December 2016 Walk
We met at the layby at Bubbenhall Old School for our final walk of 2016, led by Tony Crossley. As we were changing into our walking boots someone, no names no pack drill, realised that they had brought the wrong boots. However, thanks to a high speed volunteer who shot off back to Baginton to collect them, all was not lost.
We set off along the footpath skirting Bubbenhall Woods, past the old farm house and alongside fields where the boot rescue group eventually caught us up: they had done some very high speed walking. (OK for those who were 6ft tall, more challenging for the scurrying 5ft 4in walker!)
Our route eventually arrived at Wappenbury Woods and a pleasant walk through woodland where we stopped for our coffee break. As we emerged from the wood we reached the main path leading to Shrubs Lodge and eventually Ryton Pools Park. Here we found the exit on to Ryton Road where we turned left to return to our starting point and eventually to The Oak for our Christmas Lunch.
November 2016 Walk
Withybrook Wander - An almost full complement of well wrapped, walkers (16) met in the car park of the Pheasant pub. Expressions of anticipation became somewhat anxious when it was realised that Roger was leading the walk. No chance of losing the way, he’d walked the route twice last month. Booklet in hand, he confidently led the way up Main Street, through a kissing gate and across fields towards Hopsford Springs where he gave warning of a
boggy patch just after the next kissing gate. Keeping with Roger’s gentle pace the group stayed together with the odd reminder that when he dropped back he should be leading. The next two fields had been recently ploughed and planted, the new growth already several inches long. It was along this stretch that our leader disappeared for a call of nature and the group continued until the footpath met the driveway of Hopsford Hall and there waited patiently for direction. “Left here”. No right, corrected Rheba the co-leader keeping rear guard.
The single-track drive led to a small fishery where a short refreshment stop was made. From then on the correct route of right up the lane and left along a bridle path was taken and as we walked along the edge of more ploughed fields confidence in Roger’s navigation skills grew. It dawned on some that Roger’s glances back at Rheba were for directional reassurance and very apparent to all when at a footpath junction with three route choices he would have headed the wrong way if on his own. There was jovial banter as we picked our way over the uneven ground across Manor Farm back towards Withybrook. The morning had remained cold and bright but now darker clouds were filling the skies and we hoped the forecast of rain much later in the day was correct. It was as we passed through the churchyard just metres from the end of the walk that we became two groups, the rear walkers stopping to read some of the gravestones and ponder over the different periods of church stonework. Reunited back at the pub all but one went inside and enjoyed a hearty lunch.
October 2016 Walk
This month’s walk, led by Chris Goodwin, started at Fosse Meadows in Leicestershire on a section of the Fosse Way that is very pedestrian, close to High Cross: the centre of Roman England that got its name from a huge wooden cross constructed by the Romans at the point where Watling Street crossed the Fosse Way. The cross was struck by lightning in 1712 and the Earl of Denbigh replaced it with a stone memorial that is still there.
Leaving the Fosse Way we took a path to Claybrooke Magna on a steady incline crossing the main road at a pub called The Pig in Muck. We skirted the village with the noise of the wood mill in the background crossing the main road again to head down to a mill and stream where we took our coffee break.
Following coffee we had a short walk over a ploughed field and across mixed paths to the village of Frolesworth where we saw the home of Mark Selby, the current World Snooker Champion, which is undoubtedly an inappropriate building in a beautiful village. His favourite colours must be grey and white as his house, drive and cars all follow this theme.
The last section of the walk was through a recently cut maize crop back to Fosse Meadows.Lunch was at Stoney Cove, the National Diving Centre, an amazing environment where buses, planes, boats and submarines as well as cars and land rovers are sunk for divers to explore as deep as 35 metres.
So, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of today’s walk …….
