20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of this post

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

Summary : A clockwise circular walk, right in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

If you’ve just come to my blog post/walk write up at this page (2 of 2) without seeing my previous post, you might like to jump to “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)” which contains the following :-

• An Apology :-
• Who With :-
• A Little Preamble :-
• The 1st Half of the Walk :- Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.

20150906-33b_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
20150906-37_Out in front_Green Lane approaching Kirk DaleAfter a bit of a break in this interesting place (The Magpie Mine that is), we needed to raise ourselves to press on. The route I’d chosen took us to the northern most part of the site, through some rough workings and then instead of heading further north to the village of Sheldon, we took the path sort of north-eastwards and then south-eastwards to pick up a green lane bounded by two walls descending into Kirk Dale, where we met a minor road.

20150906-38_Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

20150906-40_View Over Kirkdale (Nr Sheldon)Our route pretty much crossed straight over the road, to steeply climb out of the dale (no contouring here!) to reach a stand of trees on the hill top. The views back from where we’d come from are lovely and after the short sharp exertions climbing the hill, an extremely good excuse to stop and catch our breath. The area around here is also pock-marked with old lead/fluor-spar mine workings and is noted on my map as The Magshaw Mine, but there’s very little left to see compared to The Magpie Mines recently left behind.

20150906-41_Wide Spaces heading for Over HaddonThe route now was in effect skirting around Bole Hill and had reached its highest point on the walk at about 340 metres above sea level. The aspect is open here and the walking easy, downhill, over a series of grassy fields taking pretty much a straight-line in a south-easterly direction all the way to the outskirts of the village of Over Haddon. The only interruption to the path was where the B5055 20150906-42_Tea Shop (Over Haddon)bisects through the route, sort of mid-way between Bole Hill Farm and Melbourne Farm.

Over Haddon itself is reached by turning left on a minor road (Monyash Road), passing a riding stables before turning right to pass a sizeable car-park. Just after passing the car park as the road started to descend somewhat steeper, we came upon The Garden Tea Shop.

20150906-43_Tea Shop Prices (Over Haddon)Well the sun was shining, we had plenty of time, the prices looked reasonable and the terrace area with an eclectic mix of terracotta pots and plants looked inviting. So after a brief (very brief) discussion we opted to head in for drinks and cake.

The reasonable prices changed to extremely good value once we saw the size of the cake pieces. Excellent value for money as we sat out in the sun on the patio/terrace area next to a small formal pool with their friendly terrier for company, looking out over the view above Lathkill Dale.

20150906-44_What is over here_Friendly Tea Shop Dog

20150906-47_Making Music in Lathkill DaleA recurring theme again presented itself …. We had to raise ourselves from our pleasant surroundings to press on once again, which took us back to the lane and a turn to the right then took us steeply downhill, as the road first dogged-legged left and then back to the right. As we did this the muted sounds of gentle classical music being practiced wafted up out of the garden below in the valley bottom, a guitar if memory serves me right. The road again bent sharply to the left around a large white house. We were once again deep in Lathkill Dale and were now about nine miles into the walk with three possible routes to take.

• Turning right, upstream would have taken us back to the junction with Cales Dale and a retrace of The Limestone Way back to Youlgreave.
• Going straight on, over the river and steeply up the opposite valley side, would take us to a farm (Meadow Place Grange) and then the options of a further three paths to Youlgreave. This would be the shortest route back to the start.
• Turning left, down-stream, on a path on the left hand side of the river.

It was the last of the options that I’d got planned, and we continued on through the lush vegetation, close to the river bank, bounded with steep wooded slopes on both 20150906-48_Swans_Lathkill Dalesides. The river starts to widen and some lovely views open up where the path ends up slightly raised above the valley bottom. A series of weirs, some quite sizeable, create pools and in the afternoon sun the colour of the water was absolutely beautiful, a greeny-tourquoisey-blue with vibrant green water weeds trailing in the sedate flow. This is gentle English countryside at its very best, understated and charming, almost polite (if a landscape can be polite), reflecting the best of British character. The path then drops gently to rejoin the river side and one place in particular was being enjoyed by several families having picnics and enjoying the autumn sunshine. This really was a perfect day to be outside.

20150906-49b_River Lathkill_Lathkill Dale

20150906-52_Into the Sun_Lathkill DaleFrom here the path becomes more made-up, wider, flatter and very easy going, to reach Conksbury Bridge, where a minor road crosses the river via a stone bridge. We needed to cross over the bridge being aware of the occasional car that passed by, but it was impossible to not to stop and take in the view over the bridge walls looking back up-stream from where we’d just come from and indeed on the opposite side looking downstream.

20150906-54_Lathkill Dale Relections

It was downstream that we needed to head, but the path does not hug the banks from here, instead we had to walk up the road (heading south) and soon after, where the road starts bending to the right, the path sets off again on the left, contouring, a little raised above the river at a stand of trees, with a water meadow below. After just a few hundred yards or so the path reaches a very small road (just below Raper Lodge).

20150906-55_Pack-Horse Bridge + Wier - Lathkill DaleA very small diversion was now a must! A turn to the left down the road/track quickly brought us to a lovely spot where a narrow pack-horse bridge crosses the river, which is dammed by a small pretty semi-circular shaped weir, creating a pool behind, the surface perfectly reflecting the surrounding trees. I’ve been here many times and would return again in a heartbeat – I love this place, the scenery almost secret and intimate, especially with the sun shining and no one else around. A few of us returned to an old childhood game and played pooh sticks for a few minutes, the flow from the weir taking our “straws” under the bridge arch and off downstream.

20150906-56_Lathkill Dale Rugged Weir Waterfall

The view downstream is lovely too, albeit a little more open with a water/flower meadow on the right bank, the river gently arching through the landscape with the heavily wooded steep flank of the valley rising directly above. The many varieties of 20150906-58_Lathkill Dale Summerhouse Arboretum-esquetrees give the feeling of an arboretum or tree garden and that feeling is enhanced by a small summer house nestled at the bottom of the slope. Enough of waxing lyrical, we again had to drag ourselves away from a beautiful place, and retraced our steps back to the path just below Raper Lodge. I here gave two options to my friends …

• Straight on up the minor road, to then take minor roads directly into Youlgreave village (the shortest option)
• Or ….. Turn left onto an easy path to continue down Lathkill Dale and then up some of Bradford Dale before rising into Youlgreave (the slightly longer option by about ¾ of a mile)

20150906-59_Squeeze Stile_Lathkill DaleMy friends chose the longer option, which suited me as I like the walk across a series of grassy fields separated by dry stone walls and squeeze stiles, running more or less parallel with the river. Lathkill Dale was now much wider than at any point before, a complete contrast to the upper reaches of the gorge walked through this morning. It’s still lovely in a gentler kind of way and we soon reached a minor road at the very small village of Alport; the groupings of attractive stone cottages little more than a hamlet really.

20150906-60_Alport_Lathkill Dale + Bradford Dale

20150906-61_River Lathkill_AlportThe River Lathkill here crosses under the road, tumbles down a little cascade and joins the River Bradford. A red telephone box stands sentinel here, but as an example of how modern times have all but removed the need for public land-lines, the phone itself has gone; to be replaced with a defibrillator unit. A good way especially in rural places, to add a self-help unit in medical emergencies and at the same time maintain a truly iconic piece of British design – The humble traditional telephone box.

Where the river crosses under the road, the path crosses straight over bending slightly right dropping a little to reach and then cross over the River Bradford. We’d now left Lathkill Dale and entered Bradford Dale near a farm; the farm on the northern side of the stream, us on the opposite southern side of the river. The easy path/farm track 20150906-63_Heron_Bradford Daleheads upstream adjacent to the river with gentle water meadows and small limestone outcrops/cliffs.

I’ve seen water voles, kingfishers, dippers and herons here in the past, and today we were lucky enough to see a heron stood in the stream near a small stone footbridge where we stopped for the obligatory group photo’s – there’s something about a bridge that shouts “group photo required” … similar to reaching a trig-point on top of a hill.

20150906-62_Walking Friends_Stone Bridge_Bradford Dale

The path crosses Mawstone Lane and continues on, next to the small river, but now on the northern bank where the stream is punctuated by a series of small weirs. These 20150906-66_River Bradford_Bradford Dale_Below YoulgreaveI believe are designed to aerate the water, and form small pools to encourage a good habitat for trout. Further up the valley towards Middleton the weirs become more like mini dams, the pools becoming larger and deeper and obviously support much larger fish. However, we weren’t destined to see these pools 20150906-67_Across Bradford to Bleakley Plantation from Youlgreavetoday because soon after crossing the last minor road, a path cuts up the valley side to enter Youlgreave Village, the rise affording some super views back over Bradford Dale to the hills to the south. The path after joining a side road, emerges into the village at a road. Turning right would take you into the “heart” of Youlgreave, including a square 20150906-68_Youlgreave Villagetowered Church, two pubs, and an impressively large circular water storage device opposite the Youth Hostel (in the old CO-OP building). However, we turned left, passing out of the village at Coldwell End to reach our car-park and our cars.

