20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704-01(b+w)_Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

When : 4th July 2015

Summary : I’m not going to say much here today, instead just a few brief words to say the walk on a warm summer day, was from Cawston [near Bilton/Rugby] to Thurlaston [near Dunchurch] and couldn’t be more than a couple of miles.

The Route :-

• Cawston, (to the south west of Rugby),
• A4642, Coventry Road to Brickyard Spinney
• Across a wheat field (right of way footpath path hadn’t been put in by farmer yet again!!!)
• Past a small pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney.
• Wide field verges by the side of a couple of fields, heading south.
• Look up into the sky as two jets approached us, banked around in a wide arc and disappeared into the sun.
• Up to Northampton Lane (hedge/tree lined path).
• Turn left along Northampton Lane, just briefly.
• Right down side of another wheat field (with lots of lovely poppies).
• Reach the B4429 road, another Coventry Road.
• Left alongside the road, passing Medda Place nursery, reach a very striking building with bright yellow corrugated roof
• Cross the B4429 opposite the yellow house to follow side road (Main Street).
• Main street rises a little to cross over the M45 and then into the pretty village of Thurlaston, including a set of stocks on a little green in amongst attractive cottages,
• Met my lovely wife (who was already in the village for other reasons) and got a lift  home.

20150704-01_Sinuous Curves_Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

And now, to follow, a set of photo’s from the walk, which are maybe a bit more interesting than my words.

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

20150704-04_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-03_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Some More Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-05_Fly Past (out of the blue)

Fly Past (out of the blue) – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-07_Fly Past_Into the Blue

Fly Past_Into the Blue – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-08_Fly Past_Into The Sun

Fly Past_Into The Sun

20150704-09_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-10_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-12_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-15_Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

20150704-16_ Thurlaston Stocks

Thurlaston Stocks

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.

Oh and finally, there are other paths that you can take from Thurlaston, to Dunchurch and Toft and most notably dropping down to the perimeter track around Draycote Reservoir. So it is perfectly possible to make a circular walk around this quiet part of Warwickshire. If you’d like to, please ask about the options available and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP, or you could search through my past “Cawston” or “Dunchurch” walks diaries.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20140309_A Short Springtime Warwickshire Walk Cawston to Dunchurch

20140309_A Short Springtime Warwickshire Walk Cawston to Dunchurch

When : 9th March 2014
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Cawston and Dunchurch (near Rugby), Warwickshire
Map : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222, Rugby & Daventry
20140309_A short Springtime Walk Cawston to Dunchurch (Nr Rugby)Start Point : SP 470,737
End Point : SP 485,713
Distance : Approx. 2.5 miles (4 km)
Significant Heights: None to speak of

Summary : A short spring time walk in Warwickshire – Just because we could, and because the weather had improved enough to think we might enjoy no rain and maybe not much mud underfoot – Both a rarity in the winter of 2013/2014 as we’d had excessive amounts of rain and therefore lots of mud to go with it. After over six years of writing about my walks, this is my first ever sponsored blog post.

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

I’m currently sat at home during the Christmas Holidays (2014 if you happen to be reading this in some future year). It is very cold and frosty with temperatures barely reaching above freezing during the day. It feels as if winter is just really taking hold and that spring is some way away. 20140309-20_Dunchurch Roofs + St Peter's Church TowerWell, spring IS just around the corner, and I thought that this short walk I did last March would be good reminder that pussy willow, daffodils, spring crops and the like are maybe just eight weeks or so away.

We’d planned a family lunch time meal at The Dun Cow Inn in Dunchurch, so, just because I could, I decided that a quick walk there would be a pleasant thing to do. I would then meet my family who would have driven the short distance up Cawston Lane. It then transpired that my 12 y.o. son wanted to come with me, so we sorted out our walking boots and set off with just ourselves, my ancient old Karrimor Hot Ice ruck sack (more of that later) and my camera for the short walk after throwing a change of shoes into the boot of the car for when we got to the pub/restaurant. We guesstimated it would take about 40-45 minutes if we put our best foot forward.

20140309-01_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path

Cawston Grange perimeter path. (looking back towards Trussell Way)

Now, we live on the new Cawston Grange Estate to the South West of Rugby, but you don’t really want to hear of the route taken through the estate, so, just for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll start on Trussell Way just past Cave Close and Durrell Drive on the edge of the estate. If you fancy doing this walk in some form or another, it’s a good parking spot at the moment as Trussell Way is currently a dead end and with no house drives or side roads/traffic to contend with. However, I’m pretty sure Trussell Way will be extended into what is currently local farmland when (that’s WHEN, not IF) the housing estate is enlarged right down to the old railway bridge near Potford’s Dam/the A4071 Western Bypass island.