THE GOOD – Roger Horsfall didn’t get lost
THE BAD – Low cloud spoilt some great views
THE UGLY – Mark Selby’s inappropriate house development
September 2016 Walk
We travelled further afield for our September walk to meet at The Anchor Inn, Hartshill, north of Nuneaton, on a beautiful day exactly as we had hoped for the views ahead. So a gentle start led ten walkers along the Coventry canal and past the canal basin by bridge 32 as we greeted passing narrow boats chugging along enjoying the weather. At bridge 36 we walked up to join the Mancetter road: Mancetter, “The Place of Chariots” in roman times, was allegedly the site of the slaughter of Queen Boadicea’s rebel army who had travelled along “Watling Street”, the A5. It is also alleged that the Lunt Fort in Baginton was constructed as a result of this revolt.
Having soon turned off along a narrow lane we passed by a large barn storing what seemed to be a caravan museum! Here we commenced a long and steep uphill stretch requiring a couple of pauses for the less fit of us to regain our breath and take occasional refreshment. However it was definitely worth the effort as we were rewarded with wonderful views stretching for miles across the open countryside and, encompassing four counties. No wonder the romans saw Boadicea’s army coming! A brief horizontal interlude enabled us to prepare for the next challenge as we followed the path gently downhill then across a meadow to reach the shade of St Lawrence Wood.
Once more the route led uphill along a well-marked path provided with handy benches for the exhausted. As we left the wood we were greeted by an excellent opportunity to admire another spectacular but different view and regain our energy for the final stretch. This led us briefly to the outskirts of Hartshill Hayes Country Park where we took a path alongside the edge of the wood. This long downhill stretch ended at a meadow where we were met by two grazing horses. Then, after a short walk along a gravel track, we reached the road to turn left down to the canal bridge and basin and the return to The Anchor Inn. Here we enjoyed a tasty lunch in the garden accompanied by poodles, chickens and goats (mostly in enclosures!)
August 2016 Walk
On a beautiful sunny morning we set off from the White Swan in Henley in Arden. There were eight of us in the group including a friend from France as well as our four legged friends. Across the high street, past St John the Baptist church and into Beaudesert Lane we found ourselves at the foot of a steep hill. These earthworks are the remains of the former castle of the de Montfort family. At the top we were rewarded with wonderful views over Henley in Arden and the surrounding countryside.
After passing through Kite Green and across several fields we found another, but luckily less steep, hill. A rest stop at the top outside the 12th century Preston Bagot church offered more lovely views, this time to Barnmoor Hill where Iron Age remains have been found. In the wall of the church was a Finger Sundial. You place your finger in the hole and read off the shadow!
Passing close to Preston Bagot we then had a very tranquil walk along the Stratford on Avon canal. Through a few more fields close to the river Alne and we were back in Henley in Arden where we had a very enjoyable meal at the White Swan.
July 2016 Walk
After a shaky start (some confusion over race course car parks) and with a little drizzle we set off across Lammas Field, Warwick on a path cut by the local golf club. This took us over the Grand Union Canal and the railway line finishing at the Birmingham Road to join the canal towpath skirting Warwick.
It was a pleasant walk observing ducks and moorhens and their young busy on the water. As we sat for a short break a pair of swans appeared with their cygnets and aggressively chased off the ducks and ducklings. We continued along the towpath passing chugging narrowboats until we reached the steep steps down to the river Avon. Here we walked along the river footpath and through St Nicholas Park until we reached the Banbury Road crossing.
Once over the busy road we walked behind Warwick Castle and crossed the main road by the old city entrance gate. Although it was only a short distance to reach our cars it absolutely poured down, so we were glad to get into the dry to head for a well-earned lunch in a local canal side pub.
June 2016 Walk
Our June walk was led by Tony Crossley and we assembled in the car park at Draycote Water: a good turnout considering the recent weather conditions. We followed the road around the water and met with quite a few fellow walkers, cyclists and a number of baby rabbits who munched on regardless. Fortunately the weather was kind to us, fine with occasional sunshine breaking through.