A super day, good company, great weather, fantastic varied scenery and a good day was had by all. I’d do it all again tomorrow without hesitation – but maybe in the other direction.

A Note about heights climbed :-
The following figures are approx. only (estimated by reading contours on my map) and don’t take into consideration the distance taken to cover the height differences and therefore gradients, but it gives an indication of the heights gained during the walk. The steepest single climb would be the section out of Kirk Dale. I’ve ignored the down bits because I don’t think there was anything of particular difficulty, the steepest bit being on the zig-zaggy road at Over Haddon, immediately after the tea shop.

• Youlgreave to Calling Low = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Junction of Cales Dale/Lathkill Dale to Monyash = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Monyash (at start of Horse Lane) to Magpie Mine = approx. 65m (213 ft)
• Kirk Dale to Magshaw Mine area = approx. 40m (131 ft)
• Bradford Dale to Youlgreave = approx. 35m (115 ft)

As the Magpie Mine is about half way round (roughly speaking), you can see most of the ascents are in the first half of the walk, which means the second half is mostly descent. The ground was mostly sound, easy underfoot; my memory maybe failing me, but I can’t remember a single ploughed field or any particularly muddy areas. Obviously, time of year and weather conditions could affect this though.

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.

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20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of post 2 of 2

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

20150906-16_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill DaleSummary :

A clockwise circular walk, in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

An Apology :-
Firstly, I really need to apologise for the extreme delay for taking soooooo very long to get Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4around to writing this post, following up on my last public post in September 2015 ! …. The reasons are complex and really, you don’t need to know the ins and outs and you probably wouldn’t be that interested anyway, as it’s nothing to do with walking …. But hey, as the cliché says “better late than never”; so, I’ve finally got around to typing this up and I felt it would be sensible to carry on where I left off and complete my scribblings about the Youlgreave Walk that I’d left hanging as just potential routes.

As it happens, it was potential route-4 that we ended up doing on a simply fantastic day of walking.

Who With :-
As a small group of walking friends and (at the time) members of The Coventry CHA 20150906-06_Limestone Way near Calling Lowrambling Club, once a month we would do a walk a bit more strenuous than the normal programme of Sunday walks … It was called the A+ walk, although that’s maybe rather arbitrary compared to other walking clubs. A+ just meant a tad harder than the other walks on the programme, giving the opportunity of :

• Starting earlier/finishing later,
• Travelling further afield,
• Walking further,
• Potentially more strenuous ups and downs,
• and maybe over rougher terrain,
• Without meeting the coach at lunch time,
• Or …. a combination of all of these.

Instead of using the normal coach from Coventry City Centre, we’d use our own cars, arranging lifts amongst ourselves and meeting at a pre-arranged place and time. Bringing this up-to-date (2017), we A+ers still meet and walk together, but no longer under the umbrella of the CHA club.

A Little Preamble :-
The walk on this day was due to be led by one gent’, I think he’d planned it to be in Staffordshire somewhere, but, unfortunately, due to a knee injury, he had to pull out … 20150906-20_Looking down upper reaches of Lathkill Daleleaving a void to be filled. So, I found myself volunteering to lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular route somewhere in the White Peak Area, straight off the map, without the need to pioneer/reconnoitre, given I’ve done many walks up there over the years.

Please see my earlier post for the potential routes I’d worked out based on the fantastic area around Lathkill Dale, a place I think is simply beautiful and encapsulates so much of what “The White Peak” has to offer the discerning walker. I chose to meet at a small car-park just outside Youlgreave, to the west of the village near Coldwell End, on a minor road to Middleton …. From memory, I’m sure it was free for the day, and there was a small toilet block.