20140309-02_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path

Cawston Grange perimeter path, heading towards B4642.

Anyway, that’s by-the-by for now, we made our way to the nearby path that runs around the estate, turned left and walked up to meet the B4642 Coventry Road, (which used to be called the A4071 before the Rugby Western Relief Road was built). From here we turned right to follow the road on a tarmac path. We are right on the edge of Rugby here, with a view over farmland on the other side of the main road bounded by an attractively ramshackle old wooden picket fence. I’m trying to make the most of this view every time I pass by, because this field too is earmarked for a housing development which I understand could be started imminently. As we walked, it was a joy to see the spring flowers in the soft sunshine, I especially like the newly budding pussy-willow and large clumps of happy smiley daff’s growing around the base of the trees lining the roadside.

20140309-03_Cawston Grange Pussy Willow

Springtime pussy willow

20140309-04_Cawston Grange Path near B4642 Coventry Road (old A4071)

Daff’s near B4642 – Coventry Road – Cawston

20140309-05_Road-side trees + Fence_Cawston B4642 Coventry Road (old A4071)

This view soon to be obliterated when the field becomes a new housing development.

20140309-08_Road-side Daffs + Hedge_Cawston B4642 Coventry Road (old A4071)

Roadside daff’s – A happy sight.

20140309-06_Cawston Rugby - Renatus

Renatus – Cawston

Anyway, we stayed on our side of the road, on the tarmac path, passing the older part of Cawston with some rather grand looking houses, the first of which is now a much extended, rebuilt and re-invented building which is some-sort of cosmetic procedure clinic nowadays (Renatus I think it’s called).

20140309-07_Cawston Rugby_B4642 Coventry Road (old A4071)

B4642 Coventry Road (Junction with Cawston Lane)

20140309-09_Cawston Farm + Public Footpath

Cawston Farm

We soon reached the point where we needed to cross the road (opposite the Nature Trails Nursery) to pick up a farm track heading down the side of brick built farm buildings and the nursery school building. The farm by the way is, unimaginatively (but perfectly descriptively) called Cawston Farm.

20140309-10_Cawston Farm + Public Footpath

Farm Track – Heading towards Cawston Woods

Continuing on, the track heads gently downhill (very easy walking) past a series of low wooden sheds. I’ve often wondered what these sheds are for :-

• They seem far too low for sheep or cow barns.
• Maybe pigs ? (but there’s never been much smell as we pass by).
• So chickens would be my next guess ? (always far too quiet for that).
• It’d remained a mystery for the 12+ years we’ve lived near-by.
• Well today, for the first time amongst all the times I’ve passed by, all the shed doors were wide open and the mystery was solved :-

20140309-11_Cawston Farm + Chitting potatoes

Chitting potatoes

In each shed there were thousands of boxes-cum-trays stacked one on top the other in long rows. Between the rows were a series of vertically hanging fluorescent strip lights – Very odd! …. It just HAD to be investigated closer – and then it all made sense, the trays-cum-boxes were filled with POTATOES! being “chitted” ready for the forthcoming planting season. Chitting is the term given to where little shoots are encouraged to grow from the “eyes” or dimples on the potatoes, and this gives the plants a head-start when they do eventually get planted. My dad used to do this when I was a lad when he kept an allotment. The only difference here was the industrial scale.

20140309-12_Approaching Cawston Woods_Public Footpath on farm track

Gentle descent towards Cawston Woods

Moving on, the track heads into an area of woodland, known locally as Cawston woods, but more accurately these are Cawston Spinney on one side (no entry-nature reserve these days) and Fox Covert (access allowed at owners discretion, but in practice just open to the public). I think the woods are owned by Mitchell’s Potatoes, which would link nicely with the sheds’ usage just passed by). Today’s walk took us straight through the wooded area, now rising gently but staying on the track, to emerge into farmland of both ploughed fields and pastureland bounded by mature hedges. There’s nothing overly exciting here just typical pleasant mixed Warwickshire farmland. Livestock kept hereabouts are sheep and cattle and one or two fields have horses and crops grown are of course the spuds as well as wheat, oil seed rape, maize and beets.

20140309-13_Stile _ Farmland near Cawston Woods

Looking back toward Cawston Woods (from the path joggle)

At the end of the first field, the farm track makes a 90-degree bend to the right and heads off into the distance, but, the right of way, now a path, goes straight on, with a hedge on the left and a ploughed field on the right, to reach a stile in the field’s far left hand corner. Once over the stile, the route here joggles left and then right ignoring the path off to the left heading towards a different part of the woods. The path then follows another hedge (still on our left) to reach Windmill Farm. The route here carries straight on through part of the farm yard via a couple of stiles. Please be warned it can be rather muddy underfoot here, but you’ll soon emerge out onto another wide farmtrack/drive, which is Northampton Lane.

