20150725_A Walk so good we did it again …… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

 20150725_A Walk so good we did it again

…… An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20150725_Reprise of a short walk near Crick, Northants

a short walk near Crick

When : 25 July 2015
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

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

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

20150725-04_Seed Head Starburst

Seed Head Starburst

This is to be a short post, even shorter than my last post which describes this exact same walk only repeated a little over a year later. Again it was a Saturday, again the sun was shining and it promised to be reasonably warm, without being hot, so it occurred to me that a drink and maybe a meal on the sun terrace would be a pleasant way to spend a Saturday lunch-time, with the possibility of a min-walk afterwards …. And so it panned out.

Without much detail :

20150725-01_Lunch at The Moorings - Crick

Lunch at The Moorings – Crick

Drive Rugby to Crick. Then the Crick Bypass (A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon and Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance, over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a roughish drive to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

Found an outside table, bought drinks, and found some menus. Wife and son decided they were a little cool in the canal-side breeze (despite the sun being mostly out). Settled down in the leather sofa and chairs. Decided on our food order. Relaxed, chatted, slowed down, ate the excellent and interesting food and was told that yes we could leave the car in their car-park whilst we went off for our walk.

And then we set off on our stroll :-

20150725-03_Parallel Lines

Parallel Lines

Through a gate by the side of the buildings to exit onto the A428 road.

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge.

Across the road to drop down to the canal towpath.



20150725-05_Dominating the Landscape

Dominating the Landscape

Headed north on towpath, with canal on our right.

Past a marina (on the opposite side).

Bend to the left, to reach an arched red-brick bridge (No.13)

Climb away from canal to cross the bridge

Follow the path/bridle track ahead (north) in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left).



20150725-06_On the Fringes

On the Fringes

Crest the rise then descend still heading straight north.

Enjoy the views from the slightly raised elevation.

Reach the canal again, cross over a bridge and drop down to the towpath.



20150725-07_Light Play

Light Play

Turn right to follow towpath (water on our left) in a big loop.

Follow the canal turning through 180 degrees in a big anti-clockwise loop.

Reach Bridge No.13 – Cross under and continue on tow path.


20150725-08_Stranded and Abandoned

Stranded and Abandoned

Continue on tow path, now bending around to the right.

Pass the marina entrance again (on the opposite bank).

Rise back to the A428 and return to The Moorings.

20150725-09_Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins







Well, to finish, we had another quick drink before heading off, back around the Crick bypass, under the M1, through the vast DIRFT warehousing/distribution site and back into Rugby and home.

So, once again, when the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

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

T.T.F.N. Gary.


20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick

20140517-36_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

20140517_An afternoon Stroll near Crick
When : 17 May 2014
Where : Crick, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Start and End Point : SP596,726
Distance : Approx 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
Significant heights : A gentle rise of approx 65 ft (20 m) … Mostly dead level.

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

20140517_A wander near Crick, Northants

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

20140517-02_The Moorings_Crick

The Moorings – Crick

This is to be a short post, as it was a very short walk (a quite impromptu one at that). I’d gone in to work for most of the Saturday morning, which isn’t the greatest way to spend a week-end, especially with clear blue skies and the promise of the warmest day of the year so far, when I got a phone call from my wife saying she’d found a bar/restaurant near the village of Crick that she thought sounded could be a good place to visit, especially as it was beside a canal with the possibility of a mini-walk. Of course, I readily agreed … With the promise of food, beer and a walk, how could I possibly pass on that offer. In fact, the idea sounded doubly great, as our son was away camping at the seaside for the week-end and daughter was working until 5pm and it would have been a shame to waste the opportunity of some quality “us-time” in favour of the normal run of the mill housework, gardening jobs, shopping, etc.

20140517-29_Reflections_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

The Moorings – Crick

So off we set for the short drive out of Rugby on The B4429 Ashlawn Road, A428 through Hillmorton and then through a massive DIRFT warehousing / industrial / distribution development, followed by passing under the M1 at junction-18, around the Crick Bypass (still on the A428) ignoring the turn for Crick Village itself, and then away from Crick towards West Haddon/Northampton, again still on the A428. After a short distance we crossed over the canal on a bit of a humped-back-bridge and very soon afterwards turned right into a side drive signed “The Moorings” and then followed the roughish track around to reach the car park of The Moorings bar/restaurant.

20140517-39_Green+Red against Blue

The Moorings – Crick

You can sometimes get a good feeling of a place from the moment your eyes see it, and this was one of the moments. The conglomeration of red-brick buildings, canal side setting, and sun terrace with a scattering of tables and parasols/umbrellas was very attractive and we soon settled at a table (luckily just vacated).

We ordered food (mixed olives, breads with balsamic and oil dips, chicken burger and a Portuguese style fish stew) and including a beer for me. We chatted, ate food, had another beer and chatted some more along with a touch of people-watching …. and started to burn in the sun. It was a VERY relaxed couple of hours, which I really needed after the stresses of work the week before.


20140517-06_Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

Pretty in Pink_Hawthorn Flowers

The speed of service fitted in with this scenario and actually forced us to slow down – It certainly wasn’t what you could call fast-food, but the quality was excellent and the staff very pleasant to deal with.

Anyway, after a good while, we decided to drag ourselves upright and head off for a wander and so prevent what might have turned into an imperative to have another beer and so set off, finding a gate by the side of the buildings to exit out onto the A428 main road.

20140517-28_Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

Reflections_Crick Marina Narrow Boats

A turn to the left along the road and over the canal bridge allowed us to drop down to the canal towpath, where upon we headed north with the water on our right, soon passing a marina off on the opposite side. What a super little place and what a lovely thing to do; the sun was shining, there were flowers in the hedgerows, narrow boats were moored, a few passed us heading in both directions, and the nicest thing? People, complete strangers, actually said hello, passed the time of day, nodded or waved … it was an almost timeless scenario.

20140517-03_b+w_Narrow Boats_Grand Union

timeless scenario.

20140517-07_Arch_Bridge 13

Bridge 13


Cattle looking for the lushest morsels

After less than ½ a mile along the canal, it bends around to the left following the contours of the land and very soon reaches a typically arched red-brick bridge (No.13) passing over the canal. There were a bunch of bullocks on the opposite side of the cut, all lined up trying to reach some waterside plants growing lushly on the canal banks. A single line of barbed wire prevented them from making any meaningful meal of the vegetation. All except one (and later two) of the beasts, who found that they could slip inch by inch under the barbed wire. In fact both ended up completely under the wire and the smaller brown one started sinking in the soft bank and had to struggle backwards reversing onto firmer land. My lovely wife was quite concerned for their welfare, convinced they’d either fall in the canal itself or just remain stuck on the wrong side of the barbed wire. But, they seemed happy, so we moved on. This entailed leaving the towpath, to rise up to and over the brick bridge and then over the canal. The path/bridle track ahead rose ahead in a straight line (with a small hill over on our left), this was easy going and didn’t take long to crest and then start descending still heading straight north. The slightly raised elevation afforded some pleasant views over the surrounding countryside. Nothing spectacular, but pretty and understated and probably under-appreciated as much of the Midlands countryside is.

20140517-12_Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

Feathery Reeds_ Yellow Buttercups

The path brought us back to the canal, again crossing via a brick bridge and a side path dropped us easily down to the towpath once again. You’ll probably have realised by now that as the bridle track was dead straight, the canal must have bent around through 180-degrees, which is exactly what it had done in a big loop contouring around the hill. Our route now, was to follow around this loop, so we passed under the bridge and headed off on the tow-path (water on our left).

20140517-14_Protective Parents on Guard Watch

Protective Parents on Guard Watch

There was a large hedge with trees on our right, pretty much blocking any view in that direction, but on the opposite side of the cut, fields festooned with yellow buttercups stretched away from us – Beautiful. A couple of geese stood sentinel on the opposite bank at one point, quite odd really, as you’d normally expect them to be grazing. But their bolt upright stance became understandable, they had goslings nearby and we spotted a heron flying in the mid-distance and perching in some of the trees. The adult geese had obviously seen the threat long before us and parental protection was behind their strong demeanour.

20140517-16_English Reflections_Narrow Boat

English Reflections_Narrow Boat

20140517-17_Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

Almost Full Circle_Canal Bridge 15

20140517-11_Happy Cheerful Buttercups_crop

Happy Cheerful Buttercups

The day was proving to be absolutely lovely, with blue skies, more flowers, vibrant greens of spring, and perfect reflections in the canal and all the time in the world to appreciate what a wonderful place we live in.

After a while another long narrow boat, with pristine classical paintwork, came towards us. It was just shouting out for a photo or two. The chap at the tiller as he passed by asked if I could post a copy to his face book account …. Well how could I possibly refuse and so duly did later that evening having found his pages …. It turned out this was their maiden voyage which would explain the perfect finish of the boat.

20140517-23_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

20140517-25_Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Maiden Voyage_Narrow Boat

Well, the canal loop, ermm, looped around, bringing us back to the bridge crossed earlier on and passed straight under (the cows had extricated themselves from the wrong side of the barbed wire), and we were soon back to the marina area and then back to The Moorings Café/Bar/Restaurant.

20140517-38_Green+Red against Blue

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-33_Red Parasols_The Moorings Bistro-Cafe-Bar-Restaurant

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-30_Paired Up_Parasol Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

20140517-41_Beer Glass Reflections

At The Moorings – Crick

What to do now ? … go home, go somewhere else, stay put for another drink? … it was just soooo pleasant here that the last of these was chosen, with a phone call to daughter at work to come and join us after she’d finished, which she dutifully did to cap off a lovely day.

When the weather comes good in England, we have a simply fantastic place to live and “play” in.

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

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20140517-42_Narrow Boat Reflections

Narrow Boat Reflections – From The Moorings – Crick

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 2of 2
When : 31st December 2014

Who : Just me

Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry

Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663

20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic Walk

Route Map – Traced out on WalkJogRun Website

Distance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)

Significant heights : None to speak of – Very gentle

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

I’ve split this walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-2 of 2. So if you want to read post-1 first, please use this link :- GO TO BLOG POST 1 OF 2.

If you click on a photo’ [when I’ve added them] it should launch my set of imges on my photostream on Flickr

20141231-41_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge

Bridge over entrance into Braunston Marina

The tow path had led to another attractively arching iron bridge spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into the large marina at Braunston. Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge, to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to gain a different perspective on the area, including the boat-works, just a short walk along the water’s edge.

20141231-25_Braunston Marina - Static Crane

Standing Crane Winding Wheel + Gear

Just outside the works buildings (near a car-park) I came across a standing crane, the upright steels and boom painted a shiny jet black and the winding gear a vivid bright red. This really stood out against the lovely blue sky. I took far too many pic’s here, (most of which I later dumped into my computer’s recycling bin upon close inspection).

20141231-45_Braunston Marina - Workshop Walkways + Ice

Braunston Marina Workshop Walkways

20141231-26_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boat Workshop

Braunston Marina – Boat Works

Moving on over a few narrow walkway bridges, I met a chap who was working in the boat-yard and I stopped for a chat, during which I asked if I had permission to go further into the marina area. He was very pleasant and accommodating, saying yes there was no objection to me continuing on, but he asked politely that I refrain from falling in the water, as it was a tad cold [typically English understatement] and he really didn’t want to fish me out. I really wasn’t planning on going for an impromptu swim, so I readily agreed to his request. During our conversation he mentioned just how many people take photo’s of the crane just left behind, which kind of took away some of my earlier feelings of discovery. Still I didn’t really believe I was the first one to have ever taken a shot or two of the structure. After some final felicitations, we both set off in separate directions.

20141231-32_Braunston Marina - Crane - Cogs

Braunston Marina – Crane Cogs + Gears

Heading further into the marina area, it didn’t really matter which way I looked, there always seemed to be an image to be captured, but none more so than another black and red crane, this one on wheels and track and sporting a handsome array of deeply toothed cogs and associated wheels, ratchets, pulleys and such like. Again, many pic’s were taken here, but more “keepers” for storage on my lap-top and eventual upload to my “photostream” on Flickr.

20141231-37_Braunston Marina - Crane - Boom and Hook

Braunston Marina – Crane Hook

More wonderings and meanderings, resulted in even more photo’s – The whole place just screamed (in a quiet understated English sort of way) please take my photo again and again …. And again!

20141231-28_Braunston Marina

Braunston Marina – Narrow Boats


20141231-42_Braunston Marina - Arched Bridge + Winding Gear

Braunston Marina – Winding Gear


20141231-44_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats


I was starting to feel a little chill now, so I headed into a shop (maybe a chandlers or similar) and asked if they sold teas or coffee – They didn’t. This was a shame because the boat-café on the canal by the marina entrance was not open today either, so when I had negotiated the slippery icy pathways back to the canal/iron bridge/marina entrance, I just continued on over the arching bridge and then back on the tow path once again, again with the canal on my left.

20141231-47_Braunston - Brick Bridge - Narrow Boat Joey - Grand Union Canal

Joey – Narrow Boat in Braunston

There still weren’t many boats moving around but I was in the right place at the right time as the boat “Joey” came towards me to pass under one of the brick bridges that straddle the canal. To repeat myself from a past blog-post (with no apologies) I like these old brick bridges, they’ve been around for so long they’ve sort of weathered their way into the landscape, taking on a natural patina of lichens and with mosses hanging on in the many hollows and cracks. The surface of the brickwork has certainly seen better times, and there are now some pretty major looking cracks appearing in places, but I like the unkempt look and today the reflections were just stunning in the icy water.

20141231-49_Braunston Marina - Narrow Boats

Braunston Marina – Moored Narrow Boats

20141231-51_Sheep + All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

Sheep – All Saints’ Church – Braunston

I could’ve headed straight under the bridge arch, but there was a way up onto the bridge, where a foot-path crosses the canal here. After just a few yards along the path, it facilitated a view back over the marina. The elevated position gave an opportunity for some interesting pic’s looking back down the marina, using my long lens to try to foreshorten the perspective in an attempt to make the boats look all bunched up, hopefully in an arty kind of way. Rather than move far along the path, I headed back down to the towpath and continued in the same direction as earlier. The tow path separates the canal (on the left) and the marina (on the right), and a little further on is a narrow footbridge that must be negotiated. There is no alternative to be able to carry on, because it passes over another access point from the waterway into the moorings. This foot-bridge is accessed and exited via some rather steep steps; not too much of a problem for walkers, but decidedly awkward for people pushing push chairs and equally if not more awkward for cyclists.

20141231-53_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boat

Narrow Boat – Braunston

This little walk was beginning to take quite a long time, but I suppose it always was going to be that way, with a very slow pace, especially as it was such a stunningly beautiful day and it had been planned out as a photographic walk. I normally describe myself as a walker who takes photo’s, but today I was far more a photographer who was going on a bit of a walk. Anyway, trying to push my writings on a tad, the tow path led on to the bottom lock and its collection of nearby buildings. Along the way I passed 20141231-52_Tree Trunk Detail _ Barkmore moored boats, views across sheep fields to the church, shiny light playing on the ice, interesting textured bark on trees, smoke coming out of boat roofs and hanging about in the cold air, old pump house buildings, another boat-works, and more… All these things were interesting to see and at least worthy of a little note. Also worth noting, is a small shop adjacent to the bottom lock (I’ve bought ice cream here in the past, in warmer times) and I hoped they would sell hot drinks – I was disappointed again, they didn’t! Perhaps on my next frosty walk I’ll remember to make up a flask of hot drink

Although continuing a few hundred yards past the bottom lock, I now consciously chose not to continue up the canal, foregoing the chance of a visit to The Admiral Nelson pub next to another lock and further on the entrance to Braunston Tunnel. This Georgian engineering feat is now well over 200 years old and over a mile long. The tow path ends at the tunnel entrance, which is set into the hillside like a black mouth waiting to swallow up any boat heading eastwards or regurgitate anyone who’d travelled from the Welton end.

20141231-56_Braunston - Bottom Lock - Grand Union Canal

Bottom Lock Reflections

20141231-60_Braunston - Jetty Fields - Seat with a view

Jetty Fields Seating – Braunston

Today I felt I didn’t need to head that far up the canal. Instead I returned to and headed over the brick bridge at the bottom lock, to climb a gently rising track away from the canal side. After a hundred yards or so, upon reaching a minor road (it goes down to The Admiral Nelson pub) I turned left on a footpath and then soon after, right, heading gently up a small public area of grassland (Jetty Fields) with some individual large trees and seating. The tree branches hereabouts took my eye, being old and gnarly and full of nooks and crannies. I liked the contrast of this against the blue winter sky.

20141231-59_Braunston - No smoke without fire


I also liked the billowing shapes in a cloud of smoke from a fire created by a couple of workmen (thinning a hedge I think) just down-a-ways towards the canal. A warm outdoors job on a cold frosty morning. A short way up the slope the trees become closer together forming a small coppice where I stopped a while to watch several pairs of blue tits flitting about in the branches above me: a charming sight.

20141231-62_Braunston - Jetty Fields

Jetty Fields Path – Braunston

Continuing on, the path narrows between some properties, to emerge on the principle road through the village (named Welton Road and High Street). The aspect is quite open here with a number of grassy greens and verges with The Wheatsheaf pub directly opposite. I again resisted the temptations within, instead turning left along the road side to pass an eclectic mix of red brick, mellow stone and half-timbered houses/cottages both old and new. I knew there was a small café (Poppies) along the road, but was again disappointed, as it too was shut, so preventing the purchase of a cup of tea or coffee. Almost opposite is a small convenience store (a Londis I think) – again no hot drinks, but it did give the opportunity of picking up a couple of sandwiches and a cold drink.

20141231-66_Braunston - High Street - Cottages and Windmill

Braunston Cottages + Windmill

Soon after I passed by yet another pub (The Old Plough) before reaching the western end of the village, dominated by thee buildings:- The first an old windmill, now a home minus its sails. The second a typically English church with tall spire pointing skywards (or should that be heavenwards). And thirdly, Braunston Manor on the opposite side of the road from the church.

20141231-67_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church – Braunston – Cathedral of the Canals


20141231-70_Graveyard Cross_All Saints' Church - Braunston

All Saints’ Church – Braunston


20141231-71_War Memorial_All Saints' Church - Braunston

War Memorial – All Saints’ Church

I spent a few moments outside the church, often known as The Cathedral of The Canals, and yes you’ve guessed it, taking some more photo’s but with a little more time in contemplation at the war memorial in the corner of the graveyard; perfectly positioned to be seen from all angles in full view as it should be, in memory of our fallen forebears; local heroes of a time rapidly becoming history rather than current affairs.

From the church grounds, I re-joined the main road to pick up a footpath (directly opposite the junction with Church Road), to the side of Braunston Manor, the first or in my case today, the last building in the village. The path drops diagonally half-right to rejoin High Street, just where it meets the A45 main road. I now had a tiny bit more tarmac path to use, alongside the A45, over a canal bridge and then very soon afterwards turned left on a pathway (still quite slippery with frost) dropping down to the tow path.

20141231-73_Twin Arched Bridges - Braunston - Grand Union + Oxford Canal Junction

Twin Arched Bridges – Braunston Canal Junction

The walk was almost over, having now come full circle back to the canal. Once on the tow path I immediately turned left, under the bridge I’d just crossed over and I was now on ground previously walked on earlier in the day, only now the water was on my right. I then re-passed The Boat House pub (on the opposite bank), reached and crossed the double-span iron bridge at the canal Tee-junction and swung right past moored boats again to meet the other utilitarian bridge carrying the A45 over the cut.

20141231-74_Braunston - Oxford Canal - Bridge - Stagecoach Bus

Utilitarian Bridge – A45 over Canal – Braunston

Most of the ice had now melted, leaving only a few places where the canal was still frozen, on the whole it was now mostly free water – I suppose the ducks must have been much happier and far less bemused now. I was still taking photo’s, but not as frequently now and after rising up the side path (just before the bridge) to the A45, the last couple of images taken were back to the church again before arriving back at the lay-by and my little car which had sat patiently in the cold for my return. It was still parked all alone by the road-side, I wonder if it had had any fellow vehicles parked here during the day to keep it company whilst I was away.

Well, that’s about it for this walks diary ….  When I’d made the short drive home, a nice warming cup of coffee was high on the agenda, and I was really ready for it as I sat down in the friendly warmth of my home and family. What a simply super few hours.

I’ve attached (or will be attaching) a selection of photo’s from the day, but there are more to be seen on my flickr account if you want to see just images of Braunston (and nearby) please use this link, or go to my photostream for all photo’s I’ve posted.

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

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston (Post1of2)

20141231_A Frosty Winter Photo Walk in Braunston – Post 1of 2

When : 31st December 2014
Who : Just me
Where : Braunston, Northamptonshire, between Rugby and Daventry
Start Point and End Point : Lay-by on the A45 London Road SP533,663
20141231_Another Braunston Winter Canal Side Photographic WalkDistance : Approx 4 miles (6.5 km)
Significant Heights : None to speak of – Very gentle
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 222 Rugby & Daventry

Summary : An opportunity for a few hours to take some wintertime photo’s down on the canals in Braunston (Grand Union and Oxford Canals) …. but it’d be a perfectly nice walk to do without a camera, There are a couple of pubs by the canal side and a couple in the village as well if that’s your want from a walk (or crawl).

I’m splitting the walk into two blog-posts just to make the writing (and reading perhaps) a little more manageable. This post is post-1 of 2. (Use this link for post-2).

If you click on a photo’ it should launch on my photostream on Flickr where you’ll find a few more images to those shown here.

It was a very cold and frosty morning, ice on the roads and a typically wintry blue sky with light high clouds and the promise that it was going to stay fine for the day. So, it was an easy decision to spend a few hours out and about on a mini-walk with my camera. The more difficult bit was deciding just where to head off to.

• Did I want to drive ?
• If not, it meant walking on very familiar ground, yes or no ?
• Did I want a pub ?
• What type of scenery did I fancy : Farmland, Woods, Town/village, canals, country parks, or even a city ?

In the end, I decided to drive, chose canals as a good base subject, assuming the waters might be frozen-over in places, the potential for good reflections and maybe some mists swirling around above the water; Once that was decided, that led to the next decision – Where to go ?

• Hillmorton Locks ?
• Newbold-on-Avon (and the long tunnel) ?
• Crick ?
• Cathiron ?
• Braunston ?
• And one or two other places here-abouts ?

Well, in the end, Braunston won despite me having been there many times over the years … Why ? … Because it’s not very far away, has a pretty canal 20141231-22_Braunston Marinajunction, various styles of bridges, a large marina, boat works, historic buildings, several locks, one end of a very long canal tunnel and several pubs. Of course there’s also the village itself, including a long main street with an eclectic mix of buildings, including an old windmill next to a typically English church on a hill. If I needed anything else, another good reason, is that my photography tutor (David Harding / Percival Guildhouse) likes the area, and I thought it’d be interesting to compare our images at some point in the future.

Anyway, I packed up my camera, couple of lens (complete with polarizing filters), grabbed walking boots and headed off, the drive firstly taking me through the famous village of Dunchurch and then on the A45 heading towards Daventry; Braunston village being just off the main road a few miles before the Northamptonshire town.
On the way, not quite a mile past the small village of Willoughby is a reasonably sized lay-by (on the left hand side) just before reaching Braunston – This is immediately before the road passes over the canal and is often used by people parking their cars in a line here, I assume mostly by fishermen; I decided this lay-by would suit my purposes just fine, and actually today it was completely free of other cars.

If this hadn’t been available, there’s road side parking in the village itself (take a sharp left turn just past The Boat House pub/restaurant) or there is a large car-park at The Boat House itself, which I know people use whilst going off for a walk, but I don’t like doing this unless I intend to use the pub as a patron, it just doesn’t seem right otherwise.

20141231-01_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church, Braunston

20141231-02_Braunston - Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming

Ridge and Furrow Strip Farming – Braunston

Enough of the pre-amble, I’ve been rambling on somewhat, so on to my walk itself. After donning my boots, I set off on the rough grassy verge by the side of the road, although you may find this surprising, away from Braunston and the canal. This wasn’t by accident or bad map reading, no, on the drive down the A45, there was a superb view of Braunston’s church spire silhouetted against the pale blue sky and in front, the land was striped with shadows formed by some ancient ridge and furrow field structures. In order to try and capture this image, I had to head back up the road to find a place where I could see over/through the large hedgerow alongside the road. Despite walking several hundred yards and being well over 6-foot tall, I still needed my long zoom to get anything like an acceptable shot.

Turning around through 180-degrees and once back past the car I reached where the road crosses a canal; near here the church was more hidden from view but the ridge and furrow field was far more evident and the views up the canal were very pleasant with a couple of boats moored in the icy waters.

20141231-03_Braunston_Frosted Barn

Frosted Barn – Braunston

20141231-05_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Oxford Canal

Moored Narrow Boats, Oxford Canal, Braunston

From here I crossed the main road, to where a path drops down to the tow path, where initially I turned left, under the quite ugly steel and concrete road bridge and continued up the tow path for several hundred yards. I had to adjust my camera settings to suit the different quality of light by the cut, as I was in quite deep shadow now. Anyway after taking a few shots here, I about-turned, walked back under the utilitarian road bridge and continued on the tow path (water on my left/hedgerow on my right).

It had been a very cold night (and it was still a very cold morning), so much so that the canal was completely frozen over, the narrow boats moored along the banks being iced in and the local ducks appearing very bemused. One pair were walking, (well slipping) about in the center of the canal, I suppose looking for some clear water to swim in.

20141231-07_Braunston - Mallard Ducks - Skating on Ice

Bemused Ducks Skating on Ice

20141231-08_Twin Arched Bridges_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Approaching the Twin Ironwork Bridges, Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals, Braunston

20141231-10_Braunston - Life Bouy - Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days – Please do not fall in here !!!

A little further on, as the canal takes a sweeping left bend, there are a couple of attractive arched black and white iron-work bridges; the perfect twins forming a double span over a Tee-junction of canals. I could have just crossed straight over the pair, but instead chose to take the right hand canal branch, going under the arch of the first bridge, before heading off in a south westerly direction on the well surfaced tow path. I particularly liked the way the low sun picked up and highlighted attractive patterns in the ice and whilst I was composing a couple of photo’s here, a couple walking over the bridges stopped to pass the time of day with me and then moved off towards where I’d come from a few moments earlier.

20141231-11_Braunston - Look-out cat - Window frame

Look Out Cat, Braunston

After a very short stretch along the towpath, I used a brick built bridge to cross to the other bank and then back (north-eastwards) towards the iron bridges and the canal tee-junction once again, passing a brick-built cottage en-route. An emergency buoyancy aid caught my eye hung on a wall here, but I don’t know how much I’d trust it, as it looked well past its best. A cat was sat in a widow frame here also, obviously enjoying the warmth of indoors watching the world go by, rather than braving the chill outside.

20141231-12_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Breaking the Ice – Hard to turn the corner.

As I reached where the canal splits left and right, a strange loud cracking scraping noise suddenly struck up. It was very odd and I just couldn’t place what it could be. It didn’t even seem to be coming from a particular direction, the sound seeming to fill the cold air all around.



20141231-13_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Hector – Didn’t manage the bend Hit the bank with a glacing bump !

