20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley (2nd Half)

20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley

2nd Half … Longborough to Blockley :- via Sezincote, Bourton-on-the-Hill and Batsford Arboretum’s Garden Centre Cafe.

A Coventry CHA Rambling Club “A+” Walk.

When : 2nd December 2012

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Where : Cotswold Hills

Start & End Point Point : SP164,349 Centre of Blockley, near the village store

20121202_Blockley Cotswolds Circular WalkFull Walk Distance : Approx 11.5 miles (18.5 km)

And Significant heights : Approx 1310 ft  (400m) spread throughout the day, over maybe 6 or 7 ups and as many downs.

Maps used once I got home to look at the route : 1:50,000 OS Landranger Maps No. 151 + a tiny bit on No.163, but I know the leaders used an OS 1:25,000 map – I think Outdoor Leisure Map No.45 The Cotswolds (I think I need to buy that one!)

Full Walk Summary : Second half of a circular country walk starting and finishing in the village of Blockley (sort of mid-way between Morton-In-Marsh and Chipping Campden) and taking in rolling Cotswold countryside, including the villages of Longborough and Bourton-on-the-Hill and also Batsford Arboretum’s garden centre cafe.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20121202-25_Longborough Memorial Cross + Village Green by gary.haddenThis is the continuation of my previous diary which described the first half of the walk from Blockley to Longborough via Bourton Downs and Hinchwick. This, the second half, takes the walk on from Longborough back to Blockley via Bourton-on-the-Hill.

We’d arrived in Longborough, the sun had broken out, blue skies had emerged from the cloud cover and the village green with stone memorial cross became the ideal place to break out our packed lunches – The pub (The Coach and Horses Inn, I think) didn’t have the expected pull on us at-all, and once we’d eaten our lunches, we all 20121202-26_Graveyard - Longborough - Cotswolds by gary.haddenseven of us unanimously chose to ignore its charms and carry on with the walk. This meant retracing our steps up the road a short way before turning right (northwards) to pass between an area of allotment gardens and a church graveyard.

There followed an unremarkable stretch of farmland, a broad rough track led us down the bottom of some bare fields alongside a hedge to reach the end of a narrow strip of woods. Again fairly unremarkable, except for the attractively fashioned lever on 20121202-27_Swans Head - Gate Lever by gary.haddenan iron gate we had to pass through. The gracefully bent metal became a neck and the end knob a simple swans head, complete with eye-brows. A short field later we reached and crossed a driveway to enter the grounds of Sezincote. This rather strange looking building is an odd amalgam of Cotswold stone topped off with a turquoise coloured dome, reminiscent of The Prince Regents’ Pavilion in Brighton 20121202-28_Sezincote House - Indianesque Dome by gary.hadden– I wasn’t sure if it was Arabic, Far Eastern or Indianesque in style, but it’s definitely not English! To my eyes, the building as a whole is not unattractive in a funny sort of way, but really, I don’t think I like it much. The grounds we were walking through however were very English with a parkland feel about them, dropping down to a small lake complete with the bare bones of two tepee or wigwam structures on the near bank-side … Another cultural influence from yet another part of the world.

20121202-30_pproaching Bourton-on-the-Hill from Sezincote by gary.haddenMore semi-parkland and then more fields led us further north to reach Bourton-on-the-Hill, pretty much aiming for the village church’s tower as we went. This was gentle walking even if a little soggy underfoot at times and we soon found ourselves meeting the A44 main road. Turning right (easterly), we now had a good stretch of road walking to do (just under a km), well actually on surfaced footpaths by the side of the road, so perfectly safe from the traffic. After a while, we reached a surfaced drive heading off on our left. This is the entrance to Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre and The Cotswold Falconry Centre. Incidentally, opposite is another drive serving as the entrance into Sezincote which we’d walked past earlier. The entrance signs announce it to be “Indian House and Gardens”. Our route was to take the Arboretum drive rising steadily uphill for one kilometre and then find our way into the Garden Centre and Cafe via the large car-park area.

The cafe was surprisingly busy, with most indoor tables being taken with people enjoying Sunday lunches etc.; Given the number of diners and feeling quite self-conscious of muddy boots and ruck-sacks etc., (I can feel VERY big in these circumstances) I suggested we sit outside on the terrace with our teas and coffees, which turned out to be very pleasant. I took the opportunity to study Janet’s map where she’d marked the route. Our circle was nearly complete with one more rise and a descent to negotiate to return to Blockley. The route was to head back to the 20121202-33_Cotswold Track - Near Batsford Arboretum by gary.haddentop of the entrance drive (to a lone building) and then take a path heading approx north westerly to pick up a track heading uphill through some trees and then later with some quite pleasant views off to our left.

