On the second Tuesday of every month a group of Baginton residents and friends assemble at one of the many village public houses in local Warwickshire to take a walk of less than 5 miles. We will assemble at 9.45am for a start at 10 am. The walk will terminate at the pub for a well earned midday meal for those that wish to stay. Members take turns to research the next walk.
Obviously, if the weather is seriously inclement, the walk may be cancelled or deferred to the following week. Lifts can always be arranged for anyone without transport. For further details contact Brenda (02476 305509). New walkers are always most welcome.
September 2015 Walk
On 8th September, our walk starts from The Bell Inn at Shottery: take A46 Stratford bypass, turn left onto A422 then after about ½ mile turn right into Church Rd: The Bell Inn is in the centre of Shottery’s one way system.(SP181551).The journey should take just over ½ hour. (You can visit Ann Hathaway’s cottage later!)
August 2015 Walk
A lovely summer’s day greeted 11 of us for our August walk from the centre of Alcester. Our route took us along the High Street, busy with folk browsing the interesting range of small shops, into Malt Lane and its beautifully maintained timber-framed houses, where we were invited to explore further. An invitation we had to postpone for another day. After a short walk through a small park we joined the lane to Oversley Green crossing the bridge over the River Arrow where the annual duck race is held: no ducks to be seen today.
The next stretch led along a short path behind houses, then through kissing gates and fields with grazing sheep who happily ignored us. Our reverie was disturbed for a while as we walked parallel with and then under the busy A46 to enter the peace of Oversley Wood. Here the route followed a wide track and after about ½ mile we turned right up a steep path through the woodland. On arriving at a lengthy fallen tree, the group decided it could not resist the opportunity to sit and bounce here for a coffee stop! Once refreshed and rested we continued up to reach a clearing with a convenient bench facing a wonderful view across open countryside towards Ragley Hall.
We descended through the wood and over a stile to walk along a farm lane past 2 enormous silos, and then to the footbridge over the noisy A46. This led to peaceful Primrose Lane with its attractive thatched cottages where we followed the River Arrow to cross a footbridge and complete the walk back into Alcester and a tasty meal at The Swan.
July 2015 Walk
There was light drizzle in the air as walkers gathered in the village of Farnborough on the edge of Warwickshire. Prepared for rain we headed for St Botolph’s Church; St Botolph being the patron of wayfarers and beggars! Going downhill from the church the sun appeared and raincoats came off. After a short walk up a lane we took a footpath alongside a large barn, at the corner of which a sharp eyed member of the group saw a small deer that then disappeared into the crops nearby.
The footpath exited the field through a hedge on to the A423 right on the Oxfordshire boundary. Crossing the road and the border we then made our way through another hedge into a grassed area used for horse training. From here our route involved clambering over a fence and stiles further along the way were somewhat hidden with long grass. On higher ground we stopped for a short break, taking in the views of open countryside and the sun reflecting on Clattercote reservoir.
Continuing on our way, the footpath was again overgrown and nettles surrounded the next stile so it was a relief to pass through shorter grass before crossing back over the A423 towards Mollington. On the edge of the village we took the well walked D’Arcy Dalton Way, named after the late Col. W. P. d'Arcy Dalton who worked for over half a century to preserve rights of way in Oxfordshire. A walk through Farnborough Park led us back to our starting point; where there was light drizzle. Lunch was enjoyed just two miles away in Fenny Compton where it had been raining all morning!
June 2015 Walk
Our happy band of 16 ramblers met up at Stockton, accompanied by Jasper and Ash, our four-legged friends from The Oak. Jasper fulfilled the role of seasoned walker, while the much younger Ash, on her first outing like this, showed unbounded energy. Both needed some tuition on how to negotiate stiles! The blue sky beckoned, though there was still a chill in the air as we set off north-eastwards into territory unfamiliar to most, skirting the exhausted gravel workings and crossing first the old railway line and then the Grand Union Canal. Stiles then indicated our way through fields to the handsome and quiet little settlement of Broadwell with its extensive village green. Some new and attractive housing to be seen but no shop, no church and no pub!
A change of direction here brought us to a halfway stop for elevenses with far-reaching views towards the higher ground marking Shuckburgh and Napton. It was warm enough now to shed some outer clothing. The very large arable fields that followed bore healthy crops of field beans, the path through the middle of one field being at least waist-high and far above the heads of Jasper and Ash. Re-crossing the canal, we briefly turned right onto the road and then left into a farm drive. In the pasture here, we encountered cattle that were curious about the dogs, now, of course, on a lead. The dogs were equally intrigued about the cattle but we headed on a correct course to the next stile and it was the cattle who finally beat a hasty retreat.
Further field paths lined with wild flowers led us to the outskirts of Stockton where a jobsworth groundsman preparing the cricket pitch took issue with us over our route and the presence of the dogs. Undeterred, we returned to our cars nearby and disbooted in preparation for a short drive to the Blue Lias Inn where we commandeered a suitable end of the dining area and enjoyed an excellent lunch together. The Warwickshire countryside has a lot to offer, particularly at this time of the year.
May 2015 Walk
The May walk saw us return to Corley: a planned move to coincide with the bluebells and we were not to be disappointed. To add variety to last year’s walk we went round the other way and I think by half way everybody realised!
We parked at the Bull and Butcher at Corley Moor and went down Watery Lane, passing bluebells in Elkins Wood, and turning into the entrance of Hollyberry Hall Farm. Our one hitch was to lose the footpath in a field of rape and unfortunately we were left to cross some barbed wire which took its revenge on Norman’s trousers. We then picked up the green lane to Eaves Green and the verges were again festooned with bluebells. On reaching Eaves Green we headed back northwards following the Coventry Way and came back via the wood known as Meriden Shafts. This was once again carpeted in – you’ve guessed it—bluebells.
By now the morning had greatly improved but with a strong wind behind us we were carried back in the direction of the Bull and Butcher where we had a most enjoyable meal. Once again a good walk, through beautiful countryside enhanced at this time of year by the bluebells and this time the leader was very careful to make sure everybody got back safely!
April 2015 Walk
For the April walk led by Mick Sanders we returned to familiar ground in the area south and west of Kenilworth Castle. This time we parked at the Castle Farm Sports Centre and the promise of good weather produced a party of 17.
Crossing the playing fields we picked up the Centenary Way and headed due south across Rouncil Lane and then passing the old wartime artillery site. By now it had developed into a beautiful Spring day and we turned west to form the circuit. We attempted to follow the footpath as shown on the 1999 edition of the OS Map, but the section through Deer Park Farm is no longer possible and we had a certain amount of retracing our steps to do. We soon found the new route and cut across to the path which follows the lovely Inchford Brook – once again crossing Rouncil Lane, returning to Oak Farm and the Centenary Way.
However, this ramble will be known as the walk of ‘the Lost Lambs”: firstly a new-born lamb, caught in loose fencing and seemingly abandoned, was extricated and allowed to find its mother. Secondly, two party members lagging behind, despite being returned to a familiar path from the early part of the walk, strayed off in the direction of the Castle and had to be found and brought back to the car park. We all reconvened in the Clarendon Arms and had a very enjoyable lunch.
March 2015 Walk
After last month’s rather muddy experience, we were taking no chances this time and opted for a ‘dry’ walk. On a beautiful, sunny spring morning, twelve of us met at the Park and Ride car park for our walk round Canley Ford and the perimeter of the Memorial Park. We set off up Coat of Arms Road, over the Kenilworth Road and down the drive towards Canley Ford. We crossed over into the field and followed the path through the golf course to Beechwood Avenue. Old memories were stirred for some of us when we saw the old wooden Milk Bar hidden by shrubs and trees, looking in a very sorry state – apart from the Milk Bar sign still there in good condition! In our youth this was a haunt for courting and riding our motor bikes.
We followed the path through the Golf course, back into the Memorial Park and made our way past the coffee shop where, conveniently, next to the children’s play area, there was a row of seats for us to enjoy our coffee break. We took a look at the cenotaph, which some of us hadn’t seen before, and continued round the perimeter of the park and back to our cars, and to The Oak where some of us enjoyed a meal. A lovely dry walk, we needn’t have worried about mud today!
February 2015 Walk
After several efforts to encourage Jasper (the pub dog) to get out of the car and go “walkies”, the February walk eventually started from the car park of the Anchor Inn at Leek Wootton. We headed out of the car park and, after turning left, we continued for a short distance along the road until we came to the well-marked footpath.
