20080921_Hawkstone Park Walk – Shropshire

20080921_Hawkstone Park – Shropshire
When : 21 September 2008.
Who : Me and my Family.
Where : Shropshire, England, East of the A49 between Shrewsbury and Whitchurch near to the village of Weston-Under-Redcastle, SY4 5UY.
Approx distance : Maybe 3-miles for full route? … Approx 3 hours (per park’s literature) but allow more to explore properly or picnic or sunbath or take photo’s.
Significant height : Ups and downs on paths and tracks … all climbs short at any one time.
Maps : 1:50000 OS Landranger Map 160 Shrewsbury & surrounding area covers the area but not used. Leaflet map per link :- http://www.hawkstone.co.uk/follies/map.html
Start + End Grid Ref : 575,285 … ish
Parking : Free Car Park
Public Transport : Don’t know
Entrance Fee : YES … Variable, depending on age, group size, concessions, etc. We paid £17.00 for a family ticket.

Summary : According to the Park’s own literature : Welcome to the 18th Century walking centre of Great Britain, designated Shropshire’s only grade 1 landscape by English Heritage.

Hawkstone Historic Park & Follies is recognised as a masterpiece of the school of Naturalistic Landscape. Created in the 18th Century by the Hill Family, after 100 years of dormancy it was restored and re-opened in 1993 ….

English heritage recognises Hawkstone as an important component in our cultural heritage.



Some of the main features :-

  • The White Tower
  • Rhododendrum Jungle and Woodland Walk
  • The Monument
  • Swiss Bridge
  • Gingerbread Hall
  • The Grotto Caves
  • The Awful Precipice and Ravens Shelf
  • Gothic Arch
  • The Cleft
  • Various tunnels (torch needed)
  • Reynard’s Walk
  • At all times there are superb views and vistas to enjoy.

We had caught a little of BBC-TV’s Countryfile programme just a couple of weeks before and had been impressed by their “spot” about Hawkstone Park.

http://www.andreawulf.com/2008/09/bbc-countryfile-7-september-2008-bbc1-11am.html + http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/countryfile/

Although having lived in the midlands all of our lives, and reasonably well travelled, neither my wife nor I had ever heard of the place. We were both intrigued and agreed to make a mental note to get there sometime in the future, as yet undetermined.

The opportunity came much sooner than expected, as a free Sunday with good weather presented itself on 21st September. It turned out to be as nice a day as we’d had all summer long and we decided to pile the kids in the car and make the 90 mile journey across the midlands motorway network (M6/M54) to visit the park. A 180 mile round trip would normally warrant an overnight away, but on this occasion we decided on just a day trip and so save us a bit of cash.

I had wondered whether this post should be included in my walks diaries, but Hawkstone is much more than your average country park with its location, viewpoints, follies and other notable features, so I’ve decided to publish this page anyway.

Sensible shoes are a must, especially if you want to make the most of all the paths and especially in The Cleft which I think must be almost permanently damp. The training shoes we wore were quite adequate and there was no need for hiking boots.

Hawkstone is built on several hills/escarpments and as such there are ups and downs, some steep (but never very long) and not always on perfect paths, but that is at its heart of what it is, and access is by default limited for the less mobile. There are wide tracks, narrow windy paths, steps cut into the rocks, Rhododendron glades, tall trees, broad trees, view points, airy bridges over deep chasms and the laid out routes are interspersed with various follies and features along the way. Please refer to the park’s web site for their special notes, including accessibility :- http://www.hawkstone.co.uk/follies/Admission-hours.html

The start was easy on a broad track skirting around the edge of farmland; the tractor tilling the field unintentionally making interlocking patterns like the lines in a huge Japanese Zen Garden.

Soon the route became steeper as we passed the stocks and wound our way up to The Urn (look out for the fox).

Here the path divides with one route appearing to turn left contouring around cliffs. We didn’t take this route though, taking note of a no-entry sign which informed us not to go that way. There is a kind of one way system and this very inviting looking path is in fact the main return route, known as Reynard’s Walk … more of this later.

Our route took us onto a flight of stone steps cut into the rock, forming a curving channel leading us upwards. The steps have been worn away by countless sets of feet over the years, giving them a lovely organic, almost natural feel.

Soon after, following a short climb, we reached The White Tower. This is really an odd name, given the octagonal building is made of red brick, but originally it was lime washed which gave it its name. It must have been stunning in all its glory shining bright white in the sun, sat on its hill in the trees. The tower has a barred doorway from which you can view a waxwork scene; I think of The Duke of Wellington (of Waterloo and waterproof boots fame) drawing up plans for battle with his 2nd in command, Rowland Hill the owner of Hawkstone. My apologies if I’ve got the history wrong.

More history / info at : http://www.shropshiretourism.info/shrewsbury/lord-hill/ and http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/image_galleries/hawkstone_park_follies_gallery.shtml?14.

