20180326_Some Extra Bilton Green Crocus Pics

20180326_Some Extra Bilton Green Crocus Pics

…. Just because I can

…. and there were too many for my previous walks diary post “20180326_Cawston to Bilton Green & Back (after knee op’s)

…. so, here they are :-

20180326-23_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-24a_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-26_The George (Pub) Bilton Green - Rugby

20180326-32_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-34_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-35_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)20180326-36a_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-37a_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-37b_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-38_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-39a_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-40a_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-40b_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-41a_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-41b_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

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.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my pic’s …. 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.

20180326_Cawston to Bilton Green & Back (after knee op’s)

20180326_Cawston to Bilton Green & Back (after knee op’s)

When : 26th March 2018
Who : Just me (oh, and my camera and my new metal knees)
Where : Cawston/Bilton to the south west of Rugby Town, Warwickshire

20180326-39b_Bee on Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

Start and End Point : SP470,735 Trussell Way.
Distance : Approx 2.6 miles (4.2 km)
Significant heights : None to speak of.

Maps : There was no point in using a map as this was only a local wander, but, if you want to know, the 1:25,000 OS Explorer map that covers the area is Map No.222 Rugby & Daventry.

Summary : A very little walk in some rare 2018 spring sunshine to stretch my legs after recent knee surgery.

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.

20140202_18_Coombe Country Park -Blue-Tit at the feeding postIf you’ve read my previous post [Coombe Abbey Walk] you’ll know that I’ve recently had surgery giving me two, brand new, half knee replacements (done at the same time), and as part of my recuperation I’ve been trying to get some walking miles “under my belt”, or really “in my legs” trying to get back to some kind of fitness.

Well, the day after the “Coombe Walk”, I mentioned on FB this comment :-

“After my 2.3 miler yesterday, thought a wander down to Mosaic Coffee shop for brunch would be good – So, today my muscles felt like I’d done a 17 miler the day before – Strewth I’ve got some work to do to get back to reasonable fitness levels !!!!!!!!”.

20180326-18_Mosaic Coffee Shop Main Street Bilton RugbyThat little walk to the lovely little coffee shop, on the 23rd March, was only ¾ mile, but was probably needed, just to loosen the muscles up a tad. So, to keep up the effort, I decided another local walk was needed and this time I decided a little further would be in order.

Now, the weather of late winter and early spring 2018 had been particularly poor, with periods of snow and ice making going outside a tad hazardous, especially hobbling around with two crutches, and even when there was no snow and ice, it was cold and wet and grey and miserable; Pretty much trapping me indoors and limiting me to just wandering around a supermarket’s aisles – Not very inspiring at the best of times. So, when the weather finally 20180326-26_The George (Pub) Bilton Green - Rugbyrelented, and a drop of sunshine decided to make an appearance, I decided a “stroll” down to the local village of Bilton would be a good thing to try.

I made Bilton Green the focal point of the walk, as it was covered in its annual display of crocuses and I thought trying to get a few photos would be a good motivator. It’s also a perfectly pleasant walk through the Cawston Grange estate, especially the green spaces that have been provided as part of the housing development. The area is becoming more mature now, trees and shrubs reaching a decent size, softening the hard edges of roads and houses.

20180420-H_Trussell Way (Looking Towards Cawston Grange Drive)_XperiaAs several of my past walks diaries have used Trussell Way as a start point, I’ll once again describe starting on Trussell Way on the outskirts of the estate. Until recently this was a “dead-end”, with direct access onto the perimeter path and there was roadside parking that wouldn’t have infringed too much on local residents. However, the dead-end has recently been removed; the road now pushing further on into what was farmland and is now being built on by Mssrs William Davis enlarging the housing estate further south. There are currently restrictions on the house builders parking here, but I guess the restrictions will only be relatively temporary.

To describe getting to the start-point:-

Leave Cawston Grange Drive at an island, into Trussell Way, pass the side roads of Cave Close (on the right) and Durrell Drive (on the left), and then soon after, Trussell Way crosses a grassy area, just before it starts to rise again into the new housing being built.

20180420-G2_Trussell Way (was dead end - Now extended southwards)_Anotated

20180420-I_Cawston Grange Perimeter PathThe grassy strip includes the current perimeter cinder path, which I picked up gently rising in a south easterly direction, to pass through a tall hedge line, the small trees forming an inviting arch over the path, to emerge into a narrower strip of greenery with the established houses of Durrell Drive on my left and new housing going up behind trees/hedging/shrubbery on my right. Continuing on, the path flattens out and much of the existing housing is shielded by shrubs (red stemmed cornus predominantly) maintaining a rural feel, although I guess that will wane as 20180326-01_Cawston Grange Perimeter Paththe new housing goes up and becomes lived in. I particularly like the shapes some conifer trees made here against the pale blue sky in the weak sunshine.


20180326-02_Conifer needles

20180326-03_Sunlight through the conifer branches

20180326-04_Conifer branches - Cawston Perimeter Path

At the top of the path, after passing through another hedge line, a tarmac path (walking and cycleway) is reached in front of a stand of large trees and undergrowth separating the path from the B4642 Coventry Road (was the A4071 until a few years ago).

20180326-05_Cawston Grange Perimeter PathIncidentally, the anti-vehicle post here was adorned with a woolly hat, I don’t know if it had been lost or if someone had taken pity on the metal post and decided it needed warming up during the recent chilly weather.

