20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of this post

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

Summary : A clockwise circular walk, right in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

If you’ve just come to my blog post/walk write up at this page (2 of 2) without seeing my previous post, you might like to jump to “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)” which contains the following :-

• An Apology :-
• Who With :-
• A Little Preamble :-
• The 1st Half of the Walk :- Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.

20150906-33b_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
20150906-37_Out in front_Green Lane approaching Kirk DaleAfter a bit of a break in this interesting place (The Magpie Mine that is), we needed to raise ourselves to press on. The route I’d chosen took us to the northern most part of the site, through some rough workings and then instead of heading further north to the village of Sheldon, we took the path sort of north-eastwards and then south-eastwards to pick up a green lane bounded by two walls descending into Kirk Dale, where we met a minor road.

20150906-38_Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

20150906-40_View Over Kirkdale (Nr Sheldon)Our route pretty much crossed straight over the road, to steeply climb out of the dale (no contouring here!) to reach a stand of trees on the hill top. The views back from where we’d come from are lovely and after the short sharp exertions climbing the hill, an extremely good excuse to stop and catch our breath. The area around here is also pock-marked with old lead/fluor-spar mine workings and is noted on my map as The Magshaw Mine, but there’s very little left to see compared to The Magpie Mines recently left behind.

20150906-41_Wide Spaces heading for Over HaddonThe route now was in effect skirting around Bole Hill and had reached its highest point on the walk at about 340 metres above sea level. The aspect is open here and the walking easy, downhill, over a series of grassy fields taking pretty much a straight-line in a south-easterly direction all the way to the outskirts of the village of Over Haddon. The only interruption to the path was where the B5055 20150906-42_Tea Shop (Over Haddon)bisects through the route, sort of mid-way between Bole Hill Farm and Melbourne Farm.

Over Haddon itself is reached by turning left on a minor road (Monyash Road), passing a riding stables before turning right to pass a sizeable car-park. Just after passing the car park as the road started to descend somewhat steeper, we came upon The Garden Tea Shop.

20150906-43_Tea Shop Prices (Over Haddon)Well the sun was shining, we had plenty of time, the prices looked reasonable and the terrace area with an eclectic mix of terracotta pots and plants looked inviting. So after a brief (very brief) discussion we opted to head in for drinks and cake.

The reasonable prices changed to extremely good value once we saw the size of the cake pieces. Excellent value for money as we sat out in the sun on the patio/terrace area next to a small formal pool with their friendly terrier for company, looking out over the view above Lathkill Dale.

20150906-44_What is over here_Friendly Tea Shop Dog

20150906-47_Making Music in Lathkill DaleA recurring theme again presented itself …. We had to raise ourselves from our pleasant surroundings to press on once again, which took us back to the lane and a turn to the right then took us steeply downhill, as the road first dogged-legged left and then back to the right. As we did this the muted sounds of gentle classical music being practiced wafted up out of the garden below in the valley bottom, a guitar if memory serves me right. The road again bent sharply to the left around a large white house. We were once again deep in Lathkill Dale and were now about nine miles into the walk with three possible routes to take.

• Turning right, upstream would have taken us back to the junction with Cales Dale and a retrace of The Limestone Way back to Youlgreave.
• Going straight on, over the river and steeply up the opposite valley side, would take us to a farm (Meadow Place Grange) and then the options of a further three paths to Youlgreave. This would be the shortest route back to the start.
• Turning left, down-stream, on a path on the left hand side of the river.

It was the last of the options that I’d got planned, and we continued on through the lush vegetation, close to the river bank, bounded with steep wooded slopes on both 20150906-48_Swans_Lathkill Dalesides. The river starts to widen and some lovely views open up where the path ends up slightly raised above the valley bottom. A series of weirs, some quite sizeable, create pools and in the afternoon sun the colour of the water was absolutely beautiful, a greeny-tourquoisey-blue with vibrant green water weeds trailing in the sedate flow. This is gentle English countryside at its very best, understated and charming, almost polite (if a landscape can be polite), reflecting the best of British character. The path then drops gently to rejoin the river side and one place in particular was being enjoyed by several families having picnics and enjoying the autumn sunshine. This really was a perfect day to be outside.

20150906-49b_River Lathkill_Lathkill Dale

20150906-52_Into the Sun_Lathkill DaleFrom here the path becomes more made-up, wider, flatter and very easy going, to reach Conksbury Bridge, where a minor road crosses the river via a stone bridge. We needed to cross over the bridge being aware of the occasional car that passed by, but it was impossible to not to stop and take in the view over the bridge walls looking back up-stream from where we’d just come from and indeed on the opposite side looking downstream.

20150906-54_Lathkill Dale Relections

It was downstream that we needed to head, but the path does not hug the banks from here, instead we had to walk up the road (heading south) and soon after, where the road starts bending to the right, the path sets off again on the left, contouring, a little raised above the river at a stand of trees, with a water meadow below. After just a few hundred yards or so the path reaches a very small road (just below Raper Lodge).

20150906-55_Pack-Horse Bridge + Wier - Lathkill DaleA very small diversion was now a must! A turn to the left down the road/track quickly brought us to a lovely spot where a narrow pack-horse bridge crosses the river, which is dammed by a small pretty semi-circular shaped weir, creating a pool behind, the surface perfectly reflecting the surrounding trees. I’ve been here many times and would return again in a heartbeat – I love this place, the scenery almost secret and intimate, especially with the sun shining and no one else around. A few of us returned to an old childhood game and played pooh sticks for a few minutes, the flow from the weir taking our “straws” under the bridge arch and off downstream.