As the track reaches a wood and makes a sweeping bend to the left, our route branched off to the right on a narrow path (it could be very easy to miss this path if you are enjoying the views or simply just chatting). This path climbs quite quickly at first, following the right hand edge of the woods, with the Arboretum’s boundary immediately on our right and again, I felt I had to overcome my lack of fitness and put in a bit of work, but the steep rise didn’t last too long; the gradient easing as we went, crossing a minor road before starting to descend gently down a field or two to form a T-junction with another footpath crossing left to right (or right to left if you prefer) at a line of trees.

20121202-35_Coventry CHA Rambling Club - Our Leaders for the day by gary.hadden

20121202-34_Blockley from the south by gary.haddenThis point immediately afforded some super views out over Blockley and the surrounding farmland. The afternoon light had become quite muted and subdued as it had clouded in somewhat but it was still pleasant to be out and about. This feeling was to be tested however, as, after a left turn on the adjoining path; we had to turn right into another grassy field dropping quite quickly away from us. A grassy field on its own wouldn’t normally be a problem, but this one was particularly wet and 20121202-36_Winter Sky + Silhouettes by gary.haddenmuddy and churned up and ughy and not easy to keep your feet from slipping from under you. I don’t think anyone actually came a cropper but I certainly had to make use of my walking pole to help stay upright and ease the discomfort in my knees.

20121202-37_Church - Blockley - Cotswolds by gary.haddenFrom here, as the gradient eased, it didn’t take long to pass Park Farm to enter the outskirts of Blockley as we reached the B4479 (Lower Street). The walk was almost done; all that was required was a little street walking, rising up through the village and passing through the church grounds to reach Bell Lane near the old village store where we’d first met up …. and so our walk finished  – Many thanks to Janet and Jenny for their planning, reconnoitering trip(s) and leadership on the day.

20121202-38_Blockley Village Store + Cafe - Bell Str - High Str by gary.haddenAfter a panicky start to the day, it had turned out fine, and I’m really glad I made the effort to rush around and drive myself down into the Cotswolds for the day.

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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

Advertisements

20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley (1st Half)

20121202_A Cotswolds Circular Walk from Blockley

1st Half … Blockley to Longborough :- Via Bourton Downs and Hinchwick.

A Coventry CHA Rambling Club “A+” Walk.

When : 2nd December 2012

Who : Coventry CHA Rambling Club

Where : Cotswold Hills

20121202_Blockley Cotswolds Circular WalkStart & End Point Point : SP164,349 Centre of Blockley, near the village store

Full Walk Distance : Approx 11.5 miles (18.5 km)

and Significant heights : Approx 1310 ft  (400m) spread throughout the day, over maybe 6 or 7 ups and as many downs.

Maps used once I got home to look at the route : 1:50,000 OS Landranger Maps No. 151 + a tiny bit on No.163, but I know the leaders used an OS 1:25,000 map – I think Outdoor Leisure Map No.45 The Cotswolds (I think I need to buy that one!)

Full Walk Summary : First half of a circular country walk starting and finishing in the village of Blockley (sort of mid-way between Morton-In-Marsh and Chipping Campden) and taking in rolling Cotswold countryside, including the 20121202-05_Cotswold Cottages - High Street - Blockley by gary.haddenvillages of Longborough and Bourton-on-the-Hill and also Batsford Arboretum’s garden centre cafe.

More Pic’s to follow in while …. If you click on a pic’  it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

After my recent diary of the Coventry CHA’s Stanton to Broadway walk, this diary write up is from a few weeks later, being from the beginning of December (2012), and just like the Stanton walk, the weather was also very frosty.

The Stanton walk I’d been on with the CHA three weeks before, was about 10 miles long, and was in a similar area, so when I learnt that my Sister and her friend Jenny were again leading this walk I decided to give it a go. Now, just as a bit of back-ground, the CHA run a coach every Sunday (A+B walks) but about once a month, a more strenuous walk is organised, this is known as the A+ walk. More strenuous is quite a subjective term, which could be down to the type of terrain, heights gained, distances walked or how far away from Coventry the journey is, or most likely a combination of several of these factors. Transport is by shared cars (or sometimes a mini-bus I think) rather than the coach to get to the start point, at which juncture the leader gathers everyone that’s turned up and leads the walk for the day. For today’s walk, I’d arranged to drive to Coventry and share a lift to Blockley with my sis’.

