20130512 + 20130519_Two Spring Walks In Cawston Bluebell Woods

20130512 + 20130519_Two Spring Walks In Cawston Bluebell Woods

20130519-01_Welcome to Cawston by gary.haddenWhen : 12th May (afternoon) and 19th May (early morning) 2013.

Where : Fox Covert/Cawston Spinney … Bluebell woods, off Cawston Lane, to the south of Rugby.

Map : 1:25,000 OS. Explorer Map 222, Rugby & Daventry. Map Reference : SP 473,727

Distance : Approx 2.5 miles (4 km) and about 2.8 miles (4.5 km)

Significant heights : None20130519-05_Cawston - Looking to Lime Tree Avenue by gary.hadden

I’ve decided this diary post is to combine a couple of wanders down to Cawston woods from our home on the Cawston Grange Estate. The housing estate abuts up to mixed farmland which is slowly being gobbled up by the expanding suburbs of Rugby Town, but right now I feel very fortunate to be able to leave my front door (in one of those new suburbs) and within a couple of minutes be in rural leafy Warwickshire and within five to ten minutes I can be in Cawston Woods.

—- …. — … — …— …. —-

20130512_Cawston Woods Circular Walk      20130519_A photographic walk in Cawston (Rugby) and Cawston bluebell woods

20130519-06_Cawston - Last of the Daffs by gary.hadden    20130519-07_Cawston - Rustic Fence by gary.hadden

20130512-02_Public Footpath passing Cawston Farm - Rugby Warwickshire by gary.hadden   20130512-05_Path through Bluebells_Cawston Woods by gary.hadden

20130519-08_Cawston Bluebell Woods-Shafts of Sunlight by gary.haddenThe woods are special any time of year, partly because there are not a huge number of woods in the area; but they are especially pretty in the spring when the trees are bursting forth with their first leaves of the year, allowing a soft light to percolate through to the ground highlighting the carpet of bluebells. In fact the early morning sunshine on the 19th was really attractive breaking through in shafts, highlighting the bluebells and forming strongly contrasting shadows through the trees – Superb – well worth the effort to leave the house before anyone else was up! Some years the display of bluebells can be in April, other years, like this year it can be as late as Mid May. Also in some years it seems like the bulbous plants take a bit of a rest and don’t throw up so many blooms and can be quite sparsely distributed throughout the woods. In other years however they can be much more densely packed and this year just happened to be really quite stunning.

20130519-10_Cawston Bluebell Woods by gary.hadden

20130512-07_Cawston Bluebell Woods by gary.hadden

20130512-08_Cawston Bluebell Woods by gary.hadden

20130519-16_Cawston Bluebell Woods by gary.hadden  20130519-15_Cawston Bluebell Woods by gary.hadden

Apart from the woods themselves, the environs of Cawston are also quite attractive, there are footpaths around the perimeter of the estate and open fields which become covered with dandelion flowers and then soon after, thousands of seed heads; up close these are very pretty especially with a misting of morning dew – but a right pain in the garden where they seem to constantly land and seed themselves … a never ending battle and proof if it was ever needed that a weed is only a plant that is growing where it’s not wanted.

20130512-12_Cawston Grange - Perimeter Path - Bridleway by gary.hadden   20130519-04_Dandelion Seed Head by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s probably enough words for now, just to add that even local places have there beauty, just don’t lose sight of that in the passing of everyday life and familiarity of where you live … I guess it’s something we’re all guilty of to a lesser or greater degree.

20130519-03_Dandelion Seed Head by gary.hadden

20130519-18_Cawston -Rugby - Warwickshire by gary.hadden   20130519-19_Rustic Fence - Cawston by gary.hadden

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

Oh, and finally, if you click on a photo’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream …. and there are a bunch more pic’s of the woods / bluebells / Cawston in my photostream / sets of images if you want to go see.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20121201_A Frosty Short Walk – Cawston Rugby

20121201_A Frosty Short Walk – Cawston Rugby

When : 1st December 2012

Who : Me and my son Craig

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

Map : 1:25,000 OS. Outdoor Leisure Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

Approx Start and End Point : SP470,735

Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)

Significant heights : None to speak of.

