20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk
1st Half_Clifton to All Saints Curch, Lilbourne via Clifton Lakes.
When : 19th February 2012
Who : Just me
Where : Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Near Rugby, Warwickshire, England.
Start Point & End Point : SP 533,764
Full Walk Distance : Approx 8.8 miles (14 km)
Full Walk Significant heights : … See end of diary for details.
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry.
Full Walk Summary : A circular walk across pleasant Warwickshire Farmland, starting and finishing in Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, taking in the small village of Lilbourne, two motte and bailey castles, an old disused railway station and passing straight through the middle of the famous Rugby Radio Masts and then, in complete contrast, joining the Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Locks including seeing a canal boat accident.
click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
I’ve just rediscovered some of my photo’s from just over a year ago now, and they brought back some good memories of a super little walk that just proves that good walking weather CAN happen in the winter in England – Even if we’ve seen precious little decent weather this year so far (writing in April 2013).
I was rehabilitating from knee surgery from the December before, and the thought of a 7-8 mile walk felt quite daunting, but, with all day to do it and just myself to look after, I decided to give it a go and soon found myself parked in the Village ofClifton-upon-Dunsmore in a small car-park near to St. Mary’s Church (on the Lilbourne Road).
First of all, I went for a wander around the church grounds with the morning sun perfectly lighting up the stone and woodwork of the church and memorial cross. I particularly liked the textures of the mosses on the Lychgate roof tiles (nature can be so beautiful even in the simplest of forms), but after a short while I returned to the car to don boots, grab walking poles, map, ruck-sack etc. and set off with all the joys of spring, albeit still in the last chills of winter.
The start of the walk was easy, allowing my knees to get moving nicely, heading out along The Lilbourne Road towards Lilbourne (easterly) for a very short distance before turning left on a minor road towards Manor Farm. This road reduced down to a farm track (Buckwell Lane on my map) to the left of and just outside the frankly quite scruffy farm; the boundary fence being strewn with rubbish from old tyres to plastic fertiliser/feed bags and all kinds of detritus. So much for the so called stewards of the countryside (i.e. farmers) telling us ramblers not to leave litter in the countryside. In my experience there’s more litter left in the hedgerows by farmers than ramblers. BUT, if you are reading this and heading out into our superb landscapes, either wild or cultivated – Please follow the Countryside Code.
The farm track soon emerged into pastureland with the way ahead down the left hand side of a hedge, the ground severely marked by deep tractor furrows leading down the gentle slope into the next couple of fields, populated by a handful of rather proud looking sheep.
The path takes a half-left across this last field to then pass through a hedge, cross another (narrow) field and emerge into a rather scratty looking field, much of which was covered in the striking seed heads of teasel plants; Time to get out the camera and play around with focussing/depth-of-field and the like; one or two even came out OK I think.
The way ahead was to follow the left hand edge of the field, slightly raised up from a series of ponds sitting adjacent to the young River Avon; the ponds are collectively known as Clifton Lakes and I’d imagine a haven for wildlife, despite the appearance of what looked like a rubbish dump in the area.
Right in the corner of the field is an electricity pylon, and I played around once again with my camera trying to capture the strong industrial shapes against the increasingly vivid deep blue sky.
There had been two signs along the route so far, educating me that I was walking on two named paths:-
- Shakespeare’s Avon Way, From the Source to the Severn, devised and promoted by Shakespeare’s Avon Way Association.
- Canal Circular Walk, British Waterways / Warwickshire County Council.
I mused to myself whether The Bard had ever made it this far up-stream of the much larger and far more famous stretches of the Avon at Leamington, Warwick, Stratford and Evesham, etc. Anyway, I moved on, again near the left-hand edge of a field and raised up above a curiously long and thin rectangular shaped lake. It didn’t look like a canal, and it was far too straight to be a natural water-course; so, a closer look on the map showed it to be following the route of a dismantled railway in a cutting, now partially flooded … perhaps to serve as a landing strip for the local swan population? This “lake” ended abruptly near the A5 road, otherwise known by its Roman name of Watling Street.
