20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk 1st Half_Clifton to All Saints Curch, Lilbourne via Clifton Lakes.

20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk

1st Half_Clifton to All Saints Curch, Lilbourne via Clifton Lakes.

20120219_Clifton-upon-Dunsmore-Lilbourne Circular WalkWhen : 19th February 2012

Who : Just me

Where : Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Near Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Start Point & End Point : SP 533,764

Full Walk Distance : Approx 8.8 miles (14 km)

Full Walk Significant heights : … See end of diary for details.

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

20120219-07_Wych Gate St Mary's Church - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenFull Walk Summary : A circular walk across pleasant Warwickshire Farmland, starting and finishing in Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, taking in the small village of Lilbourne, two motte and bailey castles, an old disused railway station and passing straight through the middle of the famous Rugby Radio Masts and then, in complete contrast, joining the Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Locks including seeing a canal boat accident.

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

I’ve just rediscovered some of my photo’s from just over a year ago now, and they brought back some good memories of a super little walk that just proves that good walking weather CAN happen in the winter in England – 20120219-05_Fretwork - St Mary's - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenEven if we’ve seen precious little decent weather this year so far (writing in April 2013).

I was rehabilitating from knee surgery from the December before, and the thought of a 7-8 mile walk felt quite daunting, but, with all day to do it and just myself to look after, I decided to give it a go and soon found myself parked in the Village ofClifton-upon-Dunsmore in a small car-park near to St. Mary’s Church (on the Lilbourne Road).

20120219-04_St Mary's Church - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenFirst of all, I went for a wander around the church grounds with the morning sun perfectly lighting up the stone and woodwork of the church and memorial cross. I particularly liked the textures of the mosses on the Lychgate roof tiles (nature can be so beautiful even in the simplest of forms), but after a short while I returned to the car to don boots, grab walking poles, map, ruck-sack etc. and set off with all the joys of spring, albeit still in the last chills of winter.

20120219-02_Moss-Wych Gate Roof by gary.hadden

The start of the walk was easy, allowing my knees to get moving nicely, heading out along The Lilbourne Road towards Lilbourne (easterly) for a very short distance before turning left on a minor road towards Manor Farm. 20120219-08_Rubbish - Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThis road reduced down to a farm track (Buckwell Lane on my map) to the left of and just outside the frankly quite scruffy farm; the boundary fence being strewn with rubbish from old tyres to plastic fertiliser/feed bags and all kinds of detritus. So much for the so called stewards of the countryside (i.e. farmers) telling us ramblers not to leave litter in the countryside. In my experience there’s more litter left in the hedgerows by farmers than ramblers. BUT, if you are reading this and heading 20120219-09_Muddy Ruts nr Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenout into our superb landscapes, either wild or cultivated – Please follow the Countryside Code.

The farm track soon emerged into pastureland with the way ahead down the left hand side of a hedge, the ground severely marked by deep tractor furrows leading down the gentle slope into the next couple of fields, populated by a handful of rather proud looking sheep.

20120219-10_Sheep x2 nr Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThe path takes a half-left across this last field to then pass through a hedge, cross another (narrow) field and emerge into a rather scratty looking field, much of which was covered in the striking seed heads of teasel plants; Time to get out the camera and play around with focussing/depth-of-field and the like; one or two even came out OK I think.

.

20120219-15_Pool - Clifton Lakes by gary.hadden

20120219-13_Teasel Seedhead by gary.hadden

20120219-16_Rubbish Dump - Clifton Lakes by gary.haddenThe way ahead was to follow the left hand edge of the field, slightly raised up from a series of ponds sitting adjacent to the young River Avon; the ponds are collectively known as Clifton Lakes and I’d imagine a haven for wildlife, despite the appearance of what looked like a rubbish dump in the area.

20120219-17_Electricity Pylon - Clifton Lakes by gary.haddenRight in the corner of the field is an electricity pylon, and I played around once again with my camera trying to capture the strong industrial shapes against the increasingly vivid deep blue sky.

There had been two signs along the route so far, educating me that I was walking on two named paths:-

  • Shakespeare’s Avon Way, From the Source to the Severn, devised and promoted by Shakespeare’s Avon Way Association.
  • Canal Circular Walk, British Waterways / Warwickshire County Council.