20121202-01_Twelve Midnight - But is it really by gary.haddenNow, this should have been quite straight forward, other than there must have been a power cut or something in the night which had turned off my alarm clock and when I was woken by my lovely wife with a start, all it was doing was flashing 12:00 midnight at me !!! The real time was 7:40 giving me just 20 minutes to get dressed, pack ruck-sack, grab walking boots, make sandwiches, fill flask, scrape ice off car and then drive the ten miles or so from Rugby to Coventry !!! ARGHHHH !!!  some things really are IMPOSSIBLE !!!! … I think I probably swore at myself more than once and at every inanimate object that wouldn’t behave as it should … The old adage of “MORE SPEED LESS HASTE” is very true!

The solution was to do everything (as quickly as possible) EXCEPT the drive to Coventry and instead drive straight to Blockley from my home :- Certainly, less cost effective but with a chance that I’d arrive pretty close to the 9:00 am rendezvous time. A phone call confirmed where we were to meet, and I grabbed a road map to see just were Blockley is …. Luckily it’s not far off The Fosse Way; The dead straight Roman Road runs very close to my home and that was the route I was very soon 20121202-38_Blockley Village Store + Cafe - Bell Str - High Str by gary.haddenheading down, being very wary of potential surface water and/or black ice (we’d had a lot of recent rain and it was freezing). I arrived at 9:03 and found a parking spot immediately behind my sister’s car just up the road from the village store near to the church. I don’t know why but I was expecting maybe a dozen or more walkers to turn up, but it turned out there were only seven of us, including the two leaders and me, so it didn’t take long for us to gather and move off down the road passing in front of the 20121202-03_Cotswold Cottages - High Street - Blockley by gary.haddenold village store and heading off along Bell Lane/High St. in a roughly south/south westerly direction.

High street is quite long, a ribbon of settlement stretching out from the village centre, meaning there was a fair bit of road and pavement walking to start with. But that didn’t matter, as many of the houses and cottages are of attractive Cotswold Stone construction; an eclectic mix of buildings; some large and imposing some small and quaint, some detached, some in terraces and some accessible via pathways raised up above the road.

It was a nice easy start to the walk, being gently downhill, but that had to change!; so after passing Day’s Lane (off to the right) and Brook Lane (off to the left) and after passing Vine Cottage we took the next right side road. This was really more a posh drive way than road and we had to paddle across cross a mini flood flowing across the junction, the water having broken out from the adjacent garden’s brook. 20121202-07_Warren House - Blockley by gary.haddenThe driveway rose gently beside an extensive garden with lawns and ponds rising up to a very impressive looking property (Warren House I think it’s called). A short while up the drive we branched off to the left to rise up through some woods, but this didn’t last long as we soon reached a farm track heading up through the middle of some boring ploughed fields. The rise warranted a degree of effort from me, not so much because it was overly steep, but the gradient was significant enough and it did seem to go on for longer than it probably was; I definitely need to get fitter.

As we gained height some wide views opened up behind us (but I had to turn around to see them), nothing overly spectacular, but the feeling was much more airy than before, and the openness continued for a while as the gradient leveled off and the track led us through a few more fields to reach the A44 main road (Called Five Mile Drive here). We had to take a right along the roadside verges for a very short distance, before turning left 20121202-08_Coventry CHA Walkers - South West of Blockley by gary.haddento pick up a path on the opposite side of the road, heading roughly in the same direction as before (approx south westerly).

The track, hard with frost, narrowed somewhat, with rough grasses growing down the middle forcing us to walk one behind the other as we started to descend towards an area of woodland which was soon exited to enter a grassy field. The extent of the recent rainfall was very apparent with an impromptu, not normally there, stream having to be crossed. My great long legs did this relatively easily (with just a little splashing) and once over I found a loose log to position in the new watercourse for the others to use as a “stepping stone” (my apologies to Jenny for nearly splashing her in the process!!!). The field then led us down to meet a farm track, where we again had to negotiate some surface water, which wasn’t too bad, but you could see the stream had been in quite a state of flood not long before. After the soggy field and little bit of paddling the rock hard frosty 20121202-09_Cotswold Landscape - Looking towards Bourton Downs by gary.haddentrack was quite a welcome change and we soon reached and passed a building to reach a minor road in a shallow valley. After crossing the road into a grassy field we stopped for a short refreshment stop.