This almost dead straight road (you could guess it was Roman even if you didn’t know for sure) is a major carriageway, carrying cars and lorries at what could be described as break-neck speeds. It maybe wouldn’t seem so fast when sat behind the wheel, but to a person on foot trying to cross you’ve got to have your wits about you and take great care. Luckily for me, there wasn’t too much traffic on the day, and a large gap soon presented itself for my traverse of the tarmac to the other side. I believe this is where I moved out of Warwickshire and into Northamptonshire.
A drop down a bank and through a hedge-line brought me into another crop field. The route ahead was half-right, diagonally through the middle of what could be a ploughed field or crops depending on the time of year, heading up a rise aiming to the left of another pylon up ahead. I again tried to capture some interesting pic’s of the steelwork. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it was worth it or not. Gaining the little bit of height opened up a pleasant view across the shallow Avon Valley and up to the attractive little village of Catthorpe.
Now, you may have heard of Catthorpe, but not because of the diminutive village; no you’ve probably heard the name associated with the nearby interchange of the M1, M6 and A14. This junction is infamous for being quite dysfunctional and synonymous with accidents (often serious) and traffic jams; it seems a week hardly ever goes by without at least one incident or hold-up being reported on our local radio. If there’s ever a redesign on our roads needed then this junction should come pretty high up anyone’s list.
Anyway, enough of that, back to the walk; Once past the pylon, the path swung a little to the right, into a corner of the field, passed into the next field past a small pool and on to the end of a small piece of woodland marked as Lilbourne Furze on my map and then over towards a slightly larger area of woods called Lilbourne Gorse. Just before reaching Lilbourne Gorse, the path swung to the right (almost south), still rising, to reach an area containing the ancient remains of a medieval Motte & Bailey fortification. A less than pristine sign informed that : “the large mound, the motte, was made of earth or rubble and was topped by a defensive structure such as a palisade or tower. The bailey, which lay to the north of the motte on this site, was an embanked enclosure containing a variety of buildings”. Well the motte is still visually quite impressive, commanding fine views in all directions. The bailey, not obvious at-all … and buildings contained within – have disappeared completely. A conveniently placed bench became a welcome spot for some refreshment, looking across a patchwork of fields and hedges and over to the hurried ribbon of vehicles heading up and down the M1 completely oblivious to the historic site about a mile away from them.
Eventually, I dragged myself back to my feet, deciding I really ought to make some more progress and I soon found my way back to the edge of Lilbourne Gorse and crossed into the next field (pasture land). Another ancient remnant of history immediately presented itself, this time not marked on my map, but more earthworks and then a series of ridge and furrows spread out in front of me, like the land had been corrugated down and across the hillside. Two paths were available at this point and I chose the one heading pretty much eastwards heading for a church Tower, at the bottom of the slope. Once down, the path crosses a wooden stile directly into the church graveyard and then out onto a very minor road where a very prominent sign pronounced the church to be All Saints’ Church, Lilbourne.
Just after stepping out onto the road, a cyclist in a bright yellow top appeared, moving quite quickly on the otherwise empty road. Nothing unusual about that do I hear you say?, well no, except the cycle was a unicycle and the rider was perched quite high above the ground. I rapidly fired off a couple of shots on my camera, but didn’t really get a decently sharp image, but enough to record the oddity.
Opposite the church on the other side of the road is another motte and bailey castle (signs say no public access), the motte seemingly consisting of several mounds. I know not whether these are definitive separate entities or the remains of one much larger mound, I suspect the latter and if I’m right it must have been quite a structure. Unlike the earlier castle on top of the hill, this lowland fort would have had a ready supply of water; the River Avon being just a stones throw away.
Well, that’s it, for the 1st half of the walk, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings enough to want to read about the 2nd half … If you do, please use this link to go straight there.
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.
Break-Down of Heights Climbed (over the full walk) :- Although nothing steep or too difficult at-all, just gently undulating farmland.
- 25m (80 feet) – From A5 near Clifton Lakes to the 1st Motte + Bailey Castle.
- 15m (50 feet) – From Lilbourne Church to Centre of Lilbourne Village.
- 30m (100 feet) – From Hillmorton Locks/Oxford Canal to Clifton Village.