20090708_Cawston-Lawford Heath Circular Walk

20090708_Cawston-Lawford Heath Circular Walk

When : 8th July 2009

Who : Just Me

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

Map : 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure Map 222, Rugby and Dunchurch.

Start + End Point : 469,736

Approx Distance : 4¾ miles, 6 km

Significant Heights : Not much, about 230ft (about70m) over 2 rises (100ft 1st rise, 130ft 2nd rise … both quite gentle really).

Parking : On street parking in Cawston Grange Estate (see below)

Public Transport : No.4 bus from Rugby Town Centre drops on the estate on Calveston Road.

Summary : An evening walk including : Cawston Grange Estate, Coventry Road (A4071/B4500), Across Rugby Western Relief Road, Lawford Heath Road, Re-Cross Rugby Western Relief Road, Back into Cawston Grange Estate.

I’m writing this as if the walk started at the end of Trussell Way, in turn just off Cawston Grange Drive, on the new Cawston Grange housing Estate. Actually I started elsewhere on the estate (where I live) and you don’t really want to hear about the streets I walked to start with; but the end of Trussell Way is a good place to start.

There is a small car park at the end of Trussell Way, but I’ve noticed recently that a barrier has been dropped down across the entrance and padlocked in place, but there is room for on-street parking, just please be considerate how and where you park as this is a residential area. From here, cross the strip of grass at the end of the road towards farmland, to join a gravel path just in front of a hedge; then turn left slightly uphill, to skirt the outer edge of the estate. After a short while the path emerges onto a little loop of path/cycleway separated from the A4071 main road by a stand of tall trees.

Incidentally, just as an aside (writing in Oct-2009) … Just to confuse everyone in the near future, when the nearby Rugby Western Relief Road (RWRR) opens, the new bypass will become the A4071. According to Warwickshire County Council the existing A4071 at Cawston will then become the B4500. This was due to happen in the autumn of 2009, but it’s now said this southern section of the RWRR should open by the end of this year.

http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/RWRR

Turning right the path joins the main road, where upon I continued heading away from Rugby for a short distance until opposite the side road of Cawston Lane. Then, turning right (with Cawston Lane now directly behind me) I headed up a bridle track between two homes to reach a gate and stile. The farmer had put up a warning sign saying “Livestock Grazing in this field walkers enter at their own risk”. The cattle in the field were particularly inquisitive … No, I’d say almost downright aggressive!, with them running back and forth in front of me and directly at me a couple of times as I crossed directly over the field on the right of way. It certainly raised the pulse a little as the fight or flight reaction kicked in, but I held my nerve and marched on waving my arms and generally trying to make myself look big and kind of “in charge”.

I’d be interested in knowing of the legality of the above … as the sign implies that the farmer knew the cattle could pose a risk to walkers, and as such could this be deemed an effective blocking of the right of way (at least to the more nervous members of the public) and maybe even be a breach of public liability ? … ermm, interesting one. I’m very pleased I didn’t have a dog with me as I fear it could have degenerated into a quite dangerous situation. Anyway, the path heads straight across, to just to the left of a large mature tree and passes into the next quite uninteresting field where the hedge straight on is followed (with it on your right hand side). At the end of the field, in the corner, is an old gate which gives access to an over-grown farm bridge, passing over the bed of an old railway cutting.

Incidentally, there is access down to a path that follows the course of the old railway, a green corridor through the countryside as it sweeps generally north/south separating Cawston and Lawford Heath.

Once over this old brick bridge I emerged to the sight of a new substantial bridge directly in front of me crossing the new Rugby Western Relief Road (currently under construction, in Oct-09).

    

The bypass (RWRR) generally runs parallel to the old railway here and although the bridge maybe doesn’t look out of proportion to the road, it does seem completely overkill to me for what traffic (on foot, horse or pushbike) in will see.

However, I had to admire the sweep of the superstructure and I spent quite some time trying to get some “arty” photo’s (one or two I think worked out OK).

  

    

Once over the bridge I dropped down a broad track, pausing to admire a group of thistles just coming into flower, before following a thin but definitely visible path down to a wooden footbridge over a small stream. The path then rises up the side of the next large field with a mature hedge on the right. The field was full of potatoes which were being given a helping hand by some industrial scale water sprinklers being fed by a quite sizeable pipeline snaking its way across the fields.

At a small pond, pretty much hidden away behind trees the path continues straight on, but the hedge switches to your left. There were a few patches of daisy “weeds” in flower here, a minor foothold in amongst the sterility of the crops. From here (aided by the slope becoming almost level) it didn’t take long to reach Lawford Heath Lane.

I turned right to follow the road northwards, towards Long Lawford for about 1km (pounding the tarmac out of necessity to keep the circular walk fairly short) my view constantly being pulled to my left, where the sun was beginning to drop behind clouds towards the horizon. A lovely sight – I, like most people, do like a good sunset, but it wasn’t developing into the spectacle I’d hoped for.