One of the ladies then kindly took the opportunity to comment about my blog, she’d obviously read some of my previous posts (in particular my Hatton Locks walk) and she was most complimentary about my writings, even to the point of saying it was romantic in style. Well, I’m not used to such praise, it’s an odd feeling how modesty juxtaposes with a little pride. It is gratifying to think someone likes your work though. Enough of that, we had a short hill to climb, heading up the side of the field through some scrub hawthorn. It felt like we were heading more or less in the same direction as before, but by now we’d swung southwards heading into an area on my map called Bourton Downs. We crested the rise where we joined another farm track running down the side of a Leylandii hedge.

Now, you’ve probably got an image of a garden hedge of about 6 or 7 feet high – Well, this one was a tad bigger than this, difficult to say just how tall but, at a guess, 20121202-10_Leylandii Hedge - Leyland Cypress by gary.haddenat least 35 to 40 feet high and really thick in depth as well, obviously being used as a wind screen. I’ve read that these trees can grow to 115 feet tall and maybe more (that’s a lot of tree). If there’s ever an advert to persuade people to never plant Cypress Leylandii Trees in their town gardens then this should be it – Apart from these plants wanting to be huge stand alone trees, they are also in my humble opinion very drab ugly trees – Don’t do it! Please find a better, more apt, prettier thing to grow.

The puddle strewn track continued on the flat, passing what looks like it could have been an old WW2 concrete bunker before starting the descent of a grassy sheep field. It’s kind of funny that the rolling hills and valleys of the surrounding farmland, although quite pleasant, were usurped by some quite dramatic broken cloud cover, highlighted by the low sun we were walking towards. Before reaching the bottom of the slope we turned left, to again rise, still on the grassy field to skirt what became the top edge of an attractively curving valley below us on our right.

20121202-11_Winter Sky above Bourton Downs - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-12_Coventry CHA Walkers - Bourton Downs - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-13_Muddy Path - The Warren - Approaching Hinchwick by gary.haddenThe open views were soon to end though as we headed into another area of woods (known as The Warren) and immediately picked up a narrow path. The surrounding trees and scrub had obviously protected the path from the frost, resulting in lots of unavoidable slippery mud instead of a nice hard surface to walk on … To be honest this bit of the walk was just a bit ughy! However we soon descended to pick up yet another track and conditions underfoot improved accordingly – at least for a while – 20121202-14_Muddy Track - Hinchwick - Cotswolds by gary.haddenFor at the bottom where the track met a minor road [near Hinchwick] there was an extensive area of sticky churned up mud to negotiate, the mess being fed with water from an adjacent flooded field. Conditions soon improved though, crossing the road into a grassy field. Turning eastwards now, we had a reasonable length of uphill and a gradient enough to raise a bit of a sweat and tax the old leg muscles a little. Behind us, the attractive buildings and enclosed grounds of Hinchwick Manor added to the view, perfectly proportioned in the landscape.

20121202-15_Climbing away from Hinchwick - Cotswolds by gary.hadden

20121202-16_Gnarled Beech Tree Roots by gary.haddenI was quite happy to have a little breather at the top of the rise where the route crossed a stile. On the other side, the route eased to almost flat again, now skirting alongside of some mature beech trees slightly raised up on an earth bank. I like beech trees! especially the way the surface roots of older trees break out from the ground, gnarled and twisted, mirroring the shapes in the branches above.

A little way along here, the line of trees and earth bank/ditch were shaped into an arching semi-circular clearing, where a lone monolithic lump of slate, pointing to the skies, stood proud, isolated in the wide landscape but protected at the same time by the half ring of trees. 20121202-17_Slate Memorial - Above Hinchwick by gary.haddenSlate in the midst of Cotswold limestone felt very odd; it turned to be a memorial to Hase and Michael Asquith. The inscription on the back in deep shadow reads “HE WHO SHALL TRAIN THE HORSE TO WAR SHALL NEVER PASS THE POLAR BAR” and attributed to WILLIAM BLAKE. Later I found this to be from his poem The Auguries of Innocence. The rather odd quotation intrigued me especially the meaning of “THE POLAR BAR”. A trawl on the internet really proved just as baffling, as many people seem to be as equally bamboozled as me. It’s a fairly obvious anti-war sentiment, and I assume the Asquiths were horse lovers. I suppose the overall sentiment is that not passing the “polar bar” alludes to never going to heaven.

