The third Monday of January has been said to be the 'most depressing day of the year' - otherwise known as Blue Monday.
Where did Blue Monday come from?
The concept of Blue Monday was initially coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall, who was asked to come up with a formula to explain the January Blues by Sky Travel in 2004 so that they could use it to advertise their winter holiday deals.
The formula takes into account the weather, the time that has passed since Christmas, debt, low motivational levels, time since failing new year's resolutions, monthly salary and the feeling of a need to take action.
Although Cliff Arnall has since said that the whole formula is pseudoscience and should be 'refuted' by the British public, this combination of factors could explain why some people experience low mood and depression during this time of the year. Those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are often left feeling depressed during the winter months.
Many people found that taking a walk in the countryside during lockdown was an effective way to combat low mood and depression.
The Northamptonshire Walks website was launched in 2014 by founder, Dave Askew, and his Facebook page soared to over 25,000 followers during the lockdown period. He since launched group walks to help combat loneliness.
Naturally, we consulted him as our local walking expert to share with us some of the best walking routes in Northamptonshire that include stops at some of the county's best independent pubs. What better way to shake off the January blues?
Here are five pub walks in Northamptonshire:
1. The Eydon Circular
Distance: 5.1 miles (8.18km)
Time to walk: Just over two hours
This walk starts and ends at the Royal Oak pub in Eydon, which is owned by local farmers and dates back to the 17th century.
Dave recommends this walk for those who want to 'get away from it all' with fantastic scenery, hills for exercise, a stunning village with an interesting history and, most importantly, peace. Expect sweeping views of the countryside as you cross over the site of an old railway station that closed in 1956 and venture through a nature reserve.
The Eydon Circular walking route can be found at https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-166-eydon-circular-stunning-scenery-just-the-sound-of-the-birds/2. The Stanwick Circular
Distance: 3.1 miles (4.9km)
Time to walk: Roughly one hour
The walk starts in the High Street in the village of Stanwick - home to the Duke of Wellington pub, which dates back to the 18th century. The name is derived from the fact that the Duke of Wellington's boots were made in Stanwick. It is the only pub in the village and refreshments can be enjoyed there either at the start or at the end of the walk.
On the route, you will encounter the Stanwick Hotel, an old shoe factory and the Grade II listed Stanwick Hall.
For details of the full Stanwick Circular route, visit https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-158-stanwick-circular-walk/.
3. The Harrington Circular
Distance: 5.5 miles (8.85km)
Time to walk: Two hours
The Tollemache Arms - "the Tolly" - marks the start and the end of this mainly off-road walk. This pub was crowned regional winner in the East Midlands at the National Pub & Bar Awards 2021 and has a huge selection of gins from our local gin distillery, Warner's, as it is very close by.
On this walking route, you will encounter the old site of the Manor of Harrington - now listed as a historical archaeological site. Be warned, this route can get very muddy in the winter.
For the full details of the route, visit https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-103-time-for-a-gin-anyone-harrington/.
4. The Bringtons Circular Walk
Distance: 4.4 miles (7.1 km)
Time to walk: Just under two hours
This route covers both Great and Little Brington with a perfect halfway stop at The Saracen's Head in Little Brington. If you complete this walk on a Sunday, you can book a table ahead of time at the Saracen's Head and enjoy one of their scrumptious roast dinner sandwiches.
On this walk, you can expect to get an incredible view of Althorp House, which was famously the home of Princess Diana and the Spencer family. You may even get to see the estate's deer herd.
For more details of the Great and Little Brington Circular walk, visit https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-6-a-quick-stroll-around-the-bringtons-a-wave-to-diana/.
5. The Bramptons and the Brampton Valley Way Circular
Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6km)
Time to walk: Just under two hours
This walking route consists of not one country pub but two - the Brampton Halt and The Spencer Arms.
This is an easy route as it is flat and is made up of well-marked paths - it starts at The Spencer Arms in Chapel Brampton and passes through Church Brampton before joining the Brampton Valley Way.
The full details of the Bramptons and Brampton Valley Way Circular can be found at https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-20-a-short-stroll-around-the-bramptons-the-brampton-valley-way/Did you enjoy this article? This newspaper recently put together an article listing 11 cosy independent pubs you should visit this winter in Northamptonshire.