Leaving the White Tower, we basically followed the longest routes we could (using the sketch map leaflet as our guide) playing games like: don’t wake the Dragons in the Rhododendron Jungle; hugging Redwood trees; singing silly songs; using our imaginations to see giant petrified spiders instead of gnarled and moss covered roots and branches …. generally just having fun.

I think sometimes life can get in the way of living and it was nice all of us being able to have a daft time together.



The sun and blue skies peeping through the branches were very welcome, we really hadn’t had enough this year.


Following the twisty-turny paths through the Rhododendron Jungle and woodland walks we caught glimpses of The Monument, standing tall above the tree tops.

The Monument Tower is set in a broad clearing with picnic tables around about. A narrow internal spiral staircase takes you up to a platform near the top, about 100 feet above the ground. This makes a superb view point in all directions. I’ve read that 13 counties can be seen from the top, although it was quite hazy the day we were there and the distant views were a little blurry, but superb all the same. Climbing up the staircase with my kids was kind of reminiscent of climbing the tower of Coventry’s Old Cathedral many years ago with my parents. Care had to be taken on the ascent and descent as the spiral is quite tight especially when meeting people coming in the opposite direction. Just down the path a short distance from the tower is probably the best example of a monkey puzzle tree I’ve ever seen. Brill’. 


There was interest throughout the walk, but I guess the best bits were yet to come, the park’s layout tantalisingly giving us more as we progressed around. From the monument a wide path took us past more woodland and views (we ignored the path to St. Francis’ Viewpoint and Cave) to reach a dividing of ways. There is a path heading down and around as an easier route to avoid Swiss Bridge, maybe important if you can’t cope with heights. We however, took the “harder” route to cross the extremely photogenic Swiss Bridge where it spans a deep chasm. This is really quite spectacular and is very airy as you cross the narrow wooden foot-bridge.


Immediately after crossing the bridge, the path climbs a few steps cut into the rock to bring you out onto a stunning view point, including the view to Grotto hill over a deep valley. From here you can see the Gothic Arch set high above a cliff face. We continued round on the path swinging anti-clockwise and quickly downhill to soon pass underneath Swiss Bridge where we’d crossed only shortly before and soon rejoined the easier path to cross a wide bridge over the valley and onto Grotto Hill.


Passing the quaint thatched Gingerbread Hall, we climbed up and around to reach the small refreshment area where we purchased ice creams and drinks, along with a number of like minded people. It wasn’t too crowded though and we easily found a picnic bench to sit and rest.

Refreshed, and soon raring to explore further afield, we headed into the grotto caves. The labyrinthine tunnels and larger, almost vaulted, caves are completely man-made, the original ancient mines (for copper ores I believe) later being adapted into their current form as the park was devised and created.

The torches we took were definitely needed as some of the passageways are almost completely pitch-black.

The kids had fun pretending to be zombies on the hunt … with mostly me as their prey, egged on by my wife … charming!  

After exploring the depths of the grotto for some while, we eventually exited into bright sunlight, emerging onto Ravens Shelf high above The Awful Precipice.

This stunning area commands fantastic views including a golf course, the bright green manicured fairways a complete contrast to the rugged cliffs and wooded hill sides. We spent ages sunning ourselves and exploring the immediate area, including finding another wooden footbridge, this time spanning the narrow gash of The Cleft.



Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the suntrap of Ravens Shelf, returning close to the refreshment area to visit the Gothic Arch, a classic faux construction built to resemble a ruin to enhance the views from across the valley.

Funny how we humans feel the need to improve on natures charms in this way, Grotto Hill would look spectacular anyway, but somehow The Arch does indeed add a focal point and is very photogenic.


The views back across to Swiss Bridge once again prompted the camera out of its case. In fact the camera hardly stayed in its case at-all, there was just so much to snap away at (I’m just pleased everything’s gone digital and not film).


  We then returned into the grotto cave complex to rediscover one of the less obvious exits, found via a dark curving tunnel, which emerged out at the top of The Cleft. This is a deep gash in the rock with a narrow path descending downhill away from the caves.


Soon after exiting the caves we went under the footbridge mentioned earlier. It was exciting picking our way down the slippery damp ravine, trying not to get the slimy green stuff on the walls onto our clothes. The Cleft is a natural feature (enhanced by the park creators) but I believe essentially being part of The Wem Fault, a geological phenomenon of the area. I found a website that details the complexity of Hawkstone’s geology which I have no reason to dispute as I’m not a geologist … http://www.shropshiregeology.org.uk/sgspublications/Proceedings/2007%20No_12%2070-78%20Rayner%20Hawkstone.pdf

Nearing the bottom of The Cleft we turned left to descend through another tunnel to pick up The Serpentine Path, which eventually opened up to a wider track, taking us back down to The Gingerbread Hall where we re-crossed the broad bridge back towards Swiss Bridge.