I mused to myself whether The Bard had ever made it this far up-stream of the much larger and far more famous stretches of the Avon at Leamington, Warwick, 20120219-20_Is it a Canal or Lake - Neither a disused Railway by gary.haddenStratford and Evesham, etc. Anyway, I moved on, again near the left-hand edge of a field and raised up above a curiously long and thin rectangular shaped lake. It didn’t look like a canal, and it was far too straight to be a natural water-course; so, a closer look on the map showed it to be following the route of a dismantled railway in a cutting, now partially flooded … perhaps to serve as a landing strip for the local swan population? This “lake” ended abruptly near the A5 road, 20120219-21_A5_Watling Street (Roman Road) by gary.haddenotherwise known by its Roman name of Watling Street.

This almost dead straight road (you could guess it was Roman even if you didn’t know for sure) is a major carriageway, carrying cars and lorries at what could be described as break-neck speeds. It maybe wouldn’t seem so fast when sat behind the wheel, but to a person on foot trying to cross you’ve got to have your wits about you and take great care. Luckily for me, there wasn’t too much traffic on the day, and a large gap soon 20120219-24_Silhouette of Electricity Pylon (Detail) by gary.haddenpresented itself for my traverse of the tarmac to the other side. I believe this is where I moved out of Warwickshire and into Northamptonshire.

A drop down a bank and through a hedge-line brought me into another crop field. The route ahead was half-right, diagonally through the middle of what could be a ploughed field or crops depending on the time of year, heading up a rise aiming to the left of another pylon up ahead. I again tried to capture some interesting pic’s of the steelwork. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it was worth it or not. Gaining the little bit of height opened up a pleasant view across the shallow Avon Valley and up to the attractive little village of Catthorpe.

20120219-26_Catthorpe Village (from the south) by gary.hadden

Now, you may have heard of Catthorpe, but not because of the diminutive village; no you’ve probably heard the name associated with the nearby interchange of the M1, M6 and A14. This junction is infamous for being quite dysfunctional and synonymous with accidents (often serious) and traffic jams; it seems a week hardly ever goes by without at least one incident or hold-up being reported on our local radio. If there’s ever a redesign on our roads needed then this junction should come pretty high up anyone’s list.

20120219-29_Lilbourne Gorse Motte + Bailey by gary.haddenAnyway, enough of that, back to the walk; Once past the pylon, the path swung a little to the right, into a corner of the field, passed into the next field past a small pool and on to the end of a small piece of woodland marked as Lilbourne Furze on my map and then over towards a slightly larger area of woods called Lilbourne Gorse. Just before reaching Lilbourne Gorse, the path swung to the right (almost south), still rising, to reach an area containing the ancient remains of a medieval Motte & Bailey fortification. A less than pristine sign informed that : “the large mound, the motte, was made of earth or rubble and was topped by a defensive structure such as a palisade or tower. The bailey, which lay to the north of the 20120219-27_View South From Lilbourne Gorse Motte + Bailey by gary.haddenmotte on this site, was an embanked enclosure containing a variety of buildings”. Well the motte is still visually quite impressive, commanding fine views in all directions. The bailey, not obvious at-all … and buildings contained within – have disappeared completely. A conveniently placed bench became a welcome spot for some refreshment, looking across a patchwork of fields and hedges and over to the hurried ribbon of vehicles heading up 20120219-31_Ridge + Furrow Farmland - Lilbourne by gary.haddenand down the M1 completely oblivious to the historic site about a mile away from them.

Eventually, I dragged myself back to my feet, deciding I really ought to make some more progress and I soon found my way back to the edge of Lilbourne Gorse and crossed into the next field (pasture land). Another ancient remnant of history immediately presented itself, this time not marked on my map, but more earthworks and then a series of ridge and furrows spread out in front of me, like the land had been corrugated down 20120219-32_All Saints Church - Lilbourne by gary.haddenand across the hillside. Two paths were available at this point and I chose the one heading pretty much eastwards heading for a church Tower, at the bottom of the slope. Once down, the path crosses a wooden stile directly into the church graveyard and then out onto a very minor road where a very prominent sign pronounced the church to be All Saints’ Church, Lilbourne.

20120219-33_All Saints Church Gravestones - Lilbourne by gary.hadden     20120219-35_All Saints Church Gravestones - Lilbourne by gary.hadden

20120219-37_Uni Cyclist - Lilbourne by gary.haddenJust after stepping out onto the road, a cyclist in a bright yellow top appeared, moving quite quickly on the otherwise empty road. Nothing unusual about that do I hear you say?, well no, except the cycle was a unicycle and the rider was perched quite high above the ground. I rapidly fired off a couple of shots on my camera, but didn’t really get a decently sharp image, but enough to record the oddity.

20120219-38_Motte + Bailey Earthworks - Lilbourne by gary.haddenOpposite the church on the other side of the road is another motte and bailey castle (signs say no public access), the motte seemingly consisting of several mounds. I know not whether these are definitive separate entities or the remains of one much larger mound, I suspect the latter and if I’m right it must have been quite a structure. 20120219-39_Infant River Avon - Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenUnlike the earlier castle on top of the hill, this lowland fort would have had a ready supply of water; the River Avon being just a stones throw away.

Well, that’s it, for the 1st half of the walk, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings enough to want to read about the 2nd half … If you do, please use this link to go straight there.

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.

PS.

Break-Down of Heights Climbed (over the full walk) :- Although nothing steep or too difficult at-all, just gently undulating farmland.

  • 25m (80 feet) – From A5 near Clifton Lakes to the 1st Motte + Bailey Castle.
  • 15m (50 feet) – From Lilbourne Church to Centre of Lilbourne Village.
  • 30m (100 feet) – From Hillmorton Locks/Oxford Canal to Clifton Village.
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20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk 2nd Half_Lilbourne to Clifton via Rugby Radio Masts and Hillmorton Locks.

20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk

2nd Half_Lilbourne to Clifton via Rugby Radio Masts and Hillmorton Locks.

When : 19th February 2012

Who : Just me

Where : Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Near Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Start Point & End Point : SP 533,764

Full Walk Distance : Approx 8.8 miles (14 km)

20120219-62_Oxford Canal - Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenFull Walk Significant heights : … See end of diary for details.

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

Full Walk Summary : A circular walk across pleasant Warwickshire Farmland, starting and finishing in Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, taking in the small village of Lilbourne, two motte and bailey castles, an old disused railway station and passing straight through the middle of the famous Rugby Radio Masts and then, in complete contrast, joining the Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Locks including seeing a canal boat accident.

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

20120219_Clifton-upon-Dunsmore-Lilbourne Circular WalkThis is the continuation of the walk from my previous diary … Just to keep the prose and pictures on each diary reasonably compact ….. If you want to read the 1st half first, please use this link. If you’ve already found and read about the 1st half the walk, you’ll already know that I’d arrived at All Saint’s Church just outside Lilbourne and opposite it is a medieval motte and bailey castle, or at least the remains of the motte are still visible. Not far away is what would have been a ready supply of water – A small river :- The Avon.

20120219-40_Infant River Avon + Bridge - Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenArrh yes; The Avon, I walked down the road for a short distance to cross the river (just a stream really) via a brick bridge; I’d describe this bridge as being functional rather than overly attractive, although being brick built with arches, rather than concrete does create a degree of attractiveness, but the proportions just aren’t quite right somehow, at least to my eye. Crossing the bridge took me from Northamptonshire into Leicestershire, my third county of the day. From here I could have just returned to the church and continued on, but I was curious about a path that I could see on my map which passes under the M1 nearby and thence off towards Swinford, perhaps a possible walk destination in the future ? ….  20120219-41_Disused Railway + Station Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenso off I set along the minor road away from the church, passing over the line of an old railway at what looks like an old platform. I believe this was Lilbourne Station [maybe dating back to the Beeching cuts ?…. maybe someone can tell me?]. Near here I turned off the road down the side of a field through a ribbon of trees and down to where the path crosses underneath the M1. The M1 is raised up above the ground here for quite some distance, supported on relatively slender concrete pillars, you could almost think too slender for the amount of weight and roaring traffic they support, but there again, I guess the road engineers must have got their calculations right, as it doesn’t appear to have collapsed yet. The area under the mass of concrete is drab, cold, dry and really not at all attractive in any way, shape or form, even the Avon has no charm about it as it crosses under close by, so I turned back on myself, retracing my steps to the minor road and the old station.

20120219-43_Under the M1_Near Lilbourne by gary.hadden   20120219-44_M1_Near Lilbourne - Sainsbury's Truck by gary.hadden

Heading back towards Lilbourne gave a different view of the motte + bailey remains, and to get a closer look I chose to take a footpath running south, up the middle of a grassy field to the east of the mounds and west of the M1.

20120219-45_Infant River Avon + Lilbourne Motte + Bailey by gary.hadden

20120219-47_Motte + Bailey + Church - Lilbourne by gary.hadden

I particularly liked the way shadows and highlights enhanced the ridges of soil creep (slow natural erosion) on the slopes of the mounds. It was also quite interesting having the nearby traffic on the M1 rushing by. The path emerged into the outskirts of Lilbourne village, where I followed minor roads to drop back down to the church and thence be back onto my original course. At a road junction near the church, I picked up a footpath heading roughly south rising 20120219-48_Lilbourne Church + Houses by gary.haddengently, which gave a pleasant view back over the church and I soon found myself on a minor road leading up to the village green area of the village where I found the name of the road to be called “The Horsepool”, an odd name but that’s it name. A village green bench became another short stop for refreshments/a bite to eat.