It soon became apparent though, as the couple who’d I spoken with earlier had unmoored their small narrow boat and as they moved off they were breaking the sheet ice on the water’s surface. In fact, as the boat tried to negotiate the bend the ice resisted the crafts desired path forcing it over into the bank with quite a bump.



20141231-14_Ice Breaker_Braunston - Grand Union Canal

Hector – Moving on. Alls well now 🙂

The blow turned the bows as the boat glanced off the bankside and allowed the chap on the teller to move off in the right direction.

I guess his journey to where-ever he was heading wasn’t going to be an easy one, especially when passing other boats on the cut.



20141231-15_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Ironwork railings – One of the Twin Arched Bridges

I then turned my attention to trying to create some arty shots of the double span of bridges. At the very least, I tried to find some different angles/view points compared to previous visits as I’ve taken pic’s here on numerous occasions in the past. I’m sure they must be one of the most photographed features around Braunston – I defy anyone with a camera to just walk by without taking at least one photo’ despite how many times they may have been here before … These bridges really are very photogenic.

20141231-18_Ice Breaker_Arched Bridge_Braunston_Grand Union+Oxford Canal

Twin Arched Bridges – Very Photogenic. Junction of Grand Union and Oxford Canals


20141231-19_Relections in Ice - Braunston

Icy Reflections

Moving on, I took the tow path away from the bridges (water on my left again). On the opposite bank here is a small area of light industrial units closely followed by The Boat House pub mentioned earlier. The pub is a tad modern and twee to be truly photogenic, but I did like the distorted reflection of a far more pristine looking buoyancy ring in the ice-covered water.

20141231-21_All Saints' Church - Braunston - Cathedral of the Canals

All Saints’ Church – Braunston

Soon after, I passed under the A45 road again as it crosses overhead via another utilitarian and not very attractive modern bridge.

The dominant view here is across the canal to the opposite bank with fields and hedges rising up to the church spire and some impressive looking houses which kind of draw the eye away from the canal and moored boats.

However, I did like the smoke emanating from a few of the boats’ stubby little chimneys, obviously some kind of coal/wood burner inside keeping the residents warm and cosy.


20141231-20_Braunston - Moored Narrow Boats Grand Union Canal

Approaching the old Toll House

The tow path then led me past the old toll house, where the major point of interest soon changes back to the canal on the near bank, as another arching iron bridge is reached, spanning a side-arm of the canal heading into a large marina with a plethora of craft moored in a multitude of lines. As I’ve written before, the craft here always make a very colourful sight, all bar none painted in bright primary colours – Canal folk just don’t seem to do pastels in their boat liveries. As always, I don’t think there was a shabby looking boat in sight!

Normally, I would walk straight on here, over the bridge to continue on the tow path. But, today, I chose to head up into the marina itself to try and gain a different perspective on the area including the boat-works just a short walk along the water’s edge.

I think here would be a good point to switch to the second blog-post as this seems a kind of natural break in the time-line of the day. To continue reading please use this link : GO TO BLOG POST-2 OF 2.


20140222_Staverton (Northamptonshire) – Flecknoe (Warwickshire) Circular Walk

20140222_Staverton – Flecknoe Circular Walk

20140222-30a_Horse (Near Flecknoe)When : 22nd February 2014

Who : Me and Craig

Where : Staverton and Flecknoe, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

Start and End Point : SP 539,612

Distance : Approx 6.1 miles (9.7 km)

Heights : 3 separate rises, although nothing significant. See end of post for details.

Map : 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No.222, Rugby & Daventry

Summary : A pleasant countryside walk over rolling Midlands farmland.

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

This walk was unusual, but only in that it was on a Saturday (Sunday walks being much, much more common), daughter had been dropped off at her job and my lovely wife was unfortunately suffering with flu, not just a heavy cold as many people call flu, but full 20140222-01_Staverton Village Green + Cottagesblown diagnosed by a doctor type of flu and as such I felt it best to leave her to rest and take my 12 year old son out for a walk. Apart from leaving the house quiet for my wife, it would also serve two other purposes : I’d been feeling quite over-loaded at work and I’d been doing a fair few extra hours and I really needed some exercise and fresh air to recharge my internal batteries. Craig on the other hand had been ensconced indoors for the best part of a week during the first half-term of 2014 and I felt some good old-fashioned “get-out-and-about” would do him a world of good too, to burn off some of that energy that all young men have an excess of.

I’d left out my fave’ three books of local walks for Craig to look through and so pick out a walk or two, whilst I was taking my daughter to work; he chose a 5.25 miler straddling the border between Warwickshire and Northamptonshire and taking in two villages : Staverton and Flecknoe, neither of which I could remember having ever visited in the 20140222-50_Cottages + Village Green Stavertonpast. Why get Craig to pick a walk ? … well, I figured if he’d picked the walk, he’d potentially be much more engaged in the day. I reckon it was nearer 6-miles long in the end.

A little note about the title – Maybe a little more descriptive would have been Staverton – Flecknoe A Triangular walk rather than Circular; the route basically being north, then west and finally south-east making a right angled triangle, with the last and slightly longest leg being the triangles hypotenuse. It’s also probably worth mentioning the three books I often dip into for local walks, either to follow exactly the walks described within them, or, just as an idea to adapt using my map(s) to suit my needs on the day.

20140222_Staverton - Flecknoe Circular Walk

Map plotted on WalkJogRun – will launch bigger if you click on it

• Evening Telegraph Country Walks, Brian Keates [Coventry Newspapers Ltd.]
• Country Walks in the Rugby Area, Jim Watson [This Way Books]
• More Country Walks in the Rugby Area, Jim Watson [This Way Books]

This walk was lifted straight out of the last one of these books, perhaps it’s a tad lazy, but hey why not every now and again? So off we set, with me getting Craig to follow the drive to the start on the map, through Dunchurch, Willoughby, Braunston and on to Daventry 20140222-07_Staverton Village Cottageson the A45 and then the A425 for the last mile and a bit to Staverton; entering the village via a side road and then following my nose to reach the village green where I parked up as neatly and as considerately as possible. We booted up, I found my bearings, and we set off with light hearts and a spring in our steps.

Staverton village is charming, an eclectic mix of old and new; many of the cottages are very attractive indeed. In fact the village as a whole is attractive with warm Cotswoldy stone side by side with red brick, detached and terraced properties, different roof levels, buttressed walls, some cottages around the green even had corrugated rusting metal roofs. These in themselves weren’t unattractive but had obviously seen better days; I wouldn’t mind betting they let water in, especially around the chimney stacks. …. all in all Staverton is a very pleasant place to walk through, which 20140222-08_Heading North out of Staverton on Jurassic Waywe obviously had to do, firstly picking up Oakham Lane, walking away from the green and then joining Braunston Lane heading north away from the village.

After not very far, Braunston Lane becomes a dead end for traffic, leaving the village behind, but continues on as tarmac, reducing in width beyond a pair of metal gates serving no other purpose than preventing vehicular traffic. The way ahead is on The Jurassic Way and is bounded by grassy verges, ditches and large hedges interspersed with mature trees. It 20140222-12_Across the Fields to Flecknoe (from Staverton)looks for all the world that this may indeed have once been a “proper” road between Staverton and Braunston just like its name implies.

