20090315_Brinklow Walk Circular
When : 15th March 2009
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Brinklow, Warwickshire, England
Maps : 1:25000 Explorer Map no.222, Rugby & Daventry
Approx Distance : 5¾ miles, 9.3 km (per guide book used)
Heights : No significant climbs, Maybe 280 ft (about 85m) uphill over whole walk
Public Transport : Yes, believe bus services run to Brinklow from both Rugby and Coventry.
Summary : Brinklow Village ; Coventry Way ; Lovers’ Bridge ; Oxford Canal ; Centenary Way ; M6 ; Stretton Under Fosse ; Newbold Revel College ; Oxford Canal (again) ; Brinklow Motte + Bailey Castle ; Return to Brinklow Village.
I did this walk straight out of a book of local walks that I’d bought a while ago : COUNTRY WALKS IN THE RUGBY AREA, by Jim Watson, published by THISWAY Books. The only deviation I made to Jim’s route was right at the end; where we branched off Ell Street to explore Brinklow’s Motte and Bailey Castle rather than finishing off on the road. Route finding was no problem at-all, as I used both the route description from the book and my 1:25,000 map of the area. It was another lovely spring morning and upon asking my 7 year old, Craig, he was up for a walk with me … nice! … So we quickly got our walking stuff together and set off for the nearby village of Brinklow, sort of mid way between Rugby and Coventry. We found a nice safe parking spot by the side of the very wide and aptly named Broad Street, almost directly opposite The Raven Inn.
We started off wandering up to where a picturesque row of cottages are set back from the main road at The Crescent, overlooked by the Norman church tower raised slightly above us. A classic English village view. Little clumps of daffodils set the scene off perfectly, aided by the bright red traditional telephone box, which was in turn balanced nicely by the equally bright red front door of one of the half-timbered buildings. I particularly liked this building, as the timbers were left a natural wood colour rather than the glossy black paint more often seen. This seemed to fit in with the warm red brick of the building itself.
A family friend some years ago lived in one of the cottages on The Crescent, the small frontage belied the interior which was almost Tardis like, much bigger than imagined with various rooms stretching back away from the road, making the rooms more dark and cosy rather than light and airy.
We returned to and then past the car, and after a bit of map perusing, we turned into Barr lane (it’s not obvious in the guide book that this is indeed right, it just says take an alleyway off Main Street) and we dropped past the village recreation field and small playground, to enter a field, the path heading off diagonally in a westerly direction, Craig (as ever at the start of a walk) out in front at the run. I have no objections to this as it means I can get my legs moving at a nice pace. Turning right after passing through to the next field, Craig continued at the run, enjoying the ups and downs of the ridge and furrow pasture sloping down to the path, whilst I found interest in the dried seed heads in the hedge-row remaining from the winter. We were following paths which have been incorporated into the “A Coventry Way“; a circular route of 40 miles around Coventry and as such the route was way-marked excellently.
An aside :- Currently, Coventry is politically labelled as being in The West Midlands … an invented district if there ever was one … but in geographical and historical terms, it’s really the major city in Warwickshire. Because of this, much of the “A Coventry Way” is in Warwickshire, as it is here in Brinklow. Unfortunately (in my opinion for what it’s worth) in their county reforms some years ago, Westminster, in their wisdom, decided that as the city was more industrial than rural it ought to be lumped in with the likes of Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, etc. Now I’ve nothing against those places, but I don’t think Coventry has any real affinity with those places … apart from the A45 and M6, all the roads radiating out from the city head to places like Nuneaton and Bedworth in the north, Kenilworth, Warwick, Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-Upon-Avon in the South and of course Rugby to the east. One day maybe, Coventry will be ceded back to its traditional roots and become Warwickshire once more … I hope so anyway.
Anyway, back to the walk, after a while of following hedgerows, the path meets a bridle track and then crosses the small and perfectly charming Lover’s Bridge, its two small arches spanning the small stream of Smite Brook. In the sun this was a lovely spot. On the map there’s a non-descript label of FB which has no romance about it at all. Turning the corner brought us onto Smeaton Lane.
Turning left onto this B-road for just 100 yards or so, we then turned right to rise gently up a minor road to Grimes Bridge, where it crosses The Oxford Canal. Instead of crossing immediately, we dropped down the steps to sit and take refreshments by the canal side. I’m sure Craig was grateful for the rest. The Coventry Way heads off here, to follow the tow path, but now refreshed we returned to the road, crossed the bridge and were now following “The Centenary Way” northwards, passing Colehurst Farm and then just after crossing the Rugby to Nuneaton Railway line, Coombe fields Farm. The bridle track was again excellently signed, as we climbed steadily alongside a hedge, at first on its right and later to its left. It became particularly wet in places here, and I resorted to carrying Craig (although he’s getting a bit heavy!) so as to keep his feet dry, as his boots aren’t fully waterproof.