20150906-56_Lathkill Dale Rugged Weir Waterfall

The view downstream is lovely too, albeit a little more open with a water/flower meadow on the right bank, the river gently arching through the landscape with the heavily wooded steep flank of the valley rising directly above. The many varieties of 20150906-58_Lathkill Dale Summerhouse Arboretum-esquetrees give the feeling of an arboretum or tree garden and that feeling is enhanced by a small summer house nestled at the bottom of the slope. Enough of waxing lyrical, we again had to drag ourselves away from a beautiful place, and retraced our steps back to the path just below Raper Lodge. I here gave two options to my friends …

• Straight on up the minor road, to then take minor roads directly into Youlgreave village (the shortest option)
• Or ….. Turn left onto an easy path to continue down Lathkill Dale and then up some of Bradford Dale before rising into Youlgreave (the slightly longer option by about ¾ of a mile)

20150906-59_Squeeze Stile_Lathkill DaleMy friends chose the longer option, which suited me as I like the walk across a series of grassy fields separated by dry stone walls and squeeze stiles, running more or less parallel with the river. Lathkill Dale was now much wider than at any point before, a complete contrast to the upper reaches of the gorge walked through this morning. It’s still lovely in a gentler kind of way and we soon reached a minor road at the very small village of Alport; the groupings of attractive stone cottages little more than a hamlet really.

20150906-60_Alport_Lathkill Dale + Bradford Dale

20150906-61_River Lathkill_AlportThe River Lathkill here crosses under the road, tumbles down a little cascade and joins the River Bradford. A red telephone box stands sentinel here, but as an example of how modern times have all but removed the need for public land-lines, the phone itself has gone; to be replaced with a defibrillator unit. A good way especially in rural places, to add a self-help unit in medical emergencies and at the same time maintain a truly iconic piece of British design – The humble traditional telephone box.

Where the river crosses under the road, the path crosses straight over bending slightly right dropping a little to reach and then cross over the River Bradford. We’d now left Lathkill Dale and entered Bradford Dale near a farm; the farm on the northern side of the stream, us on the opposite southern side of the river. The easy path/farm track 20150906-63_Heron_Bradford Daleheads upstream adjacent to the river with gentle water meadows and small limestone outcrops/cliffs.

I’ve seen water voles, kingfishers, dippers and herons here in the past, and today we were lucky enough to see a heron stood in the stream near a small stone footbridge where we stopped for the obligatory group photo’s – there’s something about a bridge that shouts “group photo required” … similar to reaching a trig-point on top of a hill.

20150906-62_Walking Friends_Stone Bridge_Bradford Dale

The path crosses Mawstone Lane and continues on, next to the small river, but now on the northern bank where the stream is punctuated by a series of small weirs. These 20150906-66_River Bradford_Bradford Dale_Below YoulgreaveI believe are designed to aerate the water, and form small pools to encourage a good habitat for trout. Further up the valley towards Middleton the weirs become more like mini dams, the pools becoming larger and deeper and obviously support much larger fish. However, we weren’t destined to see these pools 20150906-67_Across Bradford to Bleakley Plantation from Youlgreavetoday because soon after crossing the last minor road, a path cuts up the valley side to enter Youlgreave Village, the rise affording some super views back over Bradford Dale to the hills to the south. The path after joining a side road, emerges into the village at a road. Turning right would take you into the “heart” of Youlgreave, including a square 20150906-68_Youlgreave Villagetowered Church, two pubs, and an impressively large circular water storage device opposite the Youth Hostel (in the old CO-OP building). However, we turned left, passing out of the village at Coldwell End to reach our car-park and our cars.

A super day, good company, great weather, fantastic varied scenery and a good day was had by all. I’d do it all again tomorrow without hesitation – but maybe in the other direction.

A Note about heights climbed :-
The following figures are approx. only (estimated by reading contours on my map) and don’t take into consideration the distance taken to cover the height differences and therefore gradients, but it gives an indication of the heights gained during the walk. The steepest single climb would be the section out of Kirk Dale. I’ve ignored the down bits because I don’t think there was anything of particular difficulty, the steepest bit being on the zig-zaggy road at Over Haddon, immediately after the tea shop.

• Youlgreave to Calling Low = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Junction of Cales Dale/Lathkill Dale to Monyash = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Monyash (at start of Horse Lane) to Magpie Mine = approx. 65m (213 ft)
• Kirk Dale to Magshaw Mine area = approx. 40m (131 ft)
• Bradford Dale to Youlgreave = approx. 35m (115 ft)

As the Magpie Mine is about half way round (roughly speaking), you can see most of the ascents are in the first half of the walk, which means the second half is mostly descent. The ground was mostly sound, easy underfoot; my memory maybe failing me, but I can’t remember a single ploughed field or any particularly muddy areas. Obviously, time of year and weather conditions could affect this though.

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.


20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of post 2 of 2

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

20150906-16_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill DaleSummary :

A clockwise circular walk, in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

An Apology :-
Firstly, I really need to apologise for the extreme delay for taking soooooo very long to get Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4around to writing this post, following up on my last public post in September 2015 ! …. The reasons are complex and really, you don’t need to know the ins and outs and you probably wouldn’t be that interested anyway, as it’s nothing to do with walking …. But hey, as the cliché says “better late than never”; so, I’ve finally got around to typing this up and I felt it would be sensible to carry on where I left off and complete my scribblings about the Youlgreave Walk that I’d left hanging as just potential routes.

As it happens, it was potential route-4 that we ended up doing on a simply fantastic day of walking.

Who With :-
As a small group of walking friends and (at the time) members of The Coventry CHA 20150906-06_Limestone Way near Calling Lowrambling Club, once a month we would do a walk a bit more strenuous than the normal programme of Sunday walks … It was called the A+ walk, although that’s maybe rather arbitrary compared to other walking clubs. A+ just meant a tad harder than the other walks on the programme, giving the opportunity of :

• Starting earlier/finishing later,
• Travelling further afield,
• Walking further,
• Potentially more strenuous ups and downs,
• and maybe over rougher terrain,
• Without meeting the coach at lunch time,
• Or …. a combination of all of these.

Instead of using the normal coach from Coventry City Centre, we’d use our own cars, arranging lifts amongst ourselves and meeting at a pre-arranged place and time. Bringing this up-to-date (2017), we A+ers still meet and walk together, but no longer under the umbrella of the CHA club.

A Little Preamble :-
The walk on this day was due to be led by one gent’, I think he’d planned it to be in Staffordshire somewhere, but, unfortunately, due to a knee injury, he had to pull out … 20150906-20_Looking down upper reaches of Lathkill Daleleaving a void to be filled. So, I found myself volunteering to lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular route somewhere in the White Peak Area, straight off the map, without the need to pioneer/reconnoitre, given I’ve done many walks up there over the years.

Please see my earlier post for the potential routes I’d worked out based on the fantastic area around Lathkill Dale, a place I think is simply beautiful and encapsulates so much of what “The White Peak” has to offer the discerning walker. I chose to meet at a small car-park just outside Youlgreave, to the west of the village near Coldwell End, on a minor road to Middleton …. From memory, I’m sure it was free for the day, and there was a small toilet block.

The 1st Half of the Walk :-
Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.
20150906-01b_Looking over Bradford Dale nr MiddletonAfter congregating, donning boots and rucksacks we set off in a westerly direction on the aforementioned road towards Middleton, with brill’ views over the wooded Bradford Dale on our lef. We then branched right where the road splits, to rise steadily ignoring a footpath just before a bend, instead following the road round to the left and then picking up a path (Limestone Way) on the right 20150906-02_Limestone Way above Bradford Daleheading diagonally upwards across a field towards a small area of woodland. Passing through the wood very quickly, the path still rising swung right to head in a more northerly direction to meet Moor Lane, another minor road, at a car-park. This was one of the car-parks I’d considered as a starting point but discounted on the grounds of cost, but I guess charges could be subject to change in the future.

20150906-03_On The Limestone Way (Youlgreave Area)Turning left on the minor road quickly brought us to a junction with another road (Back Lane) which we basically crossed straight over to continue on The Limestone Way across grassy fields, bounded by the typical drystone walls of this part of the world. The path was still rising, but with the gradient now much reduced compared to earlier, allowing us to stride out somewhat, chatting happily amongst ourselves on what was turning out to be a beautiful day with blue skies, high wispy clouds and a light breeze, perfect walking weather!

20150906-04_Handsome Horned CattleIn the corner of one field we met a rather handsome horned cow, sat apparently enjoying the autumn sunshine. We walked by, crossing the nearby stile into the next field without it batting an eye-lid. Carrying on, we passed through another small wood whilst skirting around Calling Low farmstead, where I was taken by the quality of the filtered light and vibrancy of some mosses obviously loving the secluded damp conditions.

20150906-07_Moss + Woods - Playing with Focus + Bokeh

20150906-08_Descent into Cales DaleThe path from here cut across another three or four fields, now with a gentle downhill gradient and then steepening slightly to meet another line of woodland. The path then became very steep for a very short way, down a set of steps, descending into Cales Dale.

An option here was to climb straight out the other side of the valley (on The Limestone Way), but I’d chosen to turn right, heading downwards (generally northwards) in the valley bottom to soon emerge, via a wooden footbridge over The River Lathkill, into the more open and far larger and impressive Lathkill Dale with its limestone crags and cliffs, scree, grassy slopes, scrub and stands of trees along the cliff tops. I just love this valley and never tire of revisiting again and again.

20150906-09_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-10_Footbridge Junction of Cales Dale into Lathkill Dale

20150906-15_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-18_Peacock Butterfly with Hoverfly_Lathkill Dale

Now, if you wanted a shorter walk, you could turn right here and head east towards Over Haddon, but in my humble opinion, you’d be missing possibly the best part of Lathkill Dale, the top quarter is superb. Heading up the valley with crag-lines above, the river begins to peter out eventually disappearing at a cave in the valley side. We stopped near here for a bit of a break, where I spent a little time chasing a Peacock Butterfly as it flitted from thistle flower to thistle flower. Eventually, when I got a couple of shots, it ended up I’d captured a hoverfly at the same time.

20150906-19_Upper reaches of Lathkill DaleHere-abouts and moving on, the valley sides close in becoming more gorge like and the path becomes rockier and rises a little more steeply, especially where Ricklow Dale branches off to the right. There is a path that heads up Ricklow Dale, but we stayed left, remaining in Lathkill Dale, to emerge into more open country, the valley now shallower with grassy slopes and a broad grassy path to follow.

20150906-23_Wide Inviting Path - Lathkill DaleAfter the rocky gorge, we could fairly bound along (bit of an exaggeration, but hey, gotta be able to stretch the imagination sometimes). The paths meets the B5055 road, just to the east of Monyash village where there are often cars parked by the side of the road and there is a small toilet block. Almost directly opposite, on the other side of the road, the path continues but the now very shallow valley is now known as Bagshaw Dale and skirts around to the north of Monyash.

20150906-24_MonyashHowever, if you did this, you’d miss out on the charms of the village itself, and having done both in the past, I far prefer heading up the road into the village, so that’s what we did this time. The other advantage of doing this, is there’s a pub (The Bulls Head) and right next door, a café (The Old Smithy) both of which I’ve enjoyed using several times in the past. Today, it was the cafés turn to gain our business, ice creams being a favourite choice and we sat in the sun on the village green near the old stone cross. The establishments are popular with walkers, cyclists, bikers and visitors in cars. such is the draw of this quintessentially English village with its stone buildings clad with climbers, a spired church, cottage gardens and the village green with mature trees, stone cross, memorial and benches to rest on – Just a pretty place to tarry a while.

20150906-25_Cinqifolia Clad Stone Frontage - Monyash

20150906-26b_Monyash Village Cross

20150906-28_Side by Side_Monyash Tea Shop and Pub

I’ve heard the village pronounced as Money-Ash/Munny-ash, Moan-ee-Ash and Mon-ee-Ash, I don’t know why but I’ve always favoured the first of these; perhaps I’m wrong, but whichever it is, the village dates back centuries as indicated by the plaque associated with the village cross which states: –

“The village cross dates from circa 1340 when the village was granted a charter to hold a weekly market on a Tuesday and a three day fair to celebrate the festival of Holy Trinity. It is likely the cross itself was made of wood and mounted on top of the stone shaft. The circular holes in the base are where the lead miners tested their drills after sharpening at the smithy”.

20150906-27_Monyash Village CrossIt seems the defacing of public artefacts is nothing new. If this was done now-a-days I’m sure there’d be outrage, but this “vandalism” is now of historical interest.

Despite how good it felt sat on the green in the sun, we needed to raise ourselves and get our legs moving again, so, heading on from the café (westwards on Church Street) for a very short distance we turned right into Chapel Street, to head north staying on the right hand side of the road. At this point the route passes onto the other side of the dual sided map, but don’t bother re-arranging the sheet as the road soon re-emerges back onto the side of the map we’d been on so far, and we’d now gone as far west as this walk reaches. In fact, after a few hundred yards, we soon turned right 20150906-29_Bagshaw Daleagain, this time into Horse Lane, starting the big loop back to our start point. There are two footpaths near this road interchange, one heading up-hill northwards (not for us today) and the other heading off to the right into a grassy shallow valley. This is the top of Bagshaw Dale and is where we’d have emerged had we not opted to head into Monyash at the head of Lathkill Dale. This path was also not for us today. Instead we continued up Horse lane. Although on tarmac (which I try to avoid where practical) the views around us, and especially behind us, were superb, typical White Peak scenery of vibrant 20150906-30_Horse Lane looking over Monyashgreen grassy pastures bounded by limestone drystone walls, a smattering of lone trees and larger stands of woodland interspersed with farmsteads – Just lovely!

After less than half a mile, another path branches off on the left heading up hill (not steep) across the middle of a field. There now followed a series of walls/small fields the path rising in a roughly north easterly direction to reach and then cross through a long thin line of woodland (Hard Rake Plantation). Two more small fields later brought us to another minor road (might be called Flagg Lane ?). A turn to the right along the lane, a bear right again where Johnson Lane joins at a T-junction and then another couple of hundred yards along the road brought us to where the path leaves the tarmac to go cross country again. The terrain here is somewhat rougher and churned up indicating old industry – Lead mining. A few more fields and we reached our next major landmark, The Magpie Mine, with its chimneys, semi-ruined buildings and old winding gear structure. A group is working to preserve the site as a glimpse into the past and I bought a guide booklet as we passed by.

20150906-32_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)The mine area is well worth a little time to explore and it’s fortunate that a number of footpaths converge here from several directions. I think this is a great place for a lunch stop and it was here many years ago now, that I chatted to (and shared my packed lunch with) a young lady I’d met that day for the first time. This was during another walk I was leading, for The Coventry Youth Hostel Local Group, (now renamed The Coventry Outdoor Group). That young lady is now my lovely wife of over 20 years and brill’ Mum to 20150906-36_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)our two kids. Back then we were staying in Bakewell Youth Hostel and it’s another case of YHA standing not just for Youth Hostel Association but also Your Husband Assured. Therefore, The Magpie Mine carries a special place in my heart and always will do! At that moment in time, all those years ago, it never remotely occurred to me I’d be walking through the very same place about half way round a 12 mile walk with my son, but that’s exactly what happened.

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
As this write up seems to be getting reasonably long, I think it might be best if I continue on a second post, so for now I’ll say good-bye, and hope you pick up again in a moment or two at “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)”

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.

20150906_Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk

20150906_Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk

1st sunday of the month coming up, so walk day with the Coventry CHA A+’ers/walking friends.

Was due to be led by one gent’ who due to recurrence of a knee injury has had to pull out … leaving a void to be filled. Well earlier this week I found myself sending an email saying I’d lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular somewhere in the White Peak Area, given I’ve done a fair few walks up there over the years.

My first idea was to use the car-park in Over Haddon as the starting point, or  maybe Moor lane Car-park a little nearer Youlgreave (or Youlgrave depending on what you’re reading) but both of these have charges that I felt were just too exhorbitent to cover for a day’s walking (especially as there could be 3 or 4 cars to pay for!).

