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Improving a circular walk

View of Blatherwycke Lake from the footpath

King's Cliffe to Blatherwycke and Fineshade

By Robert Meadows

There is a well-known circular walk linking the three villages of King's Cliffe, Blatherwycke and Fineshade. It features on many walking websites including the hugely popular Northamptonshire Walks where it is described as:

"a really lovely walk through some of the Shire's most peaceful woodland and beautiful villages."

However, all is not well with this walk as Robert explains.

The well-publicised circular King’s Cliffe to Blatherwycke and Fineshade walk is popular with residents and visitors,  conveniently dividing as it does into three distinctive sections. Walking west from King's Cliffe, the very attractive ‘Willow Brook footpath’ leading to Blatherwycke is now far more accessible after the hugely welcomed replacement of all its previous stiles with kissing-gates. This excellent work was recently carried out by North Northamptonshire Council Highways with the co-operation of relevant landowners. 

Jumping ahead to the third and final section of the walk, the return to King's Cliffe from Fineshade Top Lodge, the going is easy along a choice of several entirely obstruction-free well-drained hard gravel tracks back into the village.  


Unfortunately this leaves the all important second middle section ‘over the hill’ footpath from Blatherwycke to Fineshade with eight obstructive stiles and some poor drainage, a situation that has led us, with others, to seek improvements. 


New kissing gate beside the Willow Brook. It's now far easier to walk out of the village this way

This hilly Blatherwycke to Fineshade path (shown in red on the map) has refreshingly different terrain with higher view-points while also passing the historic sites of the 12th-century Castle Hymel and later Fineshade Abbey. Near this point the footpath is also joined by and forms part of the national long-distance ‘Jurassic Way’ pathway until the latter branches north near King’s Cliffe. 


The aim is to have all of the stiles (marked with an S on the sketch map) replaced by appropriate kissing-gates, with surface improvements in situations where walkers currently have difficulty. These user-friendly improvements will complete this interesting and enjoyable round walk of about seven miles, with its attractive places for breaks and refreshments. 

At Forestry England’s Top Lodge, there are Grounds Cafe and Cycle hire, educational activities, a Caravan and Motorhome Club site, parking and play areas. This is also a popular base for exploring more woodland trails and bridleways. A former ‘forest village’, King’s Cliffe has B&Bs, a pub, church, cafe, grocers and outdoor village-history panels. The village Heritage Centre majors on the village’s famous ‘treen’ industry (visit its website for details). Walking further east from King’s Cliffe, one can explore the Old Railway Line Footpath created by volunteers with kind co-operation from its landowners. 

With accessibility improvements described here the Blatherwycke to Fineshade public footpath will no longer be the broken link in the chain of paths that make up this round walk. It will mean that more people will be able to share our lovely corner of Northamptonshire.

Making this circular walk more suitable for walkers will open up other opportunities for further exploration, exercise and enjoyment around our area. These include the exciting prospect of a dedicated traffic-free cycle and pedestrian link between KIng's Cliffe and Stamford via Easton-on-the-Hill and Duddington, which is currently in the feasibility report stage.  This will fit well with North Northamptonshire's Greenway strategy which places King's Cliffe at the junction of fully accessible traffic-free routes which are suitable not just for walking but also wheeling and cycling.

We are requesting Northants Highways to replace eight stiles with kissing-gates making the entire footpath more accessible for those with mobility difficulties

Blatherwyke (1).jpg

A seat beside Blatherwycke Lake provides
welcome rest along the circular route

Among organisations and businesses currently supporting this proposed footpath improvement are:  

What do you think of this plan? If you would like to know more or express your support please contact Robert Meadows by email

About Robert Meadows

Robert had a creative career that included motion pictures, animation, manufacturing, teaching and some award-winning museum design. Childhood below the Cotswold ridge set a love for the outdoors later boosted by a six week Lakeland Outward Bound venture during an unforgettable record January freeze! Sans snow and ice this was echoed decades after with a countryside visitor centre project for Upper Teesdale


Becoming a King's Cliffe Parish Councillor it seemed natural to volunteer to be the Footpath Warden. To encourage and improve countryside access, Robert helped submit an application for a local Right of Way using the Ramblers ‘Don’t lose your Way’ campaign. Sadly, this is currently stalled by NNC, along with many similar applications to re-establish lost pathways. Other interests include River Nene boating, vintage binoculars and old toys. A lifetime fascination with model trains is now fulfilled by helping  King's Cliffe Railway  Footpath ‘Wildplaces’ maintenance group to prune nature! 

Robert Meadows

The stiles in the order that they are encountered going from Blatherwycke towards Fineshade

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