If you’re looking for a family day out in Northamptonshire that will wear the kids out, won’t cost very much at all and can keep the family happy for the whole day then I have just the answer.
Oh and it’s lockdown-friendly too.
This day out starts on the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, taking just 30-minutes from the centre of Northampton. It includes the chance to run through meadows, paddle in the river, see canal boats, creep through a secret waterway tunnel, cross steep bridges and more.
We went last weekend and my 2 and 4 year old absolutely loved it – we all did! And we’ll definitely be back. So are you ready? Let’s go!
A Lovely Family Day Out Near Northampton
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Start at The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove
Head to The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove. It’s right on the canal and ordinarily offers great meals, but during these uncertain times if also offering a take-away service.
You can pre-order from the takeaway menu online and then collect your food at a designated time. I ordered just two hours before our collection, but obviously the sooner you order the better.
The menu includes their famous wood-fired pizzas, which I’d highly recommend. You can even order one of their legendary roasts! However, for this day out I’d suggest getting a few pizzas and the dreamy vegan garlic flatbread with sea salt and rosemary. It’s easier to eat that sort of thing out and about.
If you have young ones try one of the kid’s pizzas as it’s shaped like an adorable bunny – my two thought it was amazing!
The Navigation Inn Cosgrove currently has a one-way system in place, so you enter at the front, collect your food and then head out through the garden. There’s a hand santiser station too.
Grab your food and then head back in the car to drive five-minutes to the next spot.
Canal Walk in Cosgrove
Drive to MK19 7JP. Just before you enter Cosgrove Park take the gravel track on the right and follow it down to the canal and you should be able to bag a parking space.
It was a bit drizzly at the start of our trip so we ate our feast in the boot of the car, which of course, the kids loved!
If you have better weather you could take the food to enjoy by the canal.
Grand Union Canal Walk
From here head along the canal (in the direction that’s opposite to the way you came down the track). You’ll pass a house selling eggs and chickens in the front garden and see a few canal locks. There’s also a field here where the cows like to hang out and take a dip in the water. Again, my two were beyond excited to see a cow in the river – oh to see the world as kids do, eh?!
Keep following the canal walk down the path. It’s wide enough to pass any other people comfortably and there are plenty of canal boats to watch. My eldest loved discovering the different names and my youngest loved petting all the boater’s dogs.
Tip: It’s a flat path, so buggy/bike/scooter-friendly. However, you would need to carry them further on this walk, though only for a few minutes. If that’s a deal-breaker, park at the free Ouse Valley Park or Stony Stratford Nature Reserve car parks.
It’s a stone/gravel path that’s mainly smooth, but unseasoned scooters may find it a bit harder. Plus, it’s obviously by the water. This part of this family day out in Northamptonshire is only around 15-minutes and once you get to the country park (further down) the track is perfect for all kinds of wheels.
After a while you’ll reach The Iron Trunk Aqueduct. It’s a short, but high (10.8 metres), unique bridge. It’s a narrow path to get across, so you’ll need to wait if others are near. On the left you can see the drop down to the River Ouse below and to the right you can see the Grand Union Canal right next to you.
Cross over and then turn immediately left to follow the steps down to the river. At the bottom, on your left you’ll see the ‘secret’ narrow, dark tunnel. Venture through to reach the next part of this family day out.
Recommended Reading: The Best Northamptonshire Walks
Ouse Valley Park
You’ll then find yourselves in Ouse Valley Park and what a gem this is. It follows a smooth path, with plenty of space to distance from others. We didn’t see too many people during our Sunday visit.
It trails alongside the River Ouse, with various gaps in the bank to get in and paddle in the shallow waters. We took the kid’s bandy nets, though our attempts to catch any of the many fish were unsuccessful.
The other side of the path runs past beautiful meadows and greenery. If you keep following the signs for Ouse Valley Park West you should see cows and come to a series of tunnels/arches that are perfect for a game of chasing and shouting.
At this point we turned back to head home as we were short on time, but you could easily keep going. There’s loads to explore and see. You can find out more on the official website here.
Extend Your Visit at Cosgrove Campsite
If you fancy a little staycation you could stay overnight at Cosgrove Park. It’s a super family-friendly campsite, offering glamping pods and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and campervans.
On site there’s a swimming pool, a bowling alley, skate park, crazy golf and loads more.
Recommended Reading: 8 Handy Tips for Camping With Toddlers
If you prefer a more traditional stay, try Elm Tree Farm just by The Navigation Inn (where this family day out in Northamptonshire starts). They offer simple, classy cottages, studio rooms and apartments.
Have you been to this area?