Summary : A short walk from our front door through local farmland and woods around Cawston to the south-west of Rugby.

20121201-01_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.haddenWell, you could have knocked me over with a feather, as this little morning jaunt around Cawston was prompted by my eleven year old son who ASKED to go for a walk as he wanted to take some photo’s of the frosty conditions we’d woken up to. Now if you’ve read any of my other diaries you’ll know my passions in life include country walking and taking photo’s whilst out on my country walks … so, you’ll also realise I’d have readily said yes, Okey Dokey, let’s wrap up warm and get our boots on. A few minutes later (well half an hour maybe), we were walking through the streets to find the perimeter path around the Cawston Grange estate where we live (for convenience I’ve used the end of Trussell Way for measuring distances and on the “walk jog run” map I’ve traced the route on). I was armed with my Pentax K200D DSLR and Craig had our little digital compact Kodak C195.

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. You’ll see that some of the pic’s are kind of doubled up – This is because Craig and I took pictures of the same subjects but from different perspectives and different angles (height, age and camera differences make for different image).

20121201-03_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.haddenThere isn’t too much to say about the perimeter path other than it rapidly took us out onto the B4642 (the old A4071) where we crossed straight away to reach an old rustic wooden fence bounding a ploughed field. I like this fence, I know it’s only of simple construction, but it’s rather unkempt with broken slats, bits semi-rotten and tangled with weeds. The sun had risen enough to have started melting the frost on the ground and foliage, including the trees above us which periodically would drip a fine mist of water droplets over us – refreshing? Ermm, no, not really, just wet and cold! We stayed here for a few moments taking some pic’s of the fence, dew drops, frost, leaves on the ground, etc.

20121201-04_Tangled - Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden   20121201-05_Tangled - Dew Drops_By Craig by gary.hadden

20121201-02_Rustic Fence_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden   20121201-08_Frosty Leaf - Soft Focus_By Craig by gary.hadden

20121201-07_Patch of Light on Leaves by gary.hadden

20121201-11_Frosty Bridle Path_Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.haddenWe then moved on, crossing back over the main road, and then heading away from Rugby, passing the end of Cawston Lane, and opposite this, the start of a bridle path heading off between two properties. Although inviting, we ignored this path to carry on, on the roadside path passing in front of a series of houses (some quite posh!) making up the old part of Cawston as opposed to the new Cawston Grange Estate where we live. We were fortunate to get a short burst of a rainbow arching above the roofs – Another photo opportunity.

20121201-09_Rainbow over Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden

20121201-10__Rainbow over Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.hadden

Further along the road a small rose bush was still in flower despite having lost most of its leaves to the early winter weather; the few pink blooms hanging on to life with a frosting like a sprinkling of sugar on the petals enhancing the prettiness rather than detracting from arguably one of the most attractive of flowers.

20121201-12_Frosty Rose_Cawston Rugby by gary.hadden

20121201-13__Frosty Rose_Cawston Rugby_By Craig by gary.hadden

We now had to re-cross the B4642 main road to pick up a footpath heading off behind Brickyard Spinney (by crossing a stile beside a large metal gate). Weather-wise it had now started to cloud-in somewhat, shrouding the low sun which was desperately trying to resist, but only 20121201-14_Watery Winter Sun_By Craig by gary.haddensucceeded in creating a watery wintry grey. After maybe a hundred yards (if that) down the side of Brickyard Spinney, we had to cross a ploughed field. However, luckily for us, the farmer had only reached half way across the field, so giving us a harder surface to walk on, albeit over the stiff short stubble of the cleared crop. The route was now diagonally down across the field heading towards the right hand end of a line of trees in the distance (a telegraph pole in the middle of the field gives a rough direction marker).

20121201-15_Cawston or Potfords Dam Pool_By Craig by gary.haddenAt the bottom of the slope, and secluded behind the trees, is a small pool of water. It’s a purely subjective thing, but I think it’s hardly big enough to be called a lake but I’d say too large to be called a pond, so pool will have to do. In effect it’s a small reservoir, formed behind a low arching earth bank. There used to be pretty much free access around one side of the pool which locals used for years for dog walking etc., but recently some signs have gone up saying it has been closed as part of a “wildlife conservation area”, along with a chunk of Cawston Woods. Although there’s not a public right of way here, personally I think stopping people walking around the edge of the pool is unnecessary and maybe 20121201-16_Cawston or Potfords Dam Pool by gary.haddena little spiteful; there were never hoards of people that went here to “disturb” the few ducks and coots that come here; so I think there’s possibly a different ulterior motive behind the decision – but it is private property, so I guess there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Anyway, enough of countryside politics, at least for now, we took a couple of pic’s each in the light rain that had now started to fall and I talked to Craig about how to “frame” a photo by using tree branches and the like. It was good having a little father and son time – I appreciate it now and I hope in later life it will give good memories for Craig. The outflow from the pool is little more than a drainage ditch, but after all the wet weather we’d had during 2012 it had a fair amount of water in it … eventually it flows past/through Lawford Heath to join The Avon at Long Lawford a few miles to the north.

20121201-17_Drainage Ditch_Potfords Dam-Cawston by gary.hadden   20121201-18_Drainage Ditch_Potfords Dam-Cawston_By Craig by gary.hadden

Heading back to the official path brought us to a direction indicator post, showing the right-of-way heading straight out into the crop field. Now back to politics – This path has NEVER been on the ground since I moved here over ten 20121201_A Frosty Short Walk - Cawston Rugbyyears ago now. Instead, there’s a wide verge left around the left hand side of the field, and effectively we were forced to walk off the official path, rising up the side of a hedge roughly heading south towards the left of an isolated property. Near to this property, we met a farm track, even though not an official right of way, this has also been used for years by local dog walkers and I chose to turn left along here rather than continue south to reach Northampton Lane (which IS an official path) marked by a line of trees in the distance.

We were now walking on the hard surface of the farm track in an easterly direction and almost dead flat with fields on both sides. The rain had now stopped and although slowly thawing, the puddles on the track were still frozen with patterns in the ice, kind of reminiscent of contour lines on a map – quite attractive really – but not easy to get a half decent photo of. Craig has just this moment told me how much he liked the ice patterns, but once he’d taken a few pic’s it didn’t stop him stamping in the middle of some of them, enjoying the crunching, cracking sounds of boots on breaking ice!

20121201-19_Frozen Puddle Patterns by gary.hadden      20121201-20_Frozen Puddle Patterns_By Craig by gary.hadden

After a good while the track takes a sharp bend to the left, heading towards Cawston Woods. It was a nice feeling to get back onto an official right of way here; I always feel more comfortable knowing that I’m allowed to be on the path. The track soon headed into the woods dissecting the trees with Cawston Spinney on our left and Fox Covert on our right. We had a choice of continuing along the farm track to rise up to Cawston Farm and the B4642, or the choice we actually took, turning right onto a narrow dirt path heading into Fox Covert. It’s surprising how much warmer it felt in the trees even without their canopy of leaves, but it still felt rather damp. A fallen tree slowly rotting in the undergrowth and in the wet conditions had become the perfect host for loads of small bracket fungi – another photo opportunity.

20121201-21_Fungi_Cawston Woods_Rugby by gary.hadden       20121201-22_Fungi_Cawston Woods_Rugby by gary.hadden

Continuing through the woods we chatted, to emerge onto Cawston Lane at a small dirt lay-by by the side of the road (parking for a handful of cars) where we turned left along the narrow road and keeping well into the side as it can be quite busy with cars which often move far too fast for the size of road.

It didn’t take long to be back at the B4642 and the rustic fence again, and then a final cross over the main road to reach the perimeter path we’d originally set off on. The 20121201-24_Red Cornus Plants_Cawston Grange Perimeter Path by gary.haddendrizzle had stopped, and the grey cloud had lifted, thinned and broken up a little and the soft brightness helped highlight and lift the colour in the red cornus plants lining the path; a lovely way to end our walk.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and our photo’s; I found it interesting comparing Craig’s efforts with mine; different cameras, and a different take on the world, which would be expected given our height differences …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of our pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool.

20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool. 

20100427-07_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.haddenWhen : 27th April 2010

Who : Me and Craig

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Maps : Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 222

Start + End Point : Cawston Grange Estate, SP47,73 and Farthest Point : SP464,726

Approx Distance : 2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Heights : None to speak of really (30-foot rise from Potford’s Dam Pool to Brickyard spinney max) 

20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool.

Following my previous post about an evening wander in the Cawston area of Rugby, here’s a short diary post about another evening stroll around Cawston but this time on the other (southern) side of the Coventry Road. This was again with my son (then aged 8 ) and I really like him wanting to come out with me on these little expeditions; who knows in later life, when he’s bigger and fitter than me, he’ll be taking me out for a walk out in the countryside. 

20100427-01_Potato ridge and furrow - parallel line perspective by gary.hadden

From our home on the Cawston Grange Estate we headed up to The Coventry Road, turned away from Bilton/Rugby and then took a left into Cawston Lane and set off down the country road. The fields on both sides behind the hedges were still pretty much bare, but one in particular had been tilled up into the very distinctive ridge and furrows of a potato crop. I like the strong lines that this produces, especially with the low evening sun casting shadows across the field, enhancing the perspective effect of converging parallel lines. 

20100427-02_Bluebells - Cawston Woods - Fox Covert - Rugby by gary.haddenAfter a few hundred yards, Cawston Lane makes a bit of a bend to the left with a dirt lay-by on the right, large enough for several cars. From here a path heads off into Cawston Woods (Fox Covert to give the proper name here) passing a quite ugly looking disused circular water treatment construction on the way. Once we were a little further into the woods we were greeted by a carpet of bluebells, one of those sights that just can’t help but lift the spirits – We’re so lucky to have the woods so close to home – it even works for youngsters, evidenced by Craig dashing back and forth along the paths criss-crossing through the flowers. 

We eventually arrived at a sizeable farm track that divides the woods in two, and promptly crossed straight over into the trees on the other side (now called Cawston Spinney) to follow a winding narrow path down to a mini-stream and from there we found our way 20100427-06_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.haddenout to a small expanse of water. For description purposes, (although it’s rather subjective) I’d say it’s bigger than a pond but smaller than a lake, maybe a good sized pool is apt enough … but maybe you’d be better off just looking at my pic’s to get an impression of how big it is. My map doesn’t actually name this small reservoir, so I guess any one of several names would fit :- Cawston Woods Reservoir?, Cawston Pond?, Potford’s Dam Lake?, or my personal fave’ Potford’s Dam Pool …. anyone have a definitive answer? Please? 

20100427-10_Nesting Coot in Reeds - Potford's Dam Pool by gary.haddenThe pool is not an overly exciting place in terms of national landscape, but I like it here! It is very roughly triangular in shape, bounded by the woods down half of one side and a steep bank and a line of trees along another, the remaining margins open up into ploughed farmland. There is a tranquility here that seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This was exemplified by a coot sat on its nest in the bank-side reeds, no more than a few feet away from the path – she (or he?) was completely un-phased by our presence.