The walk circles around the Warwickshire Golf Course with the initial path inside the course passing Woodcote House, Warwickshire Police Headquarters and following the line of the 604 yard 6th hole on the Earls Course. At this point Jasper heard the sounds of guns firing and decided that he would prefer to return to the car. The main group of walkers continued slowly while Gayle ran back to catch the dog and return with him, this time firmly secured on a lead.
The path started to get muddy before entering a small coppice and leaving the course into open countryside and joining Centenary Way. The path re-enters a wooded area called Larch Covert, which is used by Warwickshire Police as a dog training area and shooting range. Luckily the range is only used on Wednesdays, so Jasper didn’t need to panic this time. The route makes a small climb to the hamlet of Middle Woodloes where the group stopped for coffee, before continuing the rise to the trig point, giving views over the surrounding countryside at 84m above sea level. We then descended back onto the golf course and through old gardens of Wootton Court and back into the village through the church yard. Retracing our footsteps to our starting point meant that we could enjoy a nice lunch in The Anchor Inn after discarding some very muddy boots and a rather relieved Jasper!
January 2015 Walk
The walk was well supported starting out from the Lady Katharine Leveson Estate car park at Temple Balsall. We walked through the farm yard following the footpath through the woods Then a short walk up the Knowle road across the plantation to the rear entrance of Springfield House. Then across country walk towards Lidgate Form where once again we joined the main road turning left along the canal footpath. We passed the Boatyard where they manufacture the boats and countless moored boats. We eventually reached The Black Boy pub where we took our well deserved coffee break; after consulting the menu at the pub it was decided to book a table for lunch for our 12 walkers.
We continued down the track to the main road where we crossed and once again followed the well indicated footpaths, although the final section was a struggle with the path rutted up by 4x4 vehicles and recent heavy rain. We left the footpath to a short walk down Temple lane; we passed through Temple Balsall cemetery and made our way back to the car park. Another good walk enjoyed by everybody.
December 2014 Walk
The walk started from outside St Leonard Church, Ryton on Dunsmore. We headed down the footpath alongside the A45 after 150yds we turned left up the bank to start on the path cross country. We continued overland until we came across the new excavations for the Gravel and sand workings which we avoided.Skirting the Wolston playing fields and housing, we took a right turn onto Wolston lane then after about 200yds we made a left turn alongside the reclaimed land from the old Wolston sand pits. Taking a right turn over a stile we followed the excellent Warwickshire CC footpath markers and eventually we reached The Knightlow Cross, the stump of an ancient stone cross where 25 local parishes would pay an annual fee to the local land owner. After a short distance we had a hectic crossing over the busy A45 to then walk along freeboard lane to reach the Wolston Island and the underpass back to our starting point. We all then went to The Oak for a very nice meal after our enjoyable walk.
November 2014 Walk
The November walk started out from the Fleur de Lys Public House at Lowsonford and twelve were in the party. We headed towards Preston Fields Lane, an unmade lane which crosses the River Alne by ford. Fortunately, despite the heavy rains of the previous few days, the low bridge across the river remained above water level and we were able to cross. The party remained intact despite Roger falling off a plank bridge into a ditch – fortunately he was saved from a muddy fate by brambles and hawthorns from which he had to be extracted!
From the lane we crossed fields and arrived at the picturesque Preston Bagot church - an isolated church with splendid views to the south. Here we all crammed into the Church porch for our refreshments. From the Church we dropped down to the Stratford/Birmingham canal, recrossing the River Alne, and followed the towpath back to Lowsonford. At the Fleur de Lys there was a roaring fire and a magnificent collection of pies: an enjoyable finale to an interesting walk.
October 2014 Walk
In October our group of nine walkers met at The Stag in Offchurch. Once all were booted, we set off along Welsh Road for a short distance to climb a stile to the path uphill, past grazing cattle and then over another stile. Our route led us across a field to join Offchurch Bury drive, soon turning left alongside a hedgerow and ditch (allegedly a defensive ditch dug for King Offa – who else?) The adjacent field was set with jumps and structures designed to challenge the skill of competing riders, but there were no horses to be seen today. Our route led us over a couple of stiles to cross a weir and dam and then onto a footbridge over the River Leam. Once across we walked over two fields (and more stiles!) to join a well-marked, secluded track screened by hedgerows laden with autumn fruit.
The track climbed alongside Leamington golf course to reach the greens on the brow of the hill where we had planned to enjoy our coffee break on a bench admiring the surroundings. However we were beaten to it by a couple of dog walkers. So we stood around to enjoy our refreshments and the rather misty view over the greens and Campion Hills towards Leamington as skein of geese flew overhead. Once refreshed we descended steeply towards a group of farm buildings, now the Newbold Comyn Arms, and continued on the track alongside the golf course. After a while we crossed a water meadow to reach a bridge over the River Leam, then on to the Radford road for a short distance to reach the towpath of the Grand Union Canal. Here we followed the canal towards Radford Semele, passing under a few bridges and past the huge Radford Bottom Lock. There was little activity apart from one narrow boat waiting while the lock was prepared for entry and a few mallards looking hopefully for a crumb.
Just beyond the lock we walked under a magnificent skewed railway bridge, diagonally crossing the canal. The brickwork was impressive and it was hard to imagine how it was constructed without the equipment available to modern builders. Here we left the canal to walk up the bank to join the Offchurch Greenway, once a railway track but now a pleasant path. This eventually led us to a side path, through to a kissing gate, across a field and a stile to the Long Itchington Road. Here we carefully crossed to Village Street, past thatched cottages with peacock decoration atop and our return to The Stag for a well-deserved lunch.
September 2014 Walk
It’s a long way to Tipperary but nowhere near as far (via the A452 north from Kenilworth and the A4177 towards Honiley) to the Tipperary Inn where the song is reputed to have been written. Here eight of us assembled on a bright morning, ideal for walking, our numbers depleted by holidays and other commitments. Setting out at 10.00am, a couple of minutes along the busy road brought us to an enclosed path and then a route parallel to the road across the frontages of some exclusive properties, gates having replaced the succession of stiles that once entailed a lot of climbing and slowed progress. We next picked a winding way between Black Hill and Hazel Hill woods, skirting the muddy sections: yes, even at this time of year. This is a beautiful route, especially with the dappled sunlight penetrating the trees, and photographs were taken. However it gets very boggy and it is definitely not recommended for a winter walk.
Emerging into fields, we progressed alongside crops to the tarmac and wide views at Warriors Lodge Farm, a home to some giant agricultural machinery. After a stroll under a lovely blue sky along a familiar stretch of Chase Lane (but normally approached from the opposite direction), a left turn took us back onto a field path once more. This provided an ideal place to halt and enjoy our elevenses in the sunshine, appetites not diminished by blackberries already sneakily consumed on the way. Regular waymarks then directed our refreshed steps round and across several mostly close cropped fields to a hidden away desirable residence for sale with a large, most attractive garden. This was adjacent to the still lived in but largely unknown historical Rudfyn Manor with its Tudor framework and tall gables, once the property of the Abbey of Kenilworth until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535. Once through a rather overgrown copse and on a new heading, a succession of grazing meadows, linked by an equal number of fairly easy stiles, brought us over a rise heading for Meer End Farm. Here the farm drive led directly back to the main road, giving us a 12.30pm arrival back at the Tipperary Inn opposite, where we were made very welcome and we rewarded ourselves for our efforts in our customary manner. Leader David Grimsey.
August 2014 Walk
In August a small but select group walked around Draycote reservoir. We were very lucky with the weather; sunny with a cool breeze, ideal for walking. We were passed by people on bikes including young children with Mums running behind. There was also a large play area for the children with their Grandparents.The lake was quite choppy, but the birds seem to enjoy; we saw grebes, coots, tufted ducks and too many Canadian geese. A few fishermen and wind surfers were out including one fisherman up to his waist in the water - rather him than me. It was a very relaxing walk, which we all enjoyed. We then went to the cafe which had a very nice view of the lake and had our lunch.
July 2014 Walk
It was with sorrow that this month’s walk was put back a week, but seven regular walkers met up at the Duck on The Pond ready for a walk around Long Itchington. Proceeding past The Holy Trinity Church we turned into Bascote Road to join The Millennium Way. Here we walked through a pretty flower meadow, dotted with butterflies, alongside the River Itchen to Stonebridge Lane and arrived at the far end of the village. In Short Lane we took a passageway that led us out past farm buildings back into the fields. We had to pick our way through some rather tall vegetation and a difficult to see path through a wood, but we emerged unscathed to cross a disused railway line. The next few fields were planted with ripening wheat and in the heat of the day someone remarked that it was reminiscent of a scene from North By Northwest. Although a light aircraft did pass overhead it was noticeably quiet with, for once, no traffic noise.