20140309-14_A little bit of mud (bypassable today) at Windmill Farm - Dunchurch

It is often muddy through Windmill Farm and on Northampton Lane

Navigation and gradient (or lack of) is easy here, as it’s a simple turn to the left along Northampton Lane to just follow the wide track for quite some distance (we passed a group of farm implements including a muck-spreader en-route). These bits of equipment always seem to be here and somehow have a timelessness about them, they’re still of a scale to suit smaller fields rather the larger “prairie” fields that seem to be so prevalent in many places these days. Still, such is modern farming practices I suppose. Happily the farm fields around Dunchurch still appear on the whole to be on the smaller scale.

20140309-17_Northampton Lane - escaped chicken (Red Hen) Dunchurch

Braving the traffic ? – A game of chicken I suppose

Northampton Lane is quite long and straight, disappearing into the distance but is easy going (especially today, as it wasn’t at-all muddy, which it can be) to reach Cawston Lane (where there was a little mud to negotiate). Directly opposite, Northampton Lane continues, but now as a proper tarmac’d road, with houses along one side. However, the only “traffic” today was a lone red hen looking for food on the path and road. I was going to call the bird a chicken, but I understand chicken is a term reserved for when a hen is dead and about to become food!

20140309-16_Spring Crocuses_Dunchurch

Cheery spring crocuses

The continuation of Northampton Lane was not our route now though, although road walking was indeed required to our final destination …. We turned right into and along Cawston Lane, the path after crossing to the opposite side, becoming more built up with houses along the way, passing Addison Road and a Methodist Church en-route, and including passing a patch of cheerful crocuses on a patch of green. After re-crossing Cawston Lane we soon reached a Tee-junction with a main road (A426, Rugby Road) where we turned right heading towards Dunchurch Village Centre with an attractive mix of cottages, some thatched, but all slightly dominated by the tower of St. Peter’s Church.

20140309-18_Dunchurch Cottages + Church Tower

Dunchurch cottages & St. Peter’s Church tower.

20140309-19_Dunchurch Thatched Roof + Bird Sculpture

Ornamented thatch + peacock sculpture.

We arrived at The Dun Cow just before 1pm almost exactly 45 minutes 20140309-21_Dunchurch Cottages + Dun Cow Inn - Signageafter we’d set off, changed foot-ware and threw rucksack and boots into the boot of the car, which we found quite easily in the pub’s car park and went in to find my lovely wife and daughter, enjoyed a good dinner and a well-earned pint (or three) for me.

Just to finish, a little about my favourite ever ruck sack – I bought this way back in the mists of time and at some point I modified the waist strap by stitching on a wider padded version for a more comfortable carry. It has served me tremendously well for many years now, but is n20140309-23_Hot Ice 30 - Karrimorow finally showing its age (a bit like my knees), the bright red when new is now a dusky pinky colour and the stitching in places is finally giving way. I’ve been looking for a new day-sack for some time now, but nothing has quite fitted my criteria as I’m 6-foot 4-inches tall and I’ve not found a 30/35 litre capacity sack long enough to suit my back length. It seems most sacks have gone kind of short and bulbous, meaning I have to go to a small back-pack sized sack. I have a decent Berghaus Verden 45+8 litre sack with an adjustable Biofit back, but it’s really just a bit large and heavy for a day walk and now 20140309-22_Clean Boots - Salomonmy son is walking with me more often, he tends to carry the Hot Ice leaving me with the big bag.

Now, there are very few outlets in Rugby, meaning I have to travel to try on kit. Normally, I go to the far side of Coventry or down to Leamington Spa where there are a couple of decent sized shops but I’ve just learnt that Cotswold Outdoors have recently opened a store just off the M6 in Coventry (in the Leekes shop) which will be easy to get to. So, now that Christmas is over, I think a visit will be in order, especially as I’ve read on-line that they do a ruck-sack fitting service. Perhaps it’ll kick start my 2015 walking.

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.

20110819_A Sunset Walk Around Draycote Water

20110819_A Sunset Walk Around Draycote Water

When : 19th August 2011.

Who : Just Me

Where : Draycote Water (near Dunchurch).

Maps : 1:25000 OS Explorer Map no. 222, Rugby & Daventry.

Start Point + End Point : SP469,709

Approx Distance : Just over 5 miles (8 km).

Heights : Pretty much flat, some extremely gentle undulations.

Parking : On street parking in Thurlaston (as prettily and as considerately to the local residents as possible).

If you click on a pic’  it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream, or if you don’t wont words, use this LINK for a slide show with some extra pic’s as a bit of a bonus.

Summary : An impromptu summertime evening walk around the local reservoir hoping to be rewarded with a half-decent sunset.