After a little joggle in the road and soon after passing Lawford Mill and Lawford Grange Farms there is a footpath that branches off to the right and this is what I intended to take, the starting point confirmed by a prominent marker post by the side of the road. However, this is where the ease of route ended, as the way through to the next field was on a rather overgrown plank footbridge over a drainage ditch. This was immediately followed by a difficult clamber over a fallen tree covered in Ivy and brambles. If I, at over 6’4” tall and reasonably agile found this somewhat awkward how anyone of shorter stature would fare I’m not sure!

The problems didn’t dissipate once over the two obstructions, as the path was not “on-the-ground” through the maize field ahead. I’m sure the farmer has a legal requirement to clear the way through, the easiest way being to just drive a tractor down the line of the path. Anyway, with a bit of careful map reading and another helpful way-marker, I worked out a point to walk to in the distance heading diagonally down and directly through the crop.

I was pleased it was early in the growing season as I guess it would be very much more difficult doing this later in the year with the crop over 6’ tall and much denser to push through.

Anyway, once through the crop, I reached and passed through a hedge to turn right alongside a cereal crop and then left in the field corner to rise gently up, to join another path; a very obvious path this time.

Turning right (rising gently) the path becomes narrowly hemmed in between two hedges, the upper branches joining to form a gloomy tunnel as day light faded into the evening. I had to stoop down to negotiate my way for a short distance before the path opens up joining a rough driveway to emerge on Bilton Lane at a quite sharp bend in the road.

Heading straight on (towards Bilton), I reached the major construction of the RWRR to re-cross the new road for the second time. There will be a major traffic light junction here when they finally get around to finishing off the bypass. It was a mess here in July and to be honest, it’s still a bit of mess here some 3 months later. I’d be hard pressed to say what really significant changes have happened in that time. I hope I’m not talking out of turn, but it is a tad annoying as it looks like this southern section could be finished off very quickly – if they’d just get on and do it!

It was getting quite dusky now and I with a lot of will-power decided to ignore The Bear Pub, instead I headed right (directly away from the pub) into Lawford lane, and then (at a bend in the residential road), straight on, heading along a wide pathway to reach into the northern reaches of the new Cawston Grange Estate, and a final short walk home.

There are various ways to make the route back to Trussell Way. Probably the most rural feeling route (although not the shortest) is to turn right at the first road reached (Whitefriars Drive). Head along here until the first island is reached, cross over the wide Cawston Grange Drive and then pick up a path heading down and to the left. This runs parallel to the road at first, but then rises in a sweep to the right leaving the road behind. The path now turns left to skirt the outer edge of the estate, quite close to the old railway for a time, then swinging left towards a small kiddies playground, there’s a low marshy area off to the right here. At a T-junction of tarmac paths, just before the playground, turn right past a small pond and then straight on, rising as you go on a gravel path and this soon brings you back to the end of Trussell Way. During my walk back through the estate the previously hoped for spectacular sunset finally lit up the sky in the distance, a blazing combination of yellows and oranges. It’s just a pity most of it was obscured from view and I had to content myself with glimpses as I made my way home.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090805_Lacock Circular Walk

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20090620_Bilton – Dunchurch Circular Walk

20090620_Bilton – Dunchurch Circular Walk

When : 20th June 2009

Who : Just me

Where : Bilton and Dunchurch, Near Rugby, Warwickshire

Map used : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 222, Rugby and Dunchurch.

Start + End Point : 482,736 [Junction of Alwyn Rd/Lime Tree Ave].

Approx Distance : 2.5 miles, 4 km

Heights : Not enough to mention

Parking : I parked as considerately as possible in the residential area where Lime tree avenue meets Alwyn road

Public Transport : No.4 bus from Rugby Town Centre stops in Bilton.

Summary : Alwyn Road, Scots Close, Cawston Lane, Northampton Lane (Bridle way), Windmill Farm, Boathouse Spinney, Footpath between Lime Tree Village (retirement homes) and crop fields, Lime Tree Avenue to finish.

I had dropped my son off at football training and, as the weather wasn’t too bad, I decided to use the 90 minutes to go for a bit of a wander. I had a quick look at my map and decided on the route, trying to fit a little variation into the fairly limited set of local footpaths that I’m now getting quite familiar with. I started off on the residential Alwyn road heading away from Bilton Village. When I reached the edge of Alwyn road recreation ground (at a bend in the road) I took a right turn to head into Scots Close, a very short close with a few homes on just one side, which then narrows to a tarmac’d drive with quite a rural feel to it. After a very short distance the drive reaches a small group of buildings at Little Scotland Farm. The well presented cottage in stark contrast to the dilapidated and broken down old barns close by.