20121202-18_Coventry CHA walkers - Between Hinchwick + Ganborough by gary.haddenMoving on, we then had a short but quite steep descent into a small valley, and then immediately had an equally short but steeper climb directly opposite to climb out of the said valley … again heading for more woods. My poor old knees certainly didn’t like the drop and I was pleased I’d taken a walking pole to help ease the strain; the climb up wasn’t half as uncomfortable, and the terrain eased again as we reached the top of the rise with a bit of a surprise for us.

20121202-19_Horse Training Race Track + Railings - Cotswolds by gary.haddenThe surprise?

Well, we emerged out onto a race track, a horse racing race track, well actually a horse racing training race track, complete with white painted railings and a pristinely manicured sandy surface, looking like someone had very carefully raked the sand smooth and flat, although this would easily have taken a month of Sundays to achieve, so in reality it was obviously done by some kind of machine.

20121202-20_Horse Training Race Track + Ruined Hans Hill Farm Buildings by gary.hadden

20121202-21_Coventry CHA Walkers - Cotswolds - Nr Ganborough by gary.haddenWe now had easy walking alongside the race track until we reached a dilapidated run-down ruined group of farm buildings (so run down it’d be quite a renovation challenge, even for a grand design TV type project). The sandy race track abruptly ended here, to simply merge into a conventional farm track; this in turn easily led us down to a minor road and then, after a left turn, down to the A424 main road.

20121202-22_Winertime Woods nr Longborough - Cotswols by gary.haddenA right turn, for just a few yards, and then a careful cross over, brought us into yet another small area of woodland, the obvious path quickly taking us past a small fenced off odd quarry area and thence on to a junction of minor roads heading off in three directions. We ignored the sign to Sezincote / Bourton-On-The-hill and the one pointing to Stow-On-The-Wold / Broadway, instead heading off down the road towards Longborough / Morton-In-Marsh. The minor road bought us down into the village of Longborough (½ a mile according to the sign-post) and the promise of a pub to coincide with our lunch stop.

20121202-25_Longborough Memorial Cross + Village Green by gary.haddenSo this ends the first half of the walk … If you’d like to hear about the second half, please see my next diary which will follow soon.

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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20121202_Leyland Cypress [ Leylandii ] Hedge – A bit bigger than you’d imagine a hedge to be.

20121202_Leyland Cypress [ Leylandii ] Hedge – A bit bigger than you’d imagine a hedge to be.

Whilst doing a circular walk starting and finishing in Blockley in the Cotswolds, during the morning we’d swung southwards heading into an area on my map called Bourton Downs. As we crested a rise, we joined a farm track running down the side of a Leylandii hedge.

20121202-10_Leylandii Hedge - Leyland Cypress by gary.hadden

Now, you’ve probably got an image of a garden hedge of about 6 or 7 feet high – Well, this one was a tad bigger than this, difficult to say just how tall but, at a guess, at least 35 to 40 feet high and really thick in depth as well, obviously being used as a major wind screen.

A hybrid cross between The Alaskan Cypress [hardy] and The Monterey Cypress of California [fast growing], I’ve read that these trees can grow to 115 feet tall and maybe more (that’s a lot of tree) and can grow at a rate of over 2.5 feet per year. If there’s ever an advert to persuade people to never plant Leylandii Trees in their town gardens then this should be it – Apart from these plants wanting to be huge stand alone trees, they are also in my humble opinion very drab ugly trees – Don’t do it! Please find a better, more apt, prettier hedging plant to grow.

I you are an aficionado of the plant in small town gardens, and for some reason you actually like these trees, I think we will always  have a difference in opinion.

Anyway, enough of that, T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130112_A Frosty Winter Canal Side Walk – Braunston

I’ve not written a diary write up for this couple of miles or so long walk along the canals in Braunston near Rugby, But in the meantime you can go see my photo’s as a slide show if you want on my flickr photostream.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20121201_A Frosty Short Walk – Cawston Rugby

20121201_A Frosty Short Walk – Cawston Rugby

When : 1st December 2012

Who : Me and my son Craig

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

Map : 1:25,000 OS. Outdoor Leisure Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

Approx Start and End Point : SP470,735

Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)

Significant heights : None to speak of.