Route Map :

20110819_A Sunset Walk Around Draycote Water

20110819-23_Sunset reflections + Swans_Rainbow Corner_Draycote Water by gary.haddenThe night before had turned out to have a lovely pinky-orange gentle glow, just before dusk had taken over completely, and driving home from work I felt the skies promised something similar for this evening. Then, once our family dinner was served, eaten, and tied away I decided to get out and about hoping that a half decent repeat would happen again. I figured the angles might be about right to get some reflections across Draycote Water, although I set off more in hope than expectation that my plan might indeed come to fruition.

The car journey lasted all of five, well, maybe ten minutes, as I parked up next to the small church (near the windmill) in the village of Thurlaston. My plans had started to look a little dodgy as a shower had necessitated windscreen wipers as I pulled into the village and it was still spitting as I set off through a large gate to head down the slope ahead on a wide concrete drive. The sky didn’t look heavily laden with rain so I set off anyway and I was proven right as that was the last rainfall of the evening.

20110819-02_Toft Bay or Shallows_Draycote Water by gary.haddenAfter a couple of hundred yards at the bottom of the hill the path heads into a wooded area (just to the right of some large metal utility gates) and soon crosses a small footbridge and equally as soon, emerges out onto a tarmac’d roadway. This roadway is the perimeter drive that creates a full circuit of Draycote Water, which is by far the largest body of water for miles around and as such is a magnet for waterfowl of all sorts, including a large colony of gulls and various varieties of ducks, grebes, cormorants and other water loving birds. In turn, these attract birdwatchers and there is a bird hide near Toft Bay in the north-east corner of the reservoir. Also, fishermen, sailors and windsurfers use the water; there is a sailing club on the bank almost directly opposite where the path from Thurlaston meets the perimeter road.

I had a decision to make, not an easy one, but with only two options, so I had a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right … a) Turn right on the road to go around anti-clockwise or b) Turn left and head on the road in (you’ve guessed it) a clockwise direction. My difficulty was trying to predict how long any sunset would take to develop and then how long it might last for and where the best place would be to get the best reflections.

I decided to turn right and headed off lickety-split at a fair old pace but it didn’t take long for the clouds of midges to force me off the road and down to the water’s edge where there was a stronger breeze and fewer flying insects. Also, I was in luck in that the waters were quite low and a soft verge, almost like a sandy/muddy beach allowed me to walk around the lake shore with relative ease; occasionally I just had to be careful of the softest mud so that I didn’t start to sink!

20110819-04_Swans taking off_Dunns Bay_Draycote Water by gary.haddenI was generally heading into the sun as it sank towards the horizon, but as yet it hadn’t coloured up at all, but was quite dramatic with the broken clouds and light dancing on the reservoir’s waters lapping at the shore – almost completely monochrome. I particularly liked a small group of four swans at one small bay, and was lucky enough to see two of them sprint across the water before taking to the air as I approached. The other pair were quite happy to see me just walk by, maybe no more than ten feet away.

20110819-05_Swans_Dunns Bay_Draycote Water by gary.hadden

20110819-06_Draycote Water North Shore nr Valve Tower by gary.hadden

20110819-08_Valve Tower_Draycote Water by gary.haddenI now needed to return to the road, and got my head down to pick up the pace once more (staying aware of the handful of lone cyclists that passed me by in both directions) and soon arrived at the northern end of the western dam. This is marked by the valve tower sat in the reservoir and probably in very deep water and is linked to the dam via a walkway (no public access). Although utilitarian, the construction has some degree of design about it, and sort of reminds me of the old round cafe in the lower precinct in Coventry not far away. I think I like it, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, as I don’t generally appreciate “modern” building. I think having the glow of the low sun on the walls helped.

20110819-09_Draycote Bank (Dam)_Draycote Water by gary.haddenIn fact, the sunset had now started to colour up a little, and lit up the grassy banks of the dam’s slopes so that the dry grass almost glowed a rich yellowy colour. This counterpointed with the now two roadways disappearing into the distance in parallel lines converging at the horizon. I tried walking across the dam at a fast pace, but was continually slowed to view the ever changing light playing on the clouds with a small sliver of orange building on the horizon.

20110819-13_Warwickshire Sunset from Draycote Bank_Draycote Water by gary.hadden

20110819-10_Flock-Murder-Storytelling-Muster-Parcel or Horde of Crows by gary.haddenA heron kept flying out ahead of me down by the water’s edge, always just out of reach of my camera lens, so I switched focus onto a very large congregation of crows sat on the grassy slopes. I figured they’d maybe all fly off en-masse and hoped to get them silhouetted against the sky, but they didn’t really oblige, instead of flying upwards above the horizon they all stayed low so I didn’t quite get the result I’d hoped for. After that I did indeed pick up the pace and soon reached the southern end of the dam where the two roads merge back into one as they take a sharp turn eastwards.