Anyway, that’s beside the point really, because, I was to turn left here, but immediately stopped to take a few photos of some cheery daffodils/narcissi that come up here every year. It wasn’t the best display I’ve seen since they were planted, but I guess that might be down to the comings and goings of all the building works happening nearby, or maybe just down to the awful winter weather.

20180326-06_Daffodils - Cawston RugbyGetting low enough to take the pic’s wasn’t terribly easy as my knees didn’t want to bend very far, and I certainly couldn’t kneel down (far too painful !), so it was a case of spreading my feet as far as I dared, bending over as far as possible, using the live view rotatable screen on my camera and at full stretch trying to keep the camera as still as I could. Being 6’4”plus, I must have looked like some kind of strange giraffe trying to take a drink in that position. I must admit most pics failed due to camera shake, but some I think look Okish.

20180326-08_Daffodils - Cawston Rugby20180326-09_Daffodils - Cawston RugbyOnce I’d managed to stand upright again and just a few paces further on, the combined path/cycleway reaches Cawston Grange Drive, which I crossed straight over to a “Welcome to the Parish of CAWSTON” brick-built planter 20180326-10_Welcome to Cawston Grangeand sign. To my mind an attractive way to say hello to the estate. However, I have heard a dissenting voice from residents of what could be described as “old Cawston” down the Coventry Road, who feel the sign should be further down towards the Brickhouse Spinney area and so include them in the welcoming of visitors; either that or it was suggested the sign ought to read welcome to Cawston Grange Estate. Looking at the parish boundary map, they do have a teeny-weeny bit of a point. Whatever the politics, personally I have no problems with the wording or the sighting of the sign, which is backed by a small stand of trees and shrubs, an attractive way to welcome visitors to the area.

20180326-11_Silver Birch (Betula) - Cawston GrangeAnyway, I passed to the left of the signage and the stand of trees to pick up a wide tarmac footpath heading across a green with a large Christmas Tree to my right [that gets lit up in the winter each year], and a line of individual trees just to the left, including some quite mature cherry trees that were just waiting for warmer times to burst into flower. They look great when they do, albeit for a very short time, and the cherries taste good later in the year too. The tarmac path follows the line of an official right of way (a bridle track) which dates way, way back, to long before the idea of a housing estate here had probably ever been dreamt up.

20180326-12_Green Space + The Bridle Way - CawstonAfter a short stretch down the tarmac bridle way, I reached and crossed Turchil Road passing a small fenced off play area designed for younger kids. This is a roughly triangular space surrounded by grass and trees softening the hard edges of the adjacent houses. All in all, a quite attractive estate green space. I particularly liked some catkins and cones hanging from a tree against the perfect early spring sky-blue sky; even local to home it’s worth looking for the little details that bring a little happiness – after-all, who doesn’t like spring catkins?

20180326-14_Catkins + Cones - Cawston

20180326-13_Catkins by the Bridle Path - CawstonThe next bit I’m gonna skip over quite quickly as I continued on, on the tarmac path, reaching Gerard Road where I then turned right, passed the small group of shops (A Chippy, Chinese Take-Away, Hair and Beauty Salon and a local CO-OP store), reaching and then crossing directly over Calvestone Road, across a small green with a few 20180326-15_Path beside the big playing field - Cawstontrees to pick up another tarmac path that soon emerges into a wide open “sports” field.

I say sports field but in reality, there’s only one “goal post” for anyone to use, but it is a large expanse of flat grassland. The path follows the edge of the field with a boundary fence separating the public space from Bilton School’s sports/playing fields along with a series of trees and large shrub hedging just coming into flower – I think probably Blackthorn (Sloe), the pretty slightly off-white petalled flowers with yellow centres indicating warmer times were on their way, hopefully a good spring being just around the corner.

20180326-16a_Spring Flowers (Blackthorn I think)

20180326-16b_Spring Flowers (Blackthorn I think)

20180326-16c_Spring Flowers (Blackthorn I think)

20180326-17_Mosaic Coffee Shop Main Street Bilton RugbyAgain, trying to stay a little brief, the path emerges onto the Coventry Road (B4642) where I crossed to the opposite side, turned left and walked into Bilton Village where the road continues as the B4642 but under the name of Main Street. Bilton itself is to me an unassuming place with a pleasant mix of housing (from old to brand spanking new), a selection of shops (including a Tesco Express and a CO-OP), some small businesses, a doctors surgery, Two Pubs (The Black Horse and The George), a butchers, a specialist cheese shop, several take-away outlets, four churches (Bilton Evangelical, Bilton Methodist, Sacred Heart RC, all within shouting distance of each other and at the opposite end of the village is St. Mark’s CofE not reached on this walk). There’s also a small (and free at the time of writing) car park just behind the Tesco store.

20180326-19_Ewart House 1890 + Rose Cottage 1885 Main Street BiltonThe other place I haven’t mentioned above, is Mosaic Coffee Shop/Café, a lovely friendly place that I would have called in to for a coffee or maybe a hot chocolate, but unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays, so wasn’t available today.

Mosaic’s building has a plaque saying it’s called Ewarts House built 1890 and next door is Rose Cottage built 1885. If only the red brick walls could speak of all the changes they’ve seen over the last 130 years or so.

20180326-20_Stocks - Bilton GreenTalking of history, outside the CO-OP is a set of wheeled stocks kept safely behind a set of be-spiked metal railings and then a short distance away in the middle of the Triangular Green (bounded by roads) is the old Butter Cross. I say cross, but the top half is now long gone leaving just the heavy tiered stone base and bottom stump of the cross itself. The monument is also kept safe inside metal railings also adorned with spikes and with crosses at each corner. I wonder how many people even notice it’s there as they negotiate this busy junction of roads controlled by traffic lights and overlooked by the white-washed frontage of The George pub across the road.

