20140110_Happy Walking – A conversation by email

Hi everyone,

Well after what seems far too long, here’s my first post of the year ….

A little while ago, a person from the Rugby area contacted me by email, (about one of my Lawfords walk posts). It’s always nice knowing that someone has not only happened upon my stuff, but even nicer when they’ve read a post and then either commented via wordpress or contacted me directly. So, just thought I’d share some of the conversation that grew from that first contact (names etc. removed), as it goes to show how all kinds of peeps and of all abilities can enjoy and get enthusiastic about walking as a great past-time. so here goes :-

28th Dec 2013 :-

Hi Gary, being a novice and late starter of doing country walks can you tell me do all your routes have right of way and we wont be chased off the land?? i would like to do The Lawords route but unsure.

29th Dec 2013 :-

Thanks for contacting me, sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. Virtually all of my routes are on rights of ways (Public Footpaths, Bridleways, Byways, etc. …. Personally I feel very uncomfortable when finding myself off rights-of-way. The exception is in wilder country when in designated open country. The Lawfords walks I’ve done are all on rights of ways and featured in several books of walks covering Coventry and Warwickshire. The only bit on the Lawfords walk that could be considered non-right-of-way, is immediately after crossing the Avon and then the mill race at Little Lawford, where I have walked on the drive between the buildings in order to access the track down to the ford. It’s only a matter of yards though and if you’re not comfortable doing this there is a path that heads up to the tarmac’d road north of the ford.

The only place locally where you might find I’ve been on non-rights-of-way is the area south of Potfords Dam Pool/Cawston Woods – The path is always ploughed up and field boundaries have to be used. Also, over the years all the farm tracks have been used around there by dog-walkers and the like but in recent times there have been signs going up warning about trespass and the like. Perhaps the farmer has changed and is being a little more pedantic these days, but until he marks the proper route, then you’ve got to find the best route possible.
The best advice I can give is to buy the local 1:25,000 OS map and follow the words written onto the map before you set out. I never walk purely on anybody’s written route descriptions – I always rely on my maps. I hope this helps, but if you have any more questions, I’m happy to email or comment against a particular blog post …. or, if you email a phone no. I would be happy to talk. Best regards and happy walking, Gary
29th Jan 2014 : –
Brilliant, thanks Gary…went over to Go Outdoors today for the said OS map…and came away with a new base layer, a mid layer, a new coat for Jill my wife…and the map.!! worse than going to Wilkos…
29th Jan 2014 :-
Welcome to the world of walking …. As with all hobbies there always seem to be new gadgets and the latest technology especially in clothes and boots. I was in “Go” yesterday with my wife and she bought new walking trousers and a fleece top.  If you’d like to meet up we could maybe do a local walk together ? TTFN.Gary
30th Jan 2014 :-
Hi Gary, that sounds good, thank you, give me a while to work up to a descent level as we have only just started. So far it seems 6 hours planning route, 1+ hours walk, 2hrs. cleaning boots!! all good fun.

4th Jan 2014 : –

Hi Gary, went on a good walk on Monday 30th. Harbro Magna, Easenhall across a few very muddy fields, towpath to Cathiron and back up to H. Magna. Quite hard work for us with the mud. Good walk tho…but got home and realised I had dropped my Mob phone and sunglasses..DOH!! fell out when I was checking map. Retraced steps next day and found both in a field of sheep next to Oxford canal towpath..How lucky.The main reason I am emailing is to ask you if you could recommend any good walking books or literature of Walks around Rugby. Even tho I have bought the 222 O/S map the details are still pretty small to read, I am experimenting in scanning parts of the map and blowing them up to read en route.

7th Jan 2014 :-

Great that you found a good walk …. I have passed through Cathiron before, on foot, by car, and  a long time ago by double kayak.

