20100103_Brinklow-Wolston-Coombe Abbey Circular Walk
Section-1 … Brinklow to Wolston via Bretford
When : 3rd January 2010
Who : Me and for some of the walk my son Craig
Where : Brinklow-Bretford -Wolston-Brandon-Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire.
Start + End Point : Grid Ref. 436,795
Approx Distances : Full walk = 10.5 miles (17 km) This Section = 3.5 miles (5.5 km)
Heights : Very gentle countryside – No significant climbs or descents.
Parking : I parked on the street in Brinklow … but as a circular you could start anywhere, the most obvious other places being in Wolston or at Coombe Abbey Country Park (charges apply at the park-but you are off road).
Public Transport : Bus services do run through the villages and to Coombe.
I’m going to split the walk into two diary entries, the first section (this one) to be Brinklow to Wolston via Bretford as the stretch I did with my Son, before we separated, Craig heading back home after being picked up by Mum, leaving me to continue with the second leg of Wolston-Brandon-Coombe Abbey-Brinklow to complete the full circle on my own.
I mentioned the planning earlier – well this was done mostly by sussing out a route by studying my well used maps and a circular route kind of jumped out at me … I say circular, but it’d be more accurate to describe it as a rough rectangle with a squiggly bit at the southern end. I also referred to my booklets of local walks and the following are similar walks all of which have elements common to the route I’d come up with.
- Coventry Evening Telegraph Country Walks by Brian Keates_Coombe Abbey-Brandon.
- Country Walks in the Rugby Area by Jim Watson_Coombe Park and Woods.
- More Country Walks in the Rugby Area by Jim Watson_Wolston, Bretford & Brandon.
- A Coventry Way – Circular Walks_The Abbey.
It’s this last one that covers most of the ground covered and I guess that if all four books reckon it’s worth walking here, then I’m in good company. Warwickshire countryside isn’t maybe the most exciting and the villages maybe not as pretty as other parts of the country, but for a countryside walk with a reasonable variety, this area is perfectly pleasant to explore.
We arrived in Brinklow after a short drive and parked up on the very wide (and well named) Broad Street almost directly opposite The Raven Pub and quickly readied ourselves. It was an easy start, heading down Broad Street (southwards) passing the mix of cottages to reach a T-junction. To the left would take you onto The Rugby Road, to the right onto The Coventry Road. This is a very well used road and could need some care crossing at times, but it was quiet today and was easy to cross straight over and make a bit of a dogs-leg to pick up a narrow path which soon opened up a little with a ploughed field on our left and fences of back gardens on our right (the properties front onto Heath Lane).
The path was OK until it turned left at the field corner, where it became really heavy to walk on – the frost had melted for the top inch or so and the mud was like a gloopy glue sticking to our boots. However, it was possible to exit onto heath lane here .. but … this was even worse to walk on, the tarmac surface was completely iced up and impossible to walk on (ice skates would perhaps have been more suitable) so we chose to rejoin the edge of the field, now heading south and did our best to keep as clean as possible. We soon reached the end of the field where we had to rejoin Heath Lane where it makes a 90-degree bend. Luckily, we didn’t need to head off on the road, no, our route was to continue due south on a wide green lane bounded by broad hedges and trees. This forms a stretch of “The A Coventry Way” which we were to follow all the way to Wolston.
The way ahead was extremely inviting and off we set, I’d like to say at a good pace, but actually it was quite slow going … this was nothing to do with any particular difficulties with the path and all down to Craig wanting to break every single frozen puddle in sight. I think the fascination was mostly down to there being no water beneath the icy crusts and this meant each step, or stamp, or two footed jump resulted in a lovely satisfying cracking sound ; Great fun!, but not great to make speedy progress … but hey Father and Son out together, who really cared.
After a good way the green lane narrowed somewhat, with the hedges encroaching and embankments appearing either side giving a more enclosed feel. There were a few badger setts along here, their excavations into the banks causing quite sizeable raised heaps of earth across the path. Then, almost as a surprise, we emerged into the open, in the riverside hamlet of Bretford, right on the junction of the B4455 (Fosse Way) and A428 (Brandon Lane). We crossed straight over to head down the A428 (still heading south) to reach a rather substantial and attractive multi-arched stone bridge over The River Avon.
The bridge has an interesting set of carvings chiselled into the stone parapet, probably the most remarkable being the outline of a palm with spread fingers … certainly not a 10-minute scratching, this would have taken some effort. I don’t know how long these carvings have stood here but they do have lichens growing through them, showing that graffiti certainly isn’t new. We stopped for a while, first to try to spot some fish in The Avon below and then having crossed over to the far bank, for a warm drink and a bite to eat where I could hang my ruck-sack on one the posts of a double line of railings.
The railings support a concrete walk-way, raised above the adjacent road, and this allows a degree of pedestrian access even when The Avon floods here, which is not uncommon – I’d hate to think of the premiums the local householders have to pay for their insurance. Once refreshed we set off again following the path between the very bright white railings reflecting the winters sun; a lovely contrast against the surrounding fields and cloudless blue sky.
At the next road junction we stayed south (still on The Fosse Way) ignoring the A428 as it bends round to head for Rugby and after a several hundred yards of road walking, we branched right onto a footpath, very close to a meander bend of The Avon.
The path now rose a little, pulling away from the river bank slightly and we enjoyed playing silhouette scarecrows against the low sun. The path soon picked up a farm track passing through pleasant countryside, through the middle of Marston Mill Farm and on to cross under the Main-Line West-Coast railway at Marston via an attractively built bridge and then onwards on a rough driveway …. Craig (who still hadn’t lost his fascination with the frozen puddles) was slowing quite a bit as he was getting cold himself and just a little weary; not surprising given the exertions of smashing so my icy puddles.
I was now aware time was dragging on a bit and had to try and chivvy him along to reach the central green of Wolston, where after a phone call, his Mum (my lovely wife) came out to pick him up … the delay giving us time to have another warm drink and another bite to eat.
Well, that ends the 1st leg … please head on to my next diary for the continuation….
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. See you on the next page ….