Irchester Country Park
Great place to walk dogs. Drains well in winter. Facilities like cafe, toilets and dog waste bins. The only negative is the high parking charges.
Irchester Country Park is a popular location to walk dogs, but one I’d only recently visited. Probably the main reason for this is that there are so many other good dog walking locations closer to where I live in Northampton. Indeed Irchester Country Park is actually closer to Wellingborough than it is to Northampton.
Irchester Country Park – Parking
Irchester Country Park is easy to find using Google maps and is well signposted once you get close. There is plenty of parking available but it’s expensive which is the only negative I have in my review. The rates are as follows:
- £3.20 for up to 4 hours
- £5.20 for up to 8 hours
- £7.20 for up to 12 hours
Why oh why don’t our country parks offer an hourly parking rate as that’s all most of us need. If you think you might be a regular visitor to Irchester Country Park then you should consider an annual parking pass. The pass for just one park costs £38.00 but you can also buy a parking pass that covers 5 parks in the county and costs £51.50. The 5 parks included in this pass are:
- Irchester Country Park
- Barnwell Country Park
- Fermyn Woods Country Park
- Sywell Country Park
- Brixworth Country Park (also known as Pitsford Water Park)
Irchester Country Park – Facilities
The park has all the facilities a dog owner is likely to need. From the car park you will see signs to The Quarryman’s Rest Cafe which sells hot and cold snacks and drinks.
It is one of a collection of buildings which also includes a toilet block and the Ranger’s Office. I noticed a tap on the outside of the toilet block along with a couple of water bowls for dogs to drink from. Dog owners will also be pleased to know that there are a decent number of dog waste bins. Another plus was that it was less muddy than many other parks which is saying something with all the rain we have had recently. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that a large number of the trees in Irchester Country Park are evergreens. When trees in most parks are completely bare at this time of year it lifts the senses to witness that greenery in winter.
Most of the paths are either tarmac or stone. If you venture off into the woods with your dog the ground is still fairly dry. There are some open fields close to the cafe if you want to throw a ball for your dog. You might notice a sign saying ‘No Kite Flying’, no doubt because of overhead electricity pylons close by.
There are some steep banks that are the remains of an old Ironstone Quarry said to be 1.65 million years old. The quarry is known as Wembley Pit because the quarrying started in 1924, soon after Wembley Stadium opened. Iron from this quarry was used to build Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Irchester Country Park won’t just appeal to dog owners though. There is a children’s play area as well as the Jungle Parc treetop / zip line adventure course. For train enthusiasts there is the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum which includes both steam and diesel engines.
Irchester Country Park – Summary
As a place to walk dogs I really liked Irchester Country Park. I think I prefer it to both Sywell Country Park and Pitsford Reservoir (Brixworth Country Park). However all three country parks suffer from the expensive parking charges. I can’t help but feel these parks would attract more visitors during the week if they offered a much cheaper one hour parking rate. For those who think they might use Irchester Country Park regularly, the annual parking pass might make financial sense.