Although Northamptonshire is blessed with the most country houses and stately homes of all the counties it’s not best blessed with much else for the tourists. Its pretty flat and rural and just a blur for most people as they race through on the M1. Silverstone is only half in Northamptonshire and Althorp House is closed 11months of the year. But what we do have is plenty of local parks and places to walk the dogs or take the kids to run around in away from the busy towns. Sywell Country Park is one of those open and communal rural spaces to get some fresh air.
I like to do one big walk a week out into the sticks from Northampton and this was last week’s effort. It’s about 3 miles outside of Northampton’s boundary and about 6 miles from my house so a round a 12-mile trip. There is a pleasant bye way and then bridal path to get there form the edge of the Eastern District.
It’s essentially a reservoir walk with the Edwardian old pump house converted into a really nice café and sponge ball play area and various relief ponds converted to kid’s playgrounds and sand pits, a BBQ area and a French Boules arena also available. The reservoir is still in use but very much in reserve, hence the name. It’s not pumping drinking water to its original towns of Rushden and Higham Ferrers anymore as the regions water is now all pulled from the river system and the much bigger Pitsford Reservoir to the north of Northampton although can be used in drought as the main bits are still underground and functioning.
There is a parking charge, £2.70 in the week and £3.00 at the weekend. There are cheaper places to stretch your legs or walk the dogs and there is nowhere else to park. To get there you can walk or bike from Northampton or the nearby villages or just drive in. They are your only two as it is rural. There is a local butcher’s farm shop just up the road and some good deals. If you have a big freezer then fill it up here. £4 a pheasant! You can even park there free! The parking charge is to help the upkeep of the county council owned site and plenty of safe parking spaces because of.
They have a small ornamental area of exotic trees and fauna near the café at the start of the circuit walks called the ‘Butterfly Garden’, which also needs upkeep, tall Canadian Pines and Japanese weeping Willows adding to the ambience. If you’re with elderly relatives then they can sit in there with an ice cream instead of doing the walks. They can’t wonder off anywhere and so easer to relax. They offer Tots events in the summer for young mums. One word of warning though is there is an electric fence to keep cattle in a nearby field and although tucked away on the perimeter it’s almost inevitably the livelier kids will touch it if you are not paying attention. It wont hurt them and its no Jurassic Park enclosure but it’s the first time I have ever seen a heard of cows chase a heard of sheep with little kips enjoying electric shocks whilst watching. You don’t want a 400ln bull rampaging around the French Boules arena!
The 8km circuit is not punishing and the stone path ok for prams and wheelchairs. The pleasant walk starts at the dam and what you would expect of a reservoir with volunteers keeping the paths in shape and always adding new bits to encourage wildlife and walkers. There are lots of breeds of birds to spot and plenty of honking geese and hissing swans. Sywell Reservoir is a coarse fishery nationally renowned for its Tench which can be over 5.4 kg (12.12 lb) in size with 30lb plus pike ready to gobble them up. It’s got a good reputation as a Day and Season course fishing site with tickets available.
Dog walkers love it up there and SUV boots are opened to unleash big Irish Wolf Hounds and Labradors and allsorts, springing out and bounding around in search of those big open spaces like a dog food commercial. If you are single then having a dog is a great way to meet a partner I am told as you always have something to talk about and dragging you towards the opposite sex. If you have kids and a dog it’s just a nice escape to let them run free. The sand filled play area will be right up their street whilst you enjoy a nice cream tea or coffee.
Tel : 01604 810970
Fax : 01604 812661
Collyweston is a small village in East Northamptonshire. It's on the A43 between Stamford and Corby, and is really a place people pass through rather than a place to visit as a tourist. But for those of us who live here, it's the best place on earth. Many of the houses are very old, and are roofed with Collyweston Slate. This is a sort of limestone that was quarried or mined in this area until quite recently. The slates are all lumpy and bumpy and weigh a ton, but look really beautiful - much better than grey slates or modern red concrete! They grow all kinds of lichens and the rooves often sag attractively (might not look so good inside the house, though). Lots of the houses have large gardens, and it's worth peeping over hedges to see what has been done with them. Lots of orchards, vege patches, lovely flowers - it's all here! There's a pub, The Collyweston Slater, which does good food and is very welcoming, and serves a good pint. The church looks great from my back garden, although to my shame I've never visited it. There is one blot on the landscape - the cement works across the valley. It is lit up at night and looks like Mordor from Lord of the Rings - quite spooky! Today I went for a walk round the village and finally found the feature that appears in guidebooks - the sundial. This is a really unusual arched sandstone sundial that apparently tells the time accurately (though it doesn't know about British Summertime). It is on private land, but you can see it if you ask nicely. It's only taken me 5 years to find it! This is a lovely village to live in, and the people are great too. Sorry the op isn't funny, but I don't want to make fun of the place I live!