The 1st Half of the Walk :-
Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.
20150906-01b_Looking over Bradford Dale nr MiddletonAfter congregating, donning boots and rucksacks we set off in a westerly direction on the aforementioned road towards Middleton, with brill’ views over the wooded Bradford Dale on our lef. We then branched right where the road splits, to rise steadily ignoring a footpath just before a bend, instead following the road round to the left and then picking up a path (Limestone Way) on the right 20150906-02_Limestone Way above Bradford Daleheading diagonally upwards across a field towards a small area of woodland. Passing through the wood very quickly, the path still rising swung right to head in a more northerly direction to meet Moor Lane, another minor road, at a car-park. This was one of the car-parks I’d considered as a starting point but discounted on the grounds of cost, but I guess charges could be subject to change in the future.

20150906-03_On The Limestone Way (Youlgreave Area)Turning left on the minor road quickly brought us to a junction with another road (Back Lane) which we basically crossed straight over to continue on The Limestone Way across grassy fields, bounded by the typical drystone walls of this part of the world. The path was still rising, but with the gradient now much reduced compared to earlier, allowing us to stride out somewhat, chatting happily amongst ourselves on what was turning out to be a beautiful day with blue skies, high wispy clouds and a light breeze, perfect walking weather!

20150906-04_Handsome Horned CattleIn the corner of one field we met a rather handsome horned cow, sat apparently enjoying the autumn sunshine. We walked by, crossing the nearby stile into the next field without it batting an eye-lid. Carrying on, we passed through another small wood whilst skirting around Calling Low farmstead, where I was taken by the quality of the filtered light and vibrancy of some mosses obviously loving the secluded damp conditions.

20150906-07_Moss + Woods - Playing with Focus + Bokeh

20150906-08_Descent into Cales DaleThe path from here cut across another three or four fields, now with a gentle downhill gradient and then steepening slightly to meet another line of woodland. The path then became very steep for a very short way, down a set of steps, descending into Cales Dale.

An option here was to climb straight out the other side of the valley (on The Limestone Way), but I’d chosen to turn right, heading downwards (generally northwards) in the valley bottom to soon emerge, via a wooden footbridge over The River Lathkill, into the more open and far larger and impressive Lathkill Dale with its limestone crags and cliffs, scree, grassy slopes, scrub and stands of trees along the cliff tops. I just love this valley and never tire of revisiting again and again.

20150906-09_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-10_Footbridge Junction of Cales Dale into Lathkill Dale

20150906-15_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-18_Peacock Butterfly with Hoverfly_Lathkill Dale

Now, if you wanted a shorter walk, you could turn right here and head east towards Over Haddon, but in my humble opinion, you’d be missing possibly the best part of Lathkill Dale, the top quarter is superb. Heading up the valley with crag-lines above, the river begins to peter out eventually disappearing at a cave in the valley side. We stopped near here for a bit of a break, where I spent a little time chasing a Peacock Butterfly as it flitted from thistle flower to thistle flower. Eventually, when I got a couple of shots, it ended up I’d captured a hoverfly at the same time.

20150906-19_Upper reaches of Lathkill DaleHere-abouts and moving on, the valley sides close in becoming more gorge like and the path becomes rockier and rises a little more steeply, especially where Ricklow Dale branches off to the right. There is a path that heads up Ricklow Dale, but we stayed left, remaining in Lathkill Dale, to emerge into more open country, the valley now shallower with grassy slopes and a broad grassy path to follow.

20150906-23_Wide Inviting Path - Lathkill DaleAfter the rocky gorge, we could fairly bound along (bit of an exaggeration, but hey, gotta be able to stretch the imagination sometimes). The paths meets the B5055 road, just to the east of Monyash village where there are often cars parked by the side of the road and there is a small toilet block. Almost directly opposite, on the other side of the road, the path continues but the now very shallow valley is now known as Bagshaw Dale and skirts around to the north of Monyash.

20150906-24_MonyashHowever, if you did this, you’d miss out on the charms of the village itself, and having done both in the past, I far prefer heading up the road into the village, so that’s what we did this time. The other advantage of doing this, is there’s a pub (The Bulls Head) and right next door, a café (The Old Smithy) both of which I’ve enjoyed using several times in the past. Today, it was the cafés turn to gain our business, ice creams being a favourite choice and we sat in the sun on the village green near the old stone cross. The establishments are popular with walkers, cyclists, bikers and visitors in cars. such is the draw of this quintessentially English village with its stone buildings clad with climbers, a spired church, cottage gardens and the village green with mature trees, stone cross, memorial and benches to rest on – Just a pretty place to tarry a while.