Moving on, after a mini-explore of the village centre, I crossed the main road through the village (Rugby Road/The Green/Yelvertoft Road) and joined Hillmorton Lane heading downhill in a southerly direction. It seems every community has it’s challenges and difficulties, and it seems Lilbourne is no 20120219-51_Radio Mast Hillmorton Lane - Lilbourne by gary.haddendifferent; numerous posters dotted around the village pronounced their particular battle – A campaign against The Lilbourne Wind Farm. Some of the posters looked like they’d been up for some time, some were more pristine, so it would seem the protest had been quite protracted. I wonder if the result has now been announced all these months later ?

I now had a stretch of road walking to do, taking the Hillmorton Road around a sharp right-hand 90-degree bend to head westwards and then swinging round to a south-westerly direction. Although on tarmac, this was pleasant enough as it is a very minor thoroughfare and 20120219-53_Discarded Traffic Cone + Reflection by gary.haddenI don’t think I saw a vehicle of any sort. In the fields to the south were a smattering of tall slender radio masts forming an extended portion of the famous Rugby Radio Masts not very far away. I talked about farmers’ detritus at the start of the walk, well it seems not far behind is road rubbish littering the verges, an example of which was an old beaten up traffic cone lying half in and half out of a large puddle – You can’t pin that one on the rambling fraternity either !

20120219-54_Unit45 Truck/Lorry on A5 (Watling Street) by gary.hadden

Hillmorton Lane comes to an end as it meets the A5, which again had to be crossed carefully, to immediately pick up a track still heading roughly south west straight through the middle of the Rugby Radio Masts, bounded by barbed wire fences. I was surprised by the number of masts and different sizes, especially as there have been some high profile removals in recent years. It’s rumoured that the whole site is likely to become a huge housing development as the masts disappear completely. If true, this won’t be just another village, it’ll be almost like a new town. I guess that when that eventually happens the buzzard flying over-head will have to move to pastures new.

20120219-57_Barbed Wire Fence - Rugby Radio Mast Site by gary.hadden   20120219-60_Rugby Radio Masts by gary.hadden

20120219-56_Buzzard - Blue Sky by gary.hadden   20120219-59_Barbed Wire + Shredded Plastic Rubbish by gary.hadden

20120219-61_Shadow_Me Myself Yours Truly by gary.haddenAfter just over a mile on the almost dead level track, with a multitude of dirty puddles (some really quite large), I was quite happy to arrive at The Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Locks. Having never been here before, I decided to have a look around and walked up the minor road, passing a farm entrance and the church to reach a very tall tunnel under a main line railway. At the far end, the tunnel dramatically reduces in height before the road leads up into the estate of Hillmorton in the south east corner of Rugby. Having looked up the tunnel, I back-tracked to the canal and dropped down to the towpath and immediately found a bench for a refreshment stop, directly opposite Badseys CafeBistro across the cut.

20120219-63_Rotoballe Hay Bales by gary.hadden      20120219-64_Low Bridge Ahead by gary.hadden

I was enjoying my short break in the afternoon sunshine when a narrow boat (The Grebe) sailed down the canal heading north and the pilot had to stop the 20120219-66_Oxford Canal - Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenboat whilst the nearby lock was vacated/opened up for it to pull into. Well, the person at the tiller made a right hash of stopping the long craft, ending up slewing across the canal and hitting a moored barge on the opposite bank. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a canal traffic accident before, and even though it happened at very slow speed the crunch was obviously significant enough to bring a couple out from the nearby buildings – I’m sure in my mind they were the owners of the innocent barge – They really didn’t look at-all impressed!, although I don’t think there was any significant damage.

20120219-68_Oxford Canal - Bridge 70 at Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenAs much as I was enjoying my rest I had to move on, heading north on the tow path, passing interesting features along the way, including:- An attractive arched brick bridge over a side arm of the canal to a chandlers ; Various Moored multi-coloured canal boats ; A twin lock which only seems to have one half in use (which Grebe eventually negotiated) ; and a grassy picnic area with lock-gate “art-work”.