 As for losing things, I’ve done something similar with belongings in the past [most notably a leather clad hip flask on the north Devon/Somerset coast path – Never did find it – and it was full of a decent malt ! and sun-glasses and the like.
My fave way to suss out a walk is by trying to make up my own routes on the map, looking for natural links and trying to avoid roads where possible. However, when I’m feeling lazy or in a bit of a hurry, the four books I always return to are the ones noted below …. they’re really little more than booklets, but if the walks are good enough to be published and sold, then they’ve got to be OK I think :-
I have a couple of Coventry Evening Telegraph Books dating to the late 80’s/early 90’s by Brian Keates … Entitled “Evening Telegraph Country Walks” and are based in a big circle centered on Coventry.
The other two that are written in the same way are:-
Country Walks In The Rugby Area (2003) and More Country Walks In The Rugby Area (2007). Both are by Jim Watson and published by THISWAY BOOKS. They cost me under £5.00 each.
All the routes range from about 3.5 to 7 miles and really none are very strenuous (we haven’t got many big hills around us have we) … what I tend to do, is use the books to get an idea of an area worth going to, be it a nice view, pretty villages, or points of interest. Then, reviewing with my maps, I then decide whether to follow the route exactly, adapt it or maybe extend it somewhat. I’m confident enough to add bits on or chop bits off as I go, on the fly so to speak, whilst on the walk itself. In some cases two walks in the books may overlap, and so make for a longer figure of eight route.
Another book that I’ve bought and dipped into occasionally (and intend to do more from) is the “A Coventry Way Circular Walks” … The Coventry way is a big circular route taking in Brinklow nearest Rugby, Meriden farthest away in the west, Bedworth to the north and Stoneleigh in the south. The book has a series of circular walks that all link up so that the full way can be walked eventually.
Another way I sometimes plan my walks is for my wife to drive me out to somewhere and then I walk home in a linear route or occasionally leave home heading to some pre-arranged pick up point (a pub maybe) and get picked up from there. On several occasions over the years I’ve tried to do one of these linear routes when away on a family holiday … the sense of discovery and feeling of journey can then feel much more rewarding.
8th Jan 2014 : –
Excellent, thank you Gary for all that info. That will steer me in the right direction (no pun intended)!! last weekend, we were short of time on Sunday so we opted for a shortened walk and avoided the muddy & soaked fields around Pailton to Monks Kirby. enjoyable though. More research to do, thanks again. Best foot forward.

ps my son and his wife went up Glencoe and Fort William for a week over Christmas and New Year, bit extreme for me nowadays. Fantastic photos from that trip.

And just to finish,

I hope anyone dipping in gleans a little info. and – if there’s anyone else that would like to contact me, please do, I always try to respond as soon as I can. TTFN, Gary


20131103_Subscriptions + Notifications

Hi everyone,

I’ve just received this message from a person who subscribes to my blog …. I wont say their name, but thanks for contacting me, as I didn’t know the method I use for updating was annoying to anyone.

Nov 3, 7:43 pm

I subscribed to receiving emails updating me on your walks. I heard nothing until now when I have just received 19 of them in the last 10 minutes and I suspect they are still coming through. How do I stop them it’s very annoying. I am going to delete them so they don’t clog up my in box which is not what I wanted to happen.


Unfortunately, I don’t know how to stop the above happening, because, when I share my photo’s from Flickr to my blog, I have to do each one, on its own and it automatically posts it “live” to its own blog post. I then try as quickly as possible to then copy/paste the image into the relevant blog post where I want them to finally reside ….. I then delete the stand alone image/blog post as quickly as possible.

I wish there was a simpler/better way of doing this, as I’d like to share the pic’s into the walks diary post directly, but I’m told by the guys at flickr that this is not possible.

As it stands, it’s quite a cumbersome and time consuming method I’m using, but ultimately it does seem to work, with my Flickr images and WordPress blog both linking quite nicely to each other,

What I’ll try to do now that I’ve had this feedback, is ascertain from flickr whether it’s possible to share a pic to a draft WordPress post rather than a live post. If this is at-all possible, it would stop the multiple notifications to my subscribers.

I’m really sorry that this method has ended up being annoying,; because I don’t post as often as I’d like, I hope it doesn’t put you off reading my walks diaries and associated posts.

Best regards to all my readers,





20130807_An early morning wander at Bugsworth Canal Basin

20130807_An early morning wander at Bugsworth Canal Basin

When : 07 August 2013

Who : Just me

Where : Buxworth, sort of midway between Chapel-En-Le-Frith and Whaley Bridge, just off the A6 [ grid-ref. SK023,821 ]

Map = OS. 1:25,000 Explorer map OL1, The Peak District, Dark Peak Area

20130807_Bugsworth Canal Basin

20130807-25_Narrow Boats at Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenNot a walks diary as such, just a quick word on this quiet, hidden way spot we just happened upon whilst looking for budget accommodation [The Navigation Inn] for a short break in/near The Peak District ….. This was the middle of the 3-days of our break; we’d done a walk the previous day (at Alstonefield) and today was earmarked for a “touristy“ day at Chatsworth House and Gardens (see separate diary for some blurb about our time at Chatsworth).

20130807-06_Stone Wall - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI awoke really quite early and was up and about much earlier than the rest of my family, so I decided to take advantage of “The Golden Hour” of just before/just after sunrise, especially as the weather was perfect, with a slight chill in the air but the promise of some sunshine to come.