20150906-25_Cinqifolia Clad Stone Frontage - Monyash

20150906-26b_Monyash Village Cross

20150906-28_Side by Side_Monyash Tea Shop and Pub

I’ve heard the village pronounced as Money-Ash/Munny-ash, Moan-ee-Ash and Mon-ee-Ash, I don’t know why but I’ve always favoured the first of these; perhaps I’m wrong, but whichever it is, the village dates back centuries as indicated by the plaque associated with the village cross which states: –

“The village cross dates from circa 1340 when the village was granted a charter to hold a weekly market on a Tuesday and a three day fair to celebrate the festival of Holy Trinity. It is likely the cross itself was made of wood and mounted on top of the stone shaft. The circular holes in the base are where the lead miners tested their drills after sharpening at the smithy”.

20150906-27_Monyash Village CrossIt seems the defacing of public artefacts is nothing new. If this was done now-a-days I’m sure there’d be outrage, but this “vandalism” is now of historical interest.

Despite how good it felt sat on the green in the sun, we needed to raise ourselves and get our legs moving again, so, heading on from the café (westwards on Church Street) for a very short distance we turned right into Chapel Street, to head north staying on the right hand side of the road. At this point the route passes onto the other side of the dual sided map, but don’t bother re-arranging the sheet as the road soon re-emerges back onto the side of the map we’d been on so far, and we’d now gone as far west as this walk reaches. In fact, after a few hundred yards, we soon turned right 20150906-29_Bagshaw Daleagain, this time into Horse Lane, starting the big loop back to our start point. There are two footpaths near this road interchange, one heading up-hill northwards (not for us today) and the other heading off to the right into a grassy shallow valley. This is the top of Bagshaw Dale and is where we’d have emerged had we not opted to head into Monyash at the head of Lathkill Dale. This path was also not for us today. Instead we continued up Horse lane. Although on tarmac (which I try to avoid where practical) the views around us, and especially behind us, were superb, typical White Peak scenery of vibrant 20150906-30_Horse Lane looking over Monyashgreen grassy pastures bounded by limestone drystone walls, a smattering of lone trees and larger stands of woodland interspersed with farmsteads – Just lovely!

After less than half a mile, another path branches off on the left heading up hill (not steep) across the middle of a field. There now followed a series of walls/small fields the path rising in a roughly north easterly direction to reach and then cross through a long thin line of woodland (Hard Rake Plantation). Two more small fields later brought us to another minor road (might be called Flagg Lane ?). A turn to the right along the lane, a bear right again where Johnson Lane joins at a T-junction and then another couple of hundred yards along the road brought us to where the path leaves the tarmac to go cross country again. The terrain here is somewhat rougher and churned up indicating old industry – Lead mining. A few more fields and we reached our next major landmark, The Magpie Mine, with its chimneys, semi-ruined buildings and old winding gear structure. A group is working to preserve the site as a glimpse into the past and I bought a guide booklet as we passed by.

20150906-32_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)The mine area is well worth a little time to explore and it’s fortunate that a number of footpaths converge here from several directions. I think this is a great place for a lunch stop and it was here many years ago now, that I chatted to (and shared my packed lunch with) a young lady I’d met that day for the first time. This was during another walk I was leading, for The Coventry Youth Hostel Local Group, (now renamed The Coventry Outdoor Group). That young lady is now my lovely wife of over 20 years and brill’ Mum to 20150906-36_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)our two kids. Back then we were staying in Bakewell Youth Hostel and it’s another case of YHA standing not just for Youth Hostel Association but also Your Husband Assured. Therefore, The Magpie Mine carries a special place in my heart and always will do! At that moment in time, all those years ago, it never remotely occurred to me I’d be walking through the very same place about half way round a 12 mile walk with my son, but that’s exactly what happened.

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
As this write up seems to be getting reasonably long, I think it might be best if I continue on a second post, so for now I’ll say good-bye, and hope you pick up again in a moment or two at “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)”

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

20140517-09_Cattle

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

20150526_Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

20150526_Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

20150526-085_Seal_Howth Harbour

Howth Harbour Seal

When : 26th May 2015

Who : Me and my family

Where : The village and peninsula of Howth, North of Dublin Bay, Ireland.

