20100102_Cawston – Potford’s Dam Pool Dawn Circular Walk
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry, Southam & Lutterworth.
Grid ref. : Potford’s Dam Pool = 465,727
Approx Distance : 4 miles (6.5 km).
Significant Heights : Negligible… a couple of gentle rises.
Summary : An early morning walk to the frozen pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney to see the sun rise as opposed to watching the sun set the evening before (and take a few more photo’s) which I guessed could be worth braving the cold for again.
I’d woken up early with the first signs of the dawn light which seemed just a little brighter than normal. The reason soon became evident; there’d been a light sprinkling of snow overnight and this was adding its own special feel to the morning. So, I quickly decided to grab my camera and head out for a dawn walk before my family got themselves going for the day.
I hurried myself and was very soon out on the perimeter path that skirts the outer edge of the Cawston Grange Housing Estate and was approaching the B4642 (was A4071) Coventry Road on this path when the sun just raised itself above the horizon. I love being out early to see this happen; it’s difficult to say exactly why, but there’s something special about this exact moment in the change from night to day. A couple of minutes later and I was out on the Coventry Road (near the end of Cawston Lane) and the orangey glow of the sunrise had intensified even in that short time. I knew this wouldn’t last long though and I quickly weighed up where I’d get the best view of the developing sunrise. I figured it might take too long to reach the other side of Cawston Woods and a decent place for a few photo’s and decided a visit back to Potford’s Dam Pool might be worth a try … effectively reprising my evening walk of the day before. The idea of adding a set of sunrise pic’s to go with my set of the sun-setting over the pool appealed, so off I set at a very brisk pace (and I mean a VERY brisk pace – Not quite at a run, but certainly shifting some).
The route was down the side of the Coventry Road (away from Bilton), on a path set back from the road, straight past Nature Trails Nursery and Cawston Farm (both on the opposite side of the road) to cross the main road at Brickyard Spinney. I was exactly re-tracing my route of the day before, taking the path behind the spinney and then crossing a ploughed field, roughly heading for the right hand end of a line of trees in the dip ahead, this in turn brought me to the reservoir pool. I was expecting the pool to still be frozen over from the day before, but what I wasn’t expecting was the almost perfectly pristine covering of snow over the pool’s surface; it looked like the whole area had been dusted with icing sugar.
By dropping down to the pool the sun had disappeared from my view again, hidden by the dark mass of Cawston Woods (more correctly known as Cawston Spinney here) and the pool was completely in shadow. I figured that I might just get a sighting of the sun rising above the trees by heading over to the old disused Rugby to Leamington railway line that passes very close by, on a raised embankment. So, off I set, again at a brisk pace, skirting a field boundary, avoiding some very large frozen puddles on my way to where I could see a thin pathway up the side of the bank.
Once on top of the bank, the view back over to the pool and the impending rise of the sun over the trees didn’t in fact produce the hoped for photo opportunity. However, looking over the other side showed a perfect view of the new traffic island forming the brand new A4071/B4642 junction. This is the southern end of The Rugby Western Relief Road [it hadn’t opened at the time, but it has now].
I headed back to the pool, descending the narrow path down the embankment with care, the frost and snow making it rather slippery. Back at the water’s edge the sun did start its appearance, peeking out from behind the trees, however, by now the orange glow of earlier had been burnt off and the emerging light was bright and rather harsh in comparison. Taking photo’s in that direction proved nigh on impossible but what was lost in colour was gained by the way the snow covered pool was lit up; I particularly liked the alternating streaks of light contrasting with the long shadows of the trees and waterside bull rushes stretching across the surface.
I wandered back and forth on the broad sweeping path of the reservoir dam, trying to get some half decent images; I tried to be a little inventive regarding some of the camera angles to avoid the harshest of light from the low sun …. I’ll leave it to you to decide how successful I was, but I quite like some of my shots, hope you do too.
After that I headed into the woods, winding my way through on a rough track, to meet a farm track that splits the woods in two. The area just walked through is Cawston Spinney; on the other side of the track is Fox Covert. It was so dark in amongst the trees it wasn’t worth even trying to take a photo, but after turning right up the track I liked the way the silhouettes and diffused light interacted together as I reached the woods’ boundary with mixed use farmland, both arable and pastureland.
I touched on Boat House Spinney before reaching Cawston Lane, crossing straight over to follow a bridle track down to Little Scotland Farm and then on to Alwyn Road. Crossing straight over, I followed the tarmac drive down the side of the sports pitches (both association and rugby union codes of football) of Alwyn Road Rec’, passed the 7th Rugby (Bilton) Scout Hut and then through allotment gardens to emerge onto Magnet Lane next to Bilton Infant School. I again crossed straight over to follow a path between fences and after a very short time this reached the centre of Bilton Village near to the CO-OP convenience store (where I bought a newspaper). Directly opposite is The George Pub, but I can’t say what it’s like inside as I’ve never been in, but I’ve always thought it looks a little downbeat from the outside, although it did rather standout in the sunshine, almost like it was guarding the main road junction and village-cross on the small green near-by. From here, I turned left to follow the main road all the way through Bilton passing a good variety of shops as I went [including a couple of small supermarkets, a Lloyds bank, hairdressers, Chippy, Chinese take away, Black Horse Pub, Florist, Chemists, Bookies, Post-Office, Funeral Directors and a couple of churches, etc. etc.]. Once out of Bilton it becomes more rural again and I continued on to Cawston, where I headed into the new housing estate at a large traffic island …. and thence to home … and still in time for breakfast.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings.