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.