20090510_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk
When : 10th May 2009
Who : Just Me
Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Maps : 1:25,000 OS. Explorer Map 222, Rugby & Daventry Southam & Lutterworth
Start + End Point : 473,733
Approx Distance : Something like 3 miles or so
Heights : Very gently undulating, no significant rises or drops worth mentioning.
Parking : Yes, see below
Public Transport : No-4 bus, see below
Summary : Cawston Grange, A4071, Cawston Lane, Cawston Woods, Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney Reservoir Pool, Northampton Lane (bridle track), Cawston Woods revisited, back to A4071 and Cawston Grange.
I’m writing this as if the walk started on the A4071 just on the outskirts of the Cawston Grange Housing Development, near to the large island and not far from Bilton Village. As I live further into the new estate, I had a little bit of street walking to start with to reach the start :- A little loop of path/cycleway separated from the A4071 main road by a small stand of tall trees. Heading away from rugby, the path merges with the main road and it was here that I crossed to a path on the other side.
There’s an old rustic wooden fence alongside the field here which I think is brill’, the repeated patterns, irregular shapes and unkempt nature much more interesting than the all too common wire fences and strings of barbed wire seen these days too often as field boundaries. Having said that, this immediate area is quite well blessed with hedgerows, and long may that continue!
Incidentally, just as an aside (writing in Sept-2009) … Just to confuse everyone in the near future, when the nearby Rugby Western Relief Road (RWRR) opens, the new road will become the A4071. According to Warwickshire County Council the existing A4071 at Cawston will then become the B4500. This was due to happen in the autumn of 2009, but it’s now said the southern end should open by the end of this year …. I really hope it will as I’m getting a tad fed-up with the road works near Potford’s Dam, but hey who really knows when it’ll open? The northern section isn’t due to be completed until the end of 2010 – At least a year late!!!
( http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/RWRR ),
If you do this walk by public transport, the number-4 bus drops just a little way away on Calveston Road. To get to the “start”, you’ll need to cross Cawston Grange Drive at the large island, to pick up the pathway tucked slightly away from the main road behind a small stand of trees and landscaping planting.
If you arrive by car, there’s parking at the end of Trussell Way at 469,736. From there, there’s a path that leads you south-east(ish) between a farm and the outer edges of the estate to emerge at the stand of trees mentioned above.
I can’t remember why, but I was awake very early, before dawn, and I decided it was a perfect morning to get out and about just as the sun was rising. I love the freshness of an early morning, especially at springtime, and today was a perfect example with light mists hugging the ground, not yet burnt off by the rising sun.
The route from the main road was down Cawston Lane, for a few hundred yards, where the hedgerow flowers seemed particularly fresh looking in the dew, especially the newly opening hawthorn blossom.
I entered Cawston woods (Fox Covert on the map) at a dirt lay-by at a bend in the road (incidentally, there’s room for about half-a-dozen cars here). The woods were still quite dark and gloomy, with only shafts of light highlighting the fringes, the sun not yet high or strong enough to make inroads through the trees. The birds however in the tree tops were by now well into the day, with the noise of their song almost deafening against the quiet of the morning (ever so slight exaggeration but I’m sure you get the idea).
Instead of trying to pick my way through the trees of Cawston Spinney, all the way to the reservoir pool (at the western end of the woods), I decided to exit the woods on a major farm track/path heading towards Windmill Farm/Northampton Lane. Immediately on exiting the woods, I turned right to skirt the irregularly shaped southern edge of Cawston spinney (heading generally westwards) on a wide verge left unploughed and uncropped by the farmer. This was a very unusual occurrence for me, as this is off-rights-of-way and I felt most uncomfortable, especially as a farm worker was trundling up and down on a vehicle spraying the newly flowering oilseed rape in the field. However, all these verges seem well used by dog-walkers etc. from the local area, so I decided [rightly or wrongly] to follow suit, albeit at quite a pace, wanting to be back on official paths as soon as possible. I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible hugging the tree-line, but that’s not easy for someone who’s 6’4” tall and more than 16 st. in weight – really I’m anything but unobtrusive!
After a while, I reached the pool, still mostly in shadow, as the sun started to rise above the adjacent trees.
This was a lovely spot, with mists hanging around over the placid waters and the winter seed heads of reeds and bull-rushes adding an interesting texture to the scene. I spent quite some time here enjoying the peacefulness and trying to capture at least a snippet of the tranquillity with my camera.
Eventually I needed to move onwards, deciding to head up the gentle rise to Northampton Lane (Bridle track) maybe ½ mile to the south. Now the path should have headed off into the middle of the crop (oil seed rape as it happens), but as normal here, the official path wasn’t “on the ground” at-all. Looking the opposite way, nor was the path across towards the A4071 at Brickyard Spinney.