The views from the track are super, with a wide vista over both Northamptonshire and Warwickshire farmland. Off to the left across a shallow valley the fields rise to the village of Flecknoe near the top of its own hill. A dominant feature much further in the distance, protruding 20140222-09_Rugby Cement from Staverton (approx 9-10 miles)well above the horizon, is the Rugby Cement works (currently called Cemex) which is some 9-10 miles away as-the-crow-flies. Continuing pretty much due north (give or take a bend or two) the tarmac’d surface gives way to a wide farm track, quite rutted and muddy in places, reasonably firm and dry in others, dropping down off the hill that Staverton sits upon. Craig was quite happy with the change in surface, as he didn’t really want to be on the hard man-made stuff, preferring the natural ground underfoot.

 20140222-10_Jurassic Way Track North of Staverton (Nikon)     20140222-13_Jurassic Way_Track north of Staverton

20140222-15_Manure Heap + Slurry Mud

20140222-16_Lots of Mud + PuddlesThis was to change though, as the track levels out, crossing over a couple of small streams and being at the bottom of the surrounding hills (on three sides) the track had become very churned up, muddy and slurry-like. In fact some of it was real slurry, as there was a large pile of farmyard manure in a field on our left and it was seeping smelly yukky liquid into the tractor ruts along our route. Although the ugghy stuff didn’t stretch a long distance, it still necessitated some careful negotiating before the track started to rise again and in the process return to much dryer, easier and more pleasant walking.

20140222-18_Braunston Church Spire from Jurassic Way (Nr Berry Fields)Our route was to turn left (westwards) at a “cross-road” of bridle-paths, but rather than do that straight away, we decided to carry on up to the top of the rise to regain the views lost whilst we were in the dip, although I wasn’t sure quite what could be seen from here, I was hoping for a decent view to Braunston Village. I wasn’t disappointed, as the sun had picked out the church spire and the old windmill at the western end of Braunston village well over a mile away, and it gave the opportunity for me to try out my new 300mm lens on my camera. I was quite happy with the results. Once pic’s were taken, we turned around, 20140222-19_Wet Soggy Farmland_Just off the Jurassic Waydropped back to the afore-mentioned cross-road of paths, turned right and followed a farm track with a hedge on our right and an open unbounded field on our left (looking south into the sun). As a recurring theme over the winter of 2013-2014, the field was sodden with water and the infant crop looked far from healthy. I wonder how many 20140222-21_Tractor Tracks + Rutscrops will have failed and just got ploughed back into the ground so becoming the latest victims of the wettest winter since official UK records began over a hundred years ago.


Anyway that’s by-the-by really, we now had to follow the hedge on our right, dropping down a slope (with more deep tractor ruts), to reach the bottom where it again became a little soggy underfoot, but we picked our way through to a sturdy, utilitarian wooden bridge across a small river. This is the infant river Leam, which forms the border between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire here.

20140222-22_Miry Bridge over infant River Leam

20140222-23_Infant River Leam at Miry BridgeNow, despite its spelling, this isn’t pronounced “Leem” as might be thought, but “Lem”. However you might pronounce its name, the river isn’t very big at this stage of its life. Its future path is north almost to Braunston, bisecting the now disappeared medieval villages of Braunstonbury and Wolhampcote before swinging west past Draycote Water (it is used to top up the reservoir at times) and then on, eventually to Royal Leamington Spa to join The River Avon (The Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare’s Avon) at Warwick.

All that is superfluous really, as we crossed straight over – No we didn’t ! I’ve lied to you : We first stopped for a rest and to take on board some refreshment, a drink of water and some nibbles – and only then did we cross straight over via the wooden bridge, called Miry Bridge on my map, heading away uphill (not steep) across a field in a westerly direction. 20140222-26_How Deep (Flooded ridge and furrows near Flecknoe)As it levels out, one of the fields has the rolling remains of ancient ridge and furrow farming methods. Each of the furrows were rather waterlogged to start with, and as we progress across the field these became areas of standing water, too deep for my walking boots, so necessitating a series of zig-zags along the top of the ridges to avoid the fingers of mini-lakes. Craig in wellies however had no problems wading straight through, in a much more direct line to reach a bridge over an old disused railway.

There are so many of these old railway routes criss-crossing our countryside; it’s hard to imagine the steam traffic that must have serviced all the villages and towns along their routes. This particular one heads north into Rugby which was once a major rail interchange, but now less so. Just to one side of the bridge, the railway has been deliberately flooded making a small fishing pond, although I think probably not used much looking at the state of the small landing stages. A little further on the fields on our right became horse paddocks – One horse in particular was a right poser in front of the camera!

20140222-27_Fish Pond + Dilapidated Landing Stages          20140222-30a_Horse (Near Flecknoe)

 20140222-32_Short signpost FlecknoeFrom here we picked up a farm track, which soon led us into the village of Flecknoe. The first thing of note is a traffic sign-post. Nothing particularly unusual in a road having a sign post you might think; except in this case its height above the ground. There can’t be many signposts much shorter than this one, even the surrounding snowdrops almost reached the bottom edge … in text speak – LOL.

From here we walked up the road passing the rather imposing Manor House. There were a couple of happy smiley daffs in the verge here in full flower – The 20140222-36_Old Olive Bush Pub - Flecknoefirst of the year. Moving on up the road, brought us into the village proper; the road bending one way and then the other, passing attractive cottages on the way, soon bringing us to the pub – The Old Olive Bush.

The hostelry looked very inviting in a homely understated sort of way and it would have been rude not to partake of a drink (I’d planned to stop anyway).

Rather than drink inside though we sat at a small table just outside the front door in the sunshine; me with an excellent pint of Doombar ale plus a bag of cheese & onion crisps, Craig with a J20 and his fave pub nibbles, salted peanuts. Without fail, every local who either came in or out of the pub passed the time of day with us – Friendly people!, Friendly Pub!.

 20140222-37_Full Pint of Beer - Doombar Ale          20140222-39_Emptied Pint of Beer - Doombar Ale

As much as a second pint would have gone down a treat, we really needed to move on, so, ignoring the path almost directly opposite (more of that in a mo’) we headed off down the road in the same direction as before (roughly westerly). At the next road junction we turned left (away from Nerthercote), and then, around left again still on the road. Now, the guide book suggests carrying on up the road to then take the next left on another minor road. However at a small chapel there is a passageway (marked as a public footpath on my map), so we decided to leave the road-walking and head off eastwards looking out for the 2nd footpath on the right for our route away from the village.

20140222-40_Pink Washed Cottages - FlecknoeNow you may have worked out that after this many left turns, we were now heading more or less back towards the pub, and yes indeed we were, the passageway track/path crossing the top of the little footpath directly opposite the pub mentioned earlier; so we could have cut out the walk around the village. Anyway, we found the path we wanted, crossing a grassy field towards a group of buildings. Where upon we had to enter the back garden of one of the houses and then head down the side of the house (on its left) to then pass through the front garden. It does feel strange doing this, and Craig actually said he didn’t like it as we passed through the nicely kept gardens. But it’s a right of way, so no problem is what I told him.