Instead of climbing back up to Swiss Bridge (which was tempting), we turned right onto a path contouring around the steep cliff face. This quite long path, known as “Reynard’s Walk”, twists and turns on the cliffs, passing such places as; The Retreat; another path branching up through a tunnel towards St. Francis’ Viewpoint; Foxes Knob; The Squeeze; more tunnels and eventually reaching Reynard’s Banqueting House.


Justine (my lovely wife) likened this path to coastal walking, with its frequent ins and outs and ups and downs. All in all it was probably the most strenuous stretch of the walk, or could it just have been later in the day and a cup of tea and a bite to eat was needed. I loved the way the sunlight dappled patterns on the rock faces through the trees, some hanging on very precariously.

Soon after Reynard’s Banqueting house, (a tall arched hollowing hewn out of the cliff face), we returned to The Urn and it was very straight forward retuning to the entrance buildings and café, where we had some lunch and drinks.

A superb late summer family day out ….

We’ve resolved to return in the spring when the Rhododendrons will be in flower.


My next walk … The Malvern Hills and a bit of culture … just me and Justine – No kids !!! Use the links below to see my posts.



I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….



20080927-28_Malvern Hills Walk_Some extra stuff

20080927-28 Malvern Hills Walk_Some extra stuff
When :
27 + 28 September 2008
Who : Me and Justine
Where : Malvern, Worcestershire, England
Maps used : 1:10000 scale map “The Malvern Hills sheet-3” British Camp to Chase End Hill, published by The Map Shop, Upton Upon Severn.


If you’ve read my diary post about our little walk on the southern stretch of the Malvern Hills, you might like to know a bit more about them.

If you’d like to read my post, the link below should take you there.



Many years ago, I obtained a set of 3 maps, so long ago I don’t remember where or when. Each map does a section of the range of hills [each covering about 4-5 km north-south]. The maps were published by “The Map Shop, 15 High Street, Upton-upon-Severn”. 

The maps are based on the Ordnance Survey at 1:10000 scale, which I find really odd to walk with, being used to using 1:25000 scale mapping most of the time. At 1:10000 scale, it makes it seem that you’re covering the ground much quicker than you are.

Some (boring) legal stuff :
Appended to the maps are various passages about the geology; the hills themselves; archaeology and local legend. Acknowledgments are printed, most notably to “The Malvern Conservators”, “Mrs. Irene Southall” and of course “The OS” http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/ .

Obviously the OS stuff is subject to Crown Copyright, but I can’t see any copyright notice on the texts or the general publication. I hope I’m not infringing anything, but the following are some extracts from the notes on the set of 3 sheets (I’ve put the extracted texts in italics, to separate them from my writings).

Also I’ve searched “The Map Shop” website http://www.themapshop.co.uk/ and couldn’t find anything to suggest the set of maps is still in publication.

The maps themselves are not dated. As the following includes extracts from the published documents I have brought my weblog page to their attention to ensure I am not infringing any copyright. I’ll withdraw/rewrite in my own words if they have any objections. I have no reason to doubt any of the info’ they published and I have not tried to verify any of it myself, although obviously time can have a bearing on things.

  • The photo’s are all my own work.

The interesting stuff :

The Malvern Hills :
The hills run generally in a north-south alignment, and are approximately twelve kilometres or eight miles long, but at their widest they are only a little over one kilometre or three quarters of a mile across.

The greater part of the Malvern Hills and surrounding commons are under the jurisdiction of the Malvern Hills Conservators, http://www.malvernhills.org.uk/documents/publications/documentsindex.html

Some Main Features on our walk of 27-Sept-2008 :

  • British Camp Pass (car park) = 240m or 787′ this has always been the most important route over the hills.
  • Herefordshire Beacon = 338m or 1111′. The British Camp, one of the most impressive Iron Age Hill Forts.
  • Hangmans Hill = 276m or 905′.
  • Swinyard Hill = 272m or 895′.
  • The Gullet Pass = 204m or 671′
  • The obelisk in Eastnor Park (Deer Park) = approx 230-240m

The views from almost the whole length of the ridge are superb in all directions – northwards towards Shropshire and the Wrekin, eastwards across the Severn Vale and the Vale of Evesham, south to the Cotswolds and the Bristol Channel, and westwards over the Herefordshire patchwork of small fields and coppices to the Black Mountains and the Welsh Borders.

In the area there are many miles of footpaths and bridleways, mainly of definitive status, but including some permissive paths on the Malvern Hills. For the walker, horse rider or cyclist the countryside offers a variety of routes ranging from easy to strenuous, all within an area that is justifiably classed “of outstanding natural beauty.”

A bit on Geology :
Most people who walk anywhere on the ridge of the Malverns are struck by the great difference in the scenery of the lowlands to either side. Worcestershire is a flat plain with the Severn running through it some four miles away. Herefordshire appears as a picturesque jumble of low wooded ridges. The visitor who is intrigued by this contrast and by the dark mass of Granite lying between, realizes that it is a geological puzzle. In a very quick summary, The Malverns are of a very old and extremely hard granite, to the west are shales and limestones, to the east sandstones and marls.

