traffic levels. Lit by sunlight reflected from the canal.
1/125 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°11′0″N 0°56′37″W
Interesting triangle sign by towpath.
1/2000 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°11′16″N 0°56′54″W

Northampton Arm

We negotiated a slight detour and a couple of bridges to get to the Northampton Arm of the canal. (The main canal heads up to Birmingham.)

Pipe bridge with mohican.
1/750 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°11′23″N 0°56′50″W
Lock gate push-bar, might benefit from some repainting.
1/350 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°12′13″N 0°56′21″W
Canal lock and massive bridge (arch with cross-bar supports) that takes the M1 overhead.
1/45 at f8, 10mm, ISO200 52°12′27″N 0°56′17″W
Boy chained to wall under a smaller bridge. (I guess that's a name, but I can't read it.)
1/60 at f4, 55mm, ISO400 52°12′32″N 0°56′17″W

This arm of the canal has narrower locks and periodically there's a lift bridge. We crossed one of these and lifted it; they're counterbalanced so you just pull down on weighted chains and the bridge lifts up easily. Really clever low-tech design.

Chicane in canal. (Why? We don't know, but maybe there was another bridge there once.)
1/350 at f8, 10mm, ISO200 52°12′49″N 0°56′21″W

Before long we could see what looked like a tall chimney in the distance. As we progressed it got clearer and clearer and finally I remembered seeing it on Wikipedia; it's a tower that was built to test express lifts. It's really quite large.

Top part of tower.
1/1000 at f8, 250mm, ISO200 52°13′48″N 0°55′41″W
Bottom part of tower.
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Pipe bridge and railway bridge (the line into Northampton, this time, and I don't think the bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson).
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Railway arches.
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SNER graffiti. We saw several more by the same guy.
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Pipe bridge by Carlsberg factory (however, it probably isn't a lager pipe).
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Factory from canal basin.
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Another view of the factory.
1/350 at f8, 200mm, ISO200 52°13′48″N 0°53′55″W


The canal ends here; well, more accurately it joins a river, so canal boats can go east that way. Anyhow, we walked into the town and had a look around before finding a place to eat.

Chandelier in All Saints church (which is in general pretty impressive).
1/10 at f8, 14mm, ISO800 52°14′13″N 0°53′47″W
Entryway to council offices.
1/15 at f3.5, 10mm, ISO400 52°14′13″N 0°53′40″W

After dinner we went to the station, just missed a train, and walked around the station area a little more.

Gasholder at sunset.
1/60 at f8, 55mm, ISO200 52°14′11″N 0°54′7″W
Lift tower in the distance.
1/500 at f8, 214mm, ISO200 52°14′12″N 0°54′20″W

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.