The metalled drive stops here to be replaced by a bridle way track bounded on both sides by a wire fence, a sheep field on one side and wheat on the other ripening nicely to a lovely golden colour, a total contrast to the dark trees in the distance.

The path takes a 90-degree turn to the right and then soon after another 90-degree turn to the left where one side becomes a hedge, with a good variety of plants including brambles and Elder coming into early summer flower, (taking over from the spring flowers of blackthorn and hawthorn).

After a little while the path emerges onto Cawston Lane at Holly Lodge Cottage. I could have crossed straight over to a gate opposite and onto a path heading for Boat House Spinney, but instead I choose the less obvious route (I say less obvious ‘cause I dislike tarmac walking) turning left to follow Cawston Lane itself towards Dunchurch Village.

On the outskirts of the village, I turned right to enter the farm track of Northampton Lane.

I was pleased to see it was dry as it can be particularly muddy especially near Windmill farm, which is where I was heading.

The morning was turning out to be really quite pleasant.

The surrounding countryside here is not overly exciting but it is green and leafy and has a quiet charm if you care to walk through it rather than the normal dash of life in cars; 2mph pace lets you see so much more than the normal 100mph zoom of normal living.

As I approached Windmill Farm I looked left along a footpath (heading off almost due south) through a field of oil seed rape in full flower; the brilliant yellow quite zingy in the sunlight with the thin dark line of the path clearly visible. I was pleased my route wasn’t across here as the pollen from the rape is not nice stuff.

Continuing along Northampton lane, I passed several farm trailer implements, (they’re often parked here by the side of the track) and a reminder that this is a working environment producing food for our tables.

At Windmill Farm (at a bend in the lane) I turned right to head northwards. Here was another contrast of an attractive well kept home next to a dilapidated group of farm outbuildings, it seems strange to me that with a little investment over the years these building could have been kept perfectly viable, maybe even to house the trailers passed earlier.

After a couple of stiles, I took the path northwards away from the farm, over a couple of unremarkable fields by the side of a hedge, to reach a cross-roads of paths. Where upon, I chose the right hand option to drop down into Boat House Spinney. Keeping straight on through, I soon emerged from the other side of the narrow strip of woodland, (literally having spent no more than a couple of minutes in the trees) but not before seeing one of the most fantastic fungi I think I’ve ever seen, growing by the side of the path in the undergrowth.

On exiting the woods, the path skirted the edge of a crop field and nearing Cawston Lane for a second time, I was struck by a couple of blood red poppies rather isolated in amongst the crop. Somehow these lonely looking flowers highlighted a certain sterility of the rest of the field, hardly another “weed” in sight. It’s quite sad really, albeit very efficient from a farming point of view.

A left turn down Cawston Lane for a very short distance was followed by a right turn down a track, again with crops to my right and a very tall hedge with overhanging trees on my left marking the boundary to Lime Tree Village retirement complex.

A gentle drop brought me to a corner where I followed the field edge left and then right to climb (very gently) up to a delightfully proportioned little cottage at the end of Lime Tree Avenue.  I joined the tree lined road to head back towards Alwyn road and back to the start near Bilton Village.

Not an overly exciting walk, no great sweeping vistas, no strenuous climbs, not a hill to be seen nor expansive lakes, but a nice way to spend a good part of Saturday morning and a way to escape the normal rush of modern life for a short time (despite the deadline to be back to pick my son up from footy practice).

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090708_Cawston and Lawford Heath Circular Walk.

20090517_Sugar Loaf Linear Walk – The Leaders Blurb.

20090517_Sugar Loaf Linear Walk – The Leaders Blurb.

When : 17th May 2009

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club

The following is a copy of the info sheet each of us received to read on the coach, during the journey from Coventry to Abergavenny; allowing us to decide which level of strenuosity we would want to do from the three options on offer.

Now is probably as good a time as any to give a link to The Cov’ CHA’s website. It’s not a big complicated site and all the important information is straight forward to navigate around … http://www.coventrycha.co.uk/

 

ABERGAVENNY, CRICKHOWELL, GWENT.

 

Leaders – A-Julian Stanley. B-Richard Satchwell. C-Neville Russell.

NOTE :

THE COACH WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MEET ANY PARTIES FOR LUNCH.

THE COACH WILL REMAIN IN ABERGAVENNY UNTIL 5:30.

THE C PARTY MUST BE BACK ON THE COACH BY 5.15.

A and B PARTIES HAVE A PUB AT THEIR LUNCH BREAKS.

A AND B END WALKS IN CRICKHOWELL WHERE WE AIM TO LEAVE BY 6pm.

WE AIM TO BE BACK IN COVENTRY BY 8.30pm.