I therefore switched my potential starting point to Youlgreave itself, which I think has a free car-park and maybe even has toilets. Being in the middle of The Peak District, surrounded by a net-work of footpaths and having both Bradford Dale and Lathkill Dale in very near proximity this is where I settled on.

My citeria was : Approx 10-12 miles, to include a dale or two, some high open land to get some views and a degree of hillyness without being overly strenuous and to try and find something else of interest along the way, such as a village, old mine workings, woods, etc.

I then poured over my OS Explorer Map (1:25,000 scale, no.OL24) to find a route tht I felt fitted, mapping the potential  routes on the “Walkjogrun” website to find lengths … and I came up with 5x variants and the links follow below :

Potential Walk-1 …. 13.5 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 1

Potential Walk-2 …. 12.4 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 2

Potential Walk-3 …. 11.1 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 3

Potential Walk-4 …. 11.8 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4

Potential Walk-5 …. 9.6 Miles

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 5

And there you have it …. Favourite at the moment is walk-3, but with the option of making it route-4 right at the end by adding an extra little bit at the bottom end of Lathkill Dale/Allport village/Bradford Dale.  now all we need to do is arrive in Youlgeave (Youlgrave) at about 10-am and hope that the current weather forecast is right.

  • Dry, settled weather into the new week, and feeling pleasant in sunnier spells, but often large amounts of cloud with winds falling light. Chance of fog Monday and Tuesday morning.



20150405_Great Witley_Clifton Upon Teme_Circular Walk

20150405_Great Witley_Woodbury Hill_Teme Valley_Clifton Upon Teme_Circular Walk

When : 5th April 2015
Who : 11 members of the Coventry CHA Rambling Club (including me).
Where : Great Witley, Worcestershire
Start and End Point : SO,753,663
Distance : Approx 11.75 miles ( 19 km)
Significant Heights : 1,805 ft up and 1,560 ft down … details at the end, after the text.
Maps : 1:25000 O.S. Explorer Map No. 204 Worcester & Droitwich Spa.

20150405_A Hilly Teme Valley Walk

Waking Route mapped out on “WalkJogRun”

Summary : A strenuous (at least for me) circular walk in the hills either side of The River Teme a good few miles to the west of Droitwich Spa. Starting at Great Witley ; over Woodbury Hill ; Worcestershire Way over the ridge of Rodge Hill/Pudford Hill ; Across the River Teme at Ham Bridge ; Rise up to Clifton Upon Teme ; Down and over The Teme again at New Mill Bridge ; and then a final climb back over the ridge before dropping back to Great Witley to finish.

I’m a member of The Coventry CHA Rambling Club and this walk was one from the Sunday A+ walks programme. These “A+” walks take place on the first Sunday of the month. If you’d like to know a little more about The Cov-CHA Rambling club, please see my previous blog-post or for more details please go to their web-site.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk (Me striding out)

I would normally now give a link to an extensive set of photo’s I’d taken during the walk, on my photostream on Flickr. But, I was very annoyed with myself, for, when I took my camera out for the first photo of the day, I found I hadn’t inserted the SD card (it was still in my computer at home, coz I’d been downloading photo’s the night before).

This became doubly annoying as the walk took in some absolutely beautiful scenery that I’d never walked through before … and … it turned out to be the best day’s weather of the year so far, a perfect spring day for a good walk and for taking photo’s … Grrrrr …

However, a couple of my friends in the party have shared a few pic’s of their own with me and, with their permissions, I’ve been able to attach them to the post, along with some “generic” non-specific images of my own and I hope these make for an interesting post for you.

Many thanks to Gerry and John for use of their images.

I’d arranged to share a lift with a couple of ladies that were going on the walk; the meeting time in Coventry based on some details emailed out by the walks leader. I won’t mention names in the interest of privacy, but thanks to the lady who drove, it was very much appreciated. We were the first of three cars to arrive at the starting point, a large car park just to the side of The Hundred House Inn at Great Witley in Worcestershire, on the A443 road between Droitwich Spa and Tenbury Wells. The impressive grade-2 listed building looked decidedly closed and tired (writing in Apr-2015) and a quick search on the web suggests it may have been that way since 2013. Anyway, that’s where we parked.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Ploughed Field Crossing

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Ploughed Field Crossing

Once we’d all gathered, donned boots and adjusted walking poles to desired lengths, we set off in a southerly direction, crossing the main road with care because there was virtually no road-side verge in front of the stile on the other side. As with all stile crossings, the party quickly started to string-out somewhat. This wasn’t helped in that, once over the stile, we were greeted by a wide, very rough-ploughed field. The path hadn’t been re-instigated across the churned up lumpy soil, but luckily we’d had a little period of dry weather and the crests of the ploughing were reasonably solid. Even my weight was supported OK!, so progress across to the far side wasn’t too bad (quite frankly it could have been horrible if we’d had recent rain). Hopefully the farmer will put the path back in again (as he is legally supposed to do) in a short time.

20140309-03_Cawston Grange Pussy Willow

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Pussy Willow.

We soon regrouped to cross another couple of fields, eventually reaching a minor road which was reached by means of another stile. This one was particularly rickety, the tread being held in place on its rotting upright by the end point of a single nail. To hinder some more, the whole thing was also at an awkward angle. The slow progress here (even with only eleven of us) meant the group got rather spread out again very rapidly, especially as the onward route was on the road (after turning left over the stile) and the first people over obviously moved relatively quickly on the tarmac surface.

20150405_By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Above The Teme Valley

By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Above The Teme Valley

After just a couple of hundred yards along the road, a side track leaves the road on the right. Bisecting this track and the road is a footpath heading up into some woodland, this was a little indistinct at first and as the walkers at the front started to disappear up into the trees, I held back a touch to ensure the back markers (who’d stopped briefly to shed coats in the warm spring air) knew which way to come. I soon came to realise I should have put my own fleece into my ruck-sack, but I waited until I reached the top of the climb as we all re-grouped again. We’d now completed the first climb (about 460 feet) and it felt good to have raised a little sweat and, as we moved on, it was great to be high above the surrounding countryside spread out in a superb vista – a very English feel of mixed farmland, small fields, hills and valleys, farmsteads and pristine country cottages (well some were more akin to small country mansions). Having made the climb, the path (continuing pretty much southwards) promptly dropped, forcing us to quite rapidly loose most of the height previously gained, passing around Lippitts Farm en-route and then further down to Woodbury Old Farm situated on another minor road.

Our route was left along the road (Camp Lane) skirting high above a deep flooded quarry. It must be something about the minerals in quarry lakes, but the colour of the water was a notably turquoise bluey-green; it was quite beautiful looking down into the man-made bowl with sparkling jewels of light playing on the water below us. After a short distance we took a right hand turn onto another minor road (heading west). We were still dropping in height.

We were now on The Worcestershire Way and after a short distance, we turned left, off the road and onto a footpath (still on The Worcestershire Way) heading up Cockshot Hill and alongside/into another area of woodland (Cockshot Coppice). The climb started steeply, but eased somewhat to become a long ridge of maybe two miles long, including Rodge Hill and Pudford Hill. About half way along the ridge, a perfectly situated bench prompted a short break for some well-earned drinks and nibbles (we’d completed just over 3-miles by now). It was here that a box of Quality Street chocolates were dug out from a ruck-sack and handed around several times. Well it was Easter Sunday, and chocolate is THE order of the day (isn’t it?). Anyway thanks Jan’, very nice thank you very much.

20150405_By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Near The River Teme

By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Near The River Teme

Some lovely wide open views had opened up here out to the west, over The Teme Valley and up to Clifton Upon Teme high up in the distance (the church spire just about visible). Our leader for the day pointed out part of the route we’d be taking to get to the village, our intended lunch stop. This including crossing The Teme via a bridge. Now you’ve probably guessed that as we were high on the east side of the valley, and Clifton was high on the west side we first had quite a drop to negotiate, still following the ridge southwards; as we descended through some more woodland (Callow Coppice) it was just a tad muddy and slippery in places. After a while, we crossed a minor road (Pudford Lane) and then after a couple of fields, crossed what felt like a main road (in fact it was just a B-road; the B4204). After a little drop down some roughish pastureland we arrived right down on the banks of the river.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk_Mistletoe

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk_Mistletoe

I was really enjoying the day and turning north along the river bank added yet another dimension to the walk – Pretty much flat walking! I will admit, it felt good. Although the map shows a path heading diagonally across to Hambridge Farm, the footpath in fact hugs the line of the river to arrive at where the B4204 crosses the river via Ham Bridge. The re-routed path happily prevents the need to do some road walking. We regrouped and crossed the bridge in a neat single file, but not needing to worry about vehicles – there weren’t any around.

Once over the bridge and after a hundred yards or so, we turned right off the B4204 into a minor road, giving way for a sizeable tractor and a large fork-lift truck to rattle past at quite a speed, they certainly weren’t worth arguing with for space on the road. This tarmac section didn’t last long at-all, instead we turned left onto a bridlepath. I seem to remember it was quite muddy here, but extensive muddy sections seem to be more of a a recurring theme on country walks these days, perhaps a sign of global warming and differing rain patterns over recent years?

We now had a long climb ahead of us, rising about 500 feet over about a mile. At first through some woodland (Slashes Coppice), but soon after, exiting the trees into a grassy field still rising steadily following the edge of the woods and then more open farmland. The warm spring sunshine and the exertions needed for the climb raised a sweat across my brow. In fact, it was quite a pull, however it was definitely worth it as the views once again were simply beautiful and a good excuse for a breather-stop every now and again to look behind, back down into the Teme Valley. The gradient eventually started to ease and soon after passing through Church House Farm, we entered Clifton Upon Teme, emerging in the village next to the spired church.

Clifton became our lunch stop, where we given about half-an-hour, it was also pointed out that there was seating in the church yard, and also on the triangular green situated opposite one of the village pubs (The Lion Inn, if memory serves me right about the name). The pub was open, but none of us investigated the charms inside, preferring to sit outside and chat, whilst eating our packed lunches.

IMGP5253_wood anemone

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Wood Anemone

We were now over half-way (around-about 7 miles completed) and we had some easy walking to re-start the walk; at first retracing our steps past the church and out into farmland, picking up a route over/around a few fields (with a degree of muddiness) to arrive at some more woodland hugging the steep western flanks of The Teme Valley between Harrisfield and Top Barn. Our way was directly into the trees on a narrow path descending steeply in a small side valley heading down towards The Teme. We were entering the brilliantly named Withery Hole in Rock Wood. The way was, well, difficult underfoot, being wet, muddy and steep, at times with fallen trees and branches across our route and always just wide enough for one person at a time. Sometimes it was a case of just planting a foot and letting it slide in the clay and leaf mold whilst hoping not to be the first to “come a cropper”. Progress certainly wasn’t as elegant as skiing or ice-skating but kind of felt akin to them both. I was pleased to have carried two walking-poles with me; they’ve paid for themselves on this trip alone.

