20090823_Long Lawford – Newbold on Avon Circular Walk
Who : Me and my son Craig
Where : Long Lawford, Newbold On Avon, Near Rugby, Warwickshire.
Map Used : 1:25,000 OS Explorer map 222, Rugby and Daventry.
Start Point : 476,766
1st End Point in Long Lawford : (2x pubs on main street) 472,759
2nd Start Point : (2x pubs) 472,759
2nd End Point : 47,73 (Cawston Grange)
Approx Distances : 3.75 + 1.88 miles (6 + 3 km)
Heights : nothing significant (bit of a rise on the 2nd stage of the walk of about 100 feet (30 metres)
Parking : On street parking in Long Lawford – Please park considerately as this is a residential area.
Public Transport : Long Lawford is serviced by a local bus route.
Summary : A pleasant mornings walk just to the west of Rugby, with plenty of variation, including : Long Lawford ; River Avon ; Newbold On Avon ; Oxford Canal ; Newbold Tunnel ; Cathiron ; Little Lawford ; River Avon (again) and back to Long Lawford … and then an extension of the walk, up a rise on the northern outskirts of Lawford Heath back home to Cawston Grange ; and all with relatively little road walking
Although the route fairly jumps out of the map as a very obvious circular, I also referenced a couple of books I have of local walks, both of which describe virtually the identical route as each other :
- Evening Telegraph Country Walks by Brian Keates, bought way back in 1993 for £2.45 some 17 years ago now, so whether it’s still in print I’ve no idea, I doubt it somehow. … says 4 miles for the circuit.
- Country walks in the Rugby Area, Jim Watson, This Way Books, first published 2003 but I purchased it in the last couple of years from Rugby Info’ centre so it may well still be in print today (Apr 2010 at the time of writing this post) … says 3.75 miles for the circuit.
- Although 10 years apart and with different authors, both of these books follow almost identical layouts, style of prose, sketch maps, distances and illustrations (Brian’s book uses his photo’s ; Jim’s his drawings). It’s interesting to see real inflation in action here, the price of these almost identical publications has roughly doubled in about 15-years and there are 30 walks in Brian’s book (8p per walk) as opposed to 20 in Jim’s (24p per walk).
It promised to be a nice day and as the girls of the family were doing their own thing during the morning I thought it would be a good idea for me and my son Craig (he was not quite 8 y.o. at the time) to have a bit of Father and Son time together on a short walk close to where we live. Craig was “up for it” so I put up a small packed lunch and some drinks and we donned walking boots to be dropped off at the northern most corner of the Long Lawford housing estate on Ashman road/Prentice Close.
The girls drove off, leaving us to find our bearings … I soon worked out this meant heading down a narrow passageway between a couple of houses to immediately reach a pasture field with some horses grazing happily in the shadow of Rugby Cement works. The ugly grey works and chimney were to be visible for much of the walk, but not to it’s detriment really, just a point of interest worth noting. The walk across the field was interrupted briefly for Craig to say hello to a friendly pony who had wandered up to us and was quite happy to be stroked and tickled behind it’s ears. At the far side of the field we picked up a metal footbridge to cross the gentle river Avon. The bridge appears to be much longer than necessary, but this must be to allow for times of flood which is not uncommon further to the west towards Bretford so I guess could be the same here-abouts also.
Picking up an access track (access to Peninsular Farm) we crossed under a railway bridge (Rugby-Nuneaton line) where we briefly passed the time of day with a gentleman spraying weed-killer on the road margins. Looking back we were lucky enough to see a train zooming by, before we branched right on a narrow path. Tall grasses and thistles bounded us on both sides fairly dwarfing Craig who struggled to see over the tops, but he did like the thistle seed heads being blown about in the stiffish breeze. Soon after, the path opened up to follow a small avenue of trees leading the way through a field of cows to the church at Newbold On Avon (St Botolph’s according to both books mentioned above).
The route passes into the Church yard itself and the path passing the church leads out onto The Rugby Road (B4112). A brief turn right down the hill and a careful cross of the road (Main Street) took us into a side road to pass two pubs side by side; firstly The Boat, and immediately afterwards The Barley Mow. A few paces further on and we were on the tow path of The Oxford Canal.
A turn left took us very quickly to Newbold tunnel … A couple of notice boards gave some details about the tunnel and the canal hereabouts, from which I tried to impart some info’ to Craig, but all he really wanted was to get inside. I’d been clever enough to take a head torch and passed it to Craig who thought he looked really cool as he clicked through its various brightness options, settling on the red light as his preferred setting. Part of the info’ read about outside was about some special lighting installation dating back to 2005. Well some 4 years later and I think they’ve either turned the display off or all the bulbs have blown ‘cause I wasn’t aware of any special rings of different coloured lights down the tunnel. The best effect was from when Craig shone the head torch at the arched walls/roof.
There was a steady amount of traffic using the canal in both directions ; maybe the bright weather had enticed people out onto the water. We got a cheery hello from most people as they passed on their journey through the long tunnel.
I’d like to say with a degree of certainty how long the tunnel is … one sign informed that it is 189 metres long but another says 230 metres. (a quick conversion shows 189m = 620 ft and 230m = 755 ft) which is correct I can’t guess at, perhaps they’re both wrong, they definitely can’t both be right ! … can they ? There are even more distances published on various sites on the internet including 250m and ¼ mile, so who knows what is correct. One point of interest we noticed was the coating of lime obliterating some of the brickwork, and in places hanging in mini curtain and pendulous stalactites.