 

WALKS IN BRIEF :

A – STRENUOUS. 10 MILES 2400 FEET OF CLIMBING.

B – STRENUOUS. 7 MILES 1900 FEET OF CLIMBING.

C – MAINLY FLAT. SLIGHT CLIMB. MINOR CHALLENGES. 5 Mls 180 Ft.

 

A & B WALKS – Start their walks together from the car park of the Lamb & Flag pub a little outside Abergavenny Town. The route for both parties climbs behind the pub to lane which rises steeply 600’ to meet the slopes of Mynydd Llanwenarth. _ Grand views should begin to appear. – Following the ridge of Llanwenarth the route climbs more gradually to a height of 1400’ where a final steep ascent brings the walk to the summit of Sugarloaf at 1955 feet.

A & B parties descend together to meet a boundary wall where the parties separate.

A PARTY – Continues to descend along bridleways and lanes to follow a small river to the village of Llanbedr, The Red Lion and lunch.

After lunch the walk follows a lane a short distance then climbs steeply through fields to the summit of Table Mountain at 1481 feet. From here the route is all downhill through fields and lanes to Crickhowell where there will be time for refreshment before meeting the coach.

B PARTY – Continues to descend along the route of old green lanes to the village of Llangenny, The Dragon pub and lunch. After lunch a short steep climb brings the walk to a footpath and direct route between fields to Crickhowell where there will be time for refreshment before boarding the coach.

C PARTY – Start their walk from the coach park in Abergavenny. The walk follows the River Usk west for two miles to just beyond a dissused ferry crossing. (This first section has a few yards of erosion which with a little assistance can be by-passed). From this point the walk turns north through fields and lanes to cross the A40 and ascend a sunken lane. The lane is likely to be wet but soon arrives at a farmstead, a good track and views over the valley. The walk follows the track and a couple of fields to arrive at a lane and vineyard. The vineyard has a shop and café and allows unguided tours. The route now follows narrow lanes and attractive residential areas back into Abergavenny where more refreshment can be found.

Please be back at the coach for 5.15. — The coach will leave at 5.30 to pick up A & B walkers and return to Coventry.

NOTE : WALKS & SCHEDULES MAY CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS AND PROGRESS. PLEASE CONSULT WITH LEADERS.

 

When the leaders put the above info’ sheet together, especially the last paragraph, I’m sure they didn’t really expect what the weather actually threw at them. Their task didn’t get any easier when Julian Stanley the (A-leader) became unwell on the journey down and was unable to lead the walk … Julie [sorry Julie, I don’t know your second name] took over and joined Richard Satchwell (the B-leader) to take us up and down Sugar Loaf. The few pic’s avove are from the actual day.

 I’ve posted a diary post of how the walk actually panned out … if you want to have a read the following link should hopefully take you straight to it ….

https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/20090517_sugar-loaf-linear-walk/

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. Next walk = 20090620_Bilton and Dunchurch Circular Walk.

 

Links to a couple of the pubs mentioned :

The Lamb and Flag, Abergavenny : http://www.lambflag.com/lambandflag-contact.html

The Dragon’s Head, Llangenny, Near Crickhowell : They do not have a web-site, but they can be contacted by Email : thedragonshead@gmail.com or Telephone : 01873 810350

 For more info on the area I guess The Crickhowell Information centre would be as good a starting point as any, and maybe better than some.

http://www.crickhowellinfo.org.uk/

20090517_Sugar Loaf Linear Walk

20090517_Sugar Loaf Linear Walk

When : 17th May 2009

Who : My Sister Janet, Bro-in-Law Roger and I joined the Coventry CHA Rambling Clubs walk (http://www.coventrycha.co.uk/ )

Leaders : A-party leader : Julie (Sorry Julie, I don’t know your 2nd name) who stood in for Julian Stanley after he felt unwell on the journey down, B-Party leader : Richard Satchwell.

Where : Abergavenny, Sugar Loaf, Crichowell, Gwent, Wales

Maps I Used, (just because I like to keep track of where I’m Walking) : 1) A Really old 1:25,000 OS. Outdoor Leisure Map 13, Brecon Beacons National Park Eastern Area. 2) An equally old 1:50,000 OS. Landranger Map 161, Abergavenny and The Black Mountains.

Start + End Points : 281,153 to 215,184

Approx Distance : 8.5 miles, (about 13.6 km)

Approx Heights : Ascent = 2275 ft (693m), Descent = 2239 ft (682m)

Transport : The club hires a full size coach (Ken’s Coaches) and services of a driver for their Sunday Walks. I would imagine there’s car parking in both Abergavenny and Crickhowell and at a guess there is probably some kind of bus service between the two towns.

