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)
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.
This 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.
Arrh 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 ? …. so 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.
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.
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 gently, 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 different; 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 I 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 !
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.
After 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.
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 boat 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.
As 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”.
The 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?
The 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.
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.
Just 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 not 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 The 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.