Daventry Country Park – Daventry – Northamptonshire
Having moved to Daventry from Northampton forty years ago I have always considered the Country Park to be one of the districts true gems. When my two children were growing up I often took them to the adventure play area for them to let off some steam and explore. As they got older I took them for walks around the park pointing out the birds on the lake, in the trees and around the bird tables.
My children got very excited when we spotted Blackcaps, Nuthatch, Robin, Goldfinch, Tree creepers and sometimes even a Buzzard or Jay amongst the abundant species of ducks and geese on the lake. As a school teacher in the town I also started to bring the young people down from the Southbrook for nature talks from the Park Rangers and I even managed to get the students to complete some conservation work as part of a community based learning scheme at the school.
Two Mute Swans
The students loved coming down to the park whether it was for science projects, environmental studies or just `getting out of school for a walk in the fresh air down by the water`. I have recently moved much closer to the park and walk almost every day looking and listening to the changing of the seasons.
Great Tit on one of the many feeders
I always opt to complete the circular walk which is 2.3 miles (3.7km) long but there are numerous marked and hard-surfaced trails throughout the woodlands and meadows. The walks go close to the reservoir so that walkers are encouraged to stop and view the wildlife.
The recently resurfaced causeway path or dam
There is also a very pleasant walk across the two meadows linked by a small wooden bridge and new footpaths which has now made it possible to walk around the meadows even during very wet weather! The paths are a real improvement and are easily accessible to wheelchairs & pushchairs. Apart from the seating areas around the very popular children`s adventure playground there are several picnic spots situated around the park too.
There is also a wonderful new café where you can stop and have anything from a cup of tea to a full English breakfast, if desired, inside or outside! There are also new toilets including some much needed and essential accessible toilets. Children can get up close to the wildlife feeding the ducks on the wooden platform, which is soon going to be replaced with a new circular boardwalk, which will be accessible for all to use.
This year marks the 43rd anniversary since the park first opened to the public in 1978. Although the country park is now forty three years old, the reservoir is considerably older, having been built as a feeder for the Grand Union Canal & Oxford Canal in 1804. Many land holdings including part of the nearby hamlet of Thrupp were flooded to create the reservoir.
What a big one!
When Daventry began to grow quickly in the 1970’s, the District Council agreed with British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) to manage the site for recreational and conservation purposes. In 1983 a new visitor Centre and cafe opened in the old reservoir keepers cottage, adapted for the purpose and the park was expanded in 1994 with the construction of the Northern Way road introducing the new Wild Acres and Community Orchard.
I have taken to walking twice around the park every day and I have seen how well the park is used by walkers, cyclists, runners and sometimes even horse riders, which are no longer allowed in the park!
An avenue of trees before the new paths were laid
If like me you hate the gym but want to stay fit and healthy there is also an outdoor gym in the park. The fitness equipment is located in the Northern Field beyond the car park near the entrance. The cardiovascular equipment includes a rowing machine, leg press, cross-rider, air walker, skier, cycle, body twist and rider. With its wealth of wildlife, nature trails and the great expanse of water across the large reservoir the park really is a fantastic facility to have on our doorstep.
Platform pier opposite the Cafe
Daventry Country park also hosts a Park Run every Saturday morning starting at 9.00am with hundreds of runners of all ages competing against the clock in a 5km timed run. Runners run at their own pace and participate for their own fitness and enjoyment. The Daventry Park Run which in recent years celebrated its 100th park run and is organised and managed entirely by volunteers and new runners are always welcome.
The Country Park has been awarded the Country Parks Accreditation and has received numerous Green Flag Award`s which recognises it`s importance as one of the best green spaces in the country.
Which Way Now?
I appreciate that people need places to live, but I do worry about the impact current housing developments may have on this wonderful `oasis of nature’. As a haven for wildlife and a place where people and children can escape from the pressures of daily life I do hope that the new developments currently taking place do not damage one of the places that has made it such a great town in which to live and raise your children. There are also a number of new footpaths being constructed which already link the park to the Grand Union Canal running along the eastern side of the new Monksmoor development. I do hope that hundreds of tree saplings & hedgerows are planted in these areas to help wildlife regain some of the habitats lost!
This year the park has seen some major improvements to the circular paths, the building of new walkways, jetties and improving the café area and toilets. New equipment has been installed in the children`s play area, including a castle-themed fort with lots of different activities, new swings and some smaller items for toddlers plus a refurbished zip wire!
The pathways within the Community Sensory Garden and along the western side of the reservoir have also been resurfaced and two timber footbridges near the southern entrance have been replaced. A new pier named after Tony Newby, the parks long serving Park Ranger, `Newby Pier` will have improved access for all and will replace the current structure opposite the Cafe. A new jetty will be constructed on the opposite side of Lovell’s Bay, providing a safer spot from which to view the wildfowl and as a safer staging point for a number of new water sports including wild water swimming which have already attracted many participants.
The timber marsh boardwalk on the western side of the reservoir has also been replaced together with the resurfacing of paths on the eastern side. The toilets next to the Cafe have been fully refurbished and signage throughout the park improved. The Reservoir Café has been completely revamped with extensions to both the kitchen and outside and indoor refreshment area. The courtyard has been repaved and a new canopy installed over the covered seating area.
A window onto the reservoir
If you visit the country park either to walk, run, visit the children`s play area, bird watching, photography, cycling or any other activity and would like to become a friend of the park as a volunteer you can join The Friends of Daventry Country Park.
The Friends of Daventry Country Park are a group of volunteers committed to supporting the work of Daventry District Council and the Country Park Rangers in protecting, preserving and promoting our precious Daventry Country Park. The Friends offer a variety of activities to raise awareness to the benefits of Daventry Country Park, attract more visitors and more volunteers.
Daventry Country Park
Telephone: 01327 871100
Councillor Alan Hills with local artist Nina Cashmore in front of one of the pictorial information boards she designed.
Jim Davis @thetravellocker thetravellocker.com