So I quickly donned some clothes, grabbed my camera and crept out of the room so as not to wake my wife (I didn’t need to worry about the kids, as they were sharing in a separate room down the corridor).

Once outside, I first headed to the car to check everything was in order (it was), and I was quite struck by the heavy dew fall on the roof with the early soft light glinting off the droplets of water.

20130807-01_Early morning dew and sunlight by gary.hadden    20130807-02_Early morning dew and sunlight by gary.hadden

20130807-07_Early morning mists at Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI then had a good wander around the historic site of Bugsworth Canal Basin, which is the end (or the beginning ?) of The Peak Forest Canal. This was once a hugely important industrial site for the vicinity, and whilst I could try to make up my own words about the area, it’s far easier and much more accurate for me to regurgitate the words of much more knowledgeable folk, as noted on some info-boards placed around the basin area.

To start with, some official looking info’, from an official looking info board :-


Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Derbyshire County SMR No.242.

Protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979.

Restored, Maintained and Managed by the Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd.

Navigation Managed under the British waterways General Canal Bye-Laws 1965.

48 Hour Moorings Only.

Please help us to preserve this Internationally Important Industrial Heritage Site.

Sponsored by :-

Mersey Basin Campaign.

Bechtel Water Technology Limited.

High Peak Borough Council.

English Heritage.

20130807-16_Bubbles-Ripples and Concentric Circles by gary.hadden

And now for some more text, arguably far more interesting than the “blurb” above, from another info’ board :-


Over a hundred years ago, the quiet footpath in front of you was a tramway track (sorry I didn’t get a picture of this). A railway with a difference – here there was no hissing of steam! Instead, imagine the sound of horses’ hooves and the rattle of wagons being pulled along a track known as The Peak Forest Tramway. The tramway and the nearby canal were developed together as a means of transporting limestone from quarries at Dove Holes onto the canal network. Limestone was in demand for use in the many different industries of Cheshire and Lancashire.

Using the natural incline of the hills, the wagons rolled down to Bugsworth Basin. A workman known as a wagoner, who was in charge of the team of horses and wagons, supervised the journey by riding on the side of a wagon. Teams of horses 20130807-26_Fence + Shadows - B+W by gary.haddenwere used to pull the wagons back up. Many local people were employed on the tramway and in the mills that grew up along the route as a result of its success. Several of the original mill buildings are still in use. A short way up the trail is one such mill, Whitehall Works at Whitehough.

Spot the Tramway! With no rails left to show the route of the tramway, the only visible clue is the occasional stone sleeper block that the rails were fixed upon. Further along the trail, they are still in position. At Bugsworth Basin, they are along the side of the path, just a short distance from Crist Quarry where they were extracted. A bed of hard gritstone was discovered when the route for the tramway was being excavated. Realising that they had found a hard wearing stone, the constructor built a connecting line to the quarry from the tramway. As well as the sleeper blocks for the tramway, the stone was used to build the warehouses, bridges and locks along the canal. The quarry has now completely disappeared into the surrounding landscape.

For nearly 130 years, the Peak Forest Tramway was an effective means of transporting heavy goods between Dove Holes and Bugsworth Basin.

20130807-09_Grasses in early morning light by gary.hadden    20130807-11_Ferns growing in the walls - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

20130807-15_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden     20130807-12_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

And to paraphrase (rather than copy exactly) some final bits of info’ from a couple of other info boards around the basin area:-

Lads who worked on the tramway were called “nippers”. They helped with the teams of horses pulling the wagons up the line until being swapped with a fresh team. Today (rather than being an industrial site) the Tramway Trail is a haven for wildlife. Dippers can be spotted on the Black Brook and the surrounding hawthorn provide great food and cover for wildlife. Bugsworth Basin today is a tranquil place to walk and relax but in the 1890s, up to 80 boats a day were loaded here and Lime Kilns burnt limestone into lime.

20130807-21_Narrow Boat - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

And now back to my own words :

Even though it was quite early there were already a few joggers out and about, taking advantage of the lovely start to the day, using the trail, canal tow-paths and another path 20130807-04_A6 near Buxworth + Whaley Bridge - Lone red car by gary.haddenthat made its way up to a modern footbridge over the nearby A6 road. This footbridge was about as far as I got, overlooking the dual carriageway and the first of the day’s traffic speeding along, effectively bypassing the old-world infrastructure I was encountering.

I suppose the engineers of the late 1800’s couldn’t possibly imagine (even in their wildest dreams) the scale of modern quarrying still going on in the Dove Holes area today and  how quickly and efficiently our road and rail systems transport the spoils of that labour around the country.

