The Barnwell Walk.
A tale of strange discoveries, dubious doings and odd goings on.
Commentary by Tony Attwood, evidence by Our Man On The Spot
Of course, we knew that there was going to be something odd about the Barnwell walk from the moment we spotted the horned beast sitting on a roof top as we prepared to get going.
And indeed the literature of the area east of Stoke Doyle and West of Hemmington does make it clear that this is a part of a more dubious area of Northamptonshire from a historic point of view.
Yes it is a land that we have meandered upon to good effect as we have discovered. And yet, as this walk showed, there was even more, even if it was simply the demon cat cut down in its prime by a passing volcano.
But first, as a prelude to this walk, a certain amount of “gathering” took place, as can been seen from photograph two, and questions were indeed raised.
Although about what it would be unreasonable of me to reveal. For this was a moment in which stories of walks past were re-told, and those of a most tentative disposition were advised to take extra precautions.
Opinions were of course varied. Did the black horned creature in the first picture above, mean that it was, or was not safe to proceed? We looked around for signs, but those were not to be seen.
But in what way should we look for support should it be needed? And if given how would it be shown or indeed granted? Is a donation sufficient to keep the beasts at bay or is more required? Such were the matters that we debated as we prepared to venture forth beyond the safety of the grasslands and into the wild unknown. The gateway was reassuring, but what, we wondered, was beyond?
Can this be called normality? I wondered, for at first the houses had within their essence a certain level of what might be respectable agedness. True a tree grew in front of some windows which seemed slightly medieval but parts of this ancient county do still keep to the old ways, and indeed were by-passed by the move into the mediaeval period completely.
Yet the grass was grasslike and the path was a path.
And indeed this appeared at first to have been a good move for the housing became more modern in its appearance and a sense of normality and contempor-aneousness was felt by those of us passing by. Perhaps stories of spells being cast and of witches burning were just, well, stories, and not for us to take too seriously.
But then we did indeed have a moment to pause and consider the situation afresh, as we saw this commemoration. It is beyond doubt devout and most sincere, a tribute from a loving wife to a lost husband, and yet, the single phrase “A good man” struck at least two of us as curious. Would I, I wondered, want to be remembered as “a good man”? Well, yes, if the alternative was “an utter bastard” but still… “A good man”… Of course I mean no disrespect in this case but when I am gone maybe I could be remembered as “A bit of a lad”. I think I’d prefer that. Or if “lad” seems a bit off, given my advancing years, I’d settle for “A bit of a laugh.”
And so it was with such deep thoughts and wonder that we ventured beyond the safety of village life and propelled ourselves on, into the unknown domains beyond as the storm clouds gathered overhead and the track was only visible by studying the signposts.
Single file was the order of the day, but a certain amount of looking over the shoulder was required also, as memories of that top-of-the-roof beastie lingered in our minds.
Of course, over time the track became if not more palatable then at least more clear and well-distinguished. A vista appeared ahead, and we could believe once more that this could be a venture we could undertake and complete without the interference of creatures from beyond.
And yet, and yet, I felt a certain level of foreboding as to what was to come and indeed I feel others felt the same for there was a certain level of peering into bushes and roadsides as we wondered quite what it was that was causing this feeling that this was somehow not a place like any other we had visited before.
Investigations of course only seek to prove what we already knew and indeed so it proved here, as we march ahead wondering about what had happened to this area in the past that made us (or at least to your correspondent if none other) have this sense of foreboding.
Indeed I was swamped by thoughts of what devilish deeds had taken place on this now seemingly placid arena in the decades of yore.
But of course I kept my counsel, not wishing to alarm others, and eventually, my forebodings were explained, as what I had foreboded came to pass, or at least we passed the foreboded zone which had been foreb… well you get the idea.
For now we saw it. The ditch made by the foot of a passing Titanosaur, I’ll be bound.
Of course, the council have valiantly put up a fence around it and added some concrete but for those of us in the know the signs are quite clear. This hole was made by one of the largest titanosaurs, possibly the largest of them all according to some sources.
It is indeed a shame that as a result of this attempt to stop people falling in what might be called a downward motion, much of the pre-historic evidence has been removed but as we can see from this picture.
But lest you now think otherwise I would say, I really did enjoy this walk. It encompassed (if I may include so broad a nautical term in my reportage) so many different elements of the county, all in one five mile stretch.
Although I am still puzzled by the gravestone, but mean no disrespect at all to late husband or wife. Indeed so worried am I by what my family might write on my gravestone I’ve asked to be cremated.
But to return to the main topic I would say that this walk is not suitable for those of a nervous disposition. (Mind you the same could be said of most of our walking reports).
Yet it was so diversified, and so interesting moving as it did from the black magic cat creature to the graveyard of the prehistoric beasts and the roadway bedecked by passing willows, I really loved it.