20180326-21_Stocks - Bilton Green

20180326-25_Bilton Green - Butter Cross - The George (Pub) - Rugby

20180326-27_Fence Railings Around the Butter Cross - Bilton Green

20180326-28_Fence Railings Cross - Butter Cross - Bilton Green20180326-29_Fence Railings Cross - Butter Cross - Bilton Green20180326-30_Fence Railings - Spikes - Butter Cross - Bilton Green20180326-22_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)It was this area of “The Green” that was my motivation for the walk, as each spring the ground is briefly bedecked in the whites, purples and yellows of crocuses.

It really is quite special, especially with the sun shining and it was well worth pushing my knees to reach here for a closer lingering look, rather than a passing glance from the car window.

Anyway,I shot off far too many pic’s (again!) …. there really isn’t a shot to take that couldn’t be described as a cliché in one way or another, but hey, I don’t care.

20180326-24b_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)Crocuses are cheery, happy little flowers and I enjoyed trying to capture their character as best I could, and I make no apologies for the images contained here.

I particularly enjoyed watching a few bees attracted to the flowers, braving the chill in the air despite the early season sunshine being quite pleasant, especially compared to some of the sub-zero temperatures we‘d been experiencing not long before.


20180326-31_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-33_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)

20180326-36a_Crocuses - Bilton Green (Rugby)My knees were feeling the strain somewhat, so I took time out to sit on a bench just inside the nearby Assheton Recreation Ground for a bit of rest and recuperation before thinking about the walk home. I must admit it made me feel just a little sad that a slow, flat, easy walk for little more than a mile had resulted in having to sit and rest because of pain and tiredness. I guess having to overcome self-doubt about whether it was right to have such surgery is just as important as working the physical side of building muscles and stretching tendons.

20180326-42_Perimeter Path beside the big playing field - CawstonSorry, that got a little downbeat there, but no, I picked myself up, brushed myself down and gave myself a bit of a talking to, re-motivating myself and re-cajoled my knees to straighten-up as much as possible again and carry me back down Main Street, re-passing all the previously mentioned places en-route, and re-crossing the Coventry Road back into the large sports field effectively separating Cawston from Bilton. Instead of heading back up the boundary to Bilton School, I turned left following the tarmac path running parallel to the Coventry Road separated by a mature hedge.

20180326-43_Perimeter Path beside the big playing field - CawstonThe path here is bounded by a line of trees which will in time become an avenue to walk down. Also here several stands of trees/shrub planting are now growing to be quite sizeable and break up the view across the large field. I like this path – in fact I like living on our housing estate, and it’s not only the physical surroundings, it’s the people too. Invariably most people I pass on these paths will nod, smile or say hello – I guess it’s called community.

20180326-44_Perimeter Path beside the big playing field - Cawston

Anyway, at the end of the path, it was back into streets, where I followed Kalfs Close left into Gold Avenue and left onto Calvestone Road crossing over to meet Cawston Grange Drive back at the stand of silver birch trees and the brick “welcome to Cawston” planter/sign.

20180326-45_Silver Birch (Betula) - Cawston Grange

20180326-47_Daffodil - Cawston RugbyIt was now back to re-following my earlier steps, crossing Cawston Grange Drive, passing the daffs (more pic’s taken), then right onto the perimeter path down to Trussell Way and the start point and then back to home.

20180326-46_Daffodil - Cawston Rugby20180326-01_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path

20180420-I_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path

20180420-G1_Trussell Way (was dead end - Now extended southwards)_XperiaNot quite 2½ miles but I was pretty much cream-crackered, but really very satisfied that I’d managed it, although the amount of post exercise discomfort was yet to kick in. But that’s why they supply prescription strength drugs! …. The walk also had the knock-on effect of giving me something to occupy my mind whilst in enforced rest – namely reviewing, deleting and editing my pic’s.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

PS. I’ve now finished and published the above diary in July 2018, some 4-months after I did the walk ….. and I’m now back at work and, amongst other walks, I’ve completed a 12 miler up in the White Peak, and a nearly 14-miler locally. Knees seem to be holding up. When I find time I’ll have to write them up/publish as well.


Route Maps – Problems Not My Fault

Hi everyone,

For some years now, I have been using a web-site called WalkJogRun to map my walking routes. Once created I could embed the WalkJogRun URL into my blog posts. The resulting thumb-nail image on my blog page could then be clicked on, which would launch full size in the WalkJogRun site and would then be viewable in a more meaningful and readable size on top of google maps.

It was easy and simple to use, there were very many routes mapped by lots of users, which was great for new ideas.

Well, from spring I was getting intermittent accessibility/poor user interfacing and then I couldn’t open/create any routes against my account. Even more recently I hadn’t even been able to launch the WJR web-site, their FB pages or anything else.

After some more digging, I’ve now read that WJR have, in effect, folded (during May sometime apparently), the web-site has been shut-down and with it all the routes I’d mapped and created links to. There was no notification from WJR in the run up to this happening or any opportunity for them to let me have the files I’d created.

Therefore, unfortunately, all the maps you can see on my blog pages will no longer launch as larger sizes. My apologies if this causes any inconvenience, but I assure you I wish it wasn’t like this and I’ve now got to search around for an alternative. I hope the remaining thumb-nail images, combined with my words are enough to describe my route and be follow-able on the associated OS maps I list in the walk descriptions/title blocks.