We had to then cross a minor road to pick up a path heading through the middle of a sizeable field, although it was worth the turn around to view the pink washed dwellings we’d just come past. We were also now back “on-route” per the guide book directions. Dropping across the field it would have been easy to assume it heads straight to the bottom, but no, about half way down the route takes a slight bend to the left, passes through a line of a hedge and then continues in more or less the same direction (SE) to rise up the bank of a disused railway (the same one as crossed earlier by the fish pond). After a little joggle to the right along the old track bed the path drops down the far bank, through a stand of trees and then following a sign post across the corner of a field to reach a small footbridge over a ditch/brook. The path then carries on in the same direction across a few fields to reach and the cross the River Leam again and in doing so cross back in Northamptonshire leaving our home county of Warwickshire behind.

Our walk was now nearing its final section, with about five fields to negotiate before arrival back at Staverton. 20140222-44_Dwarfed by the reedsThe crop in the first couple of these fields was one I’d never come across before. Not your normal, beets, wheat, maize, potatoes, etc., that are often encountered but reeds. Tall, dry, blown about in the wind type reeds, or maybe it was bamboo.

What-ever the actual stuff was, Craig wanted to walk straight through, I didn’t!!! So he disappeared (almost literally) into the margins, the height of the crop dwarfing him, but I soon called him back out to join me 20140222-45_Silver Birchin the walk around the left hand side of the crop, following alongside a small stream. A wide margin had been left uncultivated and apart from some surface slipperiness the going was quite easy, just rising gently as we went (Craig heading off into the reed crop margins every now and again enjoying the adventure. After a while of steady uphill we crossed over the stream/ditch and through the hedge line via a small bridge and then immediately turned right to continue upwards (with the hedge on our right), just a few yards further on we reached what looked like a point-to-point horse jumping rail and fence marking the start of a wood. Continuing on between the wood and the hedge, we reached another fence/jump, entered the next field leaving the trees behind and promptly passed by a couple more jumps. How having a cross country horse jumping route following the line of a public footpath works I don’t know, but that’s exactly how it is on the ground. However, we soon had to cross a fence (near a 20140222-48_Cottages + Village Green Stavertonsmall animal house) and the path steepened as it made its way up the middle of a small valley, eventually picking up a drive way (Well Lane Track) as the path passed a large house and then up into the village of Staverton reaching Manor Road.



20140222-54_Cottages StavertonTurning right along the road, passing attractive cottages as we went, brought us back to our car, parked by the side of the village green. The next few minutes were spent removing boots (Craig sat in the car boot to do this) and I wandered around the green taking a last few photo’s and then in the car for the drive home. But first I drove around to join the A425 Daventry Road, just to see what the pub looked like and find out its name – Purely to add it at the end of this diary, and so give you the final bit of info’ that you might find useful …. We didn’t go in, so I can’t comment on what it’s actually like, I’ll leave you to discover that yourself if you want to. Oh and it’s name? : “The Countryman”.

20140222-55_The Countryman Pub _ Staverton

Approx’ Heights “climbed” during the walk.
• Muddy valley bottom north of Staverton to Berry Fields = 25m (82 ft)
• River Leam at Miry Bridge to Flecknoe Village = 35m (115 ft)
• River Leam to Staverton Village = 70m (230 ft)
The last 30-35m in height being the steepest part of the walk, but not by any means a problem.
• Total = 130m (427 ft)
• None of the downhill sections were difficult enough to warrant a separate mention.

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

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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.

20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk 2nd Half_Lilbourne to Clifton via Rugby Radio Masts and Hillmorton Locks.

20120219_Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore, Lilbourne Circular Walk

2nd Half_Lilbourne to Clifton via Rugby Radio Masts and Hillmorton Locks.

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)

20120219-62_Oxford Canal - Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenFull 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.

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

20120219_Clifton-upon-Dunsmore-Lilbourne Circular WalkThis is the continuation of the walk from my previous diary … Just to keep the prose and pictures on each diary reasonably compact ….. If you want to read the 1st half first, please use this link. If you’ve already found and read about the 1st half the walk, you’ll already know that I’d arrived at All Saint’s Church just outside Lilbourne and opposite it is a medieval motte and bailey castle, or at least the remains of the motte are still visible. Not far away is what would have been a ready supply of water – A small river :- The Avon.

20120219-40_Infant River Avon + Bridge - Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenArrh yes; The Avon, I walked down the road for a short distance to cross the river (just a stream really) via a brick bridge; I’d describe this bridge as being functional rather than overly attractive, although being brick built with arches, rather than concrete does create a degree of attractiveness, but the proportions just aren’t quite right somehow, at least to my eye. Crossing the bridge took me from Northamptonshire into Leicestershire, my third county of the day. From here I could have just returned to the church and continued on, but I was curious about a path that I could see on my map which passes under the M1 nearby and thence off towards Swinford, perhaps a possible walk destination in the future ? ….  20120219-41_Disused Railway + Station Near Lilbourne by gary.haddenso off I set along the minor road away from the church, passing over the line of an old railway at what looks like an old platform. I believe this was Lilbourne Station [maybe dating back to the Beeching cuts ?…. maybe someone can tell me?]. Near here I turned off the road down the side of a field through a ribbon of trees and down to where the path crosses underneath the M1. The M1 is raised up above the ground here for quite some distance, supported on relatively slender concrete pillars, you could almost think too slender for the amount of weight and roaring traffic they support, but there again, I guess the road engineers must have got their calculations right, as it doesn’t appear to have collapsed yet. The area under the mass of concrete is drab, cold, dry and really not at all attractive in any way, shape or form, even the Avon has no charm about it as it crosses under close by, so I turned back on myself, retracing my steps to the minor road and the old station.

20120219-43_Under the M1_Near Lilbourne by gary.hadden   20120219-44_M1_Near Lilbourne - Sainsbury's Truck by gary.hadden

Heading back towards Lilbourne gave a different view of the motte + bailey remains, and to get a closer look I chose to take a footpath running south, up the middle of a grassy field to the east of the mounds and west of the M1.

20120219-45_Infant River Avon + Lilbourne Motte + Bailey by gary.hadden

20120219-47_Motte + Bailey + Church - Lilbourne by gary.hadden

I particularly liked the way shadows and highlights enhanced the ridges of soil creep (slow natural erosion) on the slopes of the mounds. It was also quite interesting having the nearby traffic on the M1 rushing by. The path emerged into the outskirts of Lilbourne village, where I followed minor roads to drop back down to the church and thence be back onto my original course. At a road junction near the church, I picked up a footpath heading roughly south rising 20120219-48_Lilbourne Church + Houses by gary.haddengently, which gave a pleasant view back over the church and I soon found myself on a minor road leading up to the village green area of the village where I found the name of the road to be called “The Horsepool”, an odd name but that’s it name. A village green bench became another short stop for refreshments/a bite to eat.

