Life before HS2
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This is the sleepy end of Northamptonshire; a quiet green and pleasant land covered by rolling hills and dotted with ancient woodland. Picturesque villages nestle beside babbling streams and are connected by quiet winding country lanes surrounded by lush fields where sheep and horses lazily munch the fresh grass. Across the fields skylarks give song on warm sunny days, and around the woods wild deer roam free. This is a perfect rural scene untouched, until now...
GPX of the full route available here: http://my.viewranger.com/route/details/MTYxMzY3Nw==
This is the countryside that will be lost to HS2 forever, your last chance to see it before it is all gone. Our walk will begin in the village of Weston to the east of the rail route, and we will take a gentle stroll across the fields to Sulgrave Manor. The house is open to the public from 11.00am and is a Tudor building with Georgian additions that was built by the Washington family and is popular with visiting Americans; at least those keen to claim a piece of their national history. The tea room should hopefully be open, and if you wish to look around the house, the entry fee is £7.20. Please bring a change of shoes if you want to go inside, muddy boots will not be admitted
Before leaving Sulgrave we will pass the village shop, if there is anything you wish to pick up do so before we head towards Culworth, which commands an impressive view across the valley to Thorpe Mandeville, at least until work begins on the railway. You will see Blackgrounds Farm, also the site of a Roman villa, sat in the middle of the valley for the last time.
We will then make our way north-west towards the lost medieval village of Trafford, then upstream along the River Cherwell, before climbing the hill towards Eydon. From this vantage point you will see the scale of impact that HS2 will have upon the landscape before we enter the village and make our lunch stop at The Royal Oak (currently up for sale).
After lunch we will journey across the fields to Morton Pinkney and then back to Weston, most of this is across sheep fields. Whilst I'm quite happy to bring along well behaved hounds, you must be responsible and keep him/her on a lead and under close control for this final stretch. The countryside is beautiful, and on clear days you will see some fantastic views before construction begins.
What to bring
I know it's summer but be sensible about your choice of clothing:
Wear some good solid boots or decent walking shoes, even if it isn't muddy underfoot, its a long route.
Wear some comfortable walking socks.
Bring a spare change of shoes if you want to go inside the manor.
Expect the potential for rain and wear quick drying walking trousers and bring a waterproof jacket that you can fold down and tuck into a pocket.
You may start off cold, but will soon warm up. Judge the weather before you leave and if it looks grey, take a bag with a spare jumper and T-shirt; you can always leave it in the car if it's a scorcher.
Bring water and some energy food (chocolate, sweets etc.).
Bring sun cream if it's hot, and cover your head.
Bring a camera, you will see this countryside for the last time.
If you carry important medicines, please let me know privately.
Food & drink
Bring some snacks for your trip but we will hopefully stop at the tea room at Sulgrave Manor for a light snack to see you through until we reach The Royal Oak in Eydon for a late lunch.
I will aim to arrange for the kitchen to be open a week ahead of the event. Please note that owing to the arrival of HS2, a lot of people are selling up and leaving the area!
If for any reason the kitchen is not open, I will let you know to bring a full packed lunch.