Feeling sad at the demise of WJR.

T.T.F.N. Gary


20180322_Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk, near Coventry

20180322_Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk, near Coventry

When : 22nd March 2018
Where : Coombe Abbey Country Park (just outside Coventry, in Warwickshire)
Distance : Approx 2.3 miles (3.7 km)
Significant heights, climbed or descended : None

Maps :
1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 222 Rugby & Daventry
1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 221 Coventry & Warwick
Start and End Point : SP404,795 Main Country Park Car Park (on map 222), although to be fair, you don’t really need a map at-all, and there are leaflets available from the visitor centre and at least one large notice board with a map.

20180322_A Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk (near Coventry)

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.

Some Background Info :-
In a way this little walk, a very gentle wander around our local country park and not even 2½ miles, is, in its own way, quite significant to me.


The Oxford Partial KneeWell, as noted in my previous post, seven weeks ago today (writing on 26th March) I had knee surgery on both my knees (half, partial or Oxford knee replacements whichever term you prefer). I’ve now had several bits of bone cut out and non-existent cartilage replaced with some very clever metal and plastic parts.

It’s no lie that getting back to some sort of normal mobility and reducing pain to a manageable level, whilst at the same time reducing the use of strong opiates, has been a bit of a challenge. The weather hasn’t helped either, with snow & ice and what seems like continuous rain and cold miserable conditions preventing me from getting out and about (even with crutches) as it often just wasn’t safe. But, I’ve done my indoors home exercises, as well as the scheduled physio sessions at the hospital, strengthening and stretching muscles and tendons and working scar tissue. I’ve even borrowed an exercise bike, now taking pride of place in my dining room for ease of use.

Slowly, as I improved, I introduced a wander down the street and back, short trips around the supermarket and a longer walk to the local shops (about a mile round trip). I started off with two crutches, then one (which didn’t work very well as I felt totally unbalanced), and I’ve pretty much discarded both crutches all the time now. That felt brilliant, especially as I could stand tall again and move a little more naturally.

So, back to Coombe Abbey …. This was to be the furthest I’d have walked since the op’s … and … with walking boots on !… and … on slightly rougher ground !… and … I must admit with a slight feeling of trepidation over how my new knees might cope.

The Walk :-
It was a dry day, quite chilly, overcast and grey, some might even say decidedly gloomy, but just about nice enough to venture out a bit further afield as there was no rain forecast. It was the sort 20180322-00_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Car Park Charges (Mar-2018)of day that you wouldn’t want to stop and linger for very long in any one place. So, accompanied by my wife and daughter, we headed the few miles to the east side of Coventry to Coombe Abbey Country Park. We parked up in the car-park (the first car-park off the main drive, not the second car-park which is to service the hotel) making a note of the charges vs times. We decided up to two hours stay would probably be about right which would cost us £2.00, over two hours would cost £3.80 quite a jump to the next time slot of two-four hours.

We started off walking over to the large visitor centre, going down the right-hand side of the large, and to my mind, ugly building (we stayed away from the other side and the rather noisier 20180322-01_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Visitor Centrekiddie’s play area). Just for your info’, if you’re in need, the toilets are down this right-hand side, near the far end of the building. From here we took the wide modern surfaced path down the slope (looking back I think the building still looks rather out of place). The park has recently developed a wildflower meadow off to the left here, but it was the wrong time of year to see anything of note, and off to the right are views across a picnic field to the old abbey buildings, albeit much of the top half has been rebuilt in modern times when it was converted into a hotel (quite a posh one at that!).

20180322-02_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Picnic Fields + Abbey Hotel

20160116-13_Coombe Abbey_Gull_In FlightDropping further down the wide path, brings you to an almost equally wide causeway. To the left is the main lake (Coombe Pool) which has been allowed to naturalize over recent years to become a major attraction for water birds, as opposed to a pleasure boating pool as it was going back to my childhood in the 60s/70s. You’ll find the obligatory mallard ducks, geese and serene snow-white swans, but there were various other sorts of ducks and gulls on show and we caught 20180322-03_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeonsa glimpse of a grebe, albeit briefly, before it vanished under the water.

We didn’t stop long here, just enough time for me to snap a photo of a line of pigeons sat atop a fence and the ornamental stone balustrade (to the right of the causeway) that separates the naturalistic lake from an ornamental pool, with views up to the abbey hotel, where the rectangular pool morphs into a moat around one side of the building.

Once over the causeway, there are several options to take, too numerous to mention here right 20180322-05_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodilsnow, other than to say we turned right, following the path running along-side the ornamental pool heading towards the hotel. There are several benches here, sat in front of a stone wall with various dormant climbing roses just waiting for some spring warmth to burst into life.. The wall itself retains a higher terraced area which we could have chosen to be our route. Towards the far end of the wall I particularly liked a bed of daffodils, their cheery vibrant yellow blooms brightening up the area, even in the grey overcast conditions.20180322-06_Coombe Abbey Country Park - - Daffodils

20180322-07 (20171109)_Coombe Abbey_Xperia XA1

20180322-08b_b+w_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Knot Garden & Abbey HotelWe’d now reached the top end of the ornamental pool and quite close to the abbey’s west frontage and a traditional hedge knot garden. You can enter the garden, for the classic view back down the ornamental pool to the balustrade/causeway and Coombe Pool beyond. Please note that the sun terrace directly in front of the hotel is for paying guests only.