20100427-11_Reeds - Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.hadden

20100427-12_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.hadden

20100427-13_Tranquility Shattered by gary.haddenWe had only moved on a short way, when the peaceful almost mirror like waters were well and truly shattered, when a dog appeared all of a sudden, launched itself off the bank, to land with a large splaaa-doosh in the water – quite spectacular, but it did destroy the quiet time we’d just spent watching the coot a few moments earlier. The dog and its owner soon moved on, leaving the pool to return to the placidness of before – Lovely. 

20100427-15_Moon-rise_Potford's Dam Pool + Cawston Woods by gary.haddenTime was now pressing on with daylight giving way to a special pinky-blue light of late evening; We were superbly fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to see the moon rise, peeking over the tree tops of the now shadowy, gloomy woods – Beautiful is an overly used word sometimes, but this was, simply, beautiful!

20100427-14_Moon-rise_Potford's Dam Pool + Cawston Woods by gary.hadden     20100427-17_Moon-rise over Cawston Woods + Oil seed rape field by gary.hadden

With evening rapidly drawing in, it was time to head back home and we easily found the path that heads from Potford’s Dam Pool up to Brickyard Spinney. For once the path was actually on the ground here (it often isn’t) which I was really, really happy about, especially as it rose straight through an oil-seed-rape crop as tall as Craig’s shoulders and sometimes completely above his head. The icing-on-the-cake, so to speak, was again watching the moon rise above the tree line (it’d disappeared from view as we left the pool) and the soft remnants of the sun setting over the horizon, beyond Lawford Heath. 

20100427-18_Sunset over Lawford Heath from Cawston (Rugby) by gary.hadden

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my pix ….

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

20091011_A walk through Cawston Woods

20091011_A Walk Through Cawston Woods

When : 11th October 2009

Who : Just Me

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

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

Start + End Point : Cawston Housing Estate – South West of Rugby

Approx Distance : Couple of miles or so.

Significant Heights : None worth mentioning.

Summary : A wander of a walk starting (and therefore finishing) at Cawston to the south west of Rugby, taking in :- The A4071 B4642 ; Cawston Lane, Cawston Woods and back again.

There’s not much to say as a pre-amble to this really, other than I live close to Cawston Woods; I had an hour or two to spare and there were blue skies, stormy looking clouds and a bright low sun, all of which combined to make a lovely interesting light and long shadows.

I used the perimeter path that skirts the outside of the new Cawston housing estate to reach what was the A4071 but has now been renamed the B4642 since the opening of the Rugby Western Relief Road and crossed over to head down Cawston Lane (towards Dunchurch).

After about ¼ of a mile at a slight bend in the road (and just before the entrance into the Lime Tree Village retirement complex) is a dirt lay-by which can take a handful of cars (often used by dog walkers) and it’s here that I headed into Cawston Woods. To be more accurate, according to the OS map, this is called Fox Covert and it merges into both Boat House Spinney and Cawston Spinney, but collectively they are known locally as Cawston Woods. At first there’s an old disused circular brick built water-works construction and a couple of pathways then lead into the woods with improvised “bridges” to cross some boggy/muddy bits.

I think the woods themselves are probably quite unremarkable in the wide scheme of things, but in this part of Warwickshire they are by far the largest grouping of trees for many a mile, a green island in a very gently rolling sea of fields. If you look at the Rugby and Daventry OS map there really is a dearth of green splodges representing woodland, so I suppose the resource really is quite important for both wildlife and humans alike.

I guess they’ll always be a degree of conflict between nature and people, and at times between people and people who want different things from life. This is shown quite markedly by youngsters who very resourcefully dug-out and constructed a bike jumps track and they zoom back and forth, at times flying through the air before landing and heading off to the next jump. I will say that when-ever I’ve had to walk on the paths across the line of jumps the cyclists have always stopped to let me pass. However, there is a claim that they’ve dug up and displaced the residents of a badger sett which if accurate would seem a terrible shame. There is a new campaign just starting up trying to redress this and restrict/stop the dirt-trackers. As I said people in conflict with people, people in conflict with nature … it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a compromise that can be had, especially as I believe the woods are private property and there’s no official access at-all apart from two footpath rights-of-way that briefly pass through. What I hope is that the outcome isn’t that the landowners ban everyone from the woods (probably impossible now, but let’s hope there isn’t another conflict brewing!)