20130807-18_Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI was quite happy wandering, enjoying the wild flowers and reflections in the soft light, trying to make some half-decent images (all pic’s here are by me) and I hope I’ve captured a sense of tranquility of the morning.

20130807-20_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden   20130807-19_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

At one point, I spent some time chatting to an older gent’ who was out walking his small dog; he’d lived in the area for many a year and had even worked in The Navigation Inn when 20130807-24_Heron in flight by gary.haddenit was owned by Pat Pheonix (Elsie Tanner of ITVs Coronation Street fame) …  The gent’, one of several dog walkers who had started to emerge as the morning progressed, explained that a heron had taken up residence on the far side of the cut, in a steep wooded bank. Since its arrival, no ducklings had managed to survive in the basin area this year. As I moved on, I happened to see the said heron in flight, making its way between the trees with its long, languid wing strokes, folded neck and tucked in head. Luckily, I didn’t witness it swoop down to eat any stray ducklings.

20130807-17_Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

I could happily have stayed out much longer. However, time was moving on and, after well over an hour, I decided it was time to head back inside, shower, breakfast and get ready for our day over on the other side of the Peak District National Park, at Chatsworth House and Gardens.

20130807-27_Roses and beer terrace - Navigation Inn - Bugsworth Basin - Buxworth by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I hope you enjoyed my pic’s, and the words (albeit most of them were composed by others – but I’m sure they won’t mind their text being spread a little wider than before).

If you’d like to comment on my scribblings or my pic’s, please free to; I’d love to hear from you.



PS. As an aside, looking on my OS. map, there are footpaths, bridleways and canal towpaths (including The Goyt Way and Midshires Way) heading into the hills both to the south and north of Buxworth. Also, just 3-4 miles to the north (as the crow flies) and a little longer by road, is Hayfield. Hayfield is the famous starting point of The Mass Trespass up onto the moors of Kinder Scout, which ultimately led to today’s fantastic network of public footpaths in our hills, across our beautiful countryside and open-access to our high open spaces – Brave, dedicated people with a great vision of how society can be and actually needs to be, fair for all, encapsulated in the phrase “a right to roam”.

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

When : 07 August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District – Central England …. Chatsworth House near Baslow

Directions : Get reasonably close and there are loads of good signage to direct you down the correct roads to car-parking – Just look for the brown signs.

Maps = OS. 1:25,000 Explorer map OL24, The Peak District, White Peak Area.

Grid ref. : SK260,702

Not a walks diary as such, just a quick word on the family day out we had on a short 3-day break in The Peak District … this was the middle day of the three, sandwiched between two days that involved country walks, but I guess we must have walked at least four miles around the grounds, seeing as we were there for most of the day and there are literally miles of paths that can be wandered around, and we didn’t venture up the hillside much at-all.

If you click on a photo’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr site … or … if you just want to see the pics without the wordy bits, use this link to the set of images on flickr and there are a few more than shown below.

I’d awoke early and was up and about much earlier than the rest of my family, so I had already headed out (from our digs at The Navigation Inn) for an 20130808-01_Navigation Inn - Buxworth by gary.haddenearly morning wander around the historic site of Bugsworth Canal Basin. I’m writing another diary post for that part of the day …. (to follow) ….  so enough said about that here.

Anyway, after breakfasting we headed off to the other side of the Peak District National Park, to Chatsworth House and Gardens. I’m not going to say much about this extremely well known and loved tourist destination, suffice to say, it’s well worth a trip out. I’ve visited here numerous times over the years, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

20130807-79_In Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden    20130807-73_Redwood Tree in Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden

20130807-45-B+W_Fountains at top of the staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-44_The staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

My fave bits ? :-

  • The “rockery” in its magnificently over-the-top huge scale.
  • The spouting tree fountain.
  • The “violin” hanging on a “door” in the house.
  • The staircase waterfall.
  • Edensor Village out in the deer park (pronounced Endzer by the way)
  • And just the huge scale of the grounds/gardens – Formal, informal, pinetum woods, huge gravity fed fountain, classic maze, and if you’re feeling fit enough, miles of pathways heading up into the wooded hills above the house and expansive views across the estate.

20130807-84_Traditional Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden               20130807-100_Chatsworth House - tall fountain + long pool by gary.hadden

20130807-112_The famous Violin hanging on a door - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-117_Inside Chatsworth House by gary.hadden

As a bit of added interest, there was also an exhibition of art sculptures dotted around the grounds:

  • Some I quite liked (Revelation + Tongue-In-Cheek)

20130807-38_Revelation Artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-82_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden     20130807-83_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden

  • Some I was really ambivalent about.