Archaeology :
The hills south of the A449 road contain two fine examples of Iron Age Hill Forts. The most impressive is the British Camp built on the hill known as the Herefordshire Beacon, and forming one of the country’s best “contour forts”, where the natural slope of hill was used to advantage in constructing the defensive ramparts. The site was most probably a fortified hill town built around the third century B.C. and able to support a community of some 2000 people, living in timber and mud houses.

The second hill fort is at the top of Midsummer Hill, and is slightly smaller than the British Camp.

The mediaeval “Shire Ditch” or “Red Earl’s Dyke” runs almost the whole length of the Malvern Hills and was constructed between 1287 and 1291. Gilbert de Clare, the red-headed Earl of Gloucester and then owner of Malvern Chase, is reputed to have had a boundary dispute with the Bishop of Hereford over the limits of their respective hunting forests. The line was finally agreed to run along the top of the hills, whereupon the Earl appears to have built the ditch and fence on his side of the hill in such a position that the Bishop’s deer could easily get over the fence but were unable to jump uphill to get back again. The ditch is still clearly defined for most of its length, and on Raggedstone Hill one of the finest sections is to be found cut out of solid rock.

Local Legend :
South of the Herefordshire Beacon is “Clutters Cave”, a small man-made cave with an unknown history.

Legend has it linked with the fugitives John Oldcastle and Owen Glendower, but it is also said to have been occupied by a hermit – it is unlikely that the mystery will ever be solved.

Places to Visit :
There are plenty of places to visit in the surrounding area and information should be available at the local tourist information centres in Malvern, Ledbury, Bromyard and Worcester : http://www.information-britain.co.uk/ticlist.cfm?county=1 & http://www.information-britain.co.uk/ticlist.cfm?county=1

Apart from our walk over British Camp to Eastnor Park and back to British Camp Pass, two places we visited were :



To go to my Malvern Hills walk diary, please use the link : https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/20080927-28_malvern-hills-elgar-pilgrimage/

My next walk(s) … probably a couple of days in the Lake District, with one of my sisters at the end of October, based in Grasmere.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. I mean my précis and regurgitation of someone else’s writings.

20080927-28_Malvern Hills Walk and Elgar Pilgrimage

20080927-28 Malvern Hills Walk and Elgar Pilgrimage
When : 27 + 28 September 2008
Who : Me and Justine
Where : Malvern, Worcestershire, England
Approx distance : 6½ km : 4 miles
Significant height : About 260 metres climbing but spread over several sections – highest single climb approx 100m
Maps used : 1:50000 OS Landranger Map 150 Worcester, The Malverns & surrounding area.
1:10000 scale map “The Malvern Hills sheet-3” British Camp to Chase End Hill, published by The Map Shop, Upton Upon Severn [bought many years ago].
Start+EndGrid Ref : 763,403
Obelisk Grid Ref : 752,378
Parking : Car Park on A449 at junction with B4232
Public Transport : I believe bus routes do exist but we didn’t use them.

Route Summary : A449 car park – British Camp / Herefordshire Beacon – Broad Down – Hangmans Hill – Swinyard Hill – Gullet Wood – Obelisk in Eastnor Park – Return same way except incl. British Camp Reservoir.

Other Interests : Elgar Graves at St. Wulstans Church, Little Malvern – The Malvern Spa Hotel – Elgar’s Birthplace, Upper Broadheath, near Worcester.

A rare opportunity had arisen to spend a little time with just my wife, as both kids were off doing exciting things elsewhere during the week-end. Our time scale was limited by drop-off and pick-up times on the Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, but we decided there was enough time to :-
Do a bit of a walk on the Saturday somewhere on the Malvern Hills:

  • Spend a night in a local Hotel.
  • Visit Elgar’s Birthplace on Sunday morning.
  • Return home by just after lunch to pick up Craig.

We’d found a brand new spa hotel in Malvern Link on-line, http://www.themalvernspa.com/ and booked an overnight, splashing out on a bit of unaccustomed comfort (the youth hostel could have sufficed at a fraction of the cost, but I don’t think they’ve got a sauna and all the other nice spa stuff, and bunk-beds didn’t appeal this time some-how). You can see our review along with other guests comments at http://www.laterooms.com/en/hotel-reviews/152330_malvernspa-worcestershire.aspx

Leaving Rugby after 10am we had to contend with thick mist-cum-fog for most of the way on the M40/M42/M5, which kept speeds down, but that was nothing compared to the traffic jam we found ourselves in after leaving the M5 at junction-7. From here all the way to Malvern we crawled along at a snails pace for no apparent reason. We were later to find out the Malvern Autumn Show (a major event) was taking place at The Three Counties Showground near Malvern itself … just our luck!

Anyway, eventually we branched off the main road, to find our hotel and check in, being very surprised to find it on a business park. Once booked into our room, we set off again, the fog still hadn’t lifted and we were thinking we weren’t going to get any views during our walk … Happily, how wrong we were.

As we drove up out of Malvern Wells towards the car park beneath British Camp there were one or two tantalising glimpses of brightness and even a splash of blue sky peeking through the mist.

We arrived at the car park just after noon, a little later than we’d probably intended, but we paid our £2.00, quickly donned our boots and headed off, starting up the tarmac path behind the modern info’ board, we soon passed the much less gaudy older welcome stone set back up a grassy bank with some charming little cyclamen blooming in front. The path, rising quite steadily, is at first slightly wooded but opens up as it reaches the first of the embankment rings.


We were pulled upwards towards the summit of British Camp with the promise of sunshine; we weren’t disappointed. The views as we reached the top were super, if a little hazy. To the east of the hills, the mist hung around on the steeply wooded slopes and hollows below us.

It’s a bit of a pull up to the summit of British Camp, otherwise known as Herefordshire Beacon. However, the path has a good surface and snakes up through the lines of earthworks and is really quite straightforward, in fact it’s a bit of a tourist route and boots are not really needed at-all. In fact, I felt a little over-dressed in full walking attire and ruck-sack, compared to what some were wearing.

It only took about 10 minutes to reach the top and although there were a few people about, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds … this is a VERY popular place and a bit of a honey pot when the weather is fine. I suppose I could research the very long history of this iron age fort (going back to B.C.) but it’d be too long to write here; a whole website could be filled just on this one subject alone. Unsurprisingly it’s been done already by the “Malvern Hills Conservators”, so I’ll leave them to do what they do best at http://www.malvernhills.org.uk/ .

I’ve also created a separate page with a bit of info’ which you can access at https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/20080927-28_malvern-hills-some-extra-stuff/ ).

At British Camp we stopped for lunch ; just 10-15 minutes into a walk has got to be a record, even for me! My renowned appetite normally has to wait at least an hour or so before the sandwiches are broken out.

But we had started late and it was nice being able to relax in the warmth of the autumn sunshine, without having to keep half-an-eye on the kids … a novelty we were determined to enjoy, although it did feel quite odd.



After about ½ an hour we managed to raise ourselves and headed south, deciding we’d head over to the obelisk standing prominent on a wooded hillside some distance away. It was nice being able to hold hands as we followed the obvious path along the top of the ridge without the kids vying to separate us or hang on our other hands.

Conditions were ideal for walking and we took our time descending the ridge in a southerly direction in a series of gentle downs and ups (the next up never quite matching the previous down). Our route taking in Broad Down, Hangmans Hill and Swinyard Hill.



It was on the approach to Hangmans Hill that I spotted a huge mushroom like fungus growing out of the short grass just beneath a scraggy hawthorn bush. It was the size of a small-plate and was opened up, perfectly displaying the gills on its underside … fascinating..



I think it may be called a Parasol fungus (I defer to anyone with better knowledge) … it had apparently avoided damage by sitting under the spikey bush.

Shortly after the “summit” of Swinyard Hill we turned right where route finding, although not difficult, was aided by a large circular waymarker, where we dropped into Gullet wood, picking up a track heading roughly south west.


The woods made a lovely contrast to the open hills as we continued downhill eventually meeting another track at a muddy junction; the track here deeply rutted by vehicle tyres. We turned right and after passing through a large kissing-gate stile (kiss exchanged of course, ‘cause you’ve got to haven’t you!) we had to make a decision: continue on the gentle rise of the track, or take the steep but grassy path slightly to the right. We chose the harder path, quickly climbing between thickety-shrubby plants (brambles etc) and spaced out trees.

I was wondering how long it would be before we’d see the obelisk again having lost sight of it whilst we were in the woods, and then all of a sudden, there it was, large in front of us, quite amazing how such a tall object had been out of view despite our proximity to it.



We were now in Eastnor Deer Park, and after a quick circumnavigation of the really quite stark structure we settled down on the grass for a rest (not that we really needed one) but the setting, warmth of the day and the fact we’d reached our objective dictated a brief lie down in the sun.

It was a little disappointing to find the stone spike was put up in esteem of family members (albeit they had held high office), but somehow it smacked of self-importance and sycophancy … something that doesn’t necessarily sit comfortably with a lot of English people. Now if they’d built and dedicated the edifice to fallen heroes from past wars or the like, then I think I’d have been much more impressed. I.e. Self-sacrifice of the ordinary person paid for and recognised by the landed gentry from a position of privilege.

The return journey was a direct retrace of our outward route, starting off downhill taking the track we’d earlier ignored and enjoying the views over to Midsummer Hill.


