Local walk: Stamford to Barnack ‘petal’
30th April 2021
Lockdown gave us the need to explore locally, and plenty of time to do that in, writes Editor Nicholas Rudd-Jones. This is another in the series of long loops (what we call ‘petals’, as these walks create that shape) from Stamford into the villages. This one is notable for the very fine houses that we pass – Burghley House (big), Walcot Hall (medium) and Ufford Hall (smaller, all Grade I listed and exquisite in their way); other highlights covered en route include Wothorpe, Barnack, the Old Canal and Stamford East Meadows
Distance: 12 miles (18.7km)
Typical time: 4 hours
OS Map: Explorer 234
Start & finish: Cattle Market Car Park, Stamford (PE9 2WB)
Terrain: Easy going
POINTS OF INTEREST
Burghley Park will be known to most readers, but the southerly parts of the park, which the footpath traverses, have particular interest. The path crosses the Winners’ Avenue, which is part of the cross-country course and has a marker celebrating each winner of Burghley Horse Trials.
The path through Burghley runs for a large part along the course of Ermine Street, the Roman Road that ran from London (Londinium) to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) and York (Eboracum). You can see evidence of the ditch (fossa).
Barnack Hills and Holes This was once a quarry for Barnack Rag from the Jurassic Lincolnshire Limestone. The cathedrals at Ely and Peterborough, Bury St Edmunds Abbey, a number of Cambridge colleges and many churches and other medieval buildings of Eastern England were all built of Barnack stone.
The digging was begun by the Romans and continued through to medieval times, when stone from Barnack was transported to Wansford on wooden sledges by teams of oxen to begin its river journey. By the 16th century most of the usable stone had been quarried, and what remained were the Hills and Holes left by the quarrymen.
Barnack Hills and Holes is now a National Nature Reserve managed by Natural England. It has an abundance of wild flowers and is famous for its orchids and butterflies, notably the Green Hairstreak (May) and the Marbled White (June).
Walcot Hall This is a privately owned Carolean mansion; some may remember its driveway was briefly featured in the Middlemarch series. The gardens have a wonderful collection of specimen trees and are occasionally opened for charity.
Ufford Hall was built in 1734 for Lord Charles Manners, a younger son of the Duke of Rutland. It has been lovingly restored in recent years and is in private ownership.
1 Head south up Wothorpe Road until you reach the Kettering Road; cross over, join a public footpath, then take the left footpath, through a kissing gate – it runs diagonally across the field. Then, head straight up the hill to Wothorpe, with the field boundary on your left.
2 Turn left on reaching First Drift, cross the Old Great North Road and follow the footpath up to the golf club, where you turn left.
3 Follow the private road past the golf club, then follow the footpath signs through Burghley Park, all the time heading east and slightly south. The path goes across a stream, through a wood alongside a field, before eventually reaching the road.
4 Take the road opposite and follow it until it takes a sharp turn to the right, at which point you turn left along the northern wall of Walcot Hall; divert into the Hills and Holes, if time allows.
5 Cross the road, join a footpath on the other side, going just south of the cricket club, then turn left over a stile in the wall. Follow this path a short way before taking a right turn and heading out across the fields.
6 Take a right when you reach a bridge (not to be crossed) over the ditch and head south; turn left immediately after Ufford Oaks and follow the path around a field until it comes out next to a new house and you walk down to the road leading into Ufford.
7 Turn left at the pub, pass Ufford Hall on your left and walk out of the village on the northern side, swinging round to the right and then immediately taking a footpath north across the fields.
8 On reaching a coppice, turn left, pass through another coppice and then, by dog-legs, the path takes you to Station Road, which you cross and keep heading north.
9 On the last field before the railway line, turn left just over a bridge along its southern hedge, then right to the railway; then walk west alongside the railway to the Uffington level crossing, which you cross.
10 Take a left across a field alongside the road, return to the road, cross the River Welland, then take the first left along the old canal path.
11 On reaching a gate and a footbridge, turn left to reach the eastern Stamford Meadows. Walk to Hudd’s Mill, then up to the main road.
12 Turn left here, and when you reach the Morrison’s roundabout, take the recently restored footpath on the left that brings you down to the river again.
13 On reaching the end of the path, walk up Cherryholt Road, then left along Cherryholt Lane, right up Brownlow Street, left along Wharf Road, right up Blackfriars Street and into St George’s Square, then along St Mary’s Street; from here, turn south to the Town Meadows and, across those, to the start.
Spotting potential in The Millstone Inn in Barnack, Paul McSorley has big plans to breathe new life into the Grade II-listed building and has pencilled in its re-opening for 4 June.
The White Hart Main Street, Ufford, PE9 3BH, 01780 740250, www.whitehartufford.co.uk. Delightful pub.