20110819-16_Sunset reflections + Swans_Rainbow Corner_Draycote Water by gary.hadden

20110819-20_Sunset reflections + Angler_Rainbow Corner_Draycote Water by gary.haddenThis corner was populated with a smattering of fly fisherman, some out in small boats, others wading out to stand almost thigh deep in the water. The sunset had now intensified considerably and I lingered for some time trying to get some half decent images …. I’ll let you decide if you think they’re any good, but I like them so that’s probably all that matters really. 20110819-22_Sunset reflections + Swan_Rainbow Corner_Draycote Water by gary.haddenI can’t decide if I like the ones with the fishermen or the ones with the feeding swans best.

After a while the glow diminished and the gloom of dusk started to roll in – and I still had almost half of the circuit to complete! So once again I headed off at a good pace on the perimeter road, in fact I even broke into a run (not easy in hiking boots). This was not so much down to a sense of time, but because of the incredible clouds of midges, gnats and mosquitoes around here – Some of them were huge and I didn’t want to hang around with them buzzing around me, getting in ears and nostrils and potentially biting great chunks out of any exposed skin.

20110819-28_Yacht Masts_Sailing Club_Draycote Water by gary.haddenA slight rise brought me to the back of the sailing club, with a multitude of masts pointing skywards. I’ve tried numerous times to get a decent photo of yacht masts like this – there’s an good image there somewhere – but I always seem disappointed with my results – today was no different, and I’ve only kept one from about half-a-dozen this time round and I’m not really convinced by that one, but it helps tell the story of what the walk was like that evening.

20110819-30_Small fishing boats coming in at sunset_Draycote Water by gary.haddenLeaving the yacht club, I dropped down to the start of the eastern dam and almost as soon stopped again, this time to try and get some images of the motor boat marina and the fishermen returning from the far corner before night benighted them out on the water. I set off again across the dam, reaching the north eastern corner known as Toft Bay with the sun now gone completely. 20110819-31_Toft Bay or Toft Shallows at Dusk_Draycote Water by gary.haddenJust a soft blue glow and wispy (almost stormy looking) clouds allowing me to navigate along the road, but this was to almost disappear as I entered an area much more wooded. It was so gloomy that I walked straight past the set-back gate and path back up into Thurlaston and that was despite looking out for it. It only took a minute or two to realise I had started to reprise the outward part of the walk and soon back-tracked and rose up the concrete drive to the church and my parked car.

The whole walk had taken less than 2 hours, which given the time spent taking photo’s, I think is remarkable, showing that when I was moving I must have been moving quite rapidly. Perhaps I’m regaining a little of my old fitness levels? But there again, perhaps not! … to be really tested on the next walk planned, with The Midland Hill Walkers, in the Brecon Beacons on the following Sunday (diary and pic’s of that walk to follow at some point I’m sure).

Well, that’s that, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20100101_Cawston-Dunchurch Circular New Years Day Walk

20100101_Cawston-Dunchurch Circular New Years Day Walk 

When : 1st January 2010

Who : Me and my Family

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire.

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

Start + End Point : 469,735 Cawston Estate (end of Trussell Way is as a good place as any to start from).

Approx Distance : 6.25 miles, (10 km)

Significant Heights : approx 70 ft (25m) climb up Toft Hill., otherwise none worth mentioning.

Parking : On street parking on the Cawston Estate – end of Trussell way off Cawston Grange Drive I suppose is as good as place as any …. Please park politely and with consideration as this is a residential area.

Public Transport : No.4 Bus stops on the estate, on Calvestone Road near the large Island at 474.734.

Summary : Circular walk starting (and therefore finishing) at Cawston, south-west of Rugby and including :- Cawston, Cawston Woods, Northampton Lane, Thurlaston, Toft Hill (near Draycote Water), Dunchurch, Dun Cow Pub, Northampton Lane (again), Cawston Woods (again), Cawston.

 

This is almost a reprise of my early morning walk of 4th October 2009, but this time it was with my family as a “New Year’s Day – Clear-away the Christmas Holiday Cobwebs Walk” in pleasant countryside near where we live. This time though, instead of autumn it was very much winter and the timing was much later in the day – I don’t think my family will ever be out walking with me before sunrise, as I’ve occasionally done in the past – I think they think I’m a bit loopy enjoying being out that early!