We’d now reached quite an elevation, and we could just about make out the Ricoh Arena in the far distance, shining white in the sun. Craig loved this as I’ve introduced him to the trials and tribulations of being a Coventry City supporter … I feel almost guilty as there are probably more bad times than good when it comes to supporting “The City” as a football team … Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal they most definitely aren’t! Unfortunately they’re not even in the same class as Wigan or Stoke and the like … quite sad considering how long they’d been in the “top flight” of English football before finally succumbing to Championship level.
Pressing on we came out onto a farm track bridge spanning the M6 and we spent a little while watching the traffic zooming under us in both direction. Craig played the old game of waving to the vehicles as they approached … Some were boring with no reaction, many gave a smile and cheery wave back again and, most notably, several lorry drivers and a couple of coach drivers sounded their horns and/or flashed their lights as they passed underneath … Craig loved that!
Heading back to the southern end of the bridge, we picked up a footpath sloping down at the bottom of the M-way embankment, the roar of the passing traffic slowly lessening as we dropped lower and then branched right to climb up and over a ploughed field to reach a ram shackled barn.
The way then dropped again, now on a rough farm track to a small drainage stream where we stopped for more refreshments. This last section had been a little scratty in places, and a couple of abandoned concrete pipes didn’t really smarten the place up at-all, but Craig did enjoy climbing inside for a while … and then clambering up a pile of old tarmac rubble just opposite.
The track now climbed to reach The Fosse Way (B4455) which we crossed straight over to then drop towards, and then into, Stretton Under Fosse, a pretty village including half timbered buildings.
A joggle left (along) and then right (over) the B4027 dropped us down a track to the outskirts of Newbold Revel, Prison Officer Training College. I didn’t feel I could take pictures of the facility, given the sensitive nature of security today … the last thing I needed was to be “lifted” under anti-terrorism laws. Having said that, the college is easily found on the interweb, and here’s a couple of links if you want to have a look-see.
As we skirted the college grounds, I liked the view over to the right, back towards Stretton, where a couple of lone trees framed the white washed buildings of Tower Cottages. We then soon emerged onto a drive-way right at the main entrance to the college. The path straight over and onwards looks obvious, with good way-marking, but actually this is a little misleading, as our route turns half right to follow a small stream – Smite Brook – the same as we’d crossed earlier in the day at Lover’s Bridge. This benign little stream had obviously flooded during the winter evidenced by the dead vegetation hanging on some old iron railings along side the watercourse. Thankfully the path winding alongside the stream was now dry and perfectly OK to walk. After a while we followed the stream through a tunnel passing underneath the Rugby-Nuneaton Railway, another focal point on the walk to help keep Craig interested, especially as a Virgin train roared passed.
A short time afterwards we passed through another tunnel, under the Oxford Canal this time, at what are known as Brinklow Arches. We immediately turned completely back on ourselves to climb a set of steps up onto the canal towpath with views back over to the railway and the arch we’d come through a few minutes earlier. Another Virgin train sped past as we watched a barge sedately make its way on the cut. I guess a perfect example of why rail supplanted canals as means to move goods about the country way back when.
After that we had to walk through a long and steep sided cutting to the next bridge in the distance.
The far bank of the cutting is quite unstable and landslides have slipped into the canal bringing trees down with it … I guess the canal here must be quite shallow and difficult to Navigate. Craig by now was flagging a tad and we played word games and were generally silly for a while, but the nicest for me was when we just held hands …. No words, just love.
We left the canal at the road bridge now reached, and walked along the road (westwards) enjoying the site of spring lambs in the fields, until we reached a junction … We took the right turn to steeply climb up Ell Street, a bit of a sting in the tail near the end of the walk and I had to encourage Craig as best I could. Upon reaching the top of the short climb, the expansive views north showed a good proportion of the walk we’d completed.
Another very short distance along the road brought us to an entrance into Brinklow’s Motte and Bailey Castle dating back to Norman times. Quite incredible really to think it’s still there and not been built on. The Motte; the Bailey and the moats are all still evident, and Craig (gaining a spurt of energy) ran to the top of the Motte (the mound) from where we got some brill’ views in all directions. You can see why it was built here, obviously defensible and immediately above the Roman Fosse Way running through the village … I guess in Norman Times the Roman Road would still have been the major roadway of the day.
After stopping Craig from running down the Motte, he’d have broken his neck I’m sure because the steepness, we crossed the double Bailey (the courtyards and ramparts/ditches) and outer ditch cum moat to drop down into the village again, almost directly opposite our car.
We headed off home to find the girls of the family … they’d been to Bedworth Civic Hall to support Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band in the Midland Area Brass Band Contest (They came 7th out of 11 in the 2nd section).
That’s about it really, a super local walk with lots of features along the route to keep both a young person (Craig) and an older person (me) interested all the way round.
A final word, I love the high hills and mountains of England and always get excited when a trip further afield is on the horizon (small pun intended, sorry), but this walk proves we should not overlook our local network of paths. Thanks to the likes of Jim’s book and similar publications (and The Ordnance Survey’s maps) there’s no reason not to discover the charms of country walks closer to home.
Cheers for now, Gary … I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20090329_Brailes Walk