Gently rolling farmland hosts picturesque, honey-hued settlements within its folds, while up high, limestone escarpments boast huge views to distant hills. Tranquil rivers wend their way beneath the region’s modest hills and are crossed by impressive railway viaducts that hark back to the industrious late 19th century.
History hides around every hedgerow, with deserted medieval villages, great battlegrounds, royal fortresses and even a manor house that played a part in England’s most famous act of treason. There’s all this and more to explore on the Jurassic Way, an utterly delightful way to discover the rural heart of the country.
The Jurassic Way is an 88-mile (142 km) long-distance trail between Banbury in Oxfordshire and Stamford in Lincolnshire. It follows an ancient ridgeway traversing the Jurassic limestone ridge across northern Northamptonshire.
Despite its name, don’t expect dinosaur fossils but do expect exquisite scenery forged around the same time that allosaurus and stegosaurus roamed the Earth – 200 to 145 million years ago.
Highlights along the Way include: Catesby Viaduct, a crumbling 12-arch ruin; Ashby Manor House, with its historical connections to the Gunpowder Plot; Watford Gap; the break in the escarpment that has been an important transport artery for millennia; Honey Hill, a panoramic viewpoint and where the Jurassic Way was launched in 1994; the 82-arch Welland Viaduct at Harringworth; and Rockingham Castle, a grand former royal fortress.
In this Collection, I have divided the Way into eight stages of between 8 and 15 miles (13 to 24 km) in length. Each stage ends near accommodation and eateries, although they are often not abundant so advance booking is essential.
Despite being predominantly rural, the Way passes plenty of places to eat and drink, with options in most villages. You’re never far from the next serving of good pub grub. Even so, it’s always worth having a supply of water and a few snacks for the trail.
I recommend sturdy hiking shoes, plus waterproofs and sun cream for all eventualities. You can enjoy the Way all year round.
Banbury’s location on the line between England’s two largest cities, London and Birmingham, makes the town a very easy place to reach by train. The start point is just a short hop from the station. Stamford also has a train station, with direct services to Leicester and Peterborough, from where you can connect to the rest of the country.
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Last updated: June 1, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The first stage takes you from the attractive Oxfordshire market town of Banbury into beautiful, rural Northamptonshire countryside. You visit pretty village after pretty village, before ending the stage at the hamlet of West Farndon.
With 14.5 miles (23 km) to cover and 800 feet (243 m) of elevation…
The second stage takes you through beautiful, undulating countryside through yet more pretty Northamptonshire settlements. It reaches its highest point at the village of Hellidon, which is perched on the north face of an ironstone ridge and gives lovely views of rolling farmland. The stage ends in Braunston…
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This stage heads northeast, taking you through Ashby St Ledgers – once home to Robert Catesby, the architect of the Gunpowder Plot – and on to Watford Gap, the break in the limestone ridge and the main transport corridor between the Midlands and the South East. The stage finishes in the attractive village…
This stage takes you to Honey Hill, the Way’s highest point at 702 feet (214 m), for stupendous views across patchwork countryside. Yet more pretty villages are on the agenda, including Winwick with its many listed buildings and Welford with its scenic reservoirs. The stage ends in the idyllic village…
This gently undulating stage begins by taking you across land that was the site of the Battle of Naseby, which took place during the First English Civil War in 1645. After this, you dip down to the village of Braybrooke and head northeast alongside beautiful woodland areas to finish in Stoke Albany…
This short and relatively easy-going stage takes you from one picturesque village to the next, building to a climax at Rockingham, which is home to one of the country’s most historic castles. En route, the Way visits the beautiful East Carlton Countryside Park, which is a worthy detour.
From Stoke Albany…
A lovely journey that begins by ascending above the Welland Valley, before heading back down to see the majestic Welland Viaduct at Harringworth. After following the river to Barrowden, the stage ends by exploring two gorgeous woodlands: Wakerley Great Wood and Fineshade Wood, before ending near the…
The final stage is short but sweet, at just under 9 miles (14.5 km). You journey from King’s Cliffe, through Fineshade Wood and down into the valley, to the achingly picturesque village of Duddington. From there, you follow the river before ascending to Easton on the Hill, the last village on the Way…
Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson
Hiking Collection by Kit P
Hiking Collection by Evelyn Scheer / unser BW
Bike Touring Collection by Kärnten Werbung