Pub walk: The Falcon at Fotheringhay, Northants

Fotheringhay is probably best known today for its eye-catching 15th century church and top-quality hostelry, The Falcon – Northamptonshire Dining Pub of the Year many times over. The pretty village is also something of an historic gem, being home to Fotheringhay Castle – razed in 1627 and both birthplace of Richard III and scene of Mary Queen of Scots’ beheading in 1587.

Fotheringhay church

These days, the closest you’re going to get to regicide here is sipping a Bloody Mary in The Falcon, but don’t let that put you off –  Fotheringhay is definitely worth a visit, and this pub walk provides the perfect opportunity.

The Falcon at Fotheringhay

Starting at the pub, you stroll across gently undulating arable farmland (no livestock when we did it), cross Willow Brook – a tributary of the River Nene – before arriving at the delightful village of Woodnewton, home of freehouse The White Swan, a finalist in the Best Pub or Bar category in the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2012/13.

After enjoying a drink or more here, you return to Fotheringhay via another footpath, with wonderful views of the church in the distance. This is a laid-back walk suitable for all levels of fitness. There is just one stile to negotiate. It’s three-and-a-half miles in total.

The walk

The route – click on map to enlarge

1 Park near The Falcon and with the pub on your left, go west towards the end of the village past the house pictured below.

2 Just before the national speed limit signs at the end of the village, turn right up a narrow single-track road.

3 Follow this road for a quarter of a mile before turning left at the footpath sign and walking out into a field. Follow the path across the field, go through the hole in the hedge, cross a tarmac track and go through the hole in the hedge opposite (pictured below).

Go through here!

4 Continue straight on with a hedge on your right until you come to a gravel track. Turn left on the track (instead of exactly following the green footpath trail on the map pictured above).

5 Follow the track for approximately 400 yards, sticking to it as it bends to the right. Then, just after walking between two large trees, turn right where the hedge ends, taking a path that initially follows a hedge but soon bears right to cross through a field.

6 Cross the wooden bridge over Willow Brook, then continue straight on, following the edge of the field with the hedge on your left. Soon you join a tarmac path that takes you into Woodnewton village.

Bridge over Willow Brook

7 Turn right when you come to Oundle Road, then turn right again after just a few yards, following the sign to Nassington and Yarwell. Or, instead of taking the road to Nassington, carry on along Oundle Road for a few hundred yards to reach Woodnewton village pub, The White Swan.

8 Having taken the Nassington Road (suitably refreshed or otherwise), after about 200 yards you come to the end of the village and see a footpath sign on your right opposite Orchard Lane. Follow this sign into a field, where you see Fotheringhay church on the horizon.

Walk towards Fotheringhay church

9 Go through the first field, then through another and cross a small wooden footbridge. Follow the footpath arrow, following the tree line, with the trees on your right.

10 Follow the footpath by the trees for a few yards and at the second marker arrow, bear right towards the corner of the field before almost immediately bearing left, following the path around the edge of the field.

11 Continue straight on along the bottom edge of a series of fields for about half a mile, sticking close to the hedge. Eventually you come to a gate that leads you into a wooded area.

12 Go over a stile, carry on through more woods and go through another gate before turning right onto a path.

13 After about half a mile you come to a large metal gate. Go through the gate and turn left to rejoin the single-track road mentioned in Step 3. Go back down the road and at the T-junction, turn left and return to The Falcon.

The Falcon

By Matt Wright

Fotheringhay deserves a good pub and luckily it’s got The Falcon, which is a class act. The food here is excellent and, not surprisingly, its dining rooms and kitchen are its focus.

This is no spit-and-sawdust local but The Falcon does a good job of hanging on to at least some of the elements that make a friendly traditional village pub. On our visit there was a local beer available from Barnwell-based Digfield Ales, and the welcome was warm from all the waiting staff, despite our antisocial terrier and the fact we were half an hour late.

Because of the dog, we were seated in the Tap Bar – a cute little self-contained room that could be described as a tiny village drinking pub within a country restaurant. There’s even a dart board. After ordering, food arrived swiftly and our shared watermelon with mint and mozzarella starter was a startlingly good combination. My main of pork tenderloin with roasted sweet potato was also excellent, as was my wife’s Gressingham duck. It was good to see the Tap Bar fill up with locals as the evening wore on.

The Falcon is the Good Food Guide 2012 and 2013’s favourite Northamptonshire Dining Pub and it’s not hard to see why.

Author Matt Wright doing this walk

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.