Therefore, I picked up another wide verge around the edge of the field heading south away from the pool. I was again not a right of way, but with no choice in the matter this time I felt much more confident in myself as the farm worker approached in his spraying vehicle.
Now, I have to praise the young man in charge of his machine, because, instead of chastising me about not being on a right of way, he stopped his machine some distance ahead of me, turned off his sprayers and waited until I’d passed by, nodding good morning as I did so. He again waited for some time before commencing his work again. My thanks go to him, and it certainly assuaged some of my annoyance about the paths not being correctly on-the-ground. After a while I looked back over the sea of yellow, the only trace of non-ruralness being the plume of smoke rising up from the Rugby Cement Chimney.
Getting back to the walk, I headed up to a building at the top of the field (Station Farm Cottage I think it’s known as), which sits like an isolated island all on it’s own in the midst of the farmland. I understand it’s got nothing to do with the farming around about, being a private dwelling I think. I was pleased that the frankly aggressive dogs inside its perimeter fences were held in behind the entrance gates. This was especially so, as at the south western corner of the property another path is supposed to head off across the field (wheat I think this time), and I had to spend a couple of minutes working out what to do; the extremely noisy barking and snarling not making concentration any easier as I worked out a compass bearing on where the path ought to have been.
You’ve probably guessed that the path I was intending to take was also not on-the-ground and I felt I was again required to head off-rights-of-way, back-tracking to pick up the wide unploughed verges and hedgerows again, until a short section where the field HAD to be crossed to reach Northampton lane.
This last couple of hundred yards was not at-all difficult though, as the farmer had driven his tractor across here, effectively inserting a path to walk on through the crops. Why he couldn’t do that for the official path is beyond me, it would make life so much less complicated and would ensure the legality for both him (the landowner) and me (the public). Either that, or maybe he ought to apply to the County Council for a permanent route change to the right of way, and if accepted, sign post it accordingly. Even unofficial “can you please use field edges” type signage would help. [Little rant over].
Once on Northampton lane, route finding became much less problematic. The bridle track is bounded by hedges and mature trees, hawthorn bushes, wild flowers, etc.
The lane runs east-west (or west-east if you prefer) and I took the easterly direction towards Dunchurch, the narrow path quickly widening to become an attractive farm track.
1. Two words of warning :-Parts of Northampton lane here can become very muddy, especially close to Windmill Farm and Cottages.
2. I’m told off road motor-cyclists have been using the path (illegally) and obviously could prove to be a hazard if encountered. If you do meet such motorised off-roaders, please contact the paths authorities per the final paragraph of this post.
Thankfully neither of the above were a problem to me for the short distance I used it for (about 1-km), the only downside being the many gossamer threads of cob-webs strung across the path, which felt horrible across my face as I walked into them. I ended up constantly waving my map ahead of me in a vain attempt to break them before they wrapped themselves around my head – Urrgh!
After the short walk along here, I turned off left, skirting a hedge for about 100 yards, before going through the hedge and crossing a ditch via two stiles and a plank bridge. I stopped here for a cup of coffee (I’d been compos mentis enough to fill it before leaving the house). It was here that I rang home, just to ensure they knew where I was … it was now just turned 7am, and I figured my family might be just about stirring. As it happens I woke my good lady wife, which I don’t think went down too well! Sorry again darling.
A diagonal path across the grassy field ahead and down the side of the next field brought me onto familiar ground at a point where various paths meet; all of which I’ve walked before. I chose to turn left, crossing a stile to head generally northwards towards Cawston Spinney down the side of a recently planted potato field. The spuds were just showing through the strikingly shadowed parallel ridge and furrows, almost like a huge piece of corrugated cardboard or art installation (using just a bit of imagination).
I was soon back in Cawston Woods (having now completed a very rough circle) the sunlight highlighting the carpets of bluebells and vibrancy of the trees just coming into full leaf. The birdsong hadn’t let up at-all, but was now having to compete with the sounds of traffic in the far distance as the residents of Cawston, Bilton and Rugby started to rise and move about. After a wander through the bluebells in the woods, a quick return up Cawston Lane, brought me back to the A4071 and my fave’ rickety fence. I re-crossed the main road to head back into the modern housing estate and home again enthused, wide awake and ready to do the day.
It’s sort of difficult to say what distances I covered very accurately, as I was doing a bit of exploration; taking photo’s; mucking about with route finding, etc,. All in all it was probably about 3 miles or so and thoroughly enjoyable despite the path finding difficulties.
For reporting or commenting on any path problems etc, [or I suppose equally to praise good way marking or the like] the contact tel-no. is 01926 413427, or email firstname.lastname@example.org ; I got these numbers from a signpost on another path in Warwickshire recently so hopefully will work.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20090517_Coventry CHA Rambling Club Walk – Sugar Loaf Linear Walk.