The going was very easy, generally level with a slight slope here and there and we broke into small groups chatting and putting the world to rights. We completed the walk to meet up with two of our regular walkers who were unable to make the walk but joined us at the Visitor Centre café for lunch.
May 2016 Walk
As one of our walkers was delayed, we decided to set off from our rendezvous point having agreed that he would meet one of us en route at Mickleton Church. So having walked through this attractive Cotswold village and past the church, our path turned steeply uphill, across fields and through a number of kissing gates to reach the road. Frequent anxious glances back downhill to check for two tall figures were rewarded as they joined us to cross a narrow lane and resume our route up steps, over a stile and along the edge of a ploughed field.
The path led us through Bakers Hill Wood where we admired the abundance of beautiful English bluebells as we wound our way, negotiating a huge recently fallen tree. At this point, we should have been admiring the stunning view over the Vale of Evesham, but low cloud prevented this and we could only tell folk what they were missing! A little further on we paused to examine the carving by a 1st World War Belgian soldier in the bark of a splendid tree, commemorating a colleague who had been wounded, billeted and died in nearby Norton Hall. So once more into the breach, we and our four legged friends left the wood soon to arrive at a barn where we joined a path leading down and across a footbridge. Signage was sparse as we followed hedgerows to cross a stile, eventually reaching an enclosed track to be met by a black and white dog running in the opposite direction.
This track led to a gate adjacent to an attractive cottage with a beautifully planted garden. A convenient bench at the crossroads was intended for our coffee stop, however at this point we realised that one of our party was missing. Two members agreed to search in different directions and decided that he had been seen on a ridge retracing the route. It subsequently emerged that he had gone in pursuit of the aforementioned dog, believing it to belong to one of our walkers!
So we progressed onwards through the pretty hamlet of Hidcote Boyce with its attractive Cotswold stone and cottage gardens, past an ancient drinking trough and yard housing a young Shetland foal. Once across two fields, we were greeted by the chickens of the pretty hamlet of Hidcote Bartrim with its thatched cottages, duck pond and wishing well. We walked past the rear of Hidcote Manor, to reach the lane leading to Kiftsgate Court, another National Trust property well worth a visit. Here a public bridleway led us steeply downhill, and across pasture land until we could see the spire of Mickleton Church and retrace our steps to the Butchers Arms, to be greeted by our errant walker and a tasty lunch.
April 2016 Walk
The Lawford Round - It was past 9.45am and the walkers already assembled at The Old Smithy in Church Lawford were anxiously awaiting the route leaders. Fingers were on phone buttons as we drove into the car park, slightly late but with time to spare before we finally numbered 13 and set off at 10am.
The walk began by heading along Church Road to St Peter’s church which dates back to 1210 but was rebuilt in 1872. After passing through the churchyard, the footpath crossed a very wet field which became extremely muddy around the kissing gate to the sheep pastures along the banks of the River Avon. The extent of recent floods was evident by the high line of plant debris and, sadly, carelessly dumped bottles and litter. As the route rose away from the river, Long Lawford village could be seen ahead. Once in the village we turned left along the main street and took an enclosed bridleway where the road became a private driveway to Holbrook Grange, the replacement of Little Lawford Hall. It was a grey morning but the warmth of the sun came though the thin cloud as we passed through more farmland to Little Lawford Mill and the present Little Lawford Hall, a converted stable.
Across a road and beyond another field were two fish ponds, beside which we had a short break. Herons flew above and noisy geese flapped in front of us as we continued the walk past Fennis Fields Farm towards a small canal basin. As we made our way back towards Church Lawford we would wipe our boots in the wet grass only for them to be caked in mud again as we crossed ploughed fields or passed through animal churned areas. At the footbridge across The Avon a notice advised of a diversionary route due to flood damaged brickwork, but one of our party was struggling with a tendon injury so we flouted the barrier and took the shorter route back to the pub, where all but two of the group enjoyed a very reasonably priced meal.