After a short stop for welcome refreshment, we continued along an unclassified road known as Ridgeway Lane. On the preliminary walk this had been very muddy and completely flooded in parts, but on this occasion it was dry, although there were puddled areas after the weekend showers. The final part of the walk was along the Grand Union Canal passing Bascote Locks. This was rather a long stretch of towpath, but the friendly banter kept us going until we came to the bridge where we should cross final fields back into the village. It was here that those in front came adrift from a couple of stragglers who had stopped for a pee. After waiting some minutes, it was decided that as one of them was a co-leader and had trod the route before we would walk slowly on, frequently looking behind to see if we would be followed. We were amazed to find the said lingerers back at the pub before us having taken a short cut! It was a longer walk than usual (for most) and there was debate about the qualities of leadership, but rest assured all are still on speaking terms.
June 2014 Walk
For our June walk, led by Mick Sanders, we returned to Corley but this time instead of heading north across the M6 we headed south towards Meriden. Parking at the Bull and Butcher, a group of 10 headed up the road towards the Red Lion and then turned down the aptly named Windmill Lane. The old Windmill is now converted and attached to an adjoining cottage. This is one of the highest points in the City and just after the Windmill there is a fine view back across the City.
Just before Birchley Hall Farm we turned right and followed the path to the edge of the Birchley Hayes Wood. At this point we were following the Coventry Way. Leaving the edge of the wood we crossed towards Harvest Hill Lane and the character of this remnant of the old Arden landscape becomes apparent – a mixture of woods and clearings. We followed the lane briefly eastwards and still following the Coventry Way (now sharing with the Heart of England Way) we continued southwards across the fields towards the woodland known as Meriden Shafts - part of the Packington Estate. The woods were delightful and we stopped for coffee at this point. Continuing the path emerges from the wood, on to the road, at Eaves Green where we picked up an old ‘green lane’ – a delightful reminder of what roads must have been like several hundreds of years ago. The lane was little spoilt by bikes or motor bikes as many are today and ran for almost a mile back northwards to Harvest Hill Lane passing on the way an old wartime bunker that is now so obscured by vegetation that even the Ordnance Survey had failed to see it!
Crossing Harvest Hill Lane by the dog kennels we emerged on to Watery lane at Hollyberry Hall Farm and Elkin Wood. The farm is set behind some of the largest gates you are ever likely to see and behind these could be seen two large military helicopters. What else lurks in there we do not know. The final leg of the walk was back up Watery Lane to Corley Moor. This was a bit of a ‘pull’ – although the thought of the Bull and Butcher helped us along!
May 2014 Walk
Last month we met outside Crackley Woods for our May walk and three of us anxiously awaited the arrival of more walkers. So there was great relief when a carload turned up and, booted and suited, we set off through the woods. No bears, but a beautiful abundance of proper English bluebells at their best as our path meandered through trees bursting into leaf, alongside others which had fallen or been felled and left for the benefit of woodland creatures. We eventually turned off to leave the woods and join the Coventry Way, an excellent path salvaged from a disused railway track dating from the savage cuts imposed by Beecham. It is now a great resource for walkers and cyclists, beautifully lined by frothy hawthorn blossom, and ironically is within a train whistle of the proposed HS2 route.
We left this to descend a steep track, briefly joining the road then crossing to a way marked path alongside fields, taking us past the barns of hay and straw in South Hurst Farm, eventually to re-join Crackley Lane for a short distance. We turned off through another farm as we headed towards Warwick University, the path skirting a field edged by sloe bushes. At this point it started raining and the ground beneath our feet became more sodden, defying our attempts to avoid the mud. We enjoyed our coffee break as the rain stopped, then set off again alongside Roughknowles Wood to turn right along a lane as far as Cryfield Grange Farm. Here we joined an excellent track running uphill towards the Coventry Way, passing some interesting metal sculptures of Victorian cyclists en route. We re-joined the Coventry Way for a while to reach Crackley Wood and follow the bluebell paths back to our cars and lunch at The Baginton Oak.
April 2014 Walk
It was a wet and windy start to our April walk starting from Baddersley Clinton; a popular National Trust Property. Getting off to a bad start we missed the first footpath (too busy talking), but it was soon put right. Most of the tracks and fields we took were muddy and water logged, but it did not deter our cheery, courageous group.
Following the footpath through Chessetts Wood, eventually reaching the chestnut tree lined avenue towards Packwood House, here we stopped for our well earned coffee break. On leaving Packwood House, we turned left until we reached the canal bridge, where we continued along the footpath passing barges and crews working the many locks, until we reached The Lapworth Pounds where many barges were moored.
Reaching the junction of the Birmingham Canal, turning along the Grand Union, exiting at The Navigation Inn in Lowsonford. After a short walk along the Warwick road, we turned left past a horse transport business then reaching the Baddesley Clinton
Estate. The going was tough with a few of us getting stuck in the mud, but we all had a laugh at the state we found ourselves in.
March 2014 Walk
It is said that the British, presumably not excluding Bagintonians, are obsessive talkers about the weather but it must be recorded that, after battling the elements and atrocious conditions underfoot last month, we welcomed the forecast of a fine morning with some relief and encouragement. It was overcast and still a bit chilly as we set off from Kenilworth Castle at a steady pace (no young athletes among us), stopping after a while to admire a curious collection of goats and llamas – or were they alpacas? Clear paths took us through kissing gates and past a large pond to Fernhill Farm, where we met a couple with an assortment of dogs and accessed Rouncil Lane via the farm drive. Yellow arrows next directed us through meadows alongside a very attractive stretch of the Inchford Brook. This becomes the Finham Brook as it flows through Abbey Fields and joins the River Sowe within our local sewage works. Those in our party with wood burners speculated in their dreams how they would divide up an outsize fallen dead tree. A muddier bridle path eventually led us across a large field planted with ???? – well, we couldn’t decide what it was – before stopping for elevenses, almost dead on time, in a sheltered spot, with the sun now making an appearance.
A short road walk towards Beausale brought us to Hill Farm to enjoy the sight of baby lambs and their mothers – why were there so many youngsters with black markings? Our way was now almost straight across many, mostly arable fields for about 2 miles, heading directly for the castle. A muddy section near the end put paid to our hopes of arriving back with very clean boots but, after a few fine days, conditions were definitely improving. It will take a really long spell of dry, settled weather to banish all the mud in the countryside after such a wet winter but, hopefully, spring is here at last. Now rather warm, we changed our shoes in the car park and made our way to “Time for Tea” where we were expected. There we rewarded ourselves with nourishment and refreshment.
February 2014 Walk
The Intrepid, the Courageous, the Indomitable ... Let’s hear it for BAGINTON WALKERS.
Didn’t we have a loverley time the day we went to - Kenilworth Castle? Remember Tuesday February 11th? Remember the gales, the rain, the drizzle, the snow, the hailstones? We got the lot – the only thing we didn’t get was frostbite. But we were ‘appy. Such was the irony of the day that although some of us got soaked to the skin (only bits of it) throughout the morning, just as we crossed the road for lunch at Time for Tea the sun came out, and stayed out.
Our brave leader took us through the 15th Cent Pleasance, which was such in name only. We were informed that Royal barges would sail across the lake from the castle bringing Henry V and friends to party in the gardens and Tudor summer palace. We paused as long as we dared, but although there was plenty of water (see above) no barge hove into sight. Nevertheless 10 of us exercised muscles we had forgotten we had got, tested waterproof clothing and products almost to destruction, and chatted cheerily (sort of) as we walked, when we could hear each other above the howling gale. And the soup, quiche, beef pie, chips, hot tea and cold beer were our reward.
January 2014 Walk
We were lucky for our walk in January to have a gorgeous winter day- bright and sunny– but treacherous underfoot in the shade!
Thirteen of us set off from Bubbenhall nursery lay-by and proceeded by road to the entrance gate to Ryton Pools. Keeping to the perimeter footpath round the pools, we stopped half way to have an early coffee break. Here David noticed a lone fisherman, huddled under an umbrella on the other side of the pool, who didn’t move an inch while we were drinking our coffee. We began to wonder if he had been there for weeks and were going to send one of our clergy members to see if ‘last rites’ were needed. But no! He moved as we finished our break, so our clergy friend’s services weren’t needed after all. We completed the circuit and finished the walk by 11.45. So by the time we had all changed from our walking gear we were ready for lunch at The Oak where we had an enjoyable meal.