Summary : A short walk from our front door through local farmland and woods around Cawston to the south-west of Rugby.

20121201-01_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.haddenWell, you could have knocked me over with a feather, as this little morning jaunt around Cawston was prompted by my eleven year old son who ASKED to go for a walk as he wanted to take some photo’s of the frosty conditions we’d woken up to. Now if you’ve read any of my other diaries you’ll know my passions in life include country walking and taking photo’s whilst out on my country walks … so, you’ll also realise I’d have readily said yes, Okey Dokey, let’s wrap up warm and get our boots on. A few minutes later (well half an hour maybe), we were walking through the streets to find the perimeter path around the Cawston Grange estate where we live (for convenience I’ve used the end of Trussell Way for measuring distances and on the “walk jog run” map I’ve traced the route on). I was armed with my Pentax K200D DSLR and Craig had our little digital compact Kodak C195.

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. You’ll see that some of the pic’s are kind of doubled up – This is because Craig and I took pictures of the same subjects but from different perspectives and different angles (height, age and camera differences make for different image).

20121201-03_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.haddenThere isn’t too much to say about the perimeter path other than it rapidly took us out onto the B4642 (the old A4071) where we crossed straight away to reach an old rustic wooden fence bounding a ploughed field. I like this fence, I know it’s only of simple construction, but it’s rather unkempt with broken slats, bits semi-rotten and tangled with weeds. The sun had risen enough to have started melting the frost on the ground and foliage, including the trees above us which periodically would drip a fine mist of water droplets over us – refreshing? Ermm, no, not really, just wet and cold! We stayed here for a few moments taking some pic’s of the fence, dew drops, frost, leaves on the ground, etc.

20121201-04_Tangled - Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden   20121201-05_Tangled - Dew Drops_By Craig by gary.hadden

20121201-02_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden   20121201-08_Frosty Leaf - Soft Focus_By Craig by gary.hadden

20121201-07_Patch of Light on Leaves by gary.hadden

20121201-11_Frosty Bridle Path_Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.haddenWe then moved on, crossing back over the main road, and then heading away from Rugby, passing the end of Cawston Lane, and opposite this, the start of a bridle path heading off between two properties. Although inviting, we ignored this path to carry on, on the roadside path passing in front of a series of houses (some quite posh!) making up the old part of Cawston as opposed to the new Cawston Grange Estate where we live. We were fortunate to get a short burst of a rainbow arching above the roofs – Another photo opportunity.

20121201-09_Rainbow over Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden

20121201-10__Rainbow over Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.hadden

Further along the road a small rose bush was still in flower despite having lost most of its leaves to the early winter weather; the few pink blooms hanging on to life with a frosting like a sprinkling of sugar on the petals enhancing the prettiness rather than detracting from arguably one of the most attractive of flowers.

20121201-12_Frosty Rose_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden

20121201-13__Frosty Rose_Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.hadden

We now had to re-cross the B4642 main road to pick up a footpath heading off behind Brickyard Spinney (by crossing a stile beside a large metal gate). Weather-wise it had now started to cloud-in somewhat, shrouding the low sun which was desperately trying to resist, but only 20121201-14_Watery Winter Sun_By Craig by gary.haddensucceeded in creating a watery wintry grey. After maybe a hundred yards (if that) down the side of Brickyard Spinney, we had to cross a ploughed field. However, luckily for us, the farmer had only reached half way across the field, so giving us a harder surface to walk on, albeit over the stiff short stubble of the cleared crop. The route was now diagonally down across the field heading towards the right hand end of a line of trees in the distance (a telegraph pole in the middle of the field gives a rough direction marker).

20121201-15_Cawston or Potfords Dam Pool_By Craig by gary.haddenAt the bottom of the slope, and secluded behind the trees, is a small pool of water. It’s a purely subjective thing, but I think it’s hardly big enough to be called a lake but I’d say too large to be called a pond, so pool will have to do. In effect it’s a small reservoir, formed behind a low arching earth bank. There used to be pretty much free access around one side of the pool which locals used for years for dog walking etc., but recently some signs have gone up saying it has been closed as part of a “wildlife conservation area”, along with a chunk of Cawston Woods. Although there’s not a public right of way here, personally I think stopping people walking around the edge of the pool is unnecessary and maybe 20121201-16_Cawston or Potfords Dam Pool by gary.haddena little spiteful; there were never hoards of people that went here to “disturb” the few ducks and coots that come here; so I think there’s possibly a different ulterior motive behind the decision – but it is private property, so I guess there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Anyway, enough of countryside politics, at least for now, we took a couple of pic’s each in the light rain that had now started to fall and I talked to Craig about how to “frame” a photo by using tree branches and the like. It was good having a little father and son time – I appreciate it now and I hope in later life it will give good memories for Craig. The outflow from the pool is little more than a drainage ditch, but after all the wet weather we’d had during 2012 it had a fair amount of water in it … eventually it flows past/through Lawford Heath to join The Avon at Long Lawford a few miles to the north.