I like the woods, they’re a good place to wander, I especially like early morning or late afternoon and you don’t need to go very far in to get a degree of quietness with the noise of normal life being left at least a little way behind; the sound of cars being replaced by bird-song and the rustle of the breeze in the tree tops (oooo that’s almost poetic, but hardly Wordsworthian!). Anyway, I did a bit of a circuit enjoying the dappled light piercing through the trees casting long shadows onto the undergrowth and crunchy leaf-litter below and I was soon back to the lay-by on Cawston lane.

Turning left, I headed back up the lane towards Cawston and was struck how wild a couple of the fields looked, perhaps giving a glimpse of how the area could revert to the heath-land that long ago once covered this region but is now tamed and lives on only in names like Marton Moor, Bog Spinney, Bourton Heath, Dunsmore Heath and closest to Cawston Woods, Lawford Heath. Also dotted around are farmsteads with names like Heath’s Barn, Heath farm (more than one), Wilcox’s Gorse and Heath House.

Stopping to take a photo’ of this scene allowed me to see a large but rather raggedy looking red-admiral butterfly alight on some ivy in the hedge here. It stayed still just about long enough for me to take a couple or three close up pic’s (well as close as my kit-lens could cope with) and which proves that if you take time to look there’s allsorts to be seen.

  

    

The trees lining the A4071, B4642, were turning colour with a vengeance now that autumn had well and truly arrived, the low sun picking out the yellows, oranges and browns: A portent that winter was coming [and what a winter it turned out to be, the coldest and snowiest for years]. Crossing the main road, I was soon back to the outskirts of the Cawston Grange housing estate and it didn’t take long before I was home again.

 

Not a long walk by any means, but enjoyable none-the-less and all within minutes of my front door – wonderful, the type of thing that moving out of Coventry to the outskirts of Rugby was meant to achieve.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = A wander by The Avon – Wolston

20091004_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

20091004_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

When : 4th October 2009

Who : Just Me

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

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

Start + End Point : End of Trussell Way on Cawston Housing Estate GR.469,735

Approx Distance : 5.5 miles, 8.5 km

Significant Heights : Just one rise of approx 100 ft (30m) when leaving Draycote Water, otherwise none worth mentioning.

Parking : On street parking on the estate … end of Trussell Way, off Cawston Grange Drive, I suppose is as good as any, put please park politely and with consideration as this is a residential area.

Public Transport : No.4 Bus from Rugby travels along, and drops of on, Calvestone Road near the large island at 474,734

Summary : Circular walk starting (and therefore finishing) at Cawston to the south west of Rugby, taking in :- The A4071 B4642 ; Cawston Woods ; Northampton Lane ; End of M45/Start of A45 ; Thurlaston Village ; Draycote Water ; and Cawston Woods again.

I was up and about quite early and as there wasn’t anything particularly happening during the morning, I decided to take advantage of what looked like some nice settled weather. The sun hadn’t come up properly yet but the pre-dawn glow looked extremely promising, so, up I got and readied myself quite quickly (and as quietly as possible so as not to disturb my family). I didn’t really know exactly where I’d end up or how far I’d go, except I knew I maybe had to get the other side of Cawston woods to stand a chance of seeing the sun come up to best effect.

