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Cosgrove and Grand Union Canal

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Cosgrove and Grand Union Canal
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 28 Feb 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Northamptonshire, Cosgrove
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Cosgrove and Grand Union Canal
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 2.7 mile circular walk from the quiet Northamptonshire village of Cosgrove. The walk follows a bustling stretch of the Grand Union Canal including passing over the Iron Trunk Aqueduct and also gives a flavour of times gone by, passing under the canal via the old horse and cattle tunnels. You'll have chance to admire the many beautiful canal boats that are moored on this stretch of canal throughout the year.

The walk is almost entirely flat and follows good gravel and tarmac surfaces for the first half before returning via pastures and farmland which may be muddy. The tunnels under the canal are narrow, low (you'll need to crouch!) and also can be slippery. There are a few gates and two stiles, both of which have open fencing around making them easy for most dogs. Towards the end of the walk you will need to cross the canal via a narrow lock gate so take care with children and dogs here. You may be sharing some of the pastures with cows or sheep. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

The walk starts from the street called The Stocks in the centre of the village of Cosgrove. There is some parking along the roadside, or alternatively if you want refreshments before or after your walk there is a car park alongside The Barley Mow. Approximate post code MK19 7JD.

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Walk Sections

The Stocks to Canal Junction
The Stocks to Canal Junction

Start point: 52.0757 lat, -0.8456 long
End point: 52.0735 lat, -0.8419 long

With The Barley Mow pub on the left, walk along The Stocks and follow the road as it bends to the left and downhill.

Go through the narrow and low 'horse tunnel' to pass under the canal (take care as the surface will be wet and slippery and most people will need to crouch down to avoid hitting their heads on the tunnel roof). Given how small the tunnel is, it rather makes you wonder how on earth horses ever managed to negotiate it!

After the tunnel turn sharp right and go up the steps to the canal towpath. Turn left to follow the wide towpath with the Grand Union Canal on your right. Pass under the gas pipelines and after a few paces you will meet a junction in the canal.

Canal Junction to Iron Trunk Aqueduct
Canal Junction to Iron Trunk Aqueduct

Start point: 52.0735 lat, -0.8419 long
End point: 52.069 lat, -0.834 long

This junction in the canal has the disused Buckingham Arm of the canal heading off to the right. Continue straight ahead down the main canal arm, passing the lock on your right.

Continue past the water filling point and a mile marker for Braunston (27 miles). In this stretch you are likely to be passing many moored canal boats taking advantage of the Cosgrove moorings. Over to the left you will see Cosgrove Leisure Park, one of the largest inland caravan and leisure parks in England, comprising 180 acres with 12 lakes and two rivers.

The Grand Union Canal was first authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1793 and was the first direct continuous link between Birmingham and London. The canal is still in use today, is 137 miles long and has 166 locks.

Continue until you reach the Iron Trunk Aqueduct which carries the canal high over the River Great Ouse below.

Iron Trunk Aqueduct to Wolverton Mill
Iron Trunk Aqueduct to Wolverton Mill

Start point: 52.069 lat, -0.834 long
End point: 52.0627 lat, -0.8418 long

The Iron Trunk Aqueduct is 32 metres long and sits 12 metres above the Great River Ouse below. It links the communities of Cosgrove and Wolverton. It cost 3,667 pounds to build in 1811 which is the equivalent to 125,000 pounds in today's money.

Cross over the aqueduct and then turn sharp left down the steps and then turn left again to pass through the cattle tunnel under the canal. (Again take care as the tunnel floor will be wet and slippery and the ceiling is very low).

As you emerge from the tunnel, go straight ahead and pass through a green metal gate to follow a gravelled tarmac path with the River Great Ouse on the right. Note that this area is sometimes used as grazing for cattle so take care with dogs.

Continue with the river on the right and pass through a gate alongside a cattle grid. Whilst the river to the right is fenced there are some sections with gaps in the fencing and stiles to allow access for a paddle in the summer.

Pass through another metal green gate, cross the small footbridge, and follow the path as it bends first left and then right. At the T-junction with the tarmac lane, turn right (signed Public Footpath and Cosgrove) and you will come to the Wolverton Mill buildings.

Wolverton Mill to Cosgrove Lock
Wolverton Mill to Cosgrove Lock

Start point: 52.0627 lat, -0.8418 long
End point: 52.0727 lat, -0.8418 long

Wolverton Mill, now converted into flats, was built and altered over a hundred years between the late 18th century and late 19th century. Some time in the mid-19th century the mill was raised up and an open shelter built on cast iron columns to house a steam engine for use when the water from the adjacent River Ouse was low.

Continue straight ahead and cross over the footbridge across the river. Pass through the gate and down the steps into the open grass field. Go diagonally to the right heading for the stile on the right hand field boundary. Cross the stile (with open fencing around for dogs) and continue on the footpath in the same direction across the second field. Note there may be cattle grazing here so take care with dogs.

Pass through the gap in the hedge and continue in the same direction across the third field heading for a gate on the far side. Pass over the stile to the right of the gate (there is some open fencing to the left of the gate for dogs) and then turn right to follow the field boundary with the fence on your right.

At the tree line, follow the path as it bends to the left to follow the crop field on the left and the belt of trees on the right. You will be able to see the canal boats high on the bank to the right through the trees.

At the end of the crop field fork right (just before the short slope up to the canal towpath) past a statue of a punting man made of black wire mesh. Continue ahead and you will reach Cosgrove Lock.

Cosgrove Lock to The Stocks
Cosgrove Lock to The Stocks

Start point: 52.0727 lat, -0.8418 long
End point: 52.076 lat, -0.8442 long

Pass over the canal using the right hand set of lock gates (there are handrails on these gates but do take care with small children and dogs). Turn left onto the canal towpath.

You are now retracing your steps to the start of the walk. Pass back under the gas pipelines, turn right down the steps (signed 'Horse Tunnel') then turn left back through the tunnel to reach The Stocks.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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