Leg 5: Cottingham to Welford

RV at SP642804 map sheets 140/141.
Walking from Cottingham church at SP846899 to Welford church.
Distance about 15 miles (24km).
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A wonderful leg that takes you right through the rolling North Northamptonshire border country where some of the great battles of the civil war were fought.

Leave Cottingham church and walk up (north) through the churchyard on the signed footpath. This brings you out on the B670 running through the village. Turn left on the B670 and follow it to the sharp bend at Middleton (SP839898). Pick up the footpath here, running southwest, that will take you along the north side of East Carlton country park and on to Wilbarston and Stoke Albany. When you reach the B669 turn right and follow it to Stoke Albany.

In Stoke Albany there is a tricky manoeuvre as you need to find your way under the A427. Use the B669 loop road as it heads out towards Desborough. Just under the main A427 the footpath is on the right and heads south-southwest between Brampton and Hermitage woods, towards The Hermitage itself at SP783854 on the A6 main road.

Cross the road following the signed footpath, as it first crosses a minor road then under power lines and finally under the railway at SP774846. Emerging from the short tunnel under the railway the path takes you into Braybrooke. At the church turn left and follow the track that peters out to a footpath going up to the trig point at SP749832.

On the trig point turn due west on the track and minor road into the village of Great Oxendon. Go through the village, crossing the A508, to a T-junction at SP731834. From here turn left on a minor metalled road all the way to Sibbertoft (SP680825), some 7 kilometres away in a westerly direction north of Clipston. Walk straight through Sibbertoft and just after a sharp right hand bend the footpath leaves the road (SP675826) heading southwest down towards Sulby reservoir (SP652813).

Once across the resoviour the track follows its southern shore before coming out on a minor road that takes you up to the A50. A few hundred metres south on the A50 is the turning into the church and the end of the day.

About 4 kilometres west of Welford is the site of the battle of Naseby between King Charles I and the Parliamentarians commanded by General Fairfax in 1645.