Start and End Point : DART Railway Station, Howth

Significant heights : Guesstimate Approx. 430 ft. (130 m)

Distance : Approx. 4.7 miles (7.5 km) if you exclude the wander around the harbour.20150524_Howth Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk (without the harbour bit)Or …. Distance : Approx. 7.1 miles (11.5 km) if you include my explore of Howth Harbour.20150524_Explore of Howth Harbour and Peninsular Coastal Cliff Walk

Map Used : Information Leaflet : Experience Howth A Brief Guide and Map, picked up at a little info’ centre kiosk near the harbour.

20150526-008_Howth Harbour_Wheeling ing Seagulls

Wheeling Seagulls

Summary : A day trip out from Dublin with a gentle explore and discovery of Howth Harbour and the cliff path around the coastal peninsula. Really quite an easy walk but well worth it with many super views, wild flowers a plenty, and nesting sea birds on the cliffs. There’s an opportunity for a pint a little over half-way round and a host of pubs and restaurants in the village …. oh and don’t forget the charming seals !

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on flickr. There are also some more pic’s of the day in Howth, if you just want photo’s I’ve created a set of photos of Howth in Ireland.

We had booked a 4-day/3-night trip to Dublin as a family, mostly to take in the delights of Dublin itself, but with the idea of heading out to Howth village  at some point in the break for a drink and probably a meal depending on the weather and how the day would pan out.

20150526-001_Dublin Dart_Tara Street Station

Tara Street DART railway station

Well, the Tuesday looked like it would be good weather-wise, so it was agreed that would be the best day for a trip to the sea-side. However, the day was a little slow to get going and we actually had grey, overcast, damp conditions as we walked down O’Connell Street, Over O’Connell Bridge, along Burgh Quay alongside the Liffey to reach Tara Street DART station. We obtained tickets for the short journey out of Dublin, heading north and then around to the east with the train terminating at Howth Station. As a rule, you kind of get a different take on a city when viewed from a train, with the rump end of the town on view. Dublin was no exception, and the graffiti and the like makes for an interesting contrast to the glitz of new glass and steel buildings or the splendour of older buildings with their grand stone facades etc.

20150526-006_Howth Harbour_Fishing Boat Maintenance

Fishing Boat Maintenance

It was ever so slightly drizzling when we alighted the train, but this soon ceased and some pale blue sky was showing through the thinning cloud by the time we’d walked up the west pier, passing a series of fresh fish outlets, restaurants and fish processing units. These, along with a couple of fishing boats moored side by side on the quay-side were indicative of a proper working harbour. In fact, a couple of fishermen were doing some maintenance work on a very industrial looking contraption hanging over the stern of one of these boats.

20150526-007_Howth Harbour_Scavenging Seagulls B+W

Scavenging Seagulls

Heading back to land brought us past a skip, I would think containing a good proportion of discarded fish bits from the nearby processing plant. Why do I think this ?, because there were a multitude of gulls scavenging on and in the skip and wheeling around us in a swirling ever changing mass of beaks and feathers. It’s surprising just how agile in the air these rather large birds are, and powerful, noisy and graceful in equal measure too.

20150526-047_Yachts_Howth Marina_Harbour

Yachts – Howth Marina

20150526-048_Reflections_Yachts_Howth Marina_Harbour

Masts & Relections

Upon reaching the front/promenade we turned left on a path heading through an attractive lawned area separating the harbour from the road and car-parking. The more industrial harbour area gave way to a more gentile marina with a multitude of posh looking yachts moored in neat lines. It always surprises me just how much money is tied up (literally) in these marinas. There must have been thousands upon thousands of Euro’s (if not millions of Euro’s) just sat bobbing up and down doing absolutely nothing at all and probably for most of the year too. It kind of puts the recent financial crisis into perspective really. Even in the depths of a “first-world” recession, there are people who can afford to buy, maintain and pay mooring costs of these vessels. It’s not a wonder that half of northern Africa wants to come to live in Europe. Sorry, I got a tad political there; it’s not a criticism, just an observation about our lifestyles. Perhaps we’re not as poorly off as we’d like to think we are, or at least we’re not as hard-up as some people in power would like us to believe.

Anyway, back to Howth ….

