20100103_Brinklow-Wolston-Coombe Abbey Circular Walk
Section-2 … Wolston to Brinklow via Coombe Abbey
Who : Me and for part of the walk my Son Craig
Where : Brinklow-Wolston-Brandon-Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire.
Maps : Virtually all on 1:25000 O.S. Explorer Map No.222 Rugby & Daventry plus a tiny bit on the neighbouring Explorer Map No.221 covering Coventry.
Approx Distance : Full walk = 10.5 miles (17 km) …. This Section = 7 miles (11.5 km)
Heights : Some very gentle rises, I’m hard pressed to note anything of any real significance – I guess about 25m rise between The Avon at Brandon up to Coventry Stadium is the longest “climb” but it’s really not enough to be of concern.
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.
This is the continuation from the 1st leg of this walk …. and now it was only me walking, my son having been picked up by Mum as he’d had enough by the time we reached Wolston. Once I’d waved them off, I was freed up to stretch my legs and being able to ignore the frozen puddles (you’ll know the significance of this if you’ve read my earlier diary post) I started to move rather more quickly now. As I was on very familiar ground I didn’t need to do any map reading for quite some way … The route headed down Wolston Main Street, passed the Memorial Cross, alongside a small pasture taking in the view over to St. Margaret’s Church and re-crossed The River Avon via a metal footbridge next to the single lane stone bridge.
Once over the footbridge (after pausing to admire a couple of swans on the river) the path swung right, passing the earthworks of Brandon Castle before reaching and passing under the substantial arches of a rather impressive viaduct. This carries the West Coast Main Line Railway between Rugby and Coventry. A combination of The River Avon and the railway effectively keep Wolston and Brandon as separate identities, albeit Brandon being much smaller in size.
Once on the Brandon side of the viaduct, I managing to ignore the charms of the nearby Royal Oak Pub and headed through the village to pick up the A428 at the end of Avondale Road. The route was to turn left, heading up the main road, passing some attractive cottages and another memorial cross to start the longest rise of the day, however it’s all on road side paths and quite easy going, the gradient not very taxing at-all. I was now following the route of The Centenary Way and soon reached the rather ugly Coventry Stadium …
This is the home of Coventry Bees Speedway and interestingly it’s not actually in Coventry, you’ve got to travel a mile or more through Binley Woods to reach the city boundary.
At the far end of the stadium area, I took a right hand turn onto a track heading off alongside a wood and after a very short distance turned left onto another bridle track … Not that I needed any help, but a finger post confirmed that this was indeed the route to Coombe Abbey. The path bisects the deciduous woods in a dead straight line in an almost perfectly north-south direction, hence its name of “Twelve O’Clock Ride”. The path was still frozen hard with a white sheen of frost, the trees having kept the path in the shade all day long. After about half a mile the wide path leaves the woods behind to continue between fences through open farmland. Unlike in the woods, the path here had seen some sunshine and the top surface had thawed enough to make a slippery, almost slimy, film of mud which was quite difficult to walk on allowing very little purchase under foot, but I got my head down, worked hard and soon reached the B4027 opposite the entrance gates to Coombe Abbey.
The tree lined avenue ahead serves both a hotel (in the old moated Abbey buildings themselves) and a country park which I believe is owned by Coventry City Council and open to the public for free (except for parking charges). I’ve visited here since childhood and I’ve always liked the avenue of trees lining the entrance drive down to the Abbey. Before the old buildings were renovated and converted into a hotel, the buildings formed the main entrance into the park. Now however, a new route has been constructed leading down to Coombe Pool from a rather incongruous, almost ostentatiouslooking, visitor centre – Personally I don’t think the scale or style fits in with the parkland nor the Abbey in anyway what so ever. From the visitor centre a broad surfaced path leads down to the Pool, crossing a sort of causeway separating the naturalistic lake from the ornamental pond leading up to a moat around the Abbey.
The causeway is an extremely popular place for feeding the large numbers of ducks, geese and swans and various other water-birds that congregate here and I didn’t linger around the large and rather noisy group of people throwing bread to the birds – instead I headed down the side of the ornamental pond to reach the knot garden in front of the Abbey, where I struggled to keep upright on the very frosty and rather uneven flagged path, taking my life in my hands just for a couple of pic’s – but I was happy with the results!.
From here I made my way back to the causeway, turned right on a wide path for a very short distance to cross a footbridge and follow the lakeside path for a short way, (just to take some more pic’s) before returning to re-cross the bridge. I turned left away from the noise of the duck-feeders to follow a wide path, sandwiched between a stream (that feeds the lake) and a raised hill topped with some large and impressive redwood trees to reach a toilet block and a smaller lake. After taking a track to the left into the woods, I had to concentrate on finding a path heading north away from Wrautums Field which at times could be glimpsed through the trees.
I kind of felt a little sad upon exiting the woods as I really like the park, but time stands still for no-one and dusk was drawing in … there wasn’t long before daylight would start disappearing, so I pressed on, rising up through farmland (still on The Centenary Way) on a particularly muddy and slippery path (yuk!) to reach a bridle path on a farm track near Walsgrave Hill Farm. I turned right and now had the opportunity to open my stride again in an attempt to make up some of the time spent dawdling taking pic’s in the park. With the day drawing to a close, the cold had started to descend again and the increased pace certainly helped warm me up a tad, but I did stop briefly in an attempt at some arty photo’s of ice crystal formations in the frozen puddles and again of the sunset reflected in the black plastic wrappings of some hay-bales at Hill Fields Farm.
The track had made a right and left dogs-leg whilst passing through the farm and was now heading eastwards skirting just south of the large Rolls Royce Factory (Ansty works) and emerged onto a minor road (Coombe Fields Road). Here I turned left and then almost immediately right to Follow Peter Hall Lane for a stretch of road walking. Looking back to the west from where I’d come from gave a super view of the sun setting, the cloudless sky a pastel pallet of colours grading through blues to oranges to pinky-red with the remaining semi circle of the sun glowing a pale yellow – Simply beautiful !
With the sun going down, light was now going to be limited and I still had some way to go … the best part of two miles or more depending on the choice of route I now had. Rather than take the longer but easiest map reading option of staying on country roads, I decided to take the shorter cross country option, figuring there would be enough dusky light left to finish the walk …. So, immediately after Peter Hall I picked up a clearly visible path heading diagonally across a crop field, which then turned half-left and eventually skirted just north of The Grange to emerge onto the B4029 road. It was getting quite gloomy now and I stepped up the pace again, heading right for a few hundred yards along the road, to reach Walker’s Terrace (a small group of buildings) to leave the road to the left. I picked up a path heading south-east through the middle of a ploughed field to the far corner and then across a grassy field with a series of ridge and furrows (I assume the remnants of ancient allotment farming) to then reach and follow the line of a hedge for another field (now on the Coventry Way) having merged with another path. At the far end of this field the path takes a left turn across a final field to enter Brinklow at the Recreation Grounds and the final rise up to Broad Street via Barr Lane.
And that, as they say, is that … A super winter’s walk which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the almost excessive pace at the end to finish before I needed to break out my head torch.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk/post = Coventry War Memorial Park in the Snow