December 2017 Walk
There was no December walk due to bad weather.
November 2017 Walk
Our November walk started from the Folly Inn at Napton on the Hill, where our group of 12 set off for a scenic walk through the Warwickshire countryside. Following the Oxford Canal footpath and passing the site of the old brickworks, now a small Industrial Estate, we had our first view of Napton Windmill, now a private house with far reaching views across South Warwickshire. Leaving the towpath at the Bridge Inn (now closed) we crossed the main road and headed up to the top of the hill passing an ornamental duck pond with no ducks, eventually arriving at St Lawrence Church for our Coffee Stop. This 12 and 13th century Church reputably offers views of 6 Counties from its 500ft elevation. Its churchyard also contains the resting place of the American Actor George Victor ‘Ed’ Bishop who was known for playing Commander Ed Straker in UFO, Captain Blue in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and for voicing Philip Marlowe in a series of BBC Radio adaptations of the Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler, in addition to various parts in the James Bond movies. Some of our more energetic members scoured the churchyard to find his grave while others enjoyed the extensive views.
From the Church we headed down the hill, meeting a friendly goose assisting with some garden renovation, and through Napton village, past the Old Bakery cottage and the long closed Crown Inn which is in the process of being converted into housing. After the village school, we took a bridleway across the fields to meet the Millennium Way. Following the minor road we noticed what must have been the world’s smallest barn conversion with 1890 inlaid into the wall. We eventually reached the canal tow path once again with more views of Napton Windmill. With The Folly Inn in sight we followed the towpath down a flight of locks, past the Canal Trust Depot to our well-earned and delicious lunch.
October 2017 Walk
The village walk last month, led by Chris Goodwin, started at the Tipperary pub in Meer End, famous for the 1912 song written by Harry Williams in the pub that was owned by his parents at the time and known then as The Plough. The walk itself took longer than we had expected. This was in part due to the fact that it is a regular walk for me and one I hadn’t actually timed. Therefore what felt like a 2 hour walk on previous occasions was in fact nearer to 3 hours and although everyone was kind to me about it being O.K., Alan Brown asked several times towards the end ….. “Is the pub far, Chris?”
13 of us and 2 dogs set off from the Tipperary in the direction of Honiley, walking single file along the roadside footpath for about 100 yds before crossing the road onto a path that winds upfront of some fairly grand new builds, with winding driveways from the main road, presumably to make the grand houses feel even grander with longer drives than required. One house towards the end was much older and had a large water feature full of various water fowl and a field with Alpacas that, whilst it was impressive to see all of this wild life, the structure was very functional in style for such lovely houses. After passing the houses we enter a path into woodland where the usually muddy path was fairly dry especially for an October walk.
Once onto the Honiley estate at Chase Lane we made a right turn to skirt Chase Wood going on through the pleasance, an ancient moated garden near Kenilworth castle, where the gate was blocked by 30 – 40 cows that on closer inspection were only calves. We stopped here for a tea break while a few of us dispersed the herd with some Countryfile type animal management being shown by David with his hiking stick. Ash, the Border collie, was so disappointed that she wasn’t allowed to help and made a lot of noise in protest. On crossing Chase Lane again some 3 miles on, we had turned an easy 5 miles walk into 8 miles by not staying on the deserted lane. On the final push back to the Tipperary for lunch we passed the impressive Rudfyn Manor and gently sloped back to the pub for a well-earned rest and lunch.
September 2017 Walk
September was largely a story of heavy showers but on the 12th we managed to find a pleasant sunny window. Meeting up at the Bull and Butcher at Corley Moor a group of ten set off along Windmill Lane looking back across Allesley towards the City. Following the edge of Birchley Hayes Wood we picked up the Coventry Way and cut across two fields to Harvest Hill Lane, continuing to follow the Coventry Way. Despite the status of the footpath we encountered ‘Beware of the Bull’ signs but bravely persevered and the signs proved to be inaccurate. Crossing a green lane we entered the Wood known as Meriden Shafts and at a bench helpfully placed in the middle of the Wood we stopped for a coffee break.
We continued across the abandoned gymkhana field with a superb display of scabias and continued towards Eaves Green. Here we turned eastwards for about 100 yards and there picked up the green lane again – this time following it through to Harvest Hill Lane. The condition of the northern end of the green lane had deteriorated due to weather and use by horses. Crossing Harvest Hill Lane, we walked towards Hollyberry Hall Farm with its helicopter collection just visible above the hedges. Emerging into Watery Lane we then followed the lane all the way back to Corley Moor. Lunch had been ordered before we set off and a good meal was enjoyed by all – as had the walk before it.
August 2017 Walk
Having postponed the walk for a week due to inclement weather our group of 10 adults, 2 children and 2 dogs met up at The Golden Lion Easenhall on a sunny day to explore more of Warwickshire’s beautiful countryside. From Easenhall, where a phantom horseman is said to ride the streets at night, we were soon enjoying a superb view across open countryside as we crossed the fields of Apple Tree Farm and were greeted by a wary group of cattle asserting their ownership of the terrain. The track led us to the shade of Brick Kiln Spinney until we emerged onto a driveway which ran alongside the fields of Newbold Revel College. No students to be seen, only a good array of exercise equipment on display with the college in the background.
We turned off this easy path along a track to join a recently harvested field where our route was more obvious (on our exploratory walk we had struggled to identify the path) but the ground underfoot was uneven and needed vigilance: unless you were our youngest member who skipped happily along oblivious of our caution. After about 3/4 mile our route led us into the cool shade of a railway bridge where on the other side, alongside the field, an overgrown stream emerged. This soon proved irresistible to our four legged friends one of whom decided to leap in for a swim but then struggled to get out as the bank was so steep. However, under the elegant Brinklow Arches supporting the Oxford Canal, the path ran alongside the stream on a fenced section, at the end of which our doggy friend was persuaded to climb up the bank to re-join us. A steep flight of steps enabled us to join the canal for an easy walk along the towpath where we met a number of moored craft and even more narrowboats chugging along. The first of these, named “Sanity” (!) was offering handmade fudge for sale, but didn’t reduce speed to allow us to sample their wares.
However we soon paused for a coffee break where the towpath rose onto a footbridge over the disused Brinklow arm spur. Once rested and refreshed we continued along the canal side through the cool of All Oaks Wood and Brickyard Spinney on either bank as we met with an occasional angler and later three maintenance men with strimmers clearing some of the vegetation on the rather overgrown and muddy bank. As we emerged from the trees into more open farmland we were greeted by a herd of young heifers checking us out over the fence and across the canal a lonely rather bored looking heron. At bridge 28 near Cathiron Lane we climbed a flight of steps leading to a rather overgrown bridleway (no room for both horses and pedestrians) which led under the railway to a branch in the path. Here we crossed the recently harvested fields to reach Easenhall and a tasty lunch in the garden of The Golden Lion.
July 2017 Walk
How fortunate we are to live so near to some lovely, mostly unspoilt, countryside. Barely 10 minutes drive away, we parked at Hunningham, visited last month as part of our circular ramble from Cubbington. This month, setting off in the opposite direction but renewing our acquaintance with the River Leam, we completed a figure of eight by exploring another anti-clockwise route linking Hunningham with the interesting villages of Eathorpe and Wappenbury.
Rain, welcome to the gardeners among us, threatened at first but coats were soon superfluous as we walked through a farm, admiring what looked like, on the surface at least, a particularly good and extensive crop of potatoes, then headed for a large field bordering the river. Following the valley, we climbed our only stile (mostly now replaced by gates) and joined a spongy lane (needing attention from Severn Trent?) into Eathorpe with its cottages and old mill. Precisely on the stroke of eleven we found a fine spot in a long field for our coffee stop, watching swallows feeding on the wing and skimming the water. These birds would soon be on their long flight back to Africa.
Further footpath signs directed us along the edges of fields of ripening corn and barley and through pastures into Wappenbury, where we located the grave of Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar Cars, and other family members in the churchyard of St. John Baptist, alongside a very attractive thatched cottage. Sir William, of course, resided in the more palatial hall passed nearby and we noted other desirable residences, just receiving their mail from “Postman Pat”, in the neighbourhood.
Leaving the village, a substantial and extended footbridge took us back over the River Leam and pointed the way back by the side of further healthy looking crops to our starting point, Hunningham’s Red Lion. Here we were promptly served our pre-ordered lunches, dined in style and speculated about the provenance of the fine old table around which we were all seated. We realised how lucky we had been when rain set in for the rest of the day. Our gardens certainly needed it.
P.S. Memo to walkers – The Wappenbury Churches sign. Google reveals that there is another church. Further down the lane, we should have looked for the Catholic Church of St. Anne.
