Circular Walks around Swineshead

Circular Walks around Swineshead

Swineshead is a quiet village of about 60 homes in North Bedfordshire, near to the borders with Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, (but then spelt "Swineshefet). Many of the houses are timber-framed, with several dating from the C16th, and over 15 are grade 2 listed.
All the walks start from the C14th church of St. Nicholas, which is particularly attractive at the focal point of the village. This and several of the other properties adjacent to the walks are described under Points of Interest overleaf. Part of the walks may be muddy and pass through difficult terrain. It is recommended that walkers wear strong footwear, let someone else know where they are going, and take care where conditions are rough. Where the walks are over grassland with livestock, dogs must be kept under close control and preferably on a lead.
Swineshead is a living community most of which has been designated a Conservation Area to preserve it for future generations. We hope that you will enjoy the walks around the village.

How to Get There by Public Transport

BY BUS: Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN: Bedford station, on the Bedford to London Thameslink line, is approximately 13 miles from Pertenhall. For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950. Click here for National Rail Enquiries website

How to Get There by Car

Swineshead is just to the east of the village of Pertenhall, which is approximately 12 miles north of Bedford. The Kimbolton Road, B660 takes you straight from Bedford to Pertenhall. Then take the road to Swineshead.

Start/Finish Point

All three walks start and end at the Church of St Nicholas in the village.

Access and General Information

Walk A

Length: 1 mile
Time: 1 hour
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with ruts and mud, to farmland.
Linear Gradients: The route has linear gradients no steeper than 1:18 (near the Upper Dean footpath).
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: None recorded.
Steps: The maximum step height is 160mm on the bridge shortly after leaving the High Street.
Barriers: There are three 2-step stiles and one 1-way opening gate with a width greater than 750mm.
Seats: There is a bench by St Nicholas’ Church.
Refreshments: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Public Toilets: None recorded.

Walk B

Length: 2½ miles
Time: 1½ hours
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with ruts and mud, to farmland.
Linear Gradients: The route has linear gradients no steeper than 1:20 (along Sandye Lane).
Cross Falls: There are several slight cross falls of 1:26 or less.
Width Restriction: The bridge at Spanoak Wood has a width restriction of 700mm.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: None recorded.
Seats: There is a bench by St Nicholas’ Church.
Refreshments: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Public Toilets: None recorded.

Walk C

Length: 1¼ miles
Time: 45 minutes
Access Information:
Surface Types: You will walk across surface types ranging from hard and firm with no stones larger than 5mm, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with ruts and mud, to farmland.
Linear Gradients: The route has linear gradients no steeper than 1:18 (after crossing the bridge on the way to the Riseley road).
Cross Falls: None recorded.
Width Restriction: The bridge has a width restriction of 750mm.
Steps: None recorded.
Barriers: There are two 2-step stiles.
Seats: There is a bench by St Nicholas’ Church and when the walk rejoins the High Street.
Refreshments: None recorded.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Public Toilets: None recorded.

Walk A

Approx. 1 mile / 30 minutes.
Starting from the Church (1), go west along the High Street until opposite Green Lane. Turn right at the footpath sign by a gap in the hedge and follow the path through the field and over a wooden bridge at the brook. Keep straight on, with the ditch and hedge to your right going uphill, past a lone bush and then cross another wooden bridge over the ditch. Continue up the hill, now with the ditch on your left, aiming for another lone bush at the corner of the field. Follow the hedge to a waymark sign, where a footpath turns left across a field towards Upper Dean, or continue on and turn right on to a farm track which leads down to Sandye Lane. Crossing over the lane and through a gap in the hedge the path takes you across the field to a stile and into a pasture. Follow the hedge to the bottom (see the historical ridge and furrow pattern for improving drainage still in the field on the left), where there is another stile and a bridge over the brook. Continue directly on to a third stile over a wire fence, into a paddock and then through a gate past Home Farm (4) back into the High Street. Turn right to return to the Church (1).

Walk B

Approx. 2½ miles / 1 hour .
Starting from the Church (1) turn right up Sandye Lane and then continue along the byway past the Eastern edge of Swineshead Wood (16), then near the point where the track reaches Spanoak Wood (17), turn right at the waymark along another farm track, (or continue straight on the by-way to Lower and Upper Dean). After about 25 yards turn right again at a wooden bridge over the ditch and aim towards a waymark post across the corner of the field. Continue along the edge of the field until reaching a wide concrete bridge on the right over the ditch. Crossing this, follow the grass track by the hedge to the brow of the hill and then straight on down the other side by a wide hard-core farm track, until reaching Pertenhall Road by a gap in the fence. Turn right to return to Swineshead, up the High Street to the Church (1).