December 2013 Walk
Our December walk on Tuesday 10th December was from the car park at the Golden Lion, Easenhall.
November 2013 Walk
Autumn, Hatton Arms
We walked for 5.3 miles,
had lunch and came home.
(A haiku - a short poem of 3 lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables)
Perhaps a haiku doesn't give quite enough information about the latest walk, though it was a beautiful autumn day and we did start at the Hatton Arms. Twelve people who had prepared for a wet day, and didn't need half the clothes they might need on later occasions, set off in a straggle, along the first muddy but paved path. While dry and sunny it was a bit of a squelch and splosh day underfoot. Roughly a triangular shape, the route took us away from Hatton through bits of woodland, along bridle paths, green footpaths, behind new housing at Hatton (where the old Central Hospital Bell Tower still stands high and nods across the countryside to the tower of St Mary's Warwick). We had glimpses of the church tower from various points of the walk.
A coot had sole occupation of a small lake, (or a large pond) the white stripe on its head clear above the green weed water. A moorhen sat in the reeds. As we were in mostly arable land, there were few animals on our route today, though we met a few dogs. Even the nearest we came to a pigeon was the sound of shots from a clay pigeon range.
Fields were wide and lightly green with new growth. I was pleased to see the emblematic single oak tree left in a field. Why is such a tree left? Perhaps just because? Perhaps because it is a sign of long gone hedges and times past? Perhaps it offers a home to benign predators, which help to control pests in crops. Whatever it is, it is an icon of the countryside and I love it.
We crossed the main Birmingham Road to the Grand Union Canal and walked along the gently rising footpath beside the flight of locks. A few boats were still passing through. A little early for lunch, so a short loop detour took us past Budbrook Farm then downhill all the way back to the canal. With the offer of food and drink in sight, a last demand was made on the walkers to manage the steps over the railway line and the steepish paved area within the grounds of the pub itself. I didn't see anyone try to avoid that last push. Dorrie Johnson
October 2013 Walk
Eleven hardy, enthusiastic souls made their way to this quiet, no through road, no pub, no shop village just off the A45 near Dunchurch. Not much going for it? – but an extremely good base for a number of attractive and interesting walks. Setting off on the stroke of ten, our route took us over stiles, west alongside a golf course, across the course of the old Leamington to Rugby railway line ** and through a damp wooded area out into a large trackless freshly harrowed field. Here, in the absence of waymarks, we went slightly astray before locating the track to Hill Farm as planned. Stopping for elevenses in warm sunshine with a splendid prospect of Draycote Water, we admired how beautifully the surrounding fields had been ploughed.
Back under the old railway, finding the proper way to the few houses of Draycote village (hamlet?) proved difficult, though we were never far from our intended route. A wider access took us to a corner of the reservoir *** and an easy mile or so on the perimeter road brought us to a short path leading uphill back to Thurlaston Church (now part house?) and our starting point. A mild morning, great weather for October, no mud, some really good views – we had been lucky again. We celebrated by driving on to the Dun Cow at Dunchurch, where, the bar obviously being our first port of call, the obliging staff organised a table for us all to sit together and we dined well from an extensive menu.
** In answer to questions, this section of line was kept open for cement trains, but finally fell into disuse in 1985, the regular passenger service having been discontinued as long ago as 1959. The writer remembers travelling this way in the early 60s, having boarded a diesel hauled London train at Kenilworth station after one of his first visits to Coventry. All the tracks between Berkswell and Rugby, including Coventry station, were closed for electrification work on a number of Sundays. Trains were diverted via the line through Crackley Woods, Kenilworth Junction, Leamington Spa Avenue and Marton Junction back to Rugby to regain the main line.
*** We were also discussing the history of Draycote Water. It was created in the 1960s, fed by the River Leam, and officially opened in 1969. It was claimed at the time that the embankment created constituted the second largest dam in the world. This was never ratified, but it was said to be second only to the Aswan Dam in Egypt. I wonder if this might be a question on University Challenge.
September 2013 Walk
It was a fresh autumn morning to start our walk from Lighthorne Heath, parking our vehicles in a layby built for ammunition trucks feeding the WW2 airfield at Gaydon. We climbed the Kineton road turning onto a well marked track toward Compton Verney. Entering the estate, we passed down an avenue of majestic redwood trees. Leaving the estate at the main entrance, crossing the main road, we climbed a recently harvested field entering woodland.As we left the woodland we stopped to admire the rolling countryside then continued down to the village of Combrook. Walking through the unspoilt village with its Victorian and earlier cottages, church and village hall, we took the footpath through the grounds of an early stone built building which no doubt belonged to the lord of the manor or some well to do person.
On leaving the grounds and overlooking the Compton Verney lake we took our coffee break.Once again we walked through woodland eventually reaching open pasture land. Keeping to the footpath we passed Park Farm before stopping at the main Kineton road. After a short distance, we crossed over and re entered Compton Verney Estate by the entrance lodge and followed the track past the farm buildings and a short walk back to the cars. Everyone enjoyed the walk and went off for pub lunch.
August 2013 Walk
A late scheduled walk for August – almost last minute – saw five adults and three assorted grandchildren walk round Draycote reservoir. Mostly on the tarmac surrounding road, so sandals for some rather than boots were deemed right.A second visit for the writer, but our leader told us to bring binoculars for bird-watching. And we saw crested grebe, lesser gulls with bifurcated tails, tufted ducks, pochard, eider ducks and other ducks (as in “Wait for me Ducks!”), to say nothing of the coots. Dozens of trout just below the surface at the input from the river fascinated us and got the stomach juices going. Weather was good, but, as always at Draycote there was a breeze. Much energy was spent by the younger members running back and forth and chasing each other and anything else that moved. The more sober were just concerned to keep putting one foot in front of the other. A coffee or a snack at the smart and attractive visitor centre rounded it off for some. We are now putting our feet up until 10th September. Come and join us!
July 2013 Walk
On the morning of our July walk we were greeted by sunshine, blue skies and a well-marked route: a welcome contrast to the pouring rain and unmarked paths we suffered when checking out this walk. Eleven walkers set out from The White Lion in Hampton in Arden and we were soon crossing hay meadows with a profusion of wild flowers where an observant member of our group spotted a skylark overhead .We headed towards a bridge leading to a large lake populated by dedicated fisherman: stools, brollies, assorted rods and keep nets at the ready. A large carp was already netted so patience had been rewarded for one lucky fisherman. Further on a mother duck shepherded her large brood of adventurous ducklings and a grebe sat patiently on her nest which had been skilfully crafted in reeds by the pool bank.
Beyond the lake our route skirted a beautifully landscaped golf course with club house and splashing fountain marking one of the greens (members only!!). Further on we encountered an unusual crop of solar panels which were probably generating at maximum efficiency on such a beautiful day. Here the way markers, which were missing on our earlier exploratory visit, had been erected and directed us past a small wood to the lane leading to the outskirts of Barston Village. After a short stretch of road we climbed a stile to walk alongside fields of sweet corn, more hay meadows and the bank of the River Blythe until we reached a shady copse and our coffee stop: a stepped bridge over the river where we each bagged a seat to enjoy our refreshments.
Once over the river, we joined a narrow lane and changed direction to cross the meadows alongside the railway embankment. After climbing a couple of stiles, we arrived at the lane leading to a raised causeway thoughtfully constructed to keep walkers’ feet dry from the flooding Blythe, though not needed today. This passed over an attractive packhorse bridge before we arrived back in Marsh Lane and the pub for our lunch. This was a delightful walk through English countryside at its best: sunshine, hay meadows, wild roses, blackberry developing fruit and good company with whom to enjoy it.
June 2013 Walk
Leek Wootton Expedition – Tuesday 11th June. A most pleasant morning out, enjoying the surroundings and each other’s company, for our
party of eleven, followed by welcome refreshment and a hearty meal at The Anchor. Taking advantage of the free car park at The Warwickshire, we followed the well trodden path slightly uphill, then over a stile and through kissing gates to Leek Wootton Parish Church.