20120219-70_Narrow Boat at Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

20120219-71_Narrow Boat Reflection at Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

20120219-72_Canal Boat + Work Bench by gary.haddenThe photographer in me liked an old work-mate bench next to a barge/narrow boat being renovated; the two white non-matching mugs both empty and unwashed perched on the bench somehow suggested a prolonged period of inactivity to match the lack of noise emanating from within the boat – Perhaps a beer or two were being quaffed in the afore-mentioned bistro cafe?

20120219-73_Odd Narrow Boat by gary.haddenThe last boat moored along here was an odd looking craft, with a slightly unkempt but happy feel about it; maybe it just needs a lick of paint and a touch TLC. The best I can describe it, is, if it were stereotyped as a person it’d be a 1960s hippy; my thoughts are probably born out of the self-sufficiency of the solar panels perched atop the roof and bright multi-coloured sheets of Perspex over the windows …. it must make for an odd glow inside, especially with the sun shining through.

The tow path is sort of sandwiched between the railway and the canal with farmland stretching up the slope beyond, nice enough but fairly non-descript really, but a pair of swans nibbling on the emerging crop shoots added a certain charm – I think everyone probably likes swans.

20120219-74_Grazing Swans by gary.hadden

20120219-75_Oxford Canal - nr Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

At the next bridge (going over the canal), I had to leave the tow path and join the road. I then had several hundred yards of road walking (generally northwards) climbing steadily to pass Home Farm. The rise opened up a view I just wasn’t expecting across a valley, over a golf course and then up to Rugby Town with St. Andrew’s Church Tower and the Rugby Cement (CEMEX) tower and chimney punching up from the skyline.

20120219-76_Rugby Town from near Clifton by gary.haddenJust after Home Farm, I crossed over the road to pick up a footpath heading across the last few fields. It’s not often a walk finishes on an up-hill section but this one did before easing off in the last field where some Highland Cattle stood 20120219-78_Highland Cow by gary.haddennot caring a jot about my passing by. I think these beasts are brilliant looking, with their long twisty horns and shaggy hair covering their eyes. They may look fierce, but I’ve never had a problem walking past them and toady was no different despite gently having to encourage one from in front of the final stile of the day in the corner of the field.

A little bit of road walking and a couple of alleyways soon brought me back to the church and the car-park. I was very restrained and decided to forego a drink in 20120219-79_The Bull Inn - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThe Bull Inn across the road, instead heading back to home on the other side of Rugby – Just a few minutes away really.

Well, that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings as much as I enjoyed the walk, and as much as I’ve enjoyed revisiting it over a year later writing it up and rediscovering my photo’s ….

Break-Down of Heights Climbed (over the full walk) :- Although nothing steep or difficult at-all, just gently undulating farmland.

  • 25m (80 feet) – From A5 near Clifton Lakes to the 1st Motte + Bailey Castle.
  • 15m (50 feet) – From Lilbourne Church to Centre of Lilbourne Village.
  • 30m (100 feet) – From Hillmorton Locks/Oxford Canal to Clifton Village.

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.

20130330-01_A wander down to Bilton (Rugby) to the green covered in crocuses

20130330-01_A wander down to Bilton (Rugby) to the green covered in crocuses

When : 30th March 2013

Who : Me (and my son who went and played in the nearby park)

Where : Bilton + Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, UK.

Just had a wander down to Bilton Village, just to see the crocuses [and play at taking a few photo’s] …. They’d had a bit of a battering with the recent snow and maybe they weren’t at their best ever, but still good to see anyway.

20130330-01_Butter Cross The George Pub + Crocuses - Bilton Green - Rugby by gary.hadden

For some reason this year there seemed to be mostly purples and whites and very few yellows. I was hoping for the colours to zing in the early spring sun (it was cold but quite pleasant when I set out), but by the time I got there it had clouded over and there were even a couple of fine snow showers trying to numb my fingers.

20130330-10_Crocuses - Bilton Green - Rugby by gary.hadden

Because of the overcast conditions the vast majority of the charming flowers remained stubbornly closed, but one or two deemed it acceptable for me to see inside to the beautiful stamens protected by their delicate petals. On the way back I stopped to add a few images of the miniature daff’s planted on the roadside verges at Cawston about a mile away from Bilton Green.

20130330-19_Daffodils - Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden

Don’t know what the passing motorists and pedestrians braving the chilly conditions thought, seeing my 6 foot+ frame bent double and at times lying prostrate with camera and tripod whilst being snowed on, but hey I guess I don’t really care.

Anyway, if you want to see some more of my pic’s, please use THIS LINK ….I hope you enjoy them, as I enjoyed taking them

If you’d like to comment on my blog or any of my pic’s I love to hear from you.

Cheers, Gary.