June 2017 Walk
Close encounters: in June, fourteen of us plus three dogs started out from The King’s Head in Cubbington. Heading down New Street we passed St Marys church and continued along the track past the site of England’s oldest pear tree which is threatened by the HS2 line, but sadly we were unable to find it. Having skirted Cubbington Wood we followed the path downhill giving us lovely views over the Warwickshire countryside.
Crossing a few more fields and negotiating numerous dog friendly kissing gates, we eventually reached the banks of the River Leam which we followed, noting a number of fishing points along the way, but strangely very little wildlife. Approaching Hunningham Church, we finally came across a family of swans with four or five fluffy cygnets. Luckily they were on the other side of the river so we avoided any encounters with angry parents!
Passing St Margaret’s church with its unusual wooden steeple, we were joined in our walk by a mixed herd of cattle that seemed very keen to see us, and the dogs, removed from “their” field: finally bidding us goodbye by herding us through the gate. We did walk rather more quickly across this field! By now we were ready for our coffee break just opposite the Red Lion pub – our half way point.
Setting off for the second half we crossed the Leam and joined the Millennium Way over fields with sheep and cows, which we carefully avoided with the dogs, and through some good looking corn fields with good views of St Michael’s at Weston-under-Wetherley. We paused for a short while to watch a huge flock of rooks which circled overhead before moving off to several large trees. After another encounter with livestock – this time a horse who seemed more interested in us and the dogs than doing what its rider wanted - we entered South Cubbington woods following the main path through to return to Cubbington village, where we enjoyed welcome lunch time refreshments at the Kings Head.
May 2017 Walk
Twelve walkers and 2 dogs assembled in the car park of Hartshill Hayes Country Park which is set on the top of a ridge north of Nuneaton. The park is an attractive mix of woodland and open space from which on a clear day it is alleged that 40 churches (and 4 counties) can be counted! So once booted we set off along the ridge and down through the woods where we were met by our first views of acres of beautiful English bluebells: a real delight to see and to enjoy the scent, which was to be repeated along much of our outgoing route.
We emerged from the woodland to follow the path through a meadow and then steeply downhill, with glimpses across the fields of narrowboats on the Coventry Canal and an occasional train. A brief pause near Quarry Farm enabled us to regroup and turn left on to the road alongside Purley Park and disused quarry. This was a gradual climb uphill accompanied by more acres of intense blue for us to admire along the way until we reached Purley Chase. Here we turned right onto a shady path which ran alongside Purley Chase hotel, through Upper Coal Spinney and crossed a golf course to arrive at a kissing gate where we enjoyed our coffee stop.
Once refreshed we walked a short distance along the road to climb a stile and travel downhill across a golf course where a group of suspicious golfers eyed our progression in their direction. However we avoided them by turning left and climbing a stile into a ploughed field where one of our keen eyed walkers spotted the distant signpost directing us to towards the track which led through Mancetter Hill Farm. Our route took us across a road and into Oldbury Farm where we found a collection of outbuildings housing all manner of small enterprises including moulding sculptures and masking metal frameworks with green succulents, including a full sized, partially covered green horse! The track ran past a small pond and opened up views of the working quarry as we progressed along the well-marked path towards the road to Oldbury. After a short stretch along a narrow lane and past Oldbury Grange we returned to Hartshill Hayes and its wonderful bluebells and magnificent views across distant countryside.
April 2017 Walk
Our April walk started at Newbold Comyn Park, weather great not a cloud in the sky, the buds with their green leaves were bursting and the birds singing. We set off along the track towards Offchurch, across fields of yellow oil seed rape, eventually reaching remnants of a stone structure controlling the waters of the River Leam from which the town of Leamington takes its name.
We proceeded over a bridge following the route of the footpath through The Johnson Estate, which according to the various structures was used for croos country horse events. We reach the track leading to Offchurch village, over a stile and into the village. Continuing past The Stag Inn, we then pick up the track and cross the Radford Semele road and down to the dismantled railway track, which we followed until we reached The Grand Union Canal. Along the canal bank we cautiously passed a swan’s nest with the occupant sitting on its eggs; we then left the footpath at the second bridge and had a short walk to the crossing and back to Newbold Comyn Park.
Although we had limited support for the walk due to holidays, dentist appointment and other commitments, those that took part had a nice walk.