Here the leader rejected the first of many requests for a coffee stop ( after just 10 minutes! ) and led the way along an enclosed path, first between high hedges and then past cattle, to a broader route bordering the golf course and passing the former County Police Headquarters. This area had been very muddy when a “recce” had been undertaken earlier in the year but was now quite dry, even through the wooded section that followed and across the open field out onto Rouncil Lane. A signpost to Rounds Hill pointed the way across open country to the built-up outskirts of Kenilworth where, after a short road section and with watches now showing the magic hour of 11 o’clock, the leader grudgingly acknowledged how badly the squad needed a drink and a rest and we finally stopped for coffee in pasture land just short of Oaks Farm. Sunshine was in short supply and rain was in the air, but never threatened for long and certainly at no stage spoiled our genuine enjoyment of the countryside.
The leader gave new orders and reinvigorated, we dutifully next changed direction and headed south for a distance following the Centenary Way path back to cross Rouncil Lane again, but at a different point from our outward route. The unploughed fields, hedges and verges were full of blossom and flowers; it really was an uplifting sight. A gate off the track to Goodrest Farm led to fields of buttercups and marching eventually across a bridge and through a further gate, we found ourselves back on the opposite side of the golf course. This was quite busy and there appeared to be a tournament in progress and we had to wait at one stage to cross a fairway, but the way was well marked with yellow arrows and was mostly through wooded areas. Reaching a higher, more open area with extensive views towards Warwick, Leamington and beyond, we were then soon in sight of our cars and an easy downhill finish over mown grass after just under 5 miles of leisurely and never difficult walking. Our leaders aren’t really bullies – we would be very happy if you wish to join us in the future.
April 2013 Walk
Our meeting point for the April walk was the 12th century St Lawrence’s Church in Napton on the Hill. Apart from having a dominant position near to Napton’s famous windmill it enjoys a fascinating legend. Allegedly the church was to be built at the bottom of the hill and the stone was assembled there in readiness for its erection. However overnight it was mysteriously removed to the present site where it stands to this day!
Our group of 12 walkers, aged from 6yrs to 70+, set off across the path from the church and through kissing gates into a pasture where we disturbed some dozy Shetland ponies, much to the delight of our youngest walker. There followed a steep descent between hedgerows to cross the main road and climb the stile to reach the footpath leading to a narrow lane.
Here we paused at a hump back bridge over the canal to watch a narrow boat as it progressed slowly under the bridge to reappear on the other side. A few steps down the bank and we joined the Oxford Canal to walk along the towpath, occasionally being overtaken by narrow boats as they cruised south to join the queue at the lock ahead on their journey towards Fenny Compton and eventually the River Thames. We passed the Bridge Inn where a notice in the canal side window offered “Day care for husbands”, but none of our party took advantage of this. Further on the relics of the former brickworks and its crumbling jetty could be seen on the far bank with Napton windmill commanding the hill behind.
We continued on to our coffee stop by The Folly Inn. In pastures nearby we were delighted to see sheep and lambs grazing, though a sombre reminder of less fortunate areas still overwhelmed by deep snow. After a short break during which we watched the boaters managing the lock, filling and emptying it to progress “uphill”, we continued along the towpath passing three more locks to leave the canal path at bridge 115. Here our route led across a pasture, footbridge and stile to join a narrow lane and a slow walk uphill through the outskirts of Napton village, passing Church Leyes Farm and along a track to arrive back at the church. Once divested of our boots and anoraks and after some debate we drove to The Blue Lias Inn, (the site of one of our members misspent youth) to enjoy lunch.
March 2013 Walk
A party of eight walkers assembled in the car park behind Harbury village hall for the March walk. Harbury is one of the most historic places in Warwickshire; several dinosaur bones have been found in old quarries in the area, as have Bronze Age cooking pots. There was an Iron Age camp in these parts and the Romans were also here.
After a tantalising glimpse of spring at the beginning of the month, the weather had turned very wintry so everyone was well wrapped against a bitter wind. Passing by football pitches, we headed south out of the village and soon joined the Centenary Way. After a short walk across a field, we walked along a road verge before entering the Kingston Farm estate. This part of the walk was mainly along a quiet lane proving easy walking and a chance to look around and enjoy the open countryside, including views of Chesterton Windmill (built by Sir Edward Peyto).
Our refreshment stop was at St Giles church in the hamlet of Chesterton. The church is rather unusual as it has walls that are 3ft thick and an embattlemented parapet that runs the entire length of the chancel. The ornamental gateway in the churchyard wall was designed by Inigo Jones and at one time would have led those attending worship at the church back to the now demolished manor house.
Abiding by the words of the sundial above the church door ‘See and be gone about your business’, we carried on our walk, descending the field to a footbridge and stiles before heading back uphill for another view of the windmill. From then on it was a case of maintaining direction over several fields, passing through kissing gates and over footbridges. We arrived back in Harbury with rosy cheeks and had it not been for one muddy footpath at the end of the walk we would have had clean boots!
February 2013 Walk
After cancelling earlier walks due to bad weather conditions, we had a good turn out for the first walk of the year, which started from Jobs Close Park in Knowle. Knowle is claimed by some historians to be the original home of the Shakespeare family.
Setting off through modern housing development, we passed by Tudor Cottages in Copt Heath eventually reaching open countryside, continuing until we passed through a large Victorian Estate. Crossing the Knowle to Hampton road we went across open fields. Reaching Wood Lane we turned right and continued until we came to river path; this is where the fun started or should I say the struggle began.
The path was water logged so an alternative route had to be found. We climbed over a high fence and some went under. The leader fell off the top, but was saved by a fellow walker. We then proceeded across the field. Once again we struck cross country following foot paths until we reached a really muddy stretch, but by various routes we managed to press on across fields and muddy paths until reaching the main Knowle road. It was just a short walk back to our starting place.
We all had a good time with plenty to laugh about; our reward at the end was lunch at the Oak and a special treat of pancakes.
November 2012 Walk
On 15th November, there were no apologies for re-visiting one of the leader’s favourite local walks, setting off down Magpie Lane from The Saracen’s Head at Balsall Common. The omens in fact were not good - the pub itself was temporarily closed for refurbishment and the weather forecast promised fog. We were lucky, however, to park in a conveniently close lay-by and, though it was indeed murky and obviously there were no extensive views, it was just a little misty but this was no handicap to us. The aircraft preparing to land at Birmingham Airport were audible but lost to sight in the gloom above our heads.
Tackling the route this time in an anti-clockwise direction (decided after a little debate), we turned off the lane and soon encountered our first unavoidable mud. The mud, strangely enough, continued to provoke laughter rather than distress and complaints. The first part of this walk is on the Heart of England Way where, it seems, all the stiles have been replaced by metal kissing gates. Love, however, was not in the air, but with reasonable paths punctuated by muddy areas and then a concrete farm drive, we duly came up a slope to a grassy field and a derelict building which seemed a suitable place for our elevenses. Here, undisturbed and in the middle of nowhere, out came our flasks and we shared jokes and generally put the world to rights, glad that it was dry and not too cold just to linger.
Proceeding further, we left the HoE signs behind and met more slippery stiles and bridges to give us a little extra exercise and the need to use a bit of care - no accidents please! Field verges were fairly easily negotiable and the muddy patches not too difficult. Everybody in fact appeared to be in very good spirits on a drab November day, perhaps cheered up by some lively conversation and some late autumn colour still to be admired in the hedgerows and trees.
A spell of easy strolling followed along traffic free lanes and we peered over the hedges and into the gardens of a few isolated properties before a final field, strewn with the remains of a beet crop, returned us to civilisation in the form of a newish estate and the outskirts of Balsall Common. Steps down a bank brought us back into Magpie Lane, boots reasonably clean after a last grassy stretch. How long? How far? - Almost exactly two hours and probably just under five miles.
We all agreed that the companionship and just getting out into the fresh air had been really worthwhile. If it had been of benefit to us, four walkers undid any good by repairing to The Oak where we enjoyed a drink and the usual filling and tasty good value meal. One of our number even made himself at home by adding more logs to the fire where he had previously been standing with his back to the grate, blocking off the heat from the rest of the pub. No names, but you know who you are.
October 2012 Walk
“Once more into the breach dear friends” and so we met at The Bell Inn, Monks Kirby, on a beautiful autumn morning for our October walk, postponed from September as most of our walkers were cavorting elsewhere. Our initial exploration of this walk in August had presented a sorry sight of soggy fields as yet not harvested and crops apparently likely to be abandoned. However the scene was much improved today as fields had been ploughed, the new season’s crops sown and the sun was shining as we strode forth to enjoy some of Warwickshire’s beautiful countryside.
