20120522_The Lawfords – An Evening Circular Walk.
Long Lawford, Little Lawford, King’s Newnham and Church Lawford.
When : 22 May 2012
Who : Me, my wife and our 10 y.o. son
Where : Long Lawford + Church Lawford, Near Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Start and End Point : SP 472,760
Distance : Approx 5 miles but could be approx 4 miles without our “extra little bit”.
Significant heights : Some very gentle rises but nothing significant to worry about.
Map : 1:25,000 Explorer Map No. 222 ; Rugby and Daventry
Summary : A walk from one village to the next that ended up much longer than planned.
Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
We had to drop our daughter off somewhere for the evening (I can’t remember where now), but what I do remember is it left the three of us with a couple of hours or so and as it was a really pleasant late spring evening, we decided a little walk might be nice (and quite convenient as daughter doesn’t really like country walking). There was a promise of a little drink involved as well and we found ourselves parked up in Main Street/Bailey’s Lane in Long Lawford ready for the short stretch across the fields next to The River Avon to Church Lawford and back again.
It started off all hunky dory, at first walking on the streets of Long Lawford; Main Street and along West Street to reach Chapel Street and we found the footpath we wanted almost directly across the road heading off as a track in a westerly direction. After just a matter of yards the route passes into a field and the way ahead is very easy following the line of a hedge soon crossing a small bridge, over an equally small stream, on its way to join the River Avon. Just for a bit of interest, tracing the stream on my map, it rises about 2½ or 3 miles to the south, feeding down from Cawston Woods and pool and up on Lawford Heath before descending down a shallow valley which now has the new A4071 Rugby Bypass running close by for a short time.
Anyway, that’s by-the-by really, we crossed the bridge and continued up the side of the hedge. The grass was quite long making walking side by side difficult (but not impossible), it just meant one person not being able to walk in the double “track” we were following. The next field was in exactly the same direction, still alongside a hedge and similar underfoot and after a very short while we reached the far corner where we needed to cross into the next field and head off diagonally left.
HOWEVER, There was a problem
SEVERAL rather BIG problems.
These problems came in cow shapes and cow sizes:
In fact there were quite a few real live cows – a whole herd of cows !
… AND an even BIGGER problem ….
and IT was BULL shaped and BULL sized !
Now you might say a bull in a field of cows ISN’T a problem; I believe it is perfectly legal …. BUT …. my lovely wife just does not do cow fields at all well, and the bull really ermmm put the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak. Both I and our son tried cajoling and talking down of “the problem” by saying we’d take a wide berth around the livestock, I’d take the nearest side to the beasts and we’d hold hands and make ourselves look big. But all the talking and pontificating and looking across the couple of hundred yards to the next stile were to no avail and we turned around and retraced our steps back to Long Lawford.
Ermmm, what to do now?
We could have just headed into one of the two pubs right next door to each other on Main Street. But we decided that would be quite unrewarding, so I suggested we walk down to the ford at Little Lawford and then decide if we wanted to carry on and “do” the classic walk to Church Lawford. Justine and Craig were up for this, even though it was going to extend the walk quite considerably from our original intentions. So off we went, down Chapel Street in a generally northerly direction passing through the western fringe of Long Lawford as we went. Shortly after passing the old church at the end of Chapel Street, we picked up a fenced footpath/bridleway through a number of horse paddocks, which, after a couple of bends, dropped down to a farm bridge over The River Avon shortly before reaching the old watermill buildings at little Lawford.
Rather than take the path over a small footbridge into another cow field, we took the non-right of way route on the driveway between the buildings to reach the small Clayhill lane. Turning left dropped us down to the ford which Justine had never seen before. Craig on the other hand had been here several times on previous walks with me and knew exactly where we were, including turning around to walk back up the lane passing a really (I mean REALLY) old building dating back to 1604. Now was the time to either: head back to Long Lawford and so call it a day, or to carry on further, and between us it was decided to continue on.
This meant taking the short lane to reach the more major Little Lawford Lane (only a minor-road, but properly surfaced and at times carrying cars etc. at some speed). We needed to turn left on to this road and follow it up the hill (not very steep) for just less than a mile until reaching near the crest of the rise where a footpath crosses the road. From here we turned off the road (turning left), crossing into a field (no livestock) and headed across to the far right hand corner.
I think if Justine had realised the distance involved [for what was really a massive diversion from the original route] she might have thought better of the idea (road walking can do this to anyone, even over relatively short distances), but there was no turning back now and so we continued on, downhill now across a crop field, the path very clearly visible dropping diagonally towards the far corner (sort of south westerly now) towards a group of farm buildings that make up a part of King’s Newnham. I think me saying that I’d finish off the walk and go get the car and bring it back to Church Lawford helped as this precluded the thought of the BULL FIELD on the final leg back to Long Lawford.
Anyway, the walk is really quite pleasant here, crossing the slightly scruffy field past the buildings (marked as Manor House on my map) and down a steepening grassy slope to drop to a long modern footbridge crossing The Avon for a second time. If you do this walk, just before the bridge, keep an eye out for the remains of some old rusting machinery; cogs and wheels and brickwork, and what looks to me to be an old man-made water course, now little more than a dry shallow ditch – I assume this all adds up to some kind of water-power arrangement now long since dispensed with!
Once over the footbridge, the path heads almost due south through a crop field and then rising through a couple or so small grassy fields skirting the village of Church Lawford to meet Green lane and then very soon after reach The Old Smithy Pub. There was no doubting what needed to happen next and yep, you’ve guessed it, in we went, purchased some drinks and headed out into the outdoors garden area. I’m now pleased we did so, as little did we know that there would be precious few evenings in the summer of 2012 even remotely conducive to sitting out for an evening (we had a pretty miserable 2012 summer here in England).
It seems odd looking back now, but I hadn’t taken a single photo all evening – an oddity for me – so all the pic’s on this diary so far have been from other similar walks prior to this one, just for illustration purposes. Once I’d imbibed my pint of bitter, I bought another round for Justine and Craig, said my au revoirs and set off for Long Lawford about a mile and a half away. The route is very easy walking through livestock/grass fields but first I needed to take Church Lane, past the ornately decorated Manor House, through St. Peter’s Church graveyard and then across a series of fields, at first south easterly but then swinging round to the east as the path passes close to a loop of the River Avon.
Dusk was drawing in quite quickly now; the sunset silhouetting the church behind me. I didn’t need to be hanging around, not wanting to be walking in the dark, so I picked up the pace somewhat but I couldn’t resist taking a few photo’s of some passing trains zooming along the West Coast Mainline which runs almost parallel to the path here. The low light conditions were quite challenging, but with some playing with camera settings and panning round with the speeding trains, I ended up with some pic’s I quite like – I think they convey the speed of the trains anyway.
I was also quite taken with the shape of a tree silhouetted against the rapidly fading but still lovely coloured pinky-blue sky. However, I still needed to cross the cow/bull field – which I negotiated with no difficulty at-all (all the animals had wandered to the far corner, so I didn’t need to get anywhere near them). Once out of the bull field, I was back on familiar ground (where we’d turned around earlier) and soon found myself back in Long Lawford, passing the two pubs (The Caldecott Arms and The Lawford Arms) both looking rather inviting. I resisted ! ; I had to drive back to Church Lawford and pick up my wife and son, which I duly and dutifully did.
In the end I’d walked about 5 miles (including the aborted beginning) so I guess the full round would be about 4 miles (without the covering of the same bit of ground three times!).
Well, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.