March 2017 Walk
Our March walk, led and reported by Chris Goodwin of Baginton Oak fame, started at The Red Lion in Hellidon, just over the Northants border by Daventry. The Licensee opened the doors early to take our lunch order and allow access to the “facilities” for the older walkers who can go less time between comfort breaks. 11 people and 2 collies set off at 10am sharp on a very quiet road passing Hellidon Lakes Golf Club and Hotel which really should be called Hellidon Hills, as I have played this course often and there are a lot more hills than lakes. Once we’d passed the Golf Course we left the road on a footpath, with wonderful views over the Warwickshire countryside, in the direction of Southam and Leamington, descending to the Millennium Way footpath and onto the village of Priors Marston, taking the compulsory coffee stop just before the village.
We had difficulties with stiles at this point, both with the people and dogs, with one stile having a gate on it to add an extra element of difficulty. The dogs had to be manhandled over them which they didn’t like, with Jasper eventually deciding to jump a particularly difficult one which, at 12 years of age and suffering from arthritis, was an amazing feat especially considering that access to the car sometimes needs assistance.
The village itself is particularly wonderful; well kept with an amazing array of picturesque cottages and houses, a war memorial for the 11 dead from World War 1 and the venue for Roger’s annual family get together, which Rheba was very excited about when she recognised where we were. After the village we trudged through muddy fields and woodland to cross the golf course low down, leaving a steep climb back to the village with more beautiful houses. Here we cut through the churchyard where Roger spent what seemed like an eternity reminiscing with the workmen who had once passed through our village.
The lunch was very good but the licensee told us that at the end of the month he was leaving after 81/2 years and the pub would close; it is sad that another village loses its pub - especially a good one like The Red Lion.
One a final note - “big” Roger bashed his head on a beam in the pub, which I thought was probably a first for someone as vertically challenged, but he informed us that since he’d been losing his hair it happened all the time!
February 2017 Walk
On February 14th thirteen of us met up at the National Trust property, Baddesley Clinton. The weather was dry but underfoot was very February – both issues entirely out of our leader’s control. We took the route from the car park across open parkland, through an equestrian centre and out on to the Birmingham Road on the edge of Lapworth. Here we joined the Grand Union Canal towpath for a short distance before taking the link from the Grand Union to the Stratford/Birmingham Canal at the Lapworth Junction. We then followed this canal, passing the Lapworth locks. At the point where the canal re-crosses the Birmingham Road we left the tow path, taking the lane up to another National Trust property, Packwood House. Anybody trying this walk could break their journey here and use the new catering facilities at Packwood. Most of us were carrying our own refreshments and so we rested on brick steps overlooking the House.
From Packwood, we followed the avenue running due east and then crossing the lane at the end we cut through a farmyard, crossed the farmhouse lawn and followed the path back to the Baddesley road. We could have cut across more fields but these appeared to be muddier than those we had already experienced – so we decided to stay on the road and returned down the drive to Baddesley Clinton and the car park, having completed about five miles. Non-members are not allowed into the restaurant at the House so lunch had been arranged at the Fleur de Lys Public House in Lowsonford, renowned for its various pies.
January 2017 Walk
Fifteen bodies and 34 legs set out on our latest expedition into the Warwickshire countryside – work that one out**! Wary of the criticism of Roger’s dodgy route-finding in the last edition of this publication, the leader of this walk (not wanting to be picked on in the same way) took great care to keep at the front and issue clear directions, though Chris and his passengers took a very circuitous route to the start at St. John’s, Westwood Heath, where we had sought permission to park in preference to The Varsity pub.
Our first path, cinder then grassy, brought memories of school cross country running to one of our number, though we then struck out on a different heading through gates and across fields via two farms to eventually reach a secluded path alongside conifers that led to The Greenway. This follows the line of the old railway, opened in 1884, between Berkswell and Kenilworth, closed to passenger services in 1965 and to its last goods trains in 1969. Elevenses were enjoyed at the entrance to Crackley Woods, followed by a not too muddy circuit of the woods before we re-joined the excellent Greenway track, open to walkers since the 1970’s.
In sight of the new houses on the outskirts of Kenilworth, we next took the wide and attractive path, provided with informative notice boards and shared with cyclists, back to and through the well-kept grounds of Warwick University. Some very mature students then ate well at our reserved table at The Varsity, a new venue to nearly everybody. We felt, after probably just a little over 5 miles on our feet, we were entitled to forget, at least temporarily, any New Year’s resolutions concerning diets. We had again been lucky with the weather and it was good to have stretched our legs after perhaps we had been (Chris and Gayle excepted) a bit lazy over Christmas. **Yes, this included Jasper and Ash, on parole from The Oak. Thanks, C and G, for the entertainment they provided. Chasing and returning sticks not always expertly thrown, Ash must have covered nearer 20 miles. We trust Chris found a more direct way home.