We didn’t bother with the knot garden area 20180322-09_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Griffins or Eagles Stone Statuestoday, instead passing two stone sentinels (stylised eagles/griffins?) stood either side of a set of stone steps. My two fave ladies had made their way up a sloping path here and turned left along another path heading away from the hotel. However, as I’d dropped behind (taking a couple of photos of the daffodils and the griffins) I climbed the steps and headed off across a lawned area, cutting the corner off, as a mini-short cut, re-joining the girls near the “doggy grave stones”.

20180322-11_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Doggy Grave StonesGrowing up we’d been under the assumption that the gravestones marked where the pets were buried, which seems a reasonable assumption, but we learnt a while ago that the actual graves are elsewhere on the estate but the gravestones had been relocated to their current site many years ago. Some more clumps of cheery daff’s enhanced the area here, adding a welcome splash of colour.


20180322-10_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils

20160116-27_Coombe Country Park_Pine Needles RossetteThe path continues on, with private grounds off to the right and to the left, planted on a large raised bank is an arboretum, the area dominated by tall redwoods as well as other conifers and some broad-leaved trees. I just love the soft fibrous texture of the redwoods’ bark, extremely attractive and equally tactile. There are always squirrels to be seen here, obviously attracted by the cones on these conifers. I know grey squirrels are effectively an invasive species having supplanted our native red squirrels, but they are rather cute hopping about on the ground and scurrying up the trees at the slightest hint of danger.

20160116-24_Coombe Country Park_Redwood

20180322-13_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Tall RedwoodsAt the far end of the redwood area, another path joins from the left. Now, the lovely ladies in my life asked how my knees were holding up, especially as I had opted to leave my crutches at home; effectively they were giving me the option to turn left which would very quickly take me back to the causeway and the main pool. I was however feeling OK, so opted to continue on, on the perimeter path to reach “Top Pool”. This is very much smaller than Coombe Pool, and was once the kiddie’s boating pool a long time ago. Again, nature is taking over with reed beds and over-hanging trees. There always seems to be swans here too; the old landing stage now used by the swans rather than pedaloes and rowing boats. Near here is a toilet block (not open all the time) which we passed by on what was now more of a roadway than a path, soon reaching an area where The Smite Brook passes under the path/roadway.

20180322-14_Coombe Abbey Country Park - The Smite Brook Weir

Again, I could have turned left here (over Wrautums Field) to head back towards the causeway, but I was happy to carry on, the path heading out into an area of more naturalistic woodland, somewhat wilder than the walk done so far, and a complete contrast to the hotel/ornamental pool area.

20180322-16_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Buds Waiting for SpringI like it out here, the perimeter path becomes a little more rough and ready, you see fewer people, and somehow, I felt closer to nature; perhaps it was the birdsong all around and occasional glimpse of a blue tit or robin flitting between the branches, or the buds on the otherwise naked trees just starting to open-up. At one point, the path takes a right bend down a little slope and then a left to rise back up again. The path at this point skirts the outer limits of the park grounds, only separated by a line of trees most notably some tall gnarly pines (Scots Pine I think). The view out over the nearby farmland is to a large (quite ugly) building complex. It looks rather like a factory or a warehouse, but is Coventry and Warwickshire’s largest hospital at Walsgrave on the very edge of Coventry.

20140202_18_Coombe Country Park -Blue-Tit at the feeding postThe path reaches the far end of the park, well at least the part of the park with public access. The area of woods straight ahead is set aside as a nature reserve, forcing the path to take a sharp left-hand turn, dropping gently down through the woodland (the inaccessible nature reserve on the right), until it reaches the bird hide. The hide looks out over Coombe Pool, with an area of marshy ground, reeds, etc, and a small clearing with bird-feeders. The main attraction however for many people is, off to the right, an island in the lake which is the home to a sizeable heronry.

Today, it looked like there were a number of people in the hide already, so we turned left on the perimeter path, now following Coombe Pool on our right, at times quite close to the serpentine lake 20180322-18_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Glimpse of the Main Lakewhere it also feels airier where the trees make way for more open ground.

Not far after however, the path re-enters the woods, winding its way onwards a little further away from the lakeside, but where glimpses of the lake can still be had; later the path again gets very close to the lake with views emerging of the causeway and then soon after reaching an arched wooden footbridge over the Smite Brook.

20180322-19_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Bridge over The Smite Brook

20180322-20_Coombe Abbey Country Park - PigeonCrossing the bridge brought us back to near the end of the causeway, and then it was just a case of re-crossing the pool (balustrade rail on our left this time) where I stopped for more pigeon photos. Although not exactly posing, they did seem reasonably happy to oblige me; I think they are completely happy with the proximity of people who cross here, often milling around in their crowds feeding the water birds.


20180322-21_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-22_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-23_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-24_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils + Avenue of TreesI must admit, my knees were now starting to twinge a bit, but a slow wander back up to the visitor centre was negotiated easily enough, and I felt OK enough to have a final little wander taking a few photos of large clumps of daffodils looking fantastic around the base of the trees that form an impressive avenue down the sides of the main drive.



20180322-25_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils + Avenue of Trees

And then, that was that, back to the car, and the drive home – but – calling in at The Old Smithy, a pub in Church Lawford, where we indulged with a spot of lunch in their conservatory, a super way to finish a good morning, and a good test of my new artificial knees.

The afternoon largely consisted of elevating feet and legs, applying ice packs and not much more in a well-tested method to reduce any swelling from the mornings exertions. Sounds easy, but probably one of the hardest parts of my rehabilitation. I hate being laid up inactive, makes me feel just a tad useless. I can’t wait to get back to a degree of normality and ultimately to get back to work and equally important to my wellbeing back onto the hills, valleys, moors, fells and mountains of our great country. In the meantime, though, I’ll suffice with the gentle parks and countryside of Warwickshire.

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.

20180326_Cawston Sunset

20180325-01_Cawston Sky – Rugby – Warwickshire

Photo, just because …. well, just because sunsets are beautiful, especially when the clocks have just gone forward and finally spring time is allowed to begin leaving winter behind (well let’s hope so anyway).

I just love big skies and sunsets – Cliched maybe, but hey what’s wrong with a cliche every now and again?

20180325-01_Cawston Sky - Rugby - Warwickshire

T.T.F.N. Gary

20180205_My Poor Old Knees or Why hill walking is off the menu for quite a while.

20180205_My Poor Old Knees
… or … Why hill walking is off the menu for quite a while.
… or … Why a 1/2 mile walk to the CO-OP & back feels a huge success.
… or … The next chapter starts here.

20111016-26_Me at Hollins Cross (Hope Valley Behind)If you’ve come across and read any of my past walks diaries, you may have noticed that, from time to time, I’ve talked about my poor old knees, including way back in 2011, when I had a double arthroscopy, with key hole surgery on both knees, debriding loose/torn cartilage and cleaning out a load of debris. These op(s), along with steroid injections directly into my knees (three or four times a year since then) have kind of kept me going reasonably OK, until recently.

Last year, after changing to a far more physical job and managing to get a few decent walks done, including a trip to The North York Moors & Coast [in March] and a couple of trips to the great English Lake 20170329-45_Me (Jugger Howe Moor Behind)District [in June and September], where I got up (and down) several fells and a couple of mountains, I was beginning to suffer somewhat, having to endure quite a bit of pain, especially on the downhill bits.

My quarterly steroid injections had certainly been helping, but eventually, following my September trip to the lakes, my last set of injections hardly worked at all and the pain during and after a shift at work was becoming debilitating including keeping me awake at night. So, after a holiday to Zante in October, feeling like an old man hobbling around down to the beach (although sitting around in the autumn sun with a beer or three wasn’t too hard a task) I decided a visit to the Doc’s was needed once again, hoping another scan might be possible, and maybe then a second set of arthroscopy investigations.

The Doc had slightly a different idea however, referring me directly to a consultant at a local Hospital, where in December, after X-rays, I was diagnosed with the insides of both The Oxford Partial Kneeknees now being worn down to “bone-on-bone” with my cartilage having disappeared completely. Not a wonder then that pain had become pretty much a constant and the injections had stopped working. I was offered, right there and then, “Bilateral Oxford Knee Replacements” otherwise known as “Half Knee Replacements”, where they would cut out my damaged bones and insert metal plates and plastic bearing strips. Because I was adjudged to be “relatively young, not over-weight, generally heathy and fit, and obviously self-motivated” it was recommended they’d do both knees at the same time.


And that has indeed happened, the op’s being done early last month (February 2018). The physio’s came in and started working on me the day after …. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even pick my legs up off the bed!!! That felt very disheartening, but, with pain relief and a lot of hard work I was managing the hospital stairs by the end of the week (albeit with crutches) and I was being sent home with a leaflet or two showing the exercises I had to do.

So, now, about six weeks later, after lots and lots of boring exercises (and then a load more slightly different boring exercises), I’m just about at the point of discarding the 20100101-01_Perimeter Path-Cawston Grange Estatecrutches (well most of the time anyway) and it felt so good getting out last week for the ½ mile walk to the local shops … and then ½ mile back again, making a whole mile! That maybe doesn’t sound far and it was all on the flat and it did take nearly 45 minutes, but I negotiated kerb stones and uneven paving/tarmac paths and the like. It felt good getting out into the real world under my own steam, and I’ve since recreated the walk to the CO-OP a few times now and I can do it quicker.

The physio’s are really happy with my progress and some of my “class mates” have said they are using me as inspiration to push on with their exercises (no pressure to live up to expectations there then!). However, I must admit it’s been, ermm, a challenge at times.

Some things have been harder than others:-

  • The exercises hurt at times (no pain no gain is the cliché) However, it’s surprising just how quickly you lose strength, muscle tone and flexibility.
  • Mostly however it’s been the enforced rest I’ve had to adhere to that’s been the hardest; the enforced layoff is incredibly frustrating! Daytime television doesn’t help either! With the snow and ice we’ve had as well, being stuck indoors has made me feel quite stir-crazy at times.
  • Also, I’ve had to stop driving, making any trip totally reliant on my good lady wife ferrying me about. I guess most of us don’t think about our independence until you lose some of it.
  • I also miss work. I know we nearly all moan about working, but I’ve always worked, and worked hard for that matter, and being told to stay at home is anathema to me.

Having said that, I have tried to motivate myself, I’ve even baked a cake! I’ve also raised myself to edit a few sets of photo’s which have been sat on my laptop for quite some time, and then write up the associated posts for my walks diary blog … which now includes this one.

Latest set of posts I’ve published are from my North York Moors Trip, including a 16.5 miler, a 10 miler, and a 3 mile photographic wander on the beach.

Anyway, I think I’m over the worst of the initial recovery, starting to walk around more naturally and trying to rebuild muscles back to some kind of fitness levels, but I think it’s gonna be a bit of a long haul back to full(ish) fitness.

So, as the title of this post suggests, hill walking is certainly off the menu at the moment, but maybe, if the weather improves [no, when the weather improves] a wander around a local country park might be on the cards soon – At least there’ll be benches to sit on if I need a rest and a café for a coffee and perhaps a slice of cake.

The Plan Going Forward :-

  • So, last week = That first mile to the local shops felt good.
  • Very short term ambition = Longer walks around the estate, maybe down to Mosaic Coffee Shop in Bilton and back (always worth a visit) and maybe a longer walk around a local country park.
  • Slightly longer short term ambition = Get a few miles of a country walk done locally, maybe even with a rucksack on my back, and with walking poles instead of crutches for support – Just need the weather to improve (I’m totally fed up of this winter’s snow and ice now) and for me to feel confident enough to manage stiles and rougher ground.
  • Main goal = Get back fit enough to work again (aim is for mid/end April).
  • Longer term ambition = Hopefully walk up a mountain by the end of the year …. Which in reality probably means by the end of September/beginning of October at the latest, because of daylight hours. That gives me about 5 to 6 months of training, without overdoing it …. Oooh, but where to?
    • Snowdonia? … Maybe Snowdon itself?, but I do like Cadair Idris too.
    • Lake district? … Spoilt for choice!
    • Yorkshire Dales … 3-peaks … Pen-Y-Ghent maybe?

In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with looking back at some of last year’s walks photo’s and writing another blog post or two. At least I’ve got quite a few walks to choose from (see below), or is there anyone out there who would like to pick one for me to finish off ? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do :-

  • 20170201    A Rugby Walk   [Warwickshire]
  • 20170222    A Wet Walk Around Draycote Water   [Warwickshire]
  • 20170412    Hunstanton Beach and Cliff Circular Walk   [East Anglia]
  • 20170509    Daventry Country Park at Sunset   [Northamptonshire]
  • 20170620    Another Daventry Country Park Sunset Wander   [Northamptonshire]
  • 20170627    Ambleside, Loughrigg, Grasmere, Rydal Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170628    Place Fell Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170726    Shaldon to Maidencombe Linear Walk   [South Devon Coast Path]
  • 20170810    Luds Church + The Roaches Walk   [Peak District]
  • 20170921    Langdale Pikes Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170923    Ambleside – Wansfell – Orrest Head – Windermere Walk  [Lake District]
  • 20170924    Langdale – Crinkle Crags Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20171018-25    Zante Holiday Wandering – Not proper walks really   [Greek islands]

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.

20170330_Post 4of4 – A Giants argument with his wife – The Hole of Horcum – Levisham Moor etc

20170330_Post-4of4 – A Giants argument with his wife – The Hole of Horcum – Levisham Moor and some other interesting stuff.

[Some extra info to a walk on Levisham Moor & in the Hole of Horcum]

Who : Just Me
Where : North York Moors
Grid Ref. : Grid Ref. SE853,937
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

20170329-B_Info Board Map_ Levisham Moor + Hole of HorcumI hope this post will be of interest as some extra, supplementary information to my previous three diary posts about a 10 mile walk I did across Levisham Moor and through the Hole of Horcum. You may even have come to this post via one of these earlier posts, however, if you’ve come straight to here without seeing my original posts, it doesn’t really matter as this one will hopefully stand on its own quite happily.

If you’re interested, my previous posts are :-

Post-1 … 1st half of walk, Saltergate to Levisham Station via Levisham Moor.

Post-2 … Some Time at Levisham Station including Royal Scot steam train.

Post-3 … 2nd half of walk, Levisham Station to Saltergate via Levisham

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.

The following post, is a bit of a mash-up of info gleaned from some information boards put up by The National Park Authority and some other stuff found in a couple of large format books I own; “Yorkshire Landscapes” and “English Landscapes” by “Rob Talbot and Robin Whiteman”, published by “Ted Smart”. They’re mainly coffee-table style photographic books with short sections of text, with just enough info’ to go with their super images. Of course, in the stuff below, I’ve chucked in a few words of my own along the way.

The Hole of Horcum – What is it ? and how did it get here ? :-
I don’t know if you are romantically inclined or more scientific in nature, but either way, there’s an explanation as to how the huge bowl of the Hole of Horcum came into being. Let’s start with the romantic explanation :-

  • A Giants Argument with his wife or the Devil’s work.
    Legend has it that the giant “Wade”, scooped up a clod of earth and threw it at 20170329-C_A Giants Fury or Rain Sculpturehis wife “Bell” making both the 300-feet deep depression that is the Hole of Horcum and at the same time the 876-feet high Blakey Topping where it landed some distance away across the moors (about a mile away to the east). The Hole of Horcum has also been known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, (in common with another geographical feature in Surrey and others worldwide) where it’s said it was the Devil that did the scooping and throwing. Whether it was the giant or the Devil, apparently, the marks left by his fingers can still be seen on the slopes of the hole.
  • A Natural Formation.
    If you don’t believe the above, then you may well prefer the explanation that The 20170330-81_Hole of Horcum - Landscape DetailHole, is a natural hollow excavated by Ice age meltwaters thousands of years ago, and then eroded away by rainwater seeping down through porous rock (lower calcerous grit), where, when it reaches an impenetrable layer of Oxford Clay, the water is forced to the surface as a line of springs. These springs have caused slippage and numerous landslides, which have eroded the back of each little valley, progressively widening The Hole.