I used the perimeter path that skirts the outside of the new Cawston housing estate (it passes the end of Trussell Way) to reach what was the A4071 but has now been renamed the B4642 since the opening of the Rugby Western Relief Road (The RWRR is now called the A4071). I love the old rickety rustic fence here especially when it’s silhouetted against the dawn sky; it might seem a bit sad (little things please little minds), but I like the juxtaposition of the relatively neat field boundary with a slightly run down rustic unkempt feel. The sun was just coming up, with the glow (a mix of soft yellow, orange and pink colours) picking up some light cloud and wispy vapour trails – lovely!

 

I was certainly moving quite quickly as I strode out down the side of the Coventry Road (A4071-B4642) to cross over at Nature Trails Nursery/Cawston Farm and then headed off down the farm track towards Cawston Woods (Fox Covert + Cawston Spinney). Once through the woods and up the track into open farmland again, I felt I could relax a little and I spent a little time trying to take a few pic’s with the sun rising above the horizon. After that little interlude, I headed off over some grassy fields to emerge onto Northampton Lane a short distance west of Windmill Farm and cottages.

Turning right, I headed out along the broad track of Northampton Lane which (although a bridle track) narrowed to little more than a path as it continued between hedges and mature trees. Although quite good underfoot (it can get rather muddy) I was forever getting gossamer threads of spider webs across my face as they stretched across the path – horrible stuff – occasionally the threads were highlighted by the early morning sun allowing me to wave them aside but more often than not the first time I knew of them was as they wrapped themselves around my face – Yuck!.

After about a quarter of a mile I left Northampton Lane; taking a footpath (heading off southwards) to reach the B4429 (Coventry Road). Turning right alongside the road, I soon reached a major traffic island where the M45 starts (or terminates depending on direction of travel). I carefully crossed to the opposite side of the island and after a little searching I found the footpath I wanted heading away (south eastwards) down the side of a field … a field of gold bathed in the early morning sun … After a few hundred yards the path emerged into Stocks Lane on the outskirts of Thurlaston.

  

Thurlaston is a very pretty village, with its converted windmill, leafy lanes and attractive cottages. Having been through here on numerous occasions before, I soon found my way through the village, taking Stocks Lane, passing the stocks themselves; Main Street and Church Lane.

  

At the end of Church Lane just past St Edmunds’ church and quite close to the old windmill, a track drops down to Draycote Water (pronounced Dray-cott).  I skirted the reservoir (in a clockwise direction) briefly on the perimeter road and then by dropping right down to the waters’ edge to try and get some photo’s of the sunrise. I was surprised at the low level of the reservoir considering the really poor summer we’d just had.

After a very short distance, at the north-easterly point of the reservoir, I left the water behind to take a track heading pretty much northwards up a hillside to pick up the National Cycle Network route-41 crossing under the wide line of the M45, past Ryefield Farm and on to the B4429 Coventry Road. Crossing straight over, the path then continued northwards, through a small plot of allotments and then across a single field to reach Northampton lane for a second time, this time just about 100 yards or so to the east of Windmill Farm. Luckily the lane was reasonable dry and I didn’t have lots of smelly farmyard mud to contend with as can often be the case here. Turning left along Northampton lane, I then turned right onto another path at the small grouping of buildings. The route was again heading north following the line of a hedge for a couple of fields to a junction of footpaths. Ignoring the side paths to the right and left the path continues down the side of a ploughed field. The farmer always leaves a good strip of land here, so walking was quite easy and it wasn’t long before the path opened up into a farm track dropping gentle down into Cawston Spinney.

I was now back on the track first used at the start of the day and after passing straight through Cawston Spinney/Fox Covert, I was soon back at Cawston Farm and The Nature Trails Nursery on the B4642 (old A4071). There is a tarmac footpath on the other side of the main road (please be careful crossing) and it didn’t take long to be back into the Cawston Grange Housing Estate … and back home …. and all before the rest of my family were up and moving. A superb start to a day.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and pics ….

Next walk = 20091004_Stretton – Princethorpe Circular Walk

20090510_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

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 paths@warwickshire.gov.uk ; 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.