March 2016 Walk
A small group of people set off from the public car park in Brinklow. Car parking was difficult due to the Doctor’s surgery being in full flow, but we did all manage to squeeze in. The route followed the Coventry Way path across a muddy field towards Smeaton Lane and the canal. After a short walk on the road we crossed the canal and left the Coventry Way heading up a bridleway to the M6, turning right and following the motorway where we were relieved when the path lost height to the traffic and the constant noise of the cars and trucks dulled.
A coffee break was taken at a point where a small bridge over a drainage ditch offered a wall to sit on for those wanting to take the weight off their feet and was far enough away from the road noise. The walk resumed uphill to cross the Fosse Way before dropping down to Stretton-under-Fosse and then on to Newbold Revel, the prison officers’ training college.
When we got to the grounds of the college a muddy field took us back to Smite Brook which we followed back to the canal going under the Railway, much to Ash’s delight as chasing trains is always good fun for a young collie. Once on the canal Ash’s love of chasing trains took on a new perspective as chasing trains on open fields is one thing, but single track canal paths with a very quick and determined collie meant that we had to be alert in order that she didn’t put someone in the water!
A short walk put us onto the Brinklow Road and then back to the Coventry Way path up to the Motte and Bailey fort back on the other side of the Fosse way to where we started. Lunch was taken only by 4 people at The Bulls Head due to the rest having other commitments on the day.
February 2016 Walk
Storm Imogen brought high winds and a lot of rain over the weekend preceding the February walk, so we were all keeping a close eye on the forecast and had waterproofs at the ready. Regular members, and dogs, assembled at The Coundon Hall sports fields and were pleased to welcome two new walkers.
It was cold but bright as the group set off across a very soggy football pitch, passing by a spinney before going through a kissing gate to enter the still young Coundon Wood (opened February 2005). Exiting the wood onto Long Lane, we crossed the traffic island into Coundon Wedge Drive and soon forked left along a traffic-free lane. As we passed by Rookery Farm and climbed the hill towards Coundon Court School we hit newly laid tarmac, from which the heat could be felt through the soles of our boots. One of our canine companions had to be relieved of tar stuck to his paws. Just before reaching the road repairs in action, we followed the school perimeter fence to its end at a spinney and a cluster of kissing gates. Passing through the farthest gate, the path took us across the River Sherbourne, under a road bridge and over a small brick footbridge before passing through a woodland burial ground. A short walk along a track took us to a field behind Allesley church, where we stopped for refreshment under a clear blue sky.
Leaving the churchyard on the Old Birmingham Road, the route took us past the Rainbow Inn before we turned into Butchers Lane and along Staircase Lane. A waymarker post directed us across fields towards the former Jaguar works and service road. Fields and tracks parallel to Coundon Wedge Drive led us back to Long Lane where we re-entered Coundon Wood and retraced our steps back to our cars.
January 2016 Walk
In January eleven walkers plus two dogs met at The Rose and Crown in Ansty to start our walk along the towpath of the Oxford canal: no craft on the move but our four legged friends led the way, easily covering twice our distance as they explored the canal bank. The busy M6 could be heard at times as we made our way to bridge No 9, turning off here past the playing fields on Sowe Common to join a rather overgrown track which ran alongside allotments. At this point the path led through a very muddy and slippery gap in the hedgerow (where there had once been a stile) and one valiant walker lost their footing, resulting in a muddy bootful.
The route led us along the boundaries of five ploughed fields to arrive at the chapel on the outskirts of Barnacle, where we stopped for our coffee break. After a short walk through the village, we made our way over a slippery stile and across farmland to climb another stile alongside an isolated cottage. We followed the path which seemed to go through a private orchard to reach the Shilton road and after walking a short distance along here we turned right to cross more fields, walking through the parkland of Ansty Hall, eventually arriving at Ansty Church situated on a hilltop overlooking the canal. Once through the churchyard our route led across open pasture and steeply down towards another stile and a welcome meal at The Rose & Crown.