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5 mile Circular Walk from Napton

What to know and what to see....
by Andy Botherway

Napton-on -the –Hill

In the Middle Ages, Napton was one of the largest towns in Warwickshire with a population of approximately 1000 people, which is more or less the same as today. The name Napton is derived from the Anglo Saxon meaning hilltop settlement.

500 feet above sea level, the village has commanding views over Warwickshire. Seven counties are said to be visible from the top on a fine day and it is probable that an Iron Age fort once crowned its summit.

Remains of extensive medieval strip farming systems can be seen in the surrounding countryside. 

St Lawrence Church

St Lawrence Church dates from the 12th C and has three Norman windows in the north wall. On the vestry door is a strange grill covered by a heavy shutter. Nobody knows the purpose for which it was intended; a spy hole or maybe a confessional; who can tell?  Two grey-gowned Elizabethan ladies are said to haunt the church. They kneel in the front pew quietly praying. Several present day villagers say they have seen them but who they are/were nobody knows.

The Windmill existed before 1543 and was derelict by 1966 but is now restored.

The Domesday Book records the manor as being held by Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan. In 1107 Henry I made de Beaumont Earl of Leicester. Edward II granted a charter for a market but after this died out the village has stagnated, the population today being the same as in 1400, around 1000.

The Oxford Canal reached Napton in 1774, this was the head of navigation until 1777 and goods for Banbury and beyond travelled by road. The Warwick Napton canal joined the Oxford Canal at Napton  Junction in 1800.

The Folly Inn by the canal was originally a farmhouse, then became known as the Bull and Butcher and catered for the brickworks in nearby Kiln Road. It closed just after the second world war, but reopened in 1992 and is now a well-used boating hostelry.

A much more direct route between London and the Midlands, the Grand Junction Canal, was completed in 1805. Much of the London-bound traffic switched to this faster route, as it avoided passage of the River Thames. This greatly reduced Oxford Canal traffic south of Napton.

During the 1960s pleasure boating began to grow in popularity and replace the old trading boats.  After a fact-finding cruise on the canal, Barbara Castle (then Minister for Transport) rejected a proposal for closure.

The canal is now thriving. In the summer it is one of the most crowded canals on the network.

All the paths, bridleways and roads we have used in these instructions are public rights of way as designated on Ordnance Survey maps. Following the instructions and walking tips on this web site in no way constitutes any liability on 41 Club that such routes or tips are safe or suitable. 

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