Summary : Fields and Lanes north of the A40 ; past Pentre Farm ; Mynydd Llanwenarth Ridge ; Sugar Loaf (Y Fal) Summit ; Mynydd Pen-y-fal Ridge ; Llangenny Bridge for Lunch ; Fields & lanes to Crickhowell ; River Usk @ Crickhowell.

I don’t go out with “the club” very often these days; family commitments, work, doing walks on my own, holidays, general gubbins of life, tend to get in the way sometimes. However, this walk kind-a jumped out of the programme as a “must do” especially when my sister (who goes out with the club more often than me) said she and my brother-in-law were booked on the coach. So I booked myself on hoping for some decent late spring or early summer walking.

However, as the date approached the TV weather forecasts became increasingly poor with tightly packed isobars and huge splodges merging into one almighty mass over South Wales for around mid-morning … It didn’t bode well! … However the coach set off from Coventry in the dry and we half hoped the forecasters had got it all wrong, although I still feared for a bit of a wetting!

As we left England and entered Wales the clouds began to look really ominous and from what I remember [I’m writing this some 5-months later] we travelled through some sharp squalls before the coach pulled into The Lamb and Flag pub car-park just to the west of Abergavenny on the A40(T) Brecon road. The coach emptied the A and B parties (leaving the C-party behind) and we all found our gear from the hold of the bus … surprisingly in the dry. However, I was feeling pessimistic so donned gore-tex over trousers and jacket there and then, figuring it’d be easier to don them straight away rather than half way up the hill side. The A+ B groups were to walk together for much of the morning, only splitting just before the planned lunch time pub stops.

In classic, time honoured, manner the walk started straight uphill, heading north(ish) to the left of the pub to climb a steep pasture field by the side of a long line of mature trees, a bright fresh spring green despite the greyness of the day. Not long afterwards we joined a minor road to continue steeply upwards, passing Pentre farm as we went. Periodically a cry of CAR! would ring out from either the front or back of the party indicating we all should step to the side of the road to let a vehicle pass.

As we climbed, extensive views began to open up over Abergavenny and the Usk valley. However, the views were somewhat muted and gloomy as a thick layer of cloud blotted out any semblance of brightness. The climb, combined with the conditions and being fully cagged-up certainly raised my temperature to the uncomfortable, despite having decent breathable waterproofs.

After a left turn in the road (near Pen-yr-hoel) and a touch more road walking, we then turned right up a track to then swing around to continue in a roughly north-westerly direction, still uphill but now heading across bracken clad heath/moorland. We picked up a broad green ride cum track, still rising, but now much more gently than before and now more westerly than northwards. Approaching a car park (above Llanwenarth Breast) we again did a quick right turn, a short sharp climb and then a left onto another broad track.

 

This track continued steadily upwards (on the very broad ridge of Mynydd Llanwenarth) swinging round in a huge sweep to the right through the surrounding moors, big and wide with sweeping vistas. The views unfortunately were cropped quite considerably ahead with the low cloud base obliterating our intended target – The summit of Sugar Loaf (Y Fal). The expected rain and wind had now arrived and the party got somewhat spread out. The conditions dictated that the A and B leaders put their heads together for a bit of a confab, where they decided to press on to the top. Soon afterwards a group of horse riders galloped into view on a track crossing ours, one of the horses skidding just in front of me as it tried to slow to a walk, an indication of how wet and slippery underfoot conditions had become.

 

As we continued upwards, still on the big right-hand sweep of the track, the conditions worsened, the cloud enveloping us, becoming driving mist and rain. Atmospheric you might call it, but not really very pleasant. A stiffish final rise brought us all of a sudden to the trig point at the top, where the party regrouped once again for a much needed but rather soggy rest and to, errrm, enjoy the views … well, all of the 20-30 feet or so we could see ahead, as the wind, rain and mist swirled around us. What a pity, as at 596 mtrs high the views must be brill’.

 

      

At least my new Pentax got a good testing of it’s waterproofness, despite being kept inside a plastic bag and inside my cag’ whilst not being used it did get a good wetting. It continued to work perfectly well except for the protective screw-on filter steaming up on the front of the main lens.

Our intrepid leaders then led us off, in a generally north-westerly direction to start with, and then almost due west as we quickly descended on another broad ridge (Mynydd Pen-y-Fal), emerging from the cloud base and eventually meeting an intake wall separating the moor from farmland.

This was where the A and B parties were due to split and go their separate ways. The A party were due to climb Table Mountain above Crickhowell, whilst the B party were to stay low level for the afternoon. The two leaders had another confab and basically offered everyone the choice; nearly all immediately choose the B-party option, not wishing to endure another hill top in the mist and rain.

Of the handful of hardy souls remaining there wasn’t a huge desire to do the second climb of the day so we kind of reluctantly (but understandably) decided to abandon the A-party route completely. We rejoined the B-party to follow the boundary wall south for a short distance, before turning right down a steep and slippery field.