20170329-A_Saltergate Car Park Charges (March 2017)Whichever option you like best, it really is worth stopping off at the side of the Pickering to Whitby main road for a look-see and a wander. A large car-park (charges apply, but not at excessive cost) sits on the top edge near Saltergate and is where I parked up for the day to do my 10-mile circular walk.

Levisham Estate and The North Yorkshire Moors :-
Levisham Estate lies right at the heart of the North York Moors National Park. Designated in 1952 for its stunning moorland landscape, it is cared for by farmers and landowners with help from the National Park Authority. The Authority has, by law, to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park.
  • Promote opportunities for the public to enjoy and come to understand the special qualities of the park.

20170329-D_Open Access - Levisham EstateDespite initial appearances, the moors are not a truly natural landscape. For hundreds of years, sheep farming and game management have helped maintain this special environment.

A moorland keeper’s role is to encourage grouse to thrive on the moorland. This is done by the controlled burning of patches of moorland in rotation to create a mosaic of heather at different heights. This process is locally known as “swiddening”. This takes place between November 20170329-56_Sheep_North York Moorsand March when the peat is damp, therefore preventing the heather’s roots from being destroyed. The young green shoots produced after the old woody plants have been burnt, provide food for both grazing sheep and grouse. The patches of taller vegetation are ideal for cover. The flowering heather is also used by bees to make honey for local bee-keepers who put hives out on the moors.

A Rare Habitat :-
20090831-34_Towards Jugger Howe Beck ValleyAlmost half of the 553-square-mile North York Moors National Park is open moorland. Britain is thought to have almost 75% of the worlds remaining moorland and the North York Moors has the largest continuous area of heather moorland in England. This is globally rare and important for vegetation and breeding bird populations. It receives protection at national and European levels, including designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI].

Heather :-
The moors sustain three types of heather,

  • Ling [Calluna Vulgaris], the most dominant type, which blossoms in August and September
  • Cross-leaved heather [Erica Tetralix], is found in boggy, damp and wet areas.
  • Bell Heather [Erica Cinerea], if you can recognise it, is useful to walkers as an indicator of firmer ground, as it grows on the driest tussocks.

20170330-04_Levisham Moor near SaltergateOpen Access for Walkers :-
You can walk over open, unrestricted moorland, but NOT fields and woodland. However, it is a sensitive habitat so look out for local and seasonal restrictions. More info can be found at http://www.countrysideaccress.gov.uk

Dogs :-
Dogs are welcome on the access land, but they should be kept on a short lead at all times. A loose dog running over the moors can be catastrophic for sheep, ground nesting birds and sometimes the dog itself. I believe farmers have the right to shoot a dog they think is worrying their sheep.

Moors Message :-

  • 20090827-01_Hole of HorcumTread Gently:- despite surviving all sorts of weather, the moors, their plants and animals are fragile and sensitive.
  • Fire:- Uncontrolled fires can devastate vast areas of moorland which may never fully recover. Don’t start campfires or use gas stoves or barbecues or drop cigarettes/matches.
  • Litter:- Take it home.
  • Fences and Walls:- These keep some animals in and some out. Use stiles or gates and leave property as you find it.
  • 20170330-80_Stormy Clouds Over The Hole of HorcumSafety:- Weather conditions can change quickly. Are you fully equipped? On some access land there are hazards such as abandoned mines and quarries.
  • When out in the countryside:- keep to paths and tracks wherever possible especially during the bird nesting and lambing season (1st March – 31st July).

Flora and Fauna :-
The heather moorlands give some of the best habitat for internationally important ground nesting birds such as curlew, lapwing, merlin and golden plover.

20090827-02_Hole of HorcumFor the first time in centuries, woodland is expanding here. The small surviving oak woods around the edges are beginning to grow where a fence keeps the sheep out. Rowan and Birch come on their own in a few years, but the Oak is far slower. So far 6,000 oaks have been grown on from locally collected seed and planted here under a joint Forestry Commission/National Park project.

In summer, the Horcum fields are a blaze of colour. First, white with pignut, then yellow as meadow buttercup blooms, and then in late summer, a blue haze with betony, harebell and devil’s bit scabious. The National Park Ranger and a local farmer manage the fields by using sheep to graze at the right time of year to allow the flowers to bloom and seed.

Sheltering on a few north facing bracken covered slopes is the rare dwarf cornal. It is at the southern edge of its range here and would be much happier in the Cairngorms!

Archaeology :-
The path around the eastern side of the Hole of Horcum (where the car park is situated) is on top of an earthwork dyke which marked a prehistoric boundary. It’s not known whether it divided tribal territories or smaller estates but as long it’s cared for, one-day archaeologists may find out. Boundaries like these are quite common in the North York Moors but they are rare nationally so it’s important they are not damaged. Therefore, it’s asked that we all walk on the surface paths.

20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular WalkMy Full Walk Summary :

A circular walk starting near Saltergate with fine views over The Hole of Horcum, walking anti-clockwise over Levisham Moor, Views over The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Short drop down to Levisham Station in Newton Dale, Climb back up to Levisham village (and The Horseshoe Inn) and return to Saltergate via Dundale Slack, Horcum Slack and through the bottom of The Hole of Horcum.

Well this would seem to be a good point to end this particular post, and therefore the end of the four posts associated with my Hole of Horcum walk, so I’ll end by saying I hope you enjoyed my scribblings, and …. 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.