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Harborough Magna

An easy walk through rural villages and along part of the Oxford Canal.

Distance 3.5 miles (5.7km)

Minimum time 1hr 15min

Ascent/gradient 49ft (15m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field footpaths and tow path, 11 stiles

Landscape Gentle countryside

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 222 Rugby & Daventry

Start/finish SP 478792

Dog friendliness Off lead along tow path, otherwise under control

Parking Village streets near Old Lion pub

Public toilets None on route

1 From the car park of the Old Lion, cross the B4112 and head up the Main Street opposite into the village. Walk past All Saints Church, noting its unique clock face and continue to the end of the village. A few paces after passing by Holly Cottage, go right over a stile and follow the footpath across cultivated fields towards the village of Easenhall. Go over a footbridge to reach the village near an attractive thatched cottage 'Campbell's Cottage'. Go left through the village down to a junction of roads by the village green with the building of the former chapel facing you. The Golden Lion pub is to the right-hand side and to the left you may notice a fine American-style house called Brooklands.

2 Cross the road and proceed up a hedged footpath to the right of the chapel building and after negotiating a couple of handgates you will come to open countryside. Continue in a south-westerly direction following a path heading towards a prominent footbridge over the main line railway. Go over the footbridge and walk over the next field, crossing bridge No 37 of the Oxford Canal and arriving on a lane.

3 Go left along the lane for about 600yds (549m) until you come to bridge No 39, where there is an easy descent on to the tow path of this peaceful canal. Go right along the tow path, past Cathiron Farm (on the far bank) and then at bridge No 43 (Turkey's Bridge) ascend on to a lane. Go left to a lane junction and then left again. In 160yds (146m), go right over a field stile and follow the footpath going northwards towards Turkey's Farm. Cross the stile to the right of the farm complex and continue over the next field, passing a lone midfield stile and avoiding any wet patches. Leave the field via a stile on to the Easenhall Road with Lodge Farm on your left.

4 Go right along the road, passing a row of houses. When you are opposite the Cathiron Road junction, go left over a stile and take the hedged footpath that arcs right bringing you back to Main Street in Harborough Magna. Go right along Main Street, then cross the B4112 to the Old Lion.

Situated some 4 miles (6.4km) north of Rugby, Harborough Magna is an old village which embraces the hamlets of Harborough Parva and Cathiron. The name Harborough appears to derive from the Saxon English 'heord beorg' meaning 'the hill where flocks are kept'. Its Latinised suffix Magna (Great) was added to distinguish the village from similarly named settlements near by (Parva means Little, in this context).

There was a priest and a mill here when William I's Domesday surveyors entered the parish in their records. Much later, the village also boasted a smithy and a wheelwright, where carts were constructed and repaired for use at the timber yards of William Iven. The whole area seems to have been involved in this industry at some time. Saw mills were located at Cathiron near to the Oxford Canal and the timber was transported via cart and canal barge to the saw mills. Plenty of cart horses were kept locally and teams of horses could be seen hauling the larger trees from the nearby estates to Rugby Station where they were trimmed and cut in readiness for transportation to the saw mills at Cathiron. Sadly this business has now disappeared and farming has become the main industry. With the demise of the industrial use of the canals, pleasure boats now use the Oxford Canal and rambling around the delightful local lanes has become a regular pastime.

This walk starts from the Old Lion pub in Harborough Magna and crosses farmland into the village of Easenhall, which comprises a small number of houses, the 17th-century Golden Lion pub and a couple of farms. Further pastureland is walked on the way to the Oxford Canal. From here a short stretch of tow path leads to more farmland walking on the return journey to Harborough Magna.

Easenhall is a quaint old village of cottages and semi-detached Victorian houses. In the past these were used to accommodate workers of the Manor House at Newbold Revel. The route passes next to the old chapel - a small one-room former Congregational building which has now been converted into the village hall. This lovely country village has been a regular winner of the county's Best Kept Village competition.

What to look for

If you intend walking around the lanes of Easenhall after dark, look out for the Phantom Horseman. He is apparently the ghost of a one-handed man called Broughton who died in the Old Lawford Hall. Legend has it that, in an attempt to exorcise his ghost, his remains were placed in a phial and tossed into a nearby pond.

Where to eat and drink

The walk starts from the car park at the Old Lion in Harborough Magna which is a popular venue for local walkers - you will be made very welcome. In the village of Easenhall you will pass near the attractive 17th-century Golden Lion with its part wattle and daub walls.

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