Although tiny, the ancient village of Monk’s Kirby has two pubs and a splendid Anglican church dominating its centre, as well as a small Catholic church whose arched windows framed the view across the farmland around the village. Once through the village our route took us across neatly ploughed fields, over a footbridge and alongside woodland where pheasants were foraging, and eventually we arrived at a track adjacent to an isolated cottage. Three fields and much conversation later, we reached a lane near Little Walton and after a short distance climbed a stile to continue across more fields, two more footbridges (one of which was pitched at a rather precarious angle!) and eventually negotiated a slippery path leading down to reveal a secluded meadow.
Here we paused to enjoy the view across a large lake and then continued on our way via a very tall kissing gate (for giraffes??) to arrive in Pailton. After a short distance we joined the bridle path on the outskirts of the village. This led us alongside fields and more attractive views of open farmland as we strolled back to Monks Kirby to change out of our muddy boots to drive back to Baginton.
September 2012 Walk
Our September walk was cancelled as most of our members were on holiday.
August 2012 Walk
Some may have been on holiday, others perhaps been put off by the longer route, for there were only seven walkers who duly met at the top of Stoneleigh Hill for the August walk. The skies were cloudy, but the breeze was quite warm and although it was mainly dry underfoot, the occasional muddy puddle told the tale of the previous day’s downpour. We set off across the deer park along a path well trodden by dog walkers. This took us over the River Avon to the hamlet of Stareton, where we crossed the road to Park Farm. As we walked along the track towards Furzen Hill Farm, a pungent smell filled the air. Looking through the hedge into the adjacent field, we saw dozens of workers busy picking and bunching spring onions.
Crossing Leicester Lane, we passed a property with aviaries housing birds of prey, although there was only one Harris Hawk in view. The footpath on this section was enclosed by a hedge and a wire fence and was obviously not well used as it was very overgrown – in fact a machete would have proved useful! After a distance of about a quarter of a mile, having passed through fields of ripening wheat, we crossed the Rugby Road. There were more wheat fields from which snapping sounds could be heard and someone said it was a sign it was ready to harvest. Buzzards could also be heard and we saw four circling above the trees. We skirted Cubbington village and picked our way through South Cubbington Wood on our way to Weston. There were grumbles in the camp that we had missed a coffee break, so it was decided to have our picnic lunch slightly earlier than planned just near Weston Hall.
The sun came out as we resumed our travels past the church in Weston–under-Wetherley. We had to travel along the road a short distance before returning to a footpath. The farmer had not made much provision for walkers, as the path was not very obvious even though the rape had recently been harvested. This path then led us along the edge of Waverley Wood, where it transpires a member of our party got lost as a youngster. We crossed the A445 Ryton to Leamington Road on to The Coventry Way and Centenary Way footpath, which led us to the familiar landmark of Tantara Lodge. We had to walk along the road back to Stareton and the footpath where our walk began
July 2012 Walk
Our “get away from it all” paths around the fields from Grandborough for our July walk were, to say the least, somewhat overgrown and certainly not frequently walked, though not impassable and in fact were fairly well signed. Observing the corn and oats that seemed to be growing in nothing but mud, and the cattle, calves, sheep and horses in completely sodden fields after all the rain, brought home to us the very seriousness of the situation for those whose livelihood depended on the land. Hayfields too were overgrown, bashed down and far too wet to cut.
We were reminded of the children’s story “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” – “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it”. This, therefore, your intrepid adventurers did, with true gritty Baginton resolve, through slimy mud and unavoidable lying water (Baginton Waders someone suggested would be more appropriate), tackling shoulder-high soggy thickets and field verges, negotiating a variety of dodgy stiles, gullies, bridges and gates, not all in the best condition. At least it kept largely fine for us despite some threatening dark clouds – a wet morning would really have ruined a challenging escapade from which we actually derived a lot of fun; a sense of fun perhaps not shared by non- ramblers.
In two and a bit hours (4 miles walking), not a soul was met. There was no sign of life at the farm we passed when we crossed the Leamington Hastings to Flecknoe road and the only other farm, the large building at Calcutt Elms near our stop for elevenses, had obviously not been occupied for some time and was derelict and in a disastrous state of disrepair. You will be pleased to know that, despite all this, we were happy to have had the exercise and arrived back unscathed and in good spirits at The Shoulder of Mutton, thirsty, of course, and more than ready to enjoy an extremely good value two course meal. Some rather mucky boots will have needed to have been cleaned and muddy clothes washed before our next expedition.
June 2012 Walk
Five intrepid walkers elected to defy the weather forecast and their optimism was rewarded by sunshine, scenery and a little excitement. From Wootton Wawen’s The Bull’s Head, a rambling timber framed building built in 1387, we walked through the village passing the church and the swirling double weirs in the grounds of Wootton Hall. We soon turned off the main road to arrive at a track leading to Lucy’s Farm and the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal, its banks bright with yellow iris. Here we passed a number of moored craft and a mother mallard leading a convoy of chicks.
At bridge 51, we left the canal to join a track which led to our next landmark: a kissing gate into a field. However, an earlier reconnoitre had revealed that this was impassable due to the quagmire that had been created by the herd of cattle which gathered there. Our attempts to remedy this by providing stepping stones had also been inundated, so we clambered over a fence and we rejoined the path which led across to the River Alne. This followed the river as it meandered alongside a recently ploughed field and past a large area of brilliant blue comfrey, to arrive at a fork in the path. Here we had to detour from our planned route as the bridge by Blackford Mill was unsafe.
Our diversion led us across farmland into Henley and we were soon back on track via Warwickshire College, walking over the railway bridge and onto farmland. Here we paused for our coffee break to enjoy the view across beautiful, unspoilt and peaceful Warwickshire countryside: no motorways and roaring traffic, only grazing ponies, an occasional deer, lush pastures and hedges of sweet scented briar roses. Our pleasure was selfishly enhanced by learning that a few miles away in Birmingham it was pouring with rain and we wondered if some of our regular walkers who had chosen to go to Ascot were similarly blessed.
On the next section however, the rural idyll was soon disturbed by an encounter with some very skittish bullocks that careered across our path dividing our group. They seemed intent on establishing ownership of the meadow, so we were very relieved to reach the road and cross to the field opposite. Here, deep in conversation, we continued past a small pond then along a track passing grazing cows with sleepy calves, thence via a kissing gate to more pasture and eventually to a country lane. After a short walk along here we climbed a stile back on to farmland and uphill through a field of wheat to Wootton Hill Farm and the lane back to The Bull’s Head and a delicious lunch.
May 2012 Walk
We walked Dunsmore Heath starting at the boarded up Red Lion P.H. in Wolston. We followed the village stream in the direction of the school, taking the narrow walkway up into the woods. There seems to be less bluebells this year, but they were evident in the woods and hedgerows throughout the walk, provoking discussions about their variety by the expert horticulturists in the group.
On entering the wood, we descended to the River Avon and the ruins of the Silk Mill that once stood on the banks, passing views back to St. Margaret’s Church, which dates back to Norman times. Once out of the woods, we followed the “Coventry Way” passing Brandon Golf Club onto the A45 where the pools, at the now closed Ryton British Legion, were once used to refill steam lorries travelling the A45.
After a short walk along the A45, we crossed over to take the footpath to the ridge, at which point we rested at a style on Knightlow Hill for the customary coffee break. The walk along the ridge back into Wolston is a great vantage point over Coventry, prompting discussions about the skyline and landmarks that are visible from here. Descending back to the village we retired to the Old Smithy in Church Lawford for lunch via the scenic route when we took a wrong turn – at least we were in the cars at this point making the extra distance easier to take.
April 2012 Walk
The weather looked dodgy as 11 of us gathered at the Old School in Bubbenhall. However, undaunted, we set off on a circular walk of the village, through the fields, approaching the rear of the church. The rain kept off, but our walk took us through a field of waist-high rape and we all got pretty soaked! From there, we crossed the main road into Ryton Pools, where there were convenient seats and loos for our coffee break. We took a circular tour of the pools (on dry paths!) to the bottom of Pagets Wood, but were a little early to see the bluebells in all their glory. Next month they should be gorgeous. A right turn up the lane back to the cars and then to a hearty lunch at The Oak finished off a very pleasant morning.