The descent through Withery Hole [I love that name] was slow going, probably the slowest pace of the whole walk, but the half mile or so was eventually negotiated and, as far as I know, not one person ended up going head over heels or even sat down in the mud. A short section after exiting the trees (more muddy bits) brought us out onto a road which in turn soon brought us to New Mill Bridge and our second crossing of The River Teme.

There was now about ¾ of a mile of flat riverside walking (heading north), sandwiched above the high banks of the river and farmland, some arable and some pasture, walking on the rivers’ flood-plain until heading gently up to Brockhill Court. There was a lovely display of daffodils here, which just kind of fits in with my write up at this point in the walk, but the spring flowers had adorned several places along the walk, along with primroses, and various other pretty starry flowers adding attractive displays along the route. I’m no wild-flower expert but I think these included celandines, wood anemones, miniature violets and such like. I like spring!

20130330-19_Daffodils - Cawston Rugby

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Daffodil – A happy sunny flower.

Having not walked very much during the winter, I was starting to feel the walk now, but a short rest-stop as we re-grouped again, a drink and a chocy-bar revived me somewhat as we chatted. The way ahead (more or less north-eastwards) was over more pastureland rising steadily over quite undulating ground. The way was very indistinct here and I’m sure our leader would have been concentrating hard at this point, but his skill wasn’t at-all in doubt and the way into a small wood was reached dead-on, absolutely perfect!

IMGP5185_wood anemone

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Wood Anemone

If the path just followed was indistinct, then the way in the woods was practically non-existent. But we wound our way onwards, picking our way through, crossing a small stream en-route (the foot-bridge marked on the map no longer crossing the stream, but uselessly placed at a slant up the far bank). The ground was covered with the thick new-growth leaves of wild garlic (not in flower yet) but decidedly smelly when-ever it was stood on or even brushed against. I don’t find the pungent aroma unpleasant, but you certainly wouldn’t want to wear it as a perfume! It’s not a floral scent at all !

We were still generally climbing as we wound on through the woods and this continued after we exited the trees heading upwards (still north-easterly) towards the very aptly named Hillside Farm. In fact this hummocky grassy field was quite awkward to negotiate as we had to climb half left; the slope trying to throw me off to the right added a particular strain on my ankles and knees, again, my walking poles came into their own. Upon reaching the farm we joined a wide well-kept drive still climbing but much easier underfoot and we emerged onto a minor road (Camp Road again as it happens).

We had now increased our height by about 120m (over about a mile) since leaving the riverside. However, the climbing wasn’t over yet, as we crossed the road to pick up a distinct footpath heading up into a narrow strip of woodland. We were now back on The Worcestershire Way, heading almost northwards now and soon found ourselves turning almost back on ourselves as the path made a single hairpin bend and a very short (still upward) section brought us to the top of the hill … Yay, made it ! … In fact, we’d been climbing up the western side of a ridge stretching south from Walsgrove Hill maybe half a mile to the north. Effectively this ridge was the very same one as the one we’d followed during the morning, just separated briefly by the quarry area we’d walked around several hours earlier.

IMGP5199_Celandines (I think)

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Celadine ( at least I think they are Celandine – can anyone confirm please ? )

Our route from here was away from the trees dropping into farmland above Easthope Farm. The views were once again more than worth the exertions of the climb and as we turned north again we could see our finishing area about a mile away. Our way was pretty much contouring/slowly descending now with the views off to our right kind of spoilt by a messy plethora of caravans, motor homes and food & beer trailers scattered across the large field below us.

This turned out to be the Red Marley motor-biking hill climb meet, an annual event each Easter Sunday & Monday. Our path had to cross the actual hill climb route, forcing us to step over the bright tapes marking the course boundaries. I say we had to step over the plastic ribbons, but in fact only the taller of us straddled the tapes, many of the party choosing instead to stoop low to pass underneath, although I didn’t see anyone actually try limbo dancing – Maybe it was a little late in the day for that, or maybe heavy muddy hiking boots don’t lend themselves to limbo (he-he, it’d be fun to watch though). Thankfully, there were no motors heading up the course, making the crossing no problem at-all.

Once over the course route, we made our way down to the buildings of Walsgrove Farm, picking up a surfaced drive dropping past the red brick buildings with two distinctive oast house tops (you’d think we could have been in Kent rather than Worcestershire). We now had a section of road walking along a very minor road (heading north) pretty much on the flat now. The walking was easy but we just had to step aside several times as some rather large camper vans etc., trundled past heading towards the hill climb base-camp. To end the walk, we left the road, headed around a field boundary to emerge out onto the A443 main road almost exactly opposite The Hundred House Inn and our parked cars.

Well, what a superb day of walking.
• A sense of discovering an area previously not walked through.
• Descent spring weather, the best of the year so far.
• Varied and interesting terrain, including :-
• Woods; Farmland, Riverside; Hills; Ascents; Descents; A pretty Village,
• and, Lovely views throughout the day.
And most of all …. The most excellent company to walk with.

The end.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings.
T.T.F.N. Gary

And finally, as promised earlier, the Significant Heights – Both Ups and Downs.
Approx. only; by reading contours on my map.

