20 walkers and one dog assembled on a sunny May morning at The George in Desborough, unaware that they were about to begin "Chris’s challenge”.
After a short briefing on the history of Desborough and its delights, along with warnings of crossing busy roads and difficult terrain, we all set off ready to rise to the challenges ahead. We walked along Station Road, past numerous takeaways and the Heritage Centre where copies of the Desborough mirror and Desborough necklace can be seen. (The originals are at the British Museum although they were recently on show at Kettering Manor House.)
We then walked over the railway bridge to enter the Plens, a former ironstone quarry. We crossed through the Grange estate into a grassy, undulating field to Challenge 1. This was a stile with a narrow footpath on rough ground followed by crossing the busy road near West Lodge.
Challenge 2 awaited in the form of a field of frisky bullocks that scared several members of the group as they almost charged towards us. (They seemed to be disturbed by the dog as the bullocks had not been at all interested when Chris and Gervais had practised the walk the previous week.)
Challenge 3 followed closely when we crossed the stile into a rough field, which had a wooden plank to traverse as well as another small, wooden bridge. With all 20 ramblers having succeeded in the challenges, the rest of the walk was relatively easy. We walked up a tarmac road onto Desborough Airfield, where we felt a few drops of rain which, thankfully, did not materialise. We walked around the concrete paths then took our lives in our hands as we walked along the grass verge along the Stoke Albany Road and crossed over it to a track down to Stoke Wood for our "banana break”.
The birds were singing and the bluebells were in flower. The sun shone as if to smile on the intrepid explorers.
After refuelling, we were off again, over several stiles and fields to cross the Stoke Albany road again. After another short footpath, we crossed the West Lodge road again into a grassy field with shaggy ponies.
It was then an easy walk around the Great Bear (estate of light industry), then through the Grange estate and down the main road back to the George for a well-earned lunch. Congratulations to all the walkers for completing the course.
Special thanks are extended to Gervais for helping to bash down foliage as well as cutting back brambles and trees in the practice walk; to Julie S for being the back-marker and chief photographer; and to Gervais for helping with the traffic crossings.
A big thank you to Chris S for organising and leading this walk which did not seem to lack challenges.
Additional thanks to her for providing this most enjoyable report.