Newest Review: ... make it up the observation tower. Things to do aside from the forest walks are what you would expect, an adventure playground for the kid... more
Saucey and Salcey Forest!
Salcey Forest (Northamptonshire)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Salcey Forest (Northamptonshire)
If you tap in the words 'Salcey Forest' and 'Fun' into Google these days you need the family filter, as with many out of the way national park areas very popular with 'dogging' types, the act of outdoor sex with strangers, not a pretty site. Think British porn and then ten times worse. But it's still a nice place to go for walks and bike rides in the day time and one of very few forested areas in the centre of the country to still enjoy. It's situated about 7 miles outside of Northampton to the south of the county and the forest constantly being improved by various attractions and events.
It's a former medieval hunting forest where kings and queens, noblemen and landowners, would venture out by foot or horse from their stately homes to crossbow a deer or two. Today it's a commercial forest as well as a tourist attraction with the two working side-by-side.
In 2005 they built a really cool award winning timber skywalk so the visitors can now walk amongst the tree top canopy, some 15 - 18 meters up, which is up to 70ft. Some of the towering old oaks that you can touch by offering your hand are believed to be over 500 years old and some of Britain's oldest tees. Parts of the skywalk walk are good for buggies and wheelchairs and so accessible for all. Granny may not make it up the observation tower.
Things to do aside from the forest walks are what you would expect, an adventure playground for the kids with an excellent café nearby for ice creams and coffee and all sorts of healthy treats. There is a pay and display car park here or you can park free in other areas of the forest. They also have a bookcrossingzone place where you can leave books for others and pick up others for free. It's not popular though in the winter. You used to be able to get there by train some 100 years ago but they ripped up the track in the 1920s. Disused railway tracks and tunnels are always fun things to explore.
The quirky fact of the day for Salcey forest is that during the Second World War, elephants from circuses were put to use to fell the trees. The Elephant Pond - now called - is where the elephants could bathe at the end of the day and kick back. Not only that but they had been ridden to work in the Forest by a genuine Hollywood star, Sabu the Elephant Boy, over in England making a film with Alexander Korda, no less! There are also quirky sculptures ready to surprise you on the various trails.
Although Northampton has the more convenient Harlestone Firs near Althorp House for the kids and dogs to have a run around the walks are somewhat samey up there so if you want to really get out in the countryside then Salcey Forest feels more the wilderness experience, one where you can't hear the nearby roar of a motorway or A-Road to spoil the ambience.
If the spring ever arrives it looks stunning in the forest with all the Blue Bells and snow drops coming through amongst the firs and blackberry bushes. It's a great foraging forest and good for mushrooms if you are that way inclined. The author of the book 'Pollard', my mate Laura Beatty, has a home deep in the forest and it's straight from Hansel & Gretel, really spooky as the gentle wind rustles the tree tops above and creeps dusk through the forest with its cloak of evil darkness. Is there is any scarier place than a forest at night then I would be surprised.
So pack you kids and into the Volvo and have a day there in the spring. In my marathon days I would run the seven miles to the café, have a hot tea and sandwich, and run back to Northampton once every two weeks to tune up for the London marathon. It's a pretty place to be and the medieval side of the forest very much Lord of the Rings stuff with lots of gothic twisted gnarly trees and roots shaped like witches hands, a carpet of thick green moss leading to magical pools to treat those who venture deeper into the forest.
The foot and horse trails are good and if you are stabled nearby you will know that already. Kid's buggies will travel well on the lightly graveled surfaced tracks and they also offer milk warming services in the café if you want to bring babies and toddlers. The toilet block is good although only two in the forest so you will be doing you know what with the bears if you get lost, Salcey Forest not small.
Nearby is Castle Ashby House, star of many Merchant & Ivory bodice ripping movies, and Emberton Park, lots of old gravelpits and boating areas for the kids to have fun in there. Hartwell village that lips the forest is beautiful and has a lovely local pub and great oldie worldly cottages to snap, Olney village down the road straight from a Constable painting, the familiar yellow spring canvas of rape seed soon appearing. Not a lot of Northamptonshire is pretty so head to the Buckinghamshire border for the best bits is my advice.
Breakfast, Snacks, Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and everything inbetween.
Speciality Teas, Chocolate and Barista Coffees.
Children's Menu * Ice Cream Parlour * Takeaways * Play Area
Seating for 50+ inside, 80 outside. Major cards accepted.
1/2 mile from the Tree Top Walk and on the 6 mile Woodpecker Nature Trail.
Well-behaved Dogs (on a lead) and Children always welcome.
Car Parking * £1 for the first hour or £3 for the day or £28 pass for the year.
Summary: Get out and enjoy!