The semi wooded area to our left was covered in bluebells a very welcome bit of colour given all the greyness we’d been in for quite some time.

The photo’s I took here have taken on a certain soft focus effect, a result of misting-up of the lens filter.

We soon picked up a lane dropping quickly down to the small settlement of Llangenny Bridge and “The Dragon’s Head” pub. Most of the party immediately disappeared into the pub … but I, along with Janet and Roger and one or two others decided firstly eto at our packed lunches outside (it had thankfully just about stopped raining). This is a club rule: your own food should not be eaten inside pubs if they serve food of themselves … it’s only right and proper, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When we did eventually enter for a pint, we found our colleagues all ensconced in a side room all tucking into their sarnies. The landlord had taken pity on the group and had VERY kindly allowed this to happen. I suppose in the process he must have sold much more ale, teas and coffees and in some cases puddings to the 23 of us than he might otherwise had done …. A happy and mutually beneficial arrangement agreed on-the-fly, excellent. After about an hour or so, we all emerged not into rain, but dry and slightly brighter conditions. There were even some shadows suggesting at a hint of sunshine. Could we be that lucky ?

A steep climb away from the pub on a minor road brought us past a cottage delightfully clad with a wisteria vine in full bloom and we splashed on through some pretty large puddles from the mornings downpour. It didn’t take long for the leaders to realise they’d missed the path by the side of the cottage and we back-tracked through the puddles again to pick up the path to rise above Graig wood.

  

Although still stormy, the cloud had broken up somewhat and its base had risen considerably, allowing the hill tops to emerge into view (this, as it happens, included table mountain, making it feel that we could have done the A-party walk after-all) … isn’t hind-sight a wonderful thing …. Oh for a crystal ball. A gentle decent now followed through flowery pastures and a minor road with super views over the River Usk, to emerge into Crickhowell.

We’d finished well ahead of time, and the leaders quickly contacted the coach driver (who was with the C-party) to arrange as earliest a pick up as possible. After which, most of the group headed back into Crickhowell, to find a tea shop for refreshments.A small group of us however, decided to walk down to and along the banks of The River Usk for the remaining time, which gave some good views back to the town underneath Table Mountain. Weather-wise it was by far the best time of the day and we even started to dry out … well at least a little.

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually the coach appeared, we all climbed aboard and off we headed for home with a chat and a snooze and we were soon back in Coventry to pick up cars and drive home.

A good walk to stretch the legs and make the heart rate rise a little. It’s just a pity the weather was somewhat less than ideal, making the views that could be seen a tad “flat”, and the views from the top of Sugar Loaf non-existent! Many thanks to the leaders who did a sterling job given the less than ideal conditions.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090620_Bilton and Dunchurch Circular Walk.

 

Links to the pubs mentioned :

The Lamb and Flag, Abergavenny : http://www.lambflag.com/lambandflag-contact.html

The Dragon’s Head, Llangenny, Near Crickhowell : They do not have a web-site, but they can be contacted by : Email : thedragonshead@gmail.com Telephone : 01873 810350

For more info on the area, I guess The Crickhowell Information centre would be as good a starting point as any, and maybe better than some : http://www.crickhowellinfo.org.uk/

20090510-40_Bluebells-Cawston Woods

Originally uploaded by gary.hadden

 

Another good year for bluebells in Cawston Woods (Fox Covert and Cawston Spinney) To the south of Rugby, Warwickshire.

The woods don’t cover a large surface area, but are by far the biggest woods for miles around and every year for a couple of weeks are carpeted with bluebells.

It was quite special being in the woods just after sunrise, the birdsong was just incredible and the bluebells although maybe not quite as prolific as last year were still spectacular in the early morning shafts of light.

You could easilly walk through the woods in 5-10 minutes,but on a morning like this, that would be almost a crime, the sights and sounds demanding a wander and time to take it all in.

Thanks for reading, Gary.

20090510_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

20090510_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

When : 10th May 2009

Who : Just Me

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, England

Maps : 1:25,000 OS. Explorer Map 222, Rugby & Daventry Southam & Lutterworth

Start + End Point : 473,733

Approx Distance : Something like 3 miles or so

Heights : Very gently undulating, no significant rises or drops worth mentioning.

Parking : Yes, see below

Public Transport : No-4 bus, see below

Summary : Cawston Grange, A4071, Cawston Lane, Cawston Woods, Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney Reservoir Pool, Northampton Lane (bridle track), Cawston Woods revisited, back to A4071 and Cawston Grange.

I’m writing this as if the walk started on the A4071 just on the outskirts of the Cawston Grange Housing Development, near to the large island and not far from Bilton Village. As I live further into the new estate, I had a little bit of street walking to start with to reach the start :- A little loop of path/cycleway separated from the A4071 main road by a small stand of tall trees. Heading away from rugby, the path merges with the main road and it was here that I crossed to a path on the other side.