Moving on, after a mini-explore of the village centre, I crossed the main road through the village (Rugby Road/The Green/Yelvertoft Road) and joined Hillmorton Lane heading downhill in a southerly direction. It seems every community has it’s challenges and difficulties, and it seems Lilbourne is no 20120219-51_Radio Mast Hillmorton Lane - Lilbourne by gary.haddendifferent; numerous posters dotted around the village pronounced their particular battle – A campaign against The Lilbourne Wind Farm. Some of the posters looked like they’d been up for some time, some were more pristine, so it would seem the protest had been quite protracted. I wonder if the result has now been announced all these months later ?

I now had a stretch of road walking to do, taking the Hillmorton Road around a sharp right-hand 90-degree bend to head westwards and then swinging round to a south-westerly direction. Although on tarmac, this was pleasant enough as it is a very minor thoroughfare and 20120219-53_Discarded Traffic Cone + Reflection by gary.haddenI don’t think I saw a vehicle of any sort. In the fields to the south were a smattering of tall slender radio masts forming an extended portion of the famous Rugby Radio Masts not very far away. I talked about farmers’ detritus at the start of the walk, well it seems not far behind is road rubbish littering the verges, an example of which was an old beaten up traffic cone lying half in and half out of a large puddle – You can’t pin that one on the rambling fraternity either !

20120219-54_Unit45 Truck/Lorry on A5 (Watling Street) by gary.hadden

Hillmorton Lane comes to an end as it meets the A5, which again had to be crossed carefully, to immediately pick up a track still heading roughly south west straight through the middle of the Rugby Radio Masts, bounded by barbed wire fences. I was surprised by the number of masts and different sizes, especially as there have been some high profile removals in recent years. It’s rumoured that the whole site is likely to become a huge housing development as the masts disappear completely. If true, this won’t be just another village, it’ll be almost like a new town. I guess that when that eventually happens the buzzard flying over-head will have to move to pastures new.

20120219-57_Barbed Wire Fence - Rugby Radio Mast Site by gary.hadden   20120219-60_Rugby Radio Masts by gary.hadden

20120219-56_Buzzard - Blue Sky by gary.hadden   20120219-59_Barbed Wire + Shredded Plastic Rubbish by gary.hadden

20120219-61_Shadow_Me Myself Yours Truly by gary.haddenAfter just over a mile on the almost dead level track, with a multitude of dirty puddles (some really quite large), I was quite happy to arrive at The Oxford Canal at Hillmorton Locks. Having never been here before, I decided to have a look around and walked up the minor road, passing a farm entrance and the church to reach a very tall tunnel under a main line railway. At the far end, the tunnel dramatically reduces in height before the road leads up into the estate of Hillmorton in the south east corner of Rugby. Having looked up the tunnel, I back-tracked to the canal and dropped down to the towpath and immediately found a bench for a refreshment stop, directly opposite Badseys CafeBistro across the cut.

20120219-63_Rotoballe Hay Bales by gary.hadden      20120219-64_Low Bridge Ahead by gary.hadden

I was enjoying my short break in the afternoon sunshine when a narrow boat (The Grebe) sailed down the canal heading north and the pilot had to stop the 20120219-66_Oxford Canal - Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenboat whilst the nearby lock was vacated/opened up for it to pull into. Well, the person at the tiller made a right hash of stopping the long craft, ending up slewing across the canal and hitting a moored barge on the opposite bank. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a canal traffic accident before, and even though it happened at very slow speed the crunch was obviously significant enough to bring a couple out from the nearby buildings – I’m sure in my mind they were the owners of the innocent barge – They really didn’t look at-all impressed!, although I don’t think there was any significant damage.

20120219-68_Oxford Canal - Bridge 70 at Hillmorton Locks by gary.haddenAs much as I was enjoying my rest I had to move on, heading north on the tow path, passing interesting features along the way, including:- An attractive arched brick bridge over a side arm of the canal to a chandlers ; Various Moored multi-coloured canal boats ; A twin lock which only seems to have one half in use (which Grebe eventually negotiated) ; and a grassy picnic area with lock-gate “art-work”.

20120219-70_Narrow Boat at Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

20120219-71_Narrow Boat Reflection at Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

20120219-72_Canal Boat + Work Bench by gary.haddenThe photographer in me liked an old work-mate bench next to a barge/narrow boat being renovated; the two white non-matching mugs both empty and unwashed perched on the bench somehow suggested a prolonged period of inactivity to match the lack of noise emanating from within the boat – Perhaps a beer or two were being quaffed in the afore-mentioned bistro cafe?

20120219-73_Odd Narrow Boat by gary.haddenThe last boat moored along here was an odd looking craft, with a slightly unkempt but happy feel about it; maybe it just needs a lick of paint and a touch TLC. The best I can describe it, is, if it were stereotyped as a person it’d be a 1960s hippy; my thoughts are probably born out of the self-sufficiency of the solar panels perched atop the roof and bright multi-coloured sheets of Perspex over the windows …. it must make for an odd glow inside, especially with the sun shining through.

The tow path is sort of sandwiched between the railway and the canal with farmland stretching up the slope beyond, nice enough but fairly non-descript really, but a pair of swans nibbling on the emerging crop shoots added a certain charm – I think everyone probably likes swans.

20120219-74_Grazing Swans by gary.hadden

20120219-75_Oxford Canal - nr Hillmorton Locks by gary.hadden

At the next bridge (going over the canal), I had to leave the tow path and join the road. I then had several hundred yards of road walking (generally northwards) climbing steadily to pass Home Farm. The rise opened up a view I just wasn’t expecting across a valley, over a golf course and then up to Rugby Town with St. Andrew’s Church Tower and the Rugby Cement (CEMEX) tower and chimney punching up from the skyline.

20120219-76_Rugby Town from near Clifton by gary.haddenJust after Home Farm, I crossed over the road to pick up a footpath heading across the last few fields. It’s not often a walk finishes on an up-hill section but this one did before easing off in the last field where some Highland Cattle stood 20120219-78_Highland Cow by gary.haddennot caring a jot about my passing by. I think these beasts are brilliant looking, with their long twisty horns and shaggy hair covering their eyes. They may look fierce, but I’ve never had a problem walking past them and toady was no different despite gently having to encourage one from in front of the final stile of the day in the corner of the field.

A little bit of road walking and a couple of alleyways soon brought me back to the church and the car-park. I was very restrained and decided to forego a drink in 20120219-79_The Bull Inn - Clifton Upon Dunsmore by gary.haddenThe Bull Inn across the road, instead heading back to home on the other side of Rugby – Just a few minutes away really.

Well, that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings as much as I enjoyed the walk, and as much as I’ve enjoyed revisiting it over a year later writing it up and rediscovering my photo’s ….

Break-Down of Heights Climbed (over the full walk) :- Although nothing steep or 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.

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.