March 2012 Walk
After an invigorating uphill walk from the pub car park at Ratley, we reached high ground to admire the rolling Warwickshire landscape. Grazing sheep, however, fifty yards away, appeared as murky outlines in the prevailing fog. As we started to lose height, early spring birdsong was replaced by the crackling of gunfire. We descended into a field used for clay pigeon shooting. The marksmen were hard at it. Horses in the same field ignored them. Passing banks where primroses were blooming we travelled on along Edgehill's ancient pathways.
Half way into our walk, we stopped in the corner of a damp field for coffee and, for a short while, the sun came out to reveal the countryside we had come to see. Then we trekked uphill once more through silent, ancient woodland littered with fallen tree-trunks and branches. Mid March had produced 'Lords-and Ladies', Dog's Mercury, an occasional Aconite and tufts of bluebell leaves, which will be crowned by their flowers in May. A final climb up to the road generated a thirst to be slaked at Ratley's historic Rose and Crown before their excellent lunch.
February 2012 Walk
With cars safely parked at the Peeping Tom, Burton Green, and to the sound of a woodpecker drumming, our group of 9 walkers (more always welcome) stepped out enthusiastically at 10am prompt for our February walk, along Cromwell Lane, over our first of many stiles and across muddy, but not too muddy, fields to skirt Nailcote Farm and emerge onto Hodgetts Lane. Conversation inevitably turned to the weather - dry and fairly mild for the time of the year. A few days earlier and it would have been a different story - how fortunate we were.
An enclosed path through woodland led us, dodging fallen trees, over the disused railway cutting, across pastureland, past stables and through what appeared to be two brand new gates to a private drive to Hob Lane. A short distance on the road past Beanit Farm (horses for sale), we climbed our next stile into pleasant countryside with a good path left on the edge of cultivated fields. With the sun trying very hard to come through, we checked our watches and stopped at the exact, correct and ordained time for our elevenses. Conversation centred around future holiday plans and the replacement of some stiles by easier to negotiate kissing gates. We noted new growth on a hedge - a first sign of spring?
Setting off again at a distinctly unhurried pace, our route took us round fields, across the top of Cromwell Lane and a few yards down Red Lane to a stile on our left. This next track crossed the old railway by some rather steep steps (will the HS2 eventually come this way and change everything?) and continued along the side of Black Waste Wood, with the University of Warwick buildings in view. Across a bridge over boggy ground, further stiles and paths brought us to disused, very sorry looking playing fields with derelict goalposts.
A narrow entry between properties and we were back, with the woodpecker still at work, in Cromwell Lane, right opposite the pub where, also in need of a drink of course, we enjoyed a very ample and good value carvery meal. Total mileage registered - 4.3 miles of easy walking.
January 2012 Walk
The night before the January walk was miserable and wet, but 11 hardy walkers turned up for our walk from the Bull and Butcher pub at Corley moor. We commenced with a route over a soggy Corley Moor before crossing a footbridge over the very noisy M6. We carefully descended a greasy bank on steps that were covered in clay: fortunately no mishaps on the way down. The footpath continued through fields of winter wheat, which seemed well established so early in the year.
The next point of interest was the remains of Fillongley castle built in the early 14th Century by the De Hastings family. One could clearly see the location of the moat and the stream which fed it as well as large parts of the castle’s masonry. In Fillongley village, we crossed over the main road and on to the sports field where we paused for a well-earned coffee break. Here the rain started, but as we were all equipped with waterproof gear we pulled on our hats and continued on our way.
Once again the path led through planted fields and woodland until we reached Corley Ash where we crossed the main road to follow the path around the perimeter of a large field. We arrived once more at the noisy M6 where we crossed another footbridge to follow the path back to Corley Moor, our starting place and a welcome warming meal at the Bull & Butcher pub.
December 2011 Walk
We were joined by three new walkers plus 2 granddaughters for our December walk on a sunny morning from the White Hart at Upton. Our route took us over meadowland and alongside Ufton and Long Itchington woods, still green with foliage. Here we admired a yard stocked high with logs and furnished with an enormous log splitter, both greatly envied by those of our number with wood burning stoves. We then followed the country lane through Bascote Heath, passing a ruined church and the Fox and Hen pub; the verges along our route were still decorated by the red and black fruits of wild roses and sloe bushes, as yet spurned by wild life. We soon turned along Welsh Road for a short distance to join the track to Tollhouse Bridge, where we carefully negotiated the steep path down to the Grand Union Canal.
Alongside the canal a convenient bench enabled some of us to rest and enjoy some refreshment, while others took a few photographs and watched the navigation through the Bascote flight of locks. Our route took us under Splash Bridge and Welsh Road Bridge, an ancient drovers’ route over which Welsh black cattle were driven from Wales to London. We left the canal at Longhole Bridge to join a well-defined track, a saltway, used in medieval times to transport salt around the country. This led us uphill to Ufton church, the pub and our well-earned lunch.
November 2011 Walk
There was a good turnout of thirteen lucky walkers on our November walk with some very welcome new faces. We set off from Bubbenhall Nursery on a bright and beautiful autumn morning, making sure that we had a "back marker", as we have been known to lose the odd walker. More accurately the odd walker or two have been known to be so engrossed in conversation that they have lost sight of the group and chosen an alternative route back to base!
The walk took us through Ryton Park, past the pools, and exited at the footpath to Wappenbury Woods where we stopped for a welcome coffee break. The route then meandered through woods which were still adorned by their autumn colours and we paused briefly to admire the grand view of Warwickshire. A cross country section took us over stiles and bridges and around fields of sprouting winter corn, until we reached the edge of the sprawling earthworks which covered vast pits excavated for sand and gravel, but now filled with household waste. Continuing along the footpath, we skirted around Bubbenhall Wood passing recent excavations and watched the massive machine expose the building sand. A short distance took us back to our rendezvous place, with everyone agreeing that we had experienced a great time with good weather, pleasant company and, of course, a good walk. We were rewarded by another treat as we were joined by non-walking wives and local friends for a hearty meal and good conversation at The Baginton Oak.
October 2011 Walk
We set off from Cubbington Church past the well-kept school playing fields in crisp, sunny weather. Leaving the happy noise of high-spirited children behind, we were greeted in the fields by a polite class of boys and girls coming the other way. They were accompanied by their teachers and had obviously enjoyed their learning time in the open air. A short stretch through South Cubbington Wood brought us into more open country, with Weston-under-Wetherley church away to the left and Princethorpe College on the skyline. We crossed a good size ploughed field, thankfully not muddy, encountering sheep, cattle with young and a large black pig. We emerged onto the road adjacent to the Red Lion at Hunningham and having crossed the old road bridge, it was now time for an elevenses stop back in the fields on the banks of the River Leam - very picturesque around here in the sunshine.
Refreshed, we passed the attractive small Hunningham church with our route largely following the Leam through pasture land and a series of gates. We arrived at a substantial footbridge where we were able to cross to the opposite bank. We continued on our way through a shady copse. A steady climb out of the river valley enjoying extensive views of south Warwickshire, and on to the green lane leading back to the bottom end of Cubbington village. Here, as we inspected the well-kept churchyard, a number of friendly locals were interested to know the route of our walk, which had taken us four and a half miles and two hours. We enjoyed ample, good value meals at the King's Head, with the gentlemen strategically seated to watch the cricket from India on TV. What better way than this to spend a morning in good company?
September 2011 Walk
The September walk started from The King's Head in Aston Cantlow. The Village Hall, once a Guildhall, standing opposite to the pub, dates from 16th century. The walk offered a variety of landscapes, beginning along a neat road between gardened houses, crossed the route of a now defunct railway, called locally the 'Coffee Pot line' in recognition of the engine funnels, but soon led through a gate into a part-marshy field.
There was one short significant hill which allowed views in nearly all directions before we descended to pass under a railway line and along a short road. The one shady path of the walk followed the curve of the river before we stepped out into the gloriously warm sunshine. Walking past the Severn Trent compound, we proceeded towards Wootton Wawen. Wawen means ' a farm near a wood belonging to Wagen'. Its history reaches back at least to the Doomsday Book.
We passed a busy little shop, St Peter's Church, the oldest in the country and Wootton Hall. After stopping for refreshments, we walked beside the most interesting tumbledown farmyard with its collection of tractors, steam engines, ancient cars and old farm equipment, all now rusting away, before returning to Aston Cantlow.
August 2011 Walk
The intention to walk up from the bottom of the Hatton flight of locks to the station and across country was thwarted by the discovery of an impassable stretch where an inconsiderate person had dumped rubbish blocking access to the footpath. Fortunately our intrepid leader had the foresight to check the route beforehand, so it had to be Plan B!