There’s an old rustic wooden fence alongside the field here which I think is brill’, the repeated patterns, irregular shapes and unkempt nature much more interesting than the all too common wire fences and strings of barbed wire seen these days too often as field boundaries. Having said that, this immediate area is quite well blessed with hedgerows, and long may that continue!

 

Incidentally, just as an aside (writing in Sept-2009)Just to confuse everyone in the near future, when the nearby Rugby Western Relief Road (RWRR) opens, the new road will become the A4071. According to Warwickshire County Council the existing A4071 at Cawston will then become the B4500. This was due to happen in the autumn of 2009, but it’s now said the southern end should open by the end of this year …. I really hope it will as I’m getting a tad fed-up with the road works near Potford’s Dam, but hey who really knows when it’ll open? The northern section isn’t due to be completed until the end of 2010 – At least a year late!!!

( http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/RWRR ),

If you do this walk by public transport, the number-4 bus drops just a little way away on Calveston Road. To get to the “start”, you’ll need to cross Cawston Grange Drive at the large island, to pick up the pathway tucked slightly away from the main road behind a small stand of trees and landscaping planting.

If you arrive by car, there’s parking at the end of Trussell Way at 469,736. From there, there’s a path that leads you south-east(ish) between a farm and the outer edges of the estate to emerge at the stand of trees mentioned above.

I can’t remember why, but I was awake very early, before dawn, and I decided it was a perfect morning to get out and about just as the sun was rising. I love the freshness of an early morning, especially at springtime, and today was a perfect example with light mists hugging the ground, not yet burnt off by the rising sun.

   

The route from the main road was down Cawston Lane, for a few hundred yards, where the hedgerow flowers seemed particularly fresh looking in the dew, especially the newly opening hawthorn blossom.

I entered Cawston woods (Fox Covert on the map) at a dirt lay-by at a bend in the road (incidentally, there’s room for about half-a-dozen cars here). The woods were still quite dark and gloomy, with only shafts of light highlighting the fringes, the sun not yet high or strong enough to make inroads through the trees. The birds however in the tree tops were by now well into the day, with the noise of their song almost deafening against the quiet of the morning (ever so slight exaggeration but I’m sure you get the idea).

Instead of trying to pick my way through the trees of Cawston Spinney, all the way to the reservoir pool (at the western end of the woods), I decided to exit the woods on a major farm track/path heading towards Windmill Farm/Northampton Lane. Immediately on exiting the woods, I turned right to skirt the irregularly shaped southern edge of Cawston spinney (heading generally westwards) on a wide verge left unploughed and uncropped by the farmer. This was a very unusual occurrence for me, as this is off-rights-of-way and I felt most uncomfortable, especially as a farm worker was trundling up and down on a vehicle spraying the newly flowering oilseed rape in the field. However, all these verges seem well used by dog-walkers etc. from the local area, so I decided [rightly or wrongly] to follow suit, albeit at quite a pace, wanting to be back on official paths as soon as possible. I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible hugging the tree-line, but that’s not easy for someone who’s 6’4” tall and more than 16 st. in weight – really I’m anything but unobtrusive!

After a while, I reached the pool, still mostly in shadow, as the sun started to rise above the adjacent trees.

This was a lovely spot, with mists hanging around over the placid waters and the winter seed heads of reeds and bull-rushes adding an interesting texture to the scene. I spent quite some time here enjoying the peacefulness and trying to capture at least a snippet of the tranquillity with my camera.

   

Eventually I needed to move onwards, deciding to head up the gentle rise to Northampton Lane (Bridle track) maybe ½ mile to the south. Now the path should have headed off into the middle of the crop (oil seed rape as it happens), but as normal here, the official path wasn’t “on the ground” at-all. Looking the opposite way, nor was the path across towards the A4071 at Brickyard Spinney.

Therefore, I picked up another wide verge around the edge of the field heading south away from the pool. I was again not a right of way, but with no choice in the matter this time I felt much more confident in myself as the farm worker approached in his spraying vehicle.

Now, I have to praise the young man in charge of his machine, because, instead of chastising me about not being on a right of way, he stopped his machine some distance ahead of me, turned off his sprayers and waited until I’d passed by, nodding good morning as I did so. He again waited for some time before commencing his work again. My thanks go to him, and it certainly assuaged some of my annoyance about the paths not being correctly on-the-ground. After a while I looked back over the sea of yellow, the only trace of non-ruralness being the plume of smoke rising up from the Rugby Cement Chimney.

