Are you visiting Northamptonshire and fancy a bike ride?
This Canons Ashby bike ride is a terrific loop using quiet, small roads in rural South Northamptonshire. The route is all on-road, has plenty of interest and lovely views. We have mapped a 16-mile ride, but this can be easily shortened or extended. One of the reasons I love cycling in this part of Northamptonshire is the maze of small roads. A quick turn here and there, and you can create any length of circuit. Plus, the villages offer points to stop and sit down for a rest!
This route is circular, and you can start it at any point. If arriving by car, ensure you find a safe place to park.
One easy starting point is the village of Wappenham, along Brookside, ie. the road to Syresham. The car park is on the right, just before the road ramps up.
Another easy place to start the ride is the National Trust property at Canons Ashby, which has a large car park. It's an interesting property to explore, and they have a lovely tearoom.
If you're starting the route from Canons Ashby, turn left out of the car park, and at the T-junction turn right towards Moreton Pinkney on the National Cycle Network route 50. This might be the busiest road of the ride, but it starts off with a nice straight descent before climbing the drag into Moreton Pinkney. This is a pretty village with lovely old cottages and from spring to autumn there is lots of colour.
The road twists through the village, and just in front of an impressive Victorian gateway with a tower, the route turns left. I call this corner Belgium Corner as the apex of the corner has a very small patch of cobbles that reminds me of my cycle racing days in Belgium. I always try to ride on the cobbles but - be warned! - sometimes you'll find a car parked there!
The road heads upwards, almost in darkness under a canopy of trees. After a few twists and turns, the road flattens out and passes through rural countryside.
At the next T-junction, our route turns left, still on route 50, towards Weston and Weedon Lois. There is a fast, straight descent to the start of Weston village, where the road becomes twisty and narrower. Take care on entering the village as the road steepens and is bumpy. At the bottom of the short descent, the road bends left around a blind corner where cars are often parked.
Weston is another pretty village with lovely cottages and a pub if lunch and refreshments are the order of the day.
As the route leaves Weston, you have the first option to shorten the ride. At a road junction with a grass triangle, turn left onto Plumpton Road and head towards Blakesley to re-join the full circuit.
Otherwise, ignore the left turn and continue up one of those annoying slopes that doesn’t look much, but kill your speed and on to Weedon Lois.
Take care descending into the village as there are driveways and road junctions. At the bottom of the descent sits St. Mary and Peter Church which makes a nice place for a rest or an explore. There are benches in the church grounds and the church is worth visiting, especially if it’s hot and you're in need of shade.
Back on our bikes, the circuit continues along route 50 slightly uphill until a sharp right-hand bend followed by a long, slightly downhill stretch to Wappenham. The road steepens as it approaches the village and soon after passing the village sign the circuit turns right on to Highbridge Road. At the next junction, turn left and then right at the village green by St. Mary the Virgin Church.
This makes another good stopping place after climbing up into Wappenham. There are benches around the green which are popular with walkers and cyclists. Admire the pretty houses around the green, as well as the listed red telephone box. The village is listed in the Doomsday Book and parts of the church date back to the thirteenth century. And if you happen to pass through on a Wednesday evening, you might get to hear the local bell-ringers.
After catching your breath, the circuit descends through Wappenham along High Street. Towards the bottom of the descent is the turn to Syresham and the other car park suitable as a start/finish point.
The road flattens and swoops around some nice bends as we head toward Abthorpe/Towcester. After about a mile, turn left on a narrow road and head into Slapton. This is another lovely little village with some real beautiful examples of local ironstone-built cottages.
Take the next left turn up Chapel Lane and explore the gorgeous small church of St. Botolph's. It's in a lovely location and has some of the best medieval wall paintings in Northamptonshire.
Retrace the route back to the road through Slapton, turn left to continue through the village. At the end, the road turns sharp left, narrows, and steepens as it goes under another tree canopy. Be aware that the road is quite bumpy here!
The road flattens and comes to a crossroads where our route turns left towards Blakesley. This is a lovely bit of road and after about three quarters of a mile has a long descent with some corners. In the distance you’ll get views of the Blakesley windmill.
At the T-junction at the bottom of the descent, our bike ride turns right and into Blakesley. If you took the shortcut, this is where you re-join the full route. Blakesley has a pub and a general store if refreshments are needed.
As the road rises gently through the village, turn left, and left again at a triangular village green. The road twists and turns and climbs gradually on its way towards Maidford.
After the climb, the road flattens, and the route turns left at a small crossroads toward Adstone. This road is narrow and descends, giving you the chance to recover. Don't miss the views along this part of the ride. At the bottom of the descent, the road turns sharp right and starts to climb again. Oh, don’t we love cycling in Northamptonshire!
The climb drags on for a while, but the road eventually flattens and enters Adstone village. Adstone has some impressive houses and a lovely small church with a very convenient bench to sit on. We’ve stopped here a few times whilst out cycling and walking. It’s very peaceful!
In Adstone, our circuit comes to another crossroads. Here, you can take a further shortcut by turning left and riding back to Canons Ashby. It’s a slightly bigger road, and it is about one mile back to the start point.
If you want to complete the full route, go straight ahead (well left and very quickly right) on to a smaller road. Follow this relatively flat road for about a mile where it turns sharp left. Continue for another 0.7 miles before turning left at a junction with a triangular green and head back towards Canons Ashby. This is a lovely bit of road and passes the Canons Ashby Norman motte and bailey castle site - that strange bump in the field with trees growing on top on the right-hand side just before you arrive back at Canons Ashby House. See if you can spot it!
Also, on the left, the lumps and bumps in the field are the remains of the deserted village of Ascebi.
At the T-junction by the side of the house, turn right and return to the carpark to complete the ride.
Northamptonshire is a largely rural county in the centre of England, renowned for shoemaking, stunning countryside, and very pretty villages. It makes a great place for walking and cycling and is ideal for a muted holiday or short break.
Below, we've collected some holiday cottage ideas. Personally, I would love to stay in Stoke Bruerne, right next to the canal. Stoke is a friendly, pretty village with a couple of pubs, an Indian restaurant, and easy walking from the door.
To browse holiday cottages in other parts of England click here.