20121201-17_Drainage Ditch_Potfords Dam-Cawston by gary.hadden   20121201-18_Drainage Ditch_Potfords Dam-Cawston_By Craig by gary.hadden

Heading back to the official path brought us to a direction indicator post, showing the right-of-way heading straight out into the crop field. Now back to politics – This path has NEVER been on the ground since I moved here over ten 20121201_A Frosty Short Walk - Cawston Rugbyyears ago now. Instead, there’s a wide verge left around the left hand side of the field, and effectively we were forced to walk off the official path, rising up the side of a hedge roughly heading south towards the left of an isolated property. Near to this property, we met a farm track, even though not an official right of way, this has also been used for years by local dog walkers and I chose to turn left along here rather than continue south to reach Northampton Lane (which IS an official path) marked by a line of trees in the distance.

We were now walking on the hard surface of the farm track in an easterly direction and almost dead flat with fields on both sides. The rain had now stopped and although slowly thawing, the puddles on the track were still frozen with patterns in the ice, kind of reminiscent of contour lines on a map – quite attractive really – but not easy to get a half decent photo of. Craig has just this moment told me how much he liked the ice patterns, but once he’d taken a few pic’s it didn’t stop him stamping in the middle of some of them, enjoying the crunching, cracking sounds of boots on breaking ice!

20121201-19_Frozen Puddle Patterns by gary.hadden      20121201-20_Frozen Puddle Patterns_By Craig by gary.hadden

After a good while the track takes a sharp bend to the left, heading towards Cawston Woods. It was a nice feeling to get back onto an official right of way here; I always feel more comfortable knowing that I’m allowed to be on the path. The track soon headed into the woods dissecting the trees with Cawston Spinney on our left and Fox Covert on our right. We had a choice of continuing along the farm track to rise up to Cawston Farm and the B4642, or the choice we actually took, turning right onto a narrow dirt path heading into Fox Covert. It’s surprising how much warmer it felt in the trees even without their canopy of leaves, but it still felt rather damp. A fallen tree slowly rotting in the undergrowth and in the wet conditions had become the perfect host for loads of small bracket fungi – another photo opportunity.

20121201-21_Fungi_Cawston Woods_Rugby by gary.hadden       20121201-22_Fungi_Cawston Woods_Rugby by gary.hadden

Continuing through the woods we chatted, to emerge onto Cawston Lane at a small dirt lay-by by the side of the road (parking for a handful of cars) where we turned left along the narrow road and keeping well into the side as it can be quite busy with cars which often move far too fast for the size of road.

It didn’t take long to be back at the B4642 and the rustic fence again, and then a final cross over the main road to reach the perimeter path we’d originally set off on. The 20121201-24_Red Cornus Plants_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path by gary.haddendrizzle had stopped, and the grey cloud had lifted, thinned and broken up a little and the soft brightness helped highlight and lift the colour in the red cornus plants lining the path; a lovely way to end our walk.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and our photo’s; I found it interesting comparing Craig’s efforts with mine; different cameras, and a different take on the world, which would be expected given our height differences …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of our pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

My stats in review – rather than the official WP post.

Views during the year =

January = 1,175

February = 1,046

March = 1,132

April = 1,170

May = 1,339 (biggest monthly hits in 2012)

June = 1,157

July = 1,134

August = 1,102

September = 1,038

October = 1,028

November = 990 (booo! under 1000 hits/month for the 1st time in 2012)

December = 738 (was expecting lowest total – bad weather and Christmas = lower hits every year!)

Total = 13,049 in 2012 …. Thanks to everyone who’s dipped in and hopefully enjoyed my diary posts and photo’s …. and all time hits now = 30,708 since Sept. 2008… wow … BIG SMILES and – HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR 2013 – Hope you have a good year of walking!