Walk C

Approx. 1¼ miles / 30 minutes.
Starting from the Church (1) cross the High Street and take a farm track to the left opposite Sandye Lane. Go through the gate and then across the field to a stile over a wire fence. Cross the spinney bearing to the right, to a second stile into a field and then follow the path to a yellow waymark post by the end of Green Lane. Turn right here to return, on Green Lane, to the High Street, or carry straight on by a bridleway towards Riseley, or turn left to follow the path to a bridge over a ditch. Then, crossing the bridge, keep straight on with the hedge on your left, down to the Riseley Road. Turn left to return to the High Street (see the uneven field on the left where there are sunken remains of old cottages from the time when Swineshead was much bigger than nowadays), and then back to the Church (1).

Points of Interest

The Church of St Nicholas (1) dates from the early C14th and is built in the Decorative style on the site of a Saxon church. The painted rood screen and chancel stalls with misericords date from the C15th. A key is available from a Churchwarden when the church is locked (see notice in the porch). The War Memorial is by the gate at the southwest corner of the churchyard.
The Old School House (2) next to the Church was once three cottages, one of which had been the home of the schoolmistress. The village school, which was re-opened during the Second World War, was next door. Built in 1870, it is now the Village Hall (3) and has been much improved in recent years with the help of grants from Bedford Borough Council.
Home Farm House (4) was faithfully restored using traditional building techniques after being burnt down in 1988. The fire started in the thatched roof, which has been replaced by tiles. Note the well beside the path. It is one of 23 which used to serve the village.
Three Horseshoes (5) is the house in a distinctive stucco further down the High Street. It was formerly an alehouse and farriers. The forge, then open to the High Street, was in the single storey part of the house.
Brook Farm (6) is the last working farm in the village. Parts of the farmhouse date from C16th with a Victorian frontage facing the High Street.
Lower Farm House (7) is said to be the oldest farmhouse in the village, dating from the C16th. It was extensively restored from a very dilapidated state in 1982, when most of the original timbers were found to be still in excellent condition.
Shepherd's Cottage (8) is an attractive timber-framed house overlooking the High Street. It has been converted from three earlier cottages.
The Old Chapel (9) is a 1980s conversion of the former Methodist Chapel. Note the decorative gable end and engraved rosette: "Wesleyan Chapel 1864".
The Post House (10) was originally three cottages, now combined, one of which was the village post office in the 1930s. It was recently restored with aid from Bedford Borough Council.
The Old Five Bells (11) was the last village pub until closed by Charles Wells Ltd in 1993. It was originally three small cottages, one of which became an ale-house, and is being extensively renovated.
The Old Rectory (12) was built in 1879 or the sum of £890 from Queen Anne's Bounty, and was used as the rectory for 50 years until sold by the Church for only £500 in 1928
Manor Farm House (13) is an interesting combination of buildings with Queen Anne and Victorian additions to a small Tudor farmhouse. It has been much restored in recent years, with large and attractive gardens occasionally opened to the public.
The Manor House (14) is the largest house on the outskirts of the village, with parts dating from C15th.
Moat Farm House (15) across Sandye Lane from the Church is a C17th ochre-washed timber-framed building with part of the original moat remaining at the front. It was used as the rectory until about 1879 and was known as Glebe Farm well into the C20th. A document from 1644 ("The Solemn League and Covenant") found in the roof during restoration in 1846 is available to be viewed in Huntingdon Records Office.
Swineshead (16) and Spanoak (l7) Woods are areas of ancient woodland, which were acquired recently by the Woodland Trust with a view to conservation work to improve access for the public. Please keep to the paths to avoid damage to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Country Code

PLEASE -
Keep to the rights of way Keep dogs under control Do not deposit litter Close gates behind you Do not damage growing crops Do not pick wild flowers

Acknowledgements

The walks have been developed with support from Bedfordshire County Council under the PARISH PATHS PARTNERSHIP - a Countryside Commission initiative. Leaflet written by Rodney Tate with assistance from Swineshead villagers. Drawings by Dawn Williams.