Thus, we joined the Grand Union Canal at Ugly Bridge, nobody knew how it got its name, and walked along the towpath to reach the British Waterways workshop; en route we passed many cheerful holiday-makers manoeuvring their barges through the 22 locks on the Hatton flight. Once we were over the canal, we proceeded cross country to an impressive railway bridge leading to a field of maize and on to a climb uphill through pasture, where we kept a safe distance from grazing animals.
When we reached Budbrooke Farm it was raining, so we paused to don our waterproofs and continued to Budbrooke Church where we stopped for a well-earned coffee break, accompanied by some friendly chickens. We paused to pay our respects to soldiers of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment buried there, including one who had been awarded the Military Medal for a brave deed in some far off land. The footpath then crossed open fields passing by a mound which was the site of a mediaeval village, where most of the villagers had apparently died during the Black Death. According to legend they were buried in a nearby field. This footpath ended at Warwick Parkway Station and led to the towpath at Hatton Bottom Lock where we followed the flight of locks uphill, again meeting the bargees queuing to navigate through each lock. We eventually arrived back at Ugly Bridge and our rendezvous point before meeting up at The Baginton Oak for a tasty lunch: an excellent walk in spite of the sharp shower.
July 2011 Walk
A small but select group of walkers met in the lay-by in Gossett Lane, Brandon, with the weather looking decidedly overcast and a distinct threat of rain. Our path led us along the side of Brandon speedway track where we took a right turn and walked past a few, very remote houses. Onto the bridle path (luckily no horses were encountered for the sake of Beau and Jasper) that was well covered with trees and hedgerow, with the quarry on our left-hand side. The path eventually gave way to a quiet road past a farm to the back of Brinklow. We walked round the perimeter of the field, which was to lead us to the quarry entrance.
We walked alongside this, through narrow paths and crossed over the quarry conveyor where a coffee break was enjoyed.
The walk continued along a quiet road and we passed woodland where the planes had collided over Coombe Abbey a few years earlier. A left turn at the end of this path saw us cross a field and retrace our earlier steps, returning to our cars. A slightly longer walk than normal, but nonetheless enjoyable for those experiencing a different local walk. We then enjoyed a pleasant lunch at The Royal Oak in Brandon.
June 2011 Walk
On the 16th June 2011, we started from The Bridge Inn at Napton under an overcast sky that promised a shower; fortunately only a few spots materialised. From the Inn we travelled along the canal bank where tall reeds and grasses lined the towpath edge. As we walked we disturbed a mother duck and her seven ducklings, which must have been a second hatching as they couldn't have been more than a couple of weeks old. The walk continued along a lane where we had to keep well in to avoid being skewered by the tines on the trailer towed by a fast moving tractor.
From the lane we crossed into a field, past a flock of panicking sheep, then onwards and upwards - a steady climb to St Lawrence Church. Here we took a coffee break to view the building and enjoy the commanding views from the churchyard. Our walk continued along the crest of the hill to the windmill and a panoramic view towards Stockton and Long Itchington. A steep descent led us past old sandpits from the early twentieth century and back to the canal where we returned to the Bridge Inn for a well-earned lunch.
May 2011 Walk
On the beautiful morning of 19th May 2011, we started at The Red Lion pub near Corley Moor. Following the "Coventry Way" across the road, our path led us through Moor Farm's fields of uncut grass, where we met another group of walkers coming from the opposite direction, obviously early risers. We entered a woody dell and soon emerged to the roar of the M6 motorway as we crossed the bridge in the direction of Fillongley. We made our way down some steep steps into a field, following the hedgerow as our route led us across fields and over footbridges. We passed by the ruins of a medieval castle on the outskirts of Fillongley. After a short trek uphill via a secluded path to the centre of the village, we crossed into Church Lane where there is an interesting house converted from a chapel. After walking through the park, we crossed several more fields before stopping for coffee. Once refreshed, we continued down the lane enjoying the buttercups, red campion and frothy white hogweed, which were taking over from the fading bluebells. On the outskirts of Corley Ash our route led us through a field, across the M6 and through some paddocks to bring us back to our starting point in Corley Moor.
April 2011 Walk
On the 21st April 2011, we met at The Bear at Berkswell where a blue sky and warm sun greeted us. We set off uphill reaching Burton Green Lane by a roundabout route of field paths, admiring English bluebells and many other wild flowers in the hedgerows. Crossing the Coventry Road, we followed the drive leading to Hill House Farm where, once clear of the buildings, we stopped for elevenses. Refreshed and renewed, we carried on to and along Back Lane to the point where we could turn left on to The Heart of England Way, which we followed for one mile over arable fields, past Blind Hall Farm and almost back to Berkswell. Seeing hares in one field, ears sticking up above the crop, was a notable sight. Sturdy stiles and kissing gates marked our way throughout, though no affections were exchanged - or, if they were, it was done surreptitiously. No mud was encountered at any stage, in fact it was rather obvious that we needed some rain - but not this morning. A short fenced path, where we were greeted by two pigs, pointed us to the church, from where it was a short step back to The Bear. We bagged a table in the sun on the patio and enjoyed drinks and an alfresco meal.
March 2011 Walk
On the 17th March 2011, we started at the Crackley Wood Nature Reserve following the woodland path leading to the disused Kenilworth Berkswell Railway line, now a peaceful track for walking. After a while, we turned off at Hollis Lane onto a cross-country section past South Hurst Farm to turn once again along Crackley Lane. After a short distance, we headed across fields with the University of Warwick in sight in the distance. Following the bridle path, we eventually climbed up a muddy lane past Roughknowles Wood to cross over Cryfield Lane. Here we rejoind the footpath alongside a meandering brook past Crackley Farm to return to our rendezvous place. It was a pleasant local walk in good company with bluebells and other spring flowers just showing their leaves through the woodland and hedgerows. Once unbooted, we met up at The Oak, where those unable to accompany us on the walk joined us to enjoy a tasty lunch.
Febuary 2011 Walk
On the 17th February 2011, seven hardy walkers set of from the Red Lion pub in Hunnigham on a cold, dry and overcast day. We hadn't done this walk for a long time and noticed several changes: hedges had disappeared to produce vast fields, and our usual coffee stopping place had been cleared of our tree trunk seats (how dare they?). But encouraging signs of spring, a couple of newborn lambs in fields, buds ready to burst and a few snowdrops were all lovely sights. En route we walked around St Margaret's ancient churchyard, whose beautiful church was sadly in need of external restoration. Then we made our way back to the river road bridge, returning to the Red Lion for lunch: a short walk in good company.
January 2011 Walk
Our walk started on a beautiful sunny day, crunching across frosted fields from Allesley Park, through the village and churchyard and across a stile concealed in a holly hedge. We crossed the River Sherbourne and proceeded up Staircase Lane where we met an obdurate pony, which was occupying the entrance to the kissing gate and had to be "persuaded" to allow us to gain access. Our ramble continued through the Coundon Wedge conutryside back towards Allesley via an ancient stone bridge and a peaceful woodland churchyard, to return to the lane alongside Allesley church. The morning ended with a pleasant meal at the White Lion, where we were joined by Len and Doreen Constable who pioneered village walks in 2001, so this year we will celebrate our 10th anniversary.
December 2010 Walk
The walk due to be started at The Bear at Berkswell was abondoned due to poor weather, however the pre-Christmas lunch at The Bear took place and was enjoyed by all.
November 2010 Walk
It was drizzling when we arrived at the New Inn, Norton Lindsey and parked where the village stocks once stood. Here offenders were seated with their backs to the vices of the pub and looking towards the virtues of Holy Trinity church. After an inital half-mile along a well-maintained track, we turned off through the yard of Lower House Farm and then climbed a gentle hill to Blacon Farm. Here we stopped for coffee in a derelict barn. The only really waterlogged stretch of the walk was part of a footpath through woodland, littered with abandoned, fallen branches that brought tears to the eyes of the domestic wood-burners amongst us. After crossing a field, we came to a further wood, which enclosed ponds populated by a remarkably large flock of Mallard ducks. Emerging from the woods, we crossed a cricket field then a short walk along Norton Lindsey's Main Street took us past the ancient Dorrel Oak and various buildings spanning the 14th to 18th centuries. We enjoyed an excellent meal in the New Inn and shared stories of industrial accidents we had known and the treachery of competing wood-gatherers.