20130807-122_The Pavilion artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-129_Polishing the Lens Scuplture artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • The turbine was interesting, but I don’t know if was an art exhibit at-all.

20130807-29_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-31_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-32_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • And some I plainly disliked (La Machine A Rever in particular) – thinking maybe a toddler could have done better.

20130807-89_Odd Art Sculpture - La Machine A Rever (1970) by Niki de Saint-Phalle by gary.hadden

But I guess that’s the idea of an art exhibition, it’s supposed to raise questions and views – but some modern art just really doesn’t do anything for me! … and … I don’t think many really enhanced the beauty of the landscapes all around us, albeit manicured into a “fake” landscape per Mr. “Capability” Brown.

20130807-86_Book Bench with Ball and Chain - Art Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-99_Queen Elizabeth II + Prince Charles (bronze busts) - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-47_Chatsworth House + Ivy Art Sculpture from the staircase waterfall by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s enough of that, I hope you enjoy my pic’s, and hope it’s given food for thought if you’re looking for a day out with a bit of culture.



Header Photo Change

As much as I liked my previous header picture of Coombe Abbey Country Park, it didn’t feel right to go with my blog title “Tothehills”, so I’ve changed it to my recent photo of The Great Ridge north of Castleton …. The dark shadowy peak is “Mam Tor”, then “Barker Bank” followed by “Back Tor” (with the lone tree near the top) …. The hill off to the right, with the summit not seen in the image, is “Lose Hill” other wise known as “Ward’s Piece”.

Why this image? Simply, I just love this ridge, it’s a superb walk with fantastic views for the full length …. To the south is the Hope Valley and the expanse of The White Peak; to the north is The Vale of Edale and across to the Kinder Scout plateau. East and West have equally impressive vistas ….. as I said, I love this ridge walk … the last time I walked it ? – This week (August 2013) with my 11 year old son.

The bench is back!!

Check out Cawston Greenway’s latest blog post … Some good news on the developments on the nature reserve bit of the old Leamington/Rugby railway line (The Lias Line) and especially interesting info’ on something being done on the old trackbed through Dunchurch Station. This bit has been incredibly wet and boggy for years and it now looks like someone is trying to do something about it – Could it be Sustrans themselves ? or some other organisation ? who-ever it is the amount of hardcore being put down is on an industrial scale not the odd bucket load – Thanks to whomever has done this.

Use this link for the full post – Hold down the ctrl key and left mouse click at the same time …. The bench is back!!.



20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk 1st Half_Clifton to All Saints Curch, Lilbourne via Clifton Lakes.

20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk

1st Half_Clifton to All Saints Curch, Lilbourne via Clifton Lakes.

20120219_Clifton-upon-Dunsmore-Lilbourne Circular WalkWhen : 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.

20120219-07_Wych Gate St Mary's Church - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenFull 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 – 20120219-05_Fretwork - St Mary's - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenEven 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).

20120219-04_St Mary's Church - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenFirst 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.

20120219-02_Moss-Wych Gate Roof by gary.hadden

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. 20120219-08_Rubbish - Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThis 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 20120219-09_Muddy Ruts nr Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenout 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.

20120219-10_Sheep x2 nr Manor Farm - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThe 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.


20120219-15_Pool - Clifton Lakes by gary.hadden

20120219-13_Teasel Seedhead by gary.hadden

20120219-16_Rubbish Dump - Clifton Lakes by gary.haddenThe 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.

20120219-17_Electricity Pylon - Clifton Lakes by gary.haddenRight 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, 20120219-20_Is it a Canal or Lake - Neither a disused Railway by gary.haddenStratford 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, 20120219-21_A5_Watling Street (Roman Road) by gary.haddenotherwise 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 20120219-24_Silhouette of Electricity Pylon (Detail) by gary.haddenpresented 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.

20120219-26_Catthorpe Village (from the south) by gary.hadden

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.

20120219-29_Lilbourne Gorse Motte + Bailey by gary.haddenAnyway, 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 20120219-27_View South From Lilbourne Gorse Motte + Bailey by gary.haddenmotte 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 20120219-31_Ridge + Furrow Farmland - Lilbourne by gary.haddenand 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 20120219-32_All Saints Church - Lilbourne by gary.haddenand 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.

20120219-33_All Saints Church Gravestones - Lilbourne by gary.hadden     20120219-35_All Saints Church Gravestones - Lilbourne by gary.hadden

20120219-37_Uni Cyclist - Lilbourne by gary.haddenJust 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.

20120219-38_Motte + Bailey Earthworks - Lilbourne by gary.haddenOpposite 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. 20120219-39_Infant River Avon - Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenUnlike 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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.


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.