Mar 2020 – Daventry to Braunston, Northamptonshire

Anyone hoping that the 1½ mile section of railway-based cycle trail from Daventry towards Braunston would continue along more of the old LNWR trackbed will be disappointed to learn that, although Daventry District Council has set aside £730,000 for an extension to Braunston, it will follow the towpath of the Grand Union Canal and not more of the old railway. A report in a local newspaper explained that, ‘This avoids drainage and safety issues that would arise from continuing the path along the route of the former railway line, as well as the need to clear vegetation.’ [Yet again, it seems that ‘health and safety issues’ are being used as the all-purpose bogeyman to prevent the re-use of a wasted asset. Webmaster.] The current trail starts at grid reference SP 576630 off Welton Road, Daventry, and appears (from online OS mapping) to continue to the railway overbridge at SP 561648. A reasonable interpretation of the somewhat vague particulars in the newspaper suggests that the extension will start from the current end point, possibly using a little more of the trackbed, before crossing fields to reach the canal towpath. Tim Coghlan, MD of nearby Braunston Marina, commented: ‘Using the old railway line that linked Daventry to Leamington Spa has been under discussion for many years. I would have preferred the old railway line, as it is far more interesting and dramatic, including a fine cutting, and would have helped its future preservation. Too many old railway lines are being destroyed in developments. But this new cross-fields route has the compensation of providing funding for improving the towpath from the Braunston tunnel entrance down to the village, which is in part unuseable in winter’. Mr Coghlan expressed the hope that this project would act as a stimulus for more of the canal towpath to be improved. The scheme is being funded by monies raised from local developers, but is dependent on the agreement of the Canal & River Trust and the granting of planning permission. (N.J. Hill)