New Year’s Day turned out to be bright and chilly and I readily agreed to a family walk when my wife suggested we take advantage and get some fresh air. Our two kids took a bit longer to persuade, but they eventually came round to the idea (they had no choice in the matter really). We all donned warm clothes and suitable foot-ware (walking boots or wellies) and headed through the Cawston Estate to join the perimeter path (it passes the end of Trussell Way). Turning left along the path lead us up to the B4642 (used to be called the A4071) where we turned right for a very short distance before then turning left to cross the main road into Cawston Lane. This looks to be a quiet lane, but don’t be fooled as it sees regular traffic and cars can (and do) zip along here at a rapid rate of knots. So, single file was required until we reached a dirt lay-by at the boundary with a small wood. This is Fox Covert, but it’s better known as Cawston Woods and it was here we turned right off the road, to enter the woods passing a disused brick water-works construction as we went. 

I’d tried to sort out a route that I thought would give plenty of interest throughout, (especially good if you’re walking with youngsters), and the woods really fitted this self-imposed brief very well … woods always have interest, especially deciduous ones, and we decided to take a longish route through them, making an arching swing to the left, to follow a pathway up into Boat House Spinney. I’m not sure where exactly the woods change name, but they narrow to a quite thin strip between farmer’s fields until a group of small ponds is reached. Even though sheltered by the trees the ponds were frozen over, in places the crystalline structure being quite pronounced and pretty to look at … along the path though, the ice didn’t completely save us from some muddy patches – small enough for me to stride over and shallow enough for welly-booted feet to test out.

20100101-06_Mud + Wellie-Cawston Woods
 At the end of Boat House Spinney a bridle track crosses to get us onto an official right-of-way and we turned right (heading south) across pastureland, easy grassy walking to reach Northampton Lane – another bridle track, but this time a very well used farm track which can be very muddy at times, the tractor ruts being very pronounced.

We turned right to reach and pass Windmill Farm. Luckily, it wasn’t as muddy as I’d feared, because the heavy frost had hardened the mud and grassy verges to a solid, allowing us to easily circumvent the deep puddles, themselves with a frozen film of ice. It took quite an effort to keep my 8 year old son from trying to walk on water – his hiking boots are not Gore-Tex lined and would have soon left him with soggy feet! 

Upon passing Windmill Farm and Cottages (no sign of a windmill though!), the track becomes better finished as a drive (called Windmill Lane) and makes a left bend heading towards the B4429 Coventry Road.  Rather than head down the drive, almost straight away we turned off to the right to pick up Northampton Lane once again. The Lane pretty much continued as before with distinct lines of tractor ruts heading off in front of us, a perfect example of perspective – parallel lines converging to a vanishing point in the distance. 

Everyone seemed very happy, highlighted by the two girls singing songs. Craig and I were serenaded with a combination of Christmas carols and not so seasonal pop songs … They even played Mica, Natasha Bedingfield and Take That on one of their phones to sing along to … Craig was happy just breaking the ice on the puddles, although I did manage to get a photo of one that stood out from the others, it’s formation had resulted in a series of concentric rings, looking a bit like the contours of a hill on my map (imagination is a wonderful thing). As for me, it was just nice being out in the sunshine with my whole family. 

Anyway, the green lane gave way to become just a pathway with the way ahead narrowing, with more trees either side in the substantial hedgerows. I got everyone to keep a look-out for a footpath heading off on the left. The path was duly found (it wasn’t difficult to spot really – it’s harder in the summer when the verges are in full growth). Once we’d left the bridle way we headed almost due south to join the B4429 Coventry Road, where we turned left for a several hundred yards to reach a small group of buildings. These included a pick-your-own farm and a used car lot. However, by far the most stand-out building was a large but simple cottage with extremely bright white-washed walls (nothing unusual in that you might say) but topped off with an even brighter sunshine yellow roof made from some sort of corrugated material (metal at a guess) … Personally it’s not to my taste, but hey what a statement! 

Almost directly opposite is a side road (Main Street) and we crossed the main road to follow this (heading south) where it rose gently to a bridge crossing the M45 motorway and then a gentle decent on the other side which brought us into the village of Thurlaston. We took advantage of a bench on a small green next to a set of stocks for some refreshments (I had the drinks and snacks in a rucksack). The stocks are positioned at the junction of a side road (imaginatively named Stocks Lane). The younger members of our party enjoyed pretending to be trapped as I think kids of all ages tend to do.

I like Thurlaston, with its mix of cottages: – some thatched/some tiled; some modern/some old; some half-timbered/some not; but the most visible is the old converted windmill which stands tall above the surrounding buildings. Quite close to this, is St Edmunds Church and my kids liked the nativity scene in the grounds just off Church Lane (note, Church Lane not Church Walk). From the corner of Church Lane, our route took us through a large gate to drop down a drive to some trees at the bottom of the slope. We had to take particular care near the bottom in the shade because the frost was still quite hard and very slippery…. a short distance later we emerged onto the perimeter road that encircles Draycote Water Reservoir.