1. Great Witley to Woodbury Hill.
135m to 275m = Approx 140m ascent (460 ft).

2. Woodbury Hill to Near Flooded Quarry.
275m to 160m = Approx 115m descent (380 ft).

3. Above Flooded Quarry Along the Ridge of Rodge Hill / Pudford Hill.
120m to 200m = Approx 80m ascent (260 ft ).

4. Ridge of Rodge Hill / Pudford Hill to River Teme.
200m to 35m = Approx 165m descent (540 ft).

5. Ham Bridge (Over River teme) up to Clifton Upon Teme.
35m to 190m = Approx 155m ascent (510 ft).

6. Steep Slippery Descent through Withery Hollow.
150m to 40m = Approx 110m descent (360 ft)

7. Brockhill Court over the Ridge of Walsgrove Hill.
45m to 220m = Approx 175m ascent (575 ft).

8. Ridge of Walsgrove Hill to Great Witley.
220m to 135m = Approx 85m descent (280 ft).

Approx total significant ascents = 550m (1,805 ft).
Approx total significant decents = 475m (1,560 ft).

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20150405_Some Info about the Coventry CHA Rambling Club

20150405_Some Info about the Coventry CHA Rambling Club

This is a sort of a pre-amble to my next walks post (Great Witley Circular, Worcestershire) as I think a little bit of back-ground about a walking club I belong to might be a good post to publish first.

20090517-44_Me (Gary Hadden)-CrickhowellNow, I enjoy walking on my own, always have and probably always will …. You can go and stop when you want to; you can go as fast or as slow as you feel; you get a sense of discovery you don’t get when walking with others; a feeling of solitude (not loneliness) is possible and you can get to see wildlife that a larger group would scare off long before you get near them.

Having said that, I met my wife (of nearly 20-years now) in what was the Coventry YHA local group on a walk I was leading in The Peak District (from Over Haddon near the delightful Lathkill Dale). In the last few years, I’ve also been able to enjoy country walks with my son (currently 13 years old), most recently a 10.3 mile circular in the Chatsworth Park/Bakewell area of The Peak District, just a metaphorical stones-throw away from where I met my lovely wife.

However, I’m also a member of The Coventry CHA Rambling Club, which allows walking as part of a larger group. My Mum, Dad, two sisters and I were 20090517-09_Path to Sugar Loafmembers many years ago, I think I first joined in about 1982/1983-ish. In fact Dad and I led many walks for the club, including youth hostel week-ends away.

For several years I stopped going out with the club, mainly due to family and work commitments (young children and homebuilding in particular can take up an enormous amount of time and quite rightly so) but various other interests also took up my time as well. However, in recent times I’ve rejoined the CHA again, the A+ walking programme fitting my needs perfectly at the moment. In fact, last year, my son came out with us, making it three generations of my family having walked with the club.

I think therefore, it’d be worthwhile giving some details about the club itself.

It was founded in 1911, yes, that’s right, NINETEEN-11 … it’s now several years past the club’s centenary celebrations. Being well over one hundred years old, it has survived two world wars and also a huge change in the social make-up of both Coventry, Warwickshire and the whole country. Obviously the club has had to adapt itself over the decades to suit these wider changes. There have also been changes on how to access our beautiful and varied countryside and the infrastructure to reach those places.

20121111-05_Autumn Colours - Between Stanton + Stanway

The club has a large membership of widely differing walking abilities, but with a walks programme to match, to try and suit all needs. The programme can be split down into several “sub-sections”. The following is a précis from the clubs own web-site, if you are looking for a walking group, you may find something in the programme to suit your requirements :-


On summer evenings, approximately 4 miles in length, ending at a Pub for a meal and drink if you want. Cars are used to reach the starting point.


These walks use public transport and are very popular with ramblers who prefer to do only about 4 to 5 miles. These walks are usually held in the West Midlands or Warwickshire Counties, some are within the Coventry City limits.


20090517-48_Coach Pick Up-CrickhowellThese take place on nearly every Sunday in the year, and are coach-based walks. A place needs to be pre-booked on the coach. Areas visited are within an 80 mile radius of Coventry. At lunchtime we meet the coach for a break and pub stop, and in the afternoon, if you do not want to continue the walk, there is usually an option of visiting country towns, garden centres and other places of interest nearby. Sunday walks are usually 4 to 5 miles long in the morning and the same in the afternoon.

20121111-23_Cotswolds Church + Pub - Snowshill


The Club also has several walking weekends a year staying at Youth Hostels and Hotels in England and Wales. The coach leaves Coventry on a Friday evening, enabling the party to enjoy two full days rambling before returning early Sunday evening.

20121111-18_Approaching Snowshill from the West

Most years, The Club arranges walking holidays at home and abroad.


This is the most recent “innovation” within The Club, where the walks take place on the first Sunday of each month. Transport is by car-sharing and involves a smaller party (normally around about a dozen people) and the walks are more strenuous than the usual Sunday coach outings. This can be because of longer walks, more hills, steeper climbs to greater heights or a combination of all these. It often involves travelling further afield as well. Walkers should carry food and drink for the day because walks are not based on having a lunchtime coach/pub stop.

20121111-08_Coventry CHA Rambling Club - In Silhouette

It’s the A+ walkers that I have been walking with over the last few years and there are a core set of people that regularly lead and walk in this friendly group. I personally can’t always make each walk but I certainly enjoy the walks when I can. I intend my next blog-post to be about the A+ walk on 6th April 2015 – Easter Sunday.

Well, I think that just about sums up The Coventry CHA Rambling club, but there are far more details on their web-site, including the current walks programme, contact details, walk and membership costs, etc.,

Maybe I’ll see you on a CHA walk soon.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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.

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.