We briefly discussed dropping past Gullet Quarry to pick up a lowland path, but instead decided to stay as high as possible, to again enjoy the views over the farmland below.

So, once through the kissing gate again, we climbed back through Gullet Wood, very soon regaining the top of Swinyard Hill and the ridge.



Steadily gaining height, we again followed the line of The Shire Ditch, now heading northwards. It was a little more strenuous in this direction, being more uphill than down, and it had become quite warm. Upon reaching the Broad Down area, I branched off briefly to take a look at “Clutters Cave” hewn into the hillside slightly to the west of the top path.  http://www.smr.herefordshire.gov.uk/hsmr/db.php?smr_no=3732 .

The whole area was now much busier, with families and fellow walkers much more in evidence than earlier in the day. We decided at this point, that instead of making the final little climb back up onto British Camp, we’d instead take the well made path contouring around the hillside above British Camp Reservoir. The views were super, the reservoir a rich blue colour reflecting the sky above. I again now felt over dressed as we passed several push-chairs being pushed around the sweeping curve of the path, which quickly lead us directly to the car park and the end of the walk.

After a short drive on the A449 in the direction of Malvern, we stopped in a lay-by to visit the extremely well tended Elgar Graves, including Edward, one of our greatest and most loved composers, at St. Wulstan’s Church positioned right next to the main road. This is obviously a very old building, which in some ways resembles a castle rather than a church.  http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/4056/tour11.html .


We then drove back to our hotel; cleaned ourselves up and headed off to the spa area. I’d like to say it was to soak away the aches and pains of our exertions, but that would be stretching the truth somewhat, the walk completed being quite easy really. Still the spa with its 4 different sauna types, different showers, ice rub and the indoor-outdoor pool with its different styles of air bubblers/jets was enjoyed as we relaxed, before heading back into Malvern for supper at an Indian restaurant … excellent food and very quick service [I think it was called the Bengal Brasserie].  


After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we reacquainted ourselves with the spa facilities and later the grand salon as we relaxed with a bit of reading (a news paper for Justine and the National Geographic for me).

I found it quite hard making myself do pretty much nothing. I did succeed but just for a while.

After checking-out we headed for Elgar’s birthplace in Upper Broadheath, near Worcester, just a short drive away. The cottage has been turned into a museum with commentary by means of a head-phone set. An additional building displays more about his life and his music. An excellent end to our little trip.



The journey home was uneventful, and we were back in time for a happy reunion, with Craig (first) and Katie (later). It was good being back all together again … I can’t see how people go on holiday for a week or more without their children … 16 hours or so was enjoyable but quite long enough …. and as most parents would probably agree we never stopped thinking about them and what exciting things they were doing without us.

My next walk(s) … probably a couple of days in the Lake District, with one of my sisters at the end of October, based in Grasmere.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

20080511_Cawston Grange + Lawford Heath Walk

20080511 Cawston Grange + Lawford Heath Walk
When : 11 May 2008
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Rugby – Warwickshire – England
Approx distance : 10 km : 6¼ miles
Significant height : Nothing really significant – couple of gentle climbs.
Map used : 1:25000 OS Explorer Map 222 Rugby & Daventry
Start Grid Ref : 469,735
End Grid Ref : 469,735
Parking : Car Park at end of Trussell Way
Public Transport : Bus route – drops off on Calvestone Road, on the Cawston Grange estate near the large island on the A4071.

Route Summary : Cawston Grange – A4071 – Rugby Western Relief Road – Lawford Heath – A428 Coventry Road – River Avon – Long Lawford – Bilton Lane – Cawston Grange …

Included : pleasant rolling countryside, Hawthorn in flower, Bird-song, Wildflowers, Rape in full bloom, reasonably way-marked paths, no particular obstacles but for normal stiles, gates, crops, etc., route finding was easy.

As I live locally to this walk, I didn’t need to use the car, but I’ll write it up as if I’d started at the end of Trussell Way on the outer edge of the new Cawston Grange housing development to the south west of Rugby, and bordering some gentle Warwickshire countryside.

If you are arriving by car, it’ll probably be on the A4071 either from the direction of the A45, or from Bilton Village/Rugby … at the large island turn into Cawston Grange Drive, at the next island turn left into Trussell Way. Trussell Way is a short road and comes to an abrupt end next to the countryside where there is a small car park.

From the car park you’ll need to cross a strip of grass (heading directly away from the end of Trussell Way) to join a path skirting around the outer edge of the estate where it adjoins farmland. Turn left on the path heading up a rise to start the walk. It was this path that Craig and I joined from elsewhere on the estate, Craig running on ahead full of energy (as young boys tend to do).

The brisk pace suited me fine, as I could stretch my legs out accordingly trying to keep up, especially as there was a coolness in the early morning air. We had both woken early (or if my memory serves me right, it was really that Craig had come and woke me early!) and as the girls of the household were to be otherwise busy later in the day, I decided that a walk was just the thing for a Sunday morning, especially as the weather was to be fine and dry. We set off well before 8 O’clock to enjoy the early freshness and the spring bird-song.