 

    

Draycote Water (pronounced Dray-kott) is the largest body of water for many a mile and the full circuit is about 5 miles, but this wasn’t our plan; our route was to turn left for a fraction of that distance, to reach the most north easterly tip of the reservoir. I think this northern edge of the lake is the most interesting, with a few ups and downs and groupings of trees. Along the little section we were walking there’s been a wooden walkway constructed nearer the water’s edge to give good views out over Toft Bay where quite a number of gulls and other water birds congregate. 

There are several possible paths that can be taken here and we chose the bridle track heading up the hill to Toft House. It’s a bit of a pull up this hill compared to the rest of the walk, but really nothing to write home about and we soon reached the top of the rise, which affords some super views of the reservoir and over to Thurlaston and the old windmill standing proud. Toft farm rears Alpacas (always very cute looking) and these can be seen in several fields hereabouts and especially by the side of the drive way that leads past the farm buildings to meet the A426 Southam Road.

Turning left here, along the side of the Main Road, we had to endure a section on hard footpaths, I say endure, but it’s not too bad really as it facilitates crossing over the M45 and then into Dunchurch village, with modern houses giving way to quainter cottages and then a fair few shops clustered around the main cross-roads. There are a couple of pubs in the village; The Green Man which I’ve never been in, and The Dun Cow which was our next port of call, but not before passing the statue of Lord John Douglas Montague Scot. The statue is dressed up as a film or cartoon character every Christmas and it’s always fun trying to guess what or who it’ll be each year – Normally a figure from a big film hit of the year just gone. It’s reputedly pupils from Ruby School that do the dressing in secret overnight just before Christmas. This year it was Homer Simpson standing sentinel over the cross roads. 

There’s a lot of history in Dunchurch, not least members of The Gunpowder Plot holed themselves up in the village awaiting news that Guy Fawkes had successfully blown up Parliament … A half timbered house in the village is reputedly the very building (then an inn) and carries the name “Guy Fawkes’ House”. Also in a more modern vein, Wing Commander Guy Gibson (leader of the famous WWII, 617 Squadron’s Dambusters mission) had family links with the area and there is a framed photo & letter mentioning the Dun Cow hanging on the wall quite close to the inn’s main entrance …. We sat directly under the picture enjoying a drink and warming ourselves …. I think the kids really appreciated the rest. 

When we emerged from the pub we turned left to follow the A426 away from the cross roads (towards Rugby). We had another short length of road walking to do now, which included leaving the main road to head down Cawston Lane, almost immediately passing The Methodist Church. As we continued down Cawston Lane the houses on the left gave way to farmland with just a line of properties remaining on our right. These petered out at the junction with Northampton Lane. To the right Northampton Lane is a proper tarmac road with houses; to the left however (and our route) the Lane is the wide muddy farm track we’d walked on earlier in the day and we headed off towards Windmill Farm again. 

After a short while we had another stop, this time for the kids to say hello to a couple of handsome looking horses, although they didn’t seem too bothered about coming over to say hello to us and we set off again, not least as it was now getting really quite cold and the weather was all of a sudden closing in with dark angry looking clouds replacing the blue skies that’d been with us most of the day. In an odd sort of way I liked the juxtaposition of conditions, the light taking on a pinky-orangey-steely sort glow. A couple of hundred yards or so before reaching Windmill Farm we turned right off the farm-track onto a bridlepath down a grassy field. 

We were now on familiar ground (walked on earlier in the day) heading back to Boathouse Spinney, but before we reached the trees the threatening weather broke as a flurry of snow swept in across us. Iit was odd though, as we were still in sunshine and the large flakes were lit up as they swirled around – quite magical in a chilly kind of way. When we reached the trees, we turned left to make our way back through the thin strip of woods and then, as we entered the main body of the woods, we hung to the left to meet a farm track that splits the woods in two. We turned right along this very pleasant track to emerge onto the B4642 (was the A4071 until recently) between Cawston Farm and Nature Trails Nursery. I particularly liked the glow of the late afternoon sun on the Nursery buildings brickwork, with strongly contrasting shadows of nearby trees in stark contrast.

The walk was coming to an end now, dusk was drawing in and all that was required was to cross the road, turn right along the footpath set back from the road, pass the end of Cawston Lane before entering the Cawston Estate and making our way home ….. And that’s exactly what my family did to end their walk – but not me – No, I decided to head off on my own to extend the walk but that’s for my next diary post. 

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

Next post = 20100101_Cawston-Potfords Dam Pool Sunset Walk

20090620_Bilton – Dunchurch Circular Walk

20090620_Bilton – Dunchurch Circular Walk

When : 20th June 2009

Who : Just me

Where : Bilton and Dunchurch, Near Rugby, Warwickshire

Map used : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 222, Rugby and Dunchurch.