Getting back to the walk, I headed up to a building at the top of the field (Station Farm Cottage I think it’s known as), which sits like an isolated island all on it’s own in the midst of the farmland. I understand it’s got nothing to do with the farming around about, being a private dwelling I think. I was pleased that the frankly aggressive dogs inside its perimeter fences were held in behind the entrance gates. This was especially so, as at the south western corner of the property another path is supposed to head off across the field (wheat I think this time), and I had to spend a couple of minutes working out what to do; the extremely noisy barking and snarling not making concentration any easier as I worked out a compass bearing on where the path ought to have been.

You’ve probably guessed that the path I was intending to take was also not on-the-ground and I felt I was again required to head off-rights-of-way, back-tracking to pick up the wide unploughed verges and hedgerows again, until a short section where the field HAD to be crossed to reach Northampton lane.

This last couple of hundred yards was not at-all difficult though, as the farmer had driven his tractor across here, effectively inserting a path to walk on through the crops. Why he couldn’t do that for the official path is beyond me, it would make life so much less complicated and would ensure the legality for both him (the landowner) and me (the public). Either that, or maybe he ought to apply to the County Council for a permanent route change to the right of way, and if accepted, sign post it accordingly. Even unofficial “can you please use field edges” type signage would help. [Little rant over].

Once on Northampton lane, route finding became much less problematic. The bridle track is bounded by hedges and mature trees, hawthorn bushes, wild flowers, etc.

The lane runs east-west (or west-east if you prefer) and I took the easterly direction towards Dunchurch, the narrow path quickly widening to become an attractive farm track.

 

1. Two words of warning :-Parts of Northampton lane here can become very muddy, especially close to Windmill Farm and Cottages.

2. I’m told off road motor-cyclists have been using the path (illegally) and obviously could prove to be a hazard if encountered. If you do meet such motorised off-roaders, please contact the paths authorities per the final paragraph of this post.

Thankfully neither of the above were a problem to me for the short distance I used it for (about 1-km), the only downside being the many gossamer threads of cob-webs strung across the path, which felt horrible across my face as I walked into them. I ended up constantly waving my map ahead of me in a vain attempt to break them before they wrapped themselves around my head – Urrgh!

After the short walk along here, I turned off left, skirting a hedge for about 100 yards, before going through the hedge and crossing a ditch via two stiles and a plank bridge. I stopped here for a cup of coffee (I’d been compos mentis enough to fill it before leaving the house). It was here that I rang home, just to ensure they knew where I was … it was now just turned 7am, and I figured my family might be just about stirring. As it happens I woke my good lady wife, which I don’t think went down too well! Sorry again darling.

A diagonal path across the grassy field ahead and down the side of the next field brought me onto familiar ground at a point where various paths meet; all of which I’ve walked before. I chose to turn left, crossing a stile to head generally northwards towards Cawston Spinney down the side of a recently planted potato field.  The spuds were just showing through the strikingly shadowed parallel ridge and furrows, almost like a huge piece of corrugated cardboard or art installation (using just a bit of imagination).

I was soon back in Cawston Woods (having now completed a very rough circle) the sunlight highlighting the carpets of bluebells and vibrancy of the trees just coming into full leaf. The birdsong hadn’t let up at-all, but was now having to compete with the sounds of traffic in the far distance as the residents of Cawston, Bilton and Rugby started to rise and move about. After a wander through the bluebells in the woods, a quick return up Cawston Lane, brought me back to the A4071 and my fave’ rickety fence. I re-crossed the main road to head back into the modern housing estate and home again enthused, wide awake and ready to do the day.

 

  

   

It’s sort of difficult to say what distances I covered very accurately, as I was doing a bit of exploration; taking photo’s; mucking about with route finding, etc,. All in all it was probably about 3 miles or so and thoroughly enjoyable despite the path finding difficulties.

For reporting or commenting on any path problems etc, [or I suppose equally to praise good way marking or the like] the contact tel-no. is 01926 413427, or email paths@warwickshire.gov.uk ; I got these numbers from a signpost on another path in Warwickshire recently so hopefully will work.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090517_Coventry CHA Rambling Club Walk – Sugar Loaf Linear Walk.

Comment about warwickshire paths

Originally uploaded by gary.hadden

Tel : 01926-413427

Email : paths@warwickshire.gov.uk

I guess these contacts will predominantly be used to report problems of blocked paths and bridle ways etc. …. If you have problems, it would help get them resolved for future walkers … perhaps it’s easier to just say “I shan’t go that way again”, but if you do nothing, the problem will only get worse so put pen to paper, pick up the phone, type an email and help the rights of way teams do their jobs and improve access across our countryside.

Sorry bit of a soap-box moment, but if we do nothing we’ll be danger of loosing our lowland paths network and that would be wrong!!!

I know that the County Council team is doing sterling work improving our local paths network, replacing worn out stiles, waymarking, etc., etc. but any info of the state of the paths would be welcomed by them.

Cheers for now, Gary.