After a short while, the path emerges from the estate to meet the A4071 road into/out of Rugby. We turned right alongside the main road for several hundred yards until again turning right onto a bridle track heading off between two properties (almost directly opposite Cawston Lane).

I really like this little section of bridle track, as it tapers slightly, narrowing to a gate and it seems to draw you into the countryside, inviting you to leave the busy road behind. This was enhanced by the splash of pale pink from a clematis in full bloom climbing up and over a shed in the adjacent garden.



The way ahead, in a generally north westerly direction, is over a couple of pasture fields. In the first, the route goes straight across the middle; in the second, it follows the hedge line. These fields often contain a selection of sheep and cattle and today was no exception, except this time a large ram stood slightly away from the other sheep and cows … it seemed to have a superior air of aloofness about itself and it didn’t bat an eye-lid as we passed close by. Craig had never seen a ram before and was amazed at its size compared to the nearby ewes. At the far corner of the second field the path leaves it to cross an old farm bridge over a disused railway cutting.

It is possible to descend onto the old railway and use it for other walks (for instance to Draycote Water), but in this case we crossed straight over, picking our way through the stinging nettles to emerge into open space but immediately confronted by a huge scar doing its best to bar our way. This was the Rugby Western Relief Road under construction and the farmland had been ripped up leaving a mud brown streak, running pretty much north/south and parallel to the old railway. At the time of writing (Oct 2008), this is now being tarmac’d over.

I won’t get too political here as there are valid arguments for and against new road developments such as this bypass. Although it isn’t pretty, on the whole I’m for this road, so long as it doesn’t put extra pressure on the green belt between Rugby and Coventry. I suppose only time will tell on that one. I don’t know what provision is to be made to cross here in the future when the road is open (sometime in 2009 I think), but please be careful once it has cars and lorries speeding up and down.

Anyway, back to the walk, we crossed the “new road” to drop into a shallow valley with views to the gentle rise on the other side of a small stream (a tiny feeder into the River Avon) which we crossed by means of a small footbridge. We would re-cross the stream later in the day just outside Long Lawford.


We then climbed alongside mature hedges to reach Lawford Heath Lane, where we continued straight ahead into Ling Lane, walking on the road for a couple of hundred yards or so before turning right across the field on an indistinct path (bridle track on the map). The route then crossed and bounded several fields eventually dropping down, in a northerly direction, to meet the A428 Coventry road opposite a little wood. Crops grown here include maize, potato, beet, wheat and oil seed rape (in full flower when we did the walk) and I’m sure several other crops as well.


Please appreciate the countryside here, because, although it is not overly exciting or unique, it had been proposed that the largest airport in Europe and potentially the world could have been built right here … and there wouldn’t have been any countryside at-all !

Route finding was not a problem as the path although not particularly distinct was evident on the ground, although Craig did enjoy pushing his way through a short section of wheat where it was trying valiantly to hide the way ahead.

Thankfully we didn’t need to cross a rape field and all that yellow pollen!, although we did walk down the side of a large planting of rape where Craig mused that he’d love to be one of the butterflies (or flutter-bys as we sometimes call them) flitting about, as there were so many flowers to feed from.

Upon reaching the A428 we carefully crossed over and turned right on the road side path for a short time, before turning left on a wide track to go under the mainline railway from Rugby to Coventry. If you’re lucky you might even get to see a train zooming by (we didn’t). Immediately after emerging from the bridge-cum-tunnel (owl hoot echo’s tried) we branched half right across a pristine grass meadow, Craig at a run as he vehemently shouted to me “there is no river!” as I jokingly warned him not to fall in.

He soon had to eat his words as we reached a lovely little viewpoint on an embankment above a loop in the River Avon, as it meanders westwards towards Kings Newnham & Church Lawford and Later Bretford, Wolston and Brandon before eventually turning south to the honey pots of Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, etc.

Nearly all books of local walks I’ve seen seem to have the classic round including this stretch of the River Avon and the villages of Long Lawford, Church Lawford, Kings Newnham and Little Lawford and it’s easy to see why, as this is a lovely spot.

However, we only managed to stay with the river for just a short time, before all too soon heading across pastureland away from the river. After about 3 or 4 fields we crossed a little stream where we lingered watching some little fish (juvenile brown trout perhaps?). This was the 2nd crossing of the steam mentioned earlier. I hope the outwash from the new road when operational does not pollute the ecology of this tiny stream. Heading on we entered the village of Long Lawford to meet a minor road. There are a couple of pubs in Long Lawford, just a couple of streets away, but we (I) resisted their call. Our route turned right along the road rising up to cross the main-line railway (this time above the tracks) on a road bridge, continuing on to meet the A428 Coventry road again.

Crossing straight over this busy road with care, we then had a little more road walking to do along Lawford Heath Road as it rises, in a southerly direction back up towards Lawford Heath, but not long afterwards we turned left up a farm track, still rising on the longest climb of the day. It was now getting quite warm, and I now had to use my powers of persuasion to keep Craig with me, his running ahead now long since replaced with dragging heels in the heat of the day.

After a while the track narrows to just footpath width and it was at this point that some anti-social oik had fly-tipped a load of old furniture and other junk. Disgusting is the only way to describe this pathetic behaviour! The rest of us use the facilities supplied by the local council, why not these obnoxious numbskulls?

We continued up the enclosed path, leaving the eye-sore behind, to meet Bilton Lane, just where it will make a large traffic light junction with the new bypass. Crossing the swathe of construction mud, we then continued along the road across a bridge, to cross the old disused railway again.

It was here that the call of The Bear Pub couldn’t be resisted and as the walk was nearly complete we succumbed and stopped off for a nice pint of best bitter for me and a soft drink for Craig. We sat out in the sun enjoying the midday break.

Soon after and reinvigorated we set off south picking up a bridle track that heads off through the middle of the Cawston Grange development. There are several ways back to Trussell Way, the easiest to describe being straight on, on the bridle track until you reach the large island on the A4071, and then cross over Cawston Grange Drive, past a stand of tall tress and soon after turning right picking up the estate path first started out on. However, you might like to find the path that skirts the development in a big sweep to the west of the houses, or perhaps pick your way through the streets just following your nose. We just made our way straight home.

A nice walk, in nice weather, at a nice time of year, and two boys (one old, one young) well satisfied with the day. It goes to prove you can enjoy a country walk without having to drive miles and miles to reach mountains and moors elsewhere in the country.

My next walk(s) … 4 days in the Lake District, on my own, in June, but that hadn’t been planned then. Links as below :





I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

20080619_Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks Walk- videos

My first 3 posts onto youtube …. hopefully you’ll be able to open and play them OK.

Vid-1= http://www.youtube.com/v/fb3i0-XVYxM

Vid-2 = http://www.youtube.com/v/jknS6J2x5ZA

Vid-3 = http://www.youtube.com/v/CEKjwxCWIIg


Vid-1 … This video link above is a 360 degree panorama from the summit of Fleetwith Pike. It starts off looking down Buttermere with Crummock Water and Mellbreak disappearing in the distant haze. The view pans round anti-clockwise taking in the High Stile ridge (tops in cloud !), around to Haystacks and Warnscale Bottom. The high fells of the Pillar Massive, Kirk Fell, The Gables, et-al, are shrouded in cloud. The lump consisting of Brandreth and Grey Knotts is just about clear of cloud. Further round on the other side of Honister pass, Dale Head is mostly visible as is Hindscarth Edge and Hindscarth itself, but Robinson disappears from sight before we return to the classic view down Buttermere.


Vid-2 … This video link is a 360 degree panorama from the summit area of Haystacks [or Hay Stacks if you prefer]. I made a bit of a commentary but the wind noise, pretty much obliterates my speach at times.

Also, the cloud cover is quite low and the commentary by default is pretty generalised in the direction of features as there was a degree of guesswork about where one fell ended and another started especially around Kirk Fell and the Black Sail Pass area.

One thing’s for sure this little group of vids certainly shows the Lake District as it really is … sorry not much blue sky and sharp edged mountain tops on display I’m afraid.

The vid starts looking down Buttermere and Crummock Water and pans round clockwise. The main points to listen out for/see on the way round are :- Grasmoor in cloud ; The Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head Ridge in a bit of sun ; The dark mass of Fleetwith Edge rising to Fleetwith Pike ; The Dubs Quarry area with the Waterfalls into Warnscale Bottom ; Grey Knotts and Brandreth are visible with a glimpse of Innominate Tarn on Haystacks itself closer to us ; Green Gable and Great Gable are covered in low cloud as is Kirk Fell and the Pillar massive. One of the summit tops of Haystacks is seen before the eastern end of the High Crag / High Stile range comes into shot ; finally panning back round to the view down to Buttermere again.


Vid-3 … The above video link is a 360 degree panorama from the descent of the Scarth Gap Path as it crosses Buttermere Fell. The commentary is a little better on this vid, as I was more sheltered from the wind. A good proportion of the walk (certainly nearly all of the higher stuff) is encompassed in the video and the weather is begining to improve where you can actually see some blue sky, a rarity I hadn’t enjoyed much of during the day.

The vid takes in Buttermere ; The Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head Ridge ; Fleetwith Edge and Fleetwith Pike ; Warnscale Bottom ; Haystacks ; Scarth Gap ; Buttermere Lake agin and The Grasmoor massive.


If you’d like to go to my diary page of the full walk please navigate via the Lake District Category, or hopefully the following link will take you straight there.