Start + End Point : 482,736 [Junction of Alwyn Rd/Lime Tree Ave].

Approx Distance : 2.5 miles, 4 km

Heights : Not enough to mention

Parking : I parked as considerately as possible in the residential area where Lime tree avenue meets Alwyn road

Public Transport : No.4 bus from Rugby Town Centre stops in Bilton.

Summary : Alwyn Road, Scots Close, Cawston Lane, Northampton Lane (Bridle way), Windmill Farm, Boathouse Spinney, Footpath between Lime Tree Village (retirement homes) and crop fields, Lime Tree Avenue to finish.

I had dropped my son off at football training and, as the weather wasn’t too bad, I decided to use the 90 minutes to go for a bit of a wander. I had a quick look at my map and decided on the route, trying to fit a little variation into the fairly limited set of local footpaths that I’m now getting quite familiar with. I started off on the residential Alwyn road heading away from Bilton Village. When I reached the edge of Alwyn road recreation ground (at a bend in the road) I took a right turn to head into Scots Close, a very short close with a few homes on just one side, which then narrows to a tarmac’d drive with quite a rural feel to it. After a very short distance the drive reaches a small group of buildings at Little Scotland Farm. The well presented cottage in stark contrast to the dilapidated and broken down old barns close by.

The metalled drive stops here to be replaced by a bridle way track bounded on both sides by a wire fence, a sheep field on one side and wheat on the other ripening nicely to a lovely golden colour, a total contrast to the dark trees in the distance.

The path takes a 90-degree turn to the right and then soon after another 90-degree turn to the left where one side becomes a hedge, with a good variety of plants including brambles and Elder coming into early summer flower, (taking over from the spring flowers of blackthorn and hawthorn).

After a little while the path emerges onto Cawston Lane at Holly Lodge Cottage. I could have crossed straight over to a gate opposite and onto a path heading for Boat House Spinney, but instead I choose the less obvious route (I say less obvious ‘cause I dislike tarmac walking) turning left to follow Cawston Lane itself towards Dunchurch Village.

On the outskirts of the village, I turned right to enter the farm track of Northampton Lane.

I was pleased to see it was dry as it can be particularly muddy especially near Windmill farm, which is where I was heading.

The morning was turning out to be really quite pleasant.

The surrounding countryside here is not overly exciting but it is green and leafy and has a quiet charm if you care to walk through it rather than the normal dash of life in cars; 2mph pace lets you see so much more than the normal 100mph zoom of normal living.

As I approached Windmill Farm I looked left along a footpath (heading off almost due south) through a field of oil seed rape in full flower; the brilliant yellow quite zingy in the sunlight with the thin dark line of the path clearly visible. I was pleased my route wasn’t across here as the pollen from the rape is not nice stuff.

Continuing along Northampton lane, I passed several farm trailer implements, (they’re often parked here by the side of the track) and a reminder that this is a working environment producing food for our tables.

At Windmill Farm (at a bend in the lane) I turned right to head northwards. Here was another contrast of an attractive well kept home next to a dilapidated group of farm outbuildings, it seems strange to me that with a little investment over the years these building could have been kept perfectly viable, maybe even to house the trailers passed earlier.

After a couple of stiles, I took the path northwards away from the farm, over a couple of unremarkable fields by the side of a hedge, to reach a cross-roads of paths. Where upon, I chose the right hand option to drop down into Boat House Spinney. Keeping straight on through, I soon emerged from the other side of the narrow strip of woodland, (literally having spent no more than a couple of minutes in the trees) but not before seeing one of the most fantastic fungi I think I’ve ever seen, growing by the side of the path in the undergrowth.

On exiting the woods, the path skirted the edge of a crop field and nearing Cawston Lane for a second time, I was struck by a couple of blood red poppies rather isolated in amongst the crop. Somehow these lonely looking flowers highlighted a certain sterility of the rest of the field, hardly another “weed” in sight. It’s quite sad really, albeit very efficient from a farming point of view.

A left turn down Cawston Lane for a very short distance was followed by a right turn down a track, again with crops to my right and a very tall hedge with overhanging trees on my left marking the boundary to Lime Tree Village retirement complex.

A gentle drop brought me to a corner where I followed the field edge left and then right to climb (very gently) up to a delightfully proportioned little cottage at the end of Lime Tree Avenue.  I joined the tree lined road to head back towards Alwyn road and back to the start near Bilton Village.

Not an overly exciting walk, no great sweeping vistas, no strenuous climbs, not a hill to be seen nor expansive lakes, but a nice way to spend a good part of Saturday morning and a way to escape the normal rush of modern life for a short time (despite the deadline to be back to pick my son up from footy practice).

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090708_Cawston and Lawford Heath Circular Walk.