After the gloomy interior, it seemed particularly bright as we exited the north-west end of the tunnel where we continued on, on the tow path, to soon pass under the Rugby Road, before having to cross an attractively arched iron bridge over a side arm of the canal (this arm doesn’t go anywhere now, but used to be the main canal route before it was re-routed when the Newbold Tunnel was constructed to cut journey times). Continuing on the towpath a small boat works was passed (on the opposite bank) before reaching the next brick bridge over the cut. At this point we left the canal, climbing up to reach the farm track the bridge carries. This seemed a good place to stop for a bite to eat and we found a spot to sit for our refreshments, chatting about this and that as we refreshed ourselves. I had to bodily pick up Craig to allow him a view down to the waterway below.
Once watered and fed (tea cakes with apricot jam if I remember correctly) we followed the farm track (Cathiron Lane) westwards to reach a minor road very close to Tuckey’s bridge near Cathiron. However we didn’t head towards Cathiron, instead turning left on the minor road we headed south towards Little Lawford maybe some ¾ of a mile away. After a few hundred yards down this road we crossed another transport corridor for the second time; the 4-tracks of the Rugby to Nuneaton Railway line. The towers of Rugby Cement stood sentinel over the tracks a couple of miles away on the horizon, silhouetted against the bright sky. Immediately over the bridge the scenery returned to completely rural with sheep fields on one side and recently harvested wheat fields on the other. I always think the large round bales of straw left strewn about always look rather attractive in a random kind of way somehow.
The downhill stroll along the road was easy and we soon reached Little Lawford, one of the stone buildings here carries a date of 1604 …. over 400 years old – wow! Passing the ancient building, I took Craig down to see the ford where the track crosses The River Avon …. Much too deep to walk through, and I suspect too deep for most vehicles, maybe it’s OK for tractors and horses only? A battered depth gauge indicates how deep the river can get when in flood. After a chat with a lady walking her dog, our route was back a short way to head through the mill buildings complex to find a small footbridge over the mill race and then on to cross the Avon itself on a wider track/bridge. All in all Little Lawford is a charming hamlet in a pretty position, somehow with a timeless feel about it.
We stopped to take in more refreshments on the bridge above the meandering river (mini Swiss roll chocolate cakes – Yummy). I think this is a good tip for anyone walking with small children – frequent stops, places of interest, some word games (yes, including I-spy) and tasty bribes, errrmm, I mean tasty snacks to keep them going works wonders. Anyway, heading away from the river on the gently rising track took us through more gentle Warwickshire countryside and we were soon back near our starting point back in Long Lawford.
Once in the village we headed for my Brother-in-law’s home on the off-chance that he and his family might be in. Rather than a cup of tea it didn’t take much persuading for us to head off to one of the pubs just a short walk away for a pint. I’m sure it was The Caldecott Arms we visited rather than The Lawford Arms right next door. My young nephew and niece came too and it was amazing to see how the energy levels in Craig raised themselves from flagging to a run as he played with his cousins in the pub back garden (well more of a yard really) … My sister in law joined us a little later and it would have been rude not to have another pint with her too …. well it would wouldn’t it ?!!!
After a while I decided it was time to move on … there were two options on offer :- Ring home to get the girls to come and get us or walk the extra distance back home and not trouble the girls at-all …. I gave the choices to Craig expecting him to favour the car ride, but I was wrong, he almost immediately said he wanted to carry on walking – brill’, I liked that. It seems a bottle of cola and a run around with his cousins had given him a new lease of life. So after our goodbyes, we headed off southwards to pick up Railway Street and then left into the wider road of Chapel Street/The Green, to cross over a different main line railway this time running between Rugby and Coventry. It’s odd how the view eastwards down the tracks looks for all the world that the lines go straight through the buildings of Rugby Cement.
The road led us down to the A428 Coventry Road at a cross roads. Our route took us straight over into Lawford Heath Lane. We had about 500 yards or so of road walking to navigate before turning left into a broad green lane bounded by hedges on both sides. Not long after we came across a load of corrugated panelling, I assume fly tipped by some uncaring so-and-so. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this here and I don’t like it! Once past the ugly obstruction, the track rose quite steadily through gentle countryside and in the warmth of the early afternoon Craig started to flag again, but I managed to cajole and inspire him onwards as the track narrowed to a path and the hedges closed in to be quite claustrophobic. All of a sudden the path opened up again to join a relatively manicured driveway and the slope eased as we continued on to soon arrive at a bend in Bilton Lane.
Going straight ahead we had to cross a major road junction under construction, where the new Rugby Western Relief Road (not yet opened) crosses Bilton Lane. They seem to have been doing this for far too long now and the opening date seems to be slipping back constantly.
Immediately after crossing a bridge (over a disused railway line) and just opposite The Bear Pub our route turned right into Lawford lane passing a few houses before heading straight on onto a tree/hedge lined walkway leaving the road behind. This brought us into the new Cawston Grange housing estate where we headed off for home but not before picking some blackberries growing in the hedgerows etc.
All in all I reckon we’d covered the best part of about 6 miles, not bad for a 7-year old … I remember thinking how much I’d tired him out as we finished off down our street, but within minutes of being home he was out in the back garden bouncing up and down on our trampoline – amazing.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next few walks and the like = 20090827-31_A short holiday on the north Yorkshire coast at Boggle Hole near Robin Hoods Bay.
Some external sites I have found, obviously not by me, so I’ve no control over the info in them but they might be of interest.