20110123_Cawston to Long Lawford Walk via Cawston Greenway
When : 23rd January 2011.
Who : Me and my son Craig
Where : Cawston, Long Lawford, Near Rugby, Warwickshire, England.
Maps : 1:25000 OS Explorer Map 222, Rugby & Daventry.
Start Point : 47,72. End Point : 47,76.
Approx Distance : Just under 3 miles (4.5 km).
Heights : Flat or downhill – Virtually no height gained.
Summary : A short walk from Cawston to Long Lawford in Warwickshire … including seeing the progress made so far on “The Cawston Greenway” nature reserve project [The Old Lias Line – Rugby to Leamington disused Railway].
The summary above, almost tells the walk in one go, but I’ll enhance it a tad with a bit more detail anyway. I was going visiting in Long Lawford Village, which is only a few minutes’ drive away from home (a couple of miles at most maybe) but as it was dry, albeit quite grey and cold, I decided it’d be a pleasant diversion to walk there, get some fresh air and stretch my legs instead of taking the car. I was more than happy when my 9-year old son asked if he could join me … you just don’t say no to that, so it was a case of grabbing a smaller pair of hiking boots from the garage as well as mine.
From the Cawston Grange housing estate, we actually started off in completely the opposite direction to our destination, heading through the streets to pick up the perimeter path and then turning left to skirt between the new houses and farmland to meet the B4642 (the old A4071) Coventry Road near the end of Cawston Lane. Opposite Cawston Lane, we turned right away from the main road taking a bridleway between a couple of properties, to then cross through the middle of a pasture field (with a small group of cows in a far corner) and then enter another similar field (with no livestock) only this time walking close to a hedge on our right. Many of our local walks together have started this way and Craig was happy to just chat alongside me rather than run ahead as normal. It didn’t take long to reach the far corner of the field where we passed through an old rusty gate to cross an even older blue-brick bridge (Victorian maybe ?). This used to be very overgrown with nettles, alder and other scrub but it’s now been cleared and is now very easy to cross.
The bridge crosses an old disused railway which is used by local walkers and cyclists as a green corridor, the old track-bed, embankments and especially the cuttings have slowly been taken over by trees and brambles, nettles and rose and all kinds of scrub. In places this naturalisation has resulted in a tangled mass of undergrowth, at times making walking along the track very awkward (late summer is the worst time because of the recent seasons’ growth). However this is now improving a great deal, because a volunteer group has been started with the vision of turning a good stretch of the railway into a nature reserve and making access to and along the route much more easy and enjoyable.
This volunteer group is called the “Friends of Cawston Greenway” and the leading light and visionary is Paul Hart …. it doesn’t take a genius to work out the old Lias Line is now becoming known as “The Cawston Greenway”. I’ve been out a couple of times to help cut back some of the scrub (brash as I now know it to be called) when they’ve had working parties out. In fact as we looked over the parapet of the bridge, there was a gent’ (with a chain saw) pollarding a hawthorn tree below us. Once over the bridge we were to turn right to descend past where he was working but not before Craig had run out onto another bridge just ahead of us. This one in contrast is brand spanking new, crossing over the equally new Rugby Western Relief Road (RWRR – A4071). It does seem to be rather over-engineered for what it does, but hey what do I know. Craig spent about 5-minutes waving at the traffic passing beneath, hoping to illicit a similar response from below …. They were a miserable lot today though, not one reciprocal wave was received until a big truck passed by and then not only did he get a cheery wave from the two truckers in the cab, but also a long loud double blast on the trucks air-horns. I could then persuade Craig to move on at this high point in the game.
Dropping down the cutting to The Greenway here has been made much easier than in the past, as the volunteer workers have now constructed some rudimentary steps down the bank, where before it was just quite a steep slope. In fact this area is ear-marked to become a picnic area and there has been a tremendous amount of clearance of both undergrowth and tree canopy from around here. At the bottom we stood and chatted with the amateur tree surgeon for a few minutes.
The idea here is to allow sunlight to reach the ground and at the same time allow better airflow and dry out the floor. This should then encourage a host of plants to populate the area and so attract butterflies, insects, birds and other wildlife to return. The following two pic’s, (as a now and then comparison) show the amount of work done here and even allowing for different times of year the difference is quite marked!
July 2009 January 2011
One such pile was already growing some kind of fungi and a ladybird had braved the chill, sitting out on the end of one log. Craig took great interest as I tried to explain the thinking behind this and the process of decay leading to new life.
Another part of the action plan is to create several of these wide glades or clearings at intervals along the greenway, linked by narrower pathways, thus maintaining some of the tree cover and scrub, such as blackberry brambles, blackthorn (sloe), hawthorn, rose, etc. which wildlife can still use …. only this will be cut back somewhat to give better access along the route and again hopefully allow the path to dry out and become less muddy.
If you’re interested to find out more or even minded to help out, all comers are welcome and I think it best to point you to the following internet pages for further information ….
- Cawston Greenway Website. Cawston Greenway Blog.
- And the closely associated, Cawston Wood on Facebook.
Anyway, back to our walk. We said our good-byes to the gent’ with the saw, which he fired up, to restart his controlled attack on the felled hawthorn tree and we set off northwards on the quite muddy pathway.
It was very evident where a lot of effort had been put in and the shape of how the Greenway may develop. As we walked and chatted, we passed a number of rabbit burrows, and what I took to be a badger sett which Craig particularly liked.
Other landmarks along the way included where part of the Cawston Grange Estate gets quite close to the path, with a couple of easy access points ; a new underpass where a new road passes overhead (it links Cawston Estate with The RWRR) ; and a couple more of the old brick bridges as well. After negotiating a very wet area – it was almost a stream; it was at one of these bridges that we climbed up the right bank to emerge onto Lawford Lane/Bilton Lane near The Bear Pub. We then promptly turned a full 180 degrees to cross the bridge and in the process get a final view down onto The Greenway.
Our route was now to cross over the Rugby Western Relief Road at a traffic light junction and just beyond this at a corner where Bilton lane bends sharp right, we headed straight on onto a track cum driveway, invitingly leading down to a large white gate. Once through the gate, the track continues narrowing drastically after passing the last of the properties here, to become a simple countryside path enclosed by hedges and trees.
After a short distance, the aspect opened up again giving good views over pleasant rolling countryside to Lawford Heath . The obvious path ahead now widened again as it dropped down to meet Lawford Heath Lane.
From here it was all road walking …. first turning right to take Lawford Heath Lane, passing some of the dirtiest sheep I think I’ve ever seen, to reach a cross roads, crossing straight over the A428 Coventry Road, to follow The Green/Chapel Street up and over the west coast main line railway and then into the village of Long Lawford where we passed The Memorial Hall on Railway Street to reach two pubs positioned right next door to each other on Main Street. This would seem to be as good a place as any to stop this diary, although we didn’t go in for a drink in either The Lawford Arms or The Caldecott Arms…. nope, we continued further into the village to make the visit we’d set out to do a little earlier, meeting my wife and daughter who’d driven down as original planned for us all. After a cuppa and a chat we drove home together in a fraction of the time it’d took to walk.
And here ends this little walk’s write up.
Oh, one more thing … if you wanted to turn this into a circular walk, there’s a footpath that heads out from Long Lawford, in a westerly direction, heading towards Church Lawford. Not long after reaching a large bend in The River Avon, branch left to cross under the mainline railway, make a right along the A428 for a very short distance and then turn left (crossing the road) to pick up a bridleway heading south up the rise ahead, through farmland. This bridleway emerges onto Ling Lane where you’d need to turn left to soon meet Lawford Heath Lane. Cross straight over to travel down the side of a hedge on another bridleway which soon descends a shallow valley, crosses a small footbridge over a brook and then rises gently to a large new footbridge over the RWRR …. This is where we’d been near the start of the walk (just before picking up The Greenway) … and all that’d be left to do from here, would be to cross the old railway bridge and the last couple of fields back to Cawston and the end of a half decent circular walk to the west of Rugby Town.
…. or …. for a longer circular you could use this link taking in Long Lawford, Little Lawford, King’s Newnham, and Lawford Heath to get back to Cawston.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….