20150526-032_Aer Lingus Airbus A320 Ei-DES over Howth

Aer Lingus Airbus A320

The Howth Peninsula sits protruding out to the north of Dublin Bay, the lump of land nearly forming an island, all but for a narrow strip of land adjoining it to mainland Ireland. There is a small attractive island just north of Howth village/harbour, with an interesting mix of shoreline, grassy slopes and craggy rocks and cliff faces. It carries the strange name of Ireland’s Eye (or Inis Mac Neasáin in the Gaelic). Beyond this Lambay Island can be seen in the distance. The flight path of many planes heading into Dublin Airport bisects above and between these two islands and a steady stream of aircraft could be seen all day long. In particular there were a good proportion of Aer Lingus planes, including Airbus A320’s, just like the one we’d flown in on from Birmingham a couple of days earlier on this very flight path.

As the weather improved still further, we decided that a walk along the cliffs might be in order (we’d half mentioned this back at our hotel the night before) and a leaflet with some sketchy maps was picked up from an information centre kiosk along the prom. It seemed a short route could be had, ascending to “The Summit” (but not the highest point on the peninsula) along the coast before dropping back into the village via a choice of routes. So we set off, I’d like to say at a fair old pace, but no, we had all day with no hurry, so it was really a bit of an amble along the front, joining Balscadden Road which soon rose quite quickly away from the marina area heading at first southwards and then swinging left around to the east passing a series of houses as we went.

The last time we were here, some 15 or 16 years earlier at a guess, we pushed our daughter (a toddler at the time) up the steep road in a push-chair. Now she’s old enough to buy a round of Guinness’ and didn’t need pushing much at-all. Our 13 y.o. son on the other hand hadn’t even been thought of all those years ago, but the only problem with him walking us now, is holding him back. He’s turned into a super little walker under my “tuition”.

20150526-013_Ireland's Eye (island) from Howth

Ireland’s Eye Island

The day had warmed considerably now as the sun had by now made a very welcome appearance, enhancing the views back over to Irelands Eye. The water was a lovely turquoisey-blue; if you used your imagination you could almost think it looked Mediterranean. After a while we reached Kilrock Car-Park at the end of the road with a very small shop cum café on the left hand side with a great view over the waters. We bought a bottle of water each, thinking it was starting to warm up, and we’d decided to push on further up the cliff path heading off at the far end of the car park area.

20150526-016_Howth Peninsula - Coastal Path Steps

Howth Peninsula Coast Path

20150526-019_Howth Peninsula - on the coastal path

On The Howth Peninsula Coast Path

20150526-025_Howth Peninsula Cliffs_Nesting sea birds + gulls

Howth Peninsula Cliffs_Nesting sea birds + gulls

The path was well trodden and good underfoot, climbing at a steady incline and we soon reached a series of steps climbing a little steeper up the headland (I think this point is called The Nose of Howth), the steps were an easy climb and we soon resumed the dusty path again, now swinging around to the right to be heading more or less southwards. The cliffs to our left, where they tumbled steeply down into the sea, gave home to nesting sea birds, a place for cormorants to sun themselves and a habitat for patches of thrift (sea pinks), grasses waving in the breeze, clumps of thorny bright yellow flowered gorse and a host of other pretty flowered low growing plants most of which I have no idea of their names but including some very attractive miniature roses …… I apologize for my ignorance of the native flora.

20150526-024_Howth Peninsula_Cormorants sunning on rocks

Howth Peninsula_Cormorants sunning on rocks

20150526-022_Howth Peninsula Cormorants in flight

Cormorants in flight

20150526-026_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Thrift_Sea Pinks

Thrift_Sea Pinks

20150526-020_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Thrift_Sea Pinks

Thrift_Sea Pinks

20150526-021_Howth Peninsula coast cliff path - Grass and Sea

Howth Peninsula coast cliff path

20150526-023_Misuse _ Warning sign advertising hoarding

Misuse _ Warning sign advertising hoarding

The path now continued southwards, still climbing steadily, with one or two benches to sit and admire the view and a number of bright yellow warning signs, warning of the dangers of falling over the cliffs. Really unnecessary really as the cliff edge dropping off quickly is kind of obvious. This is also thought by a certain proportion of the populace as well, as some of the signs were used for fly posting a host of mini advertising stickers; one sign in particular was more like an advertising hoarding, with the base message being completely obscured by what I think were mostly foreign stickers.

20150526-028_Howth Peninsula_Baily Lighthouse_Dublin Bay + Wicklow Mountains

Baily Lighthouse_Dublin Bay + Wicklow Mountains

We had now long lost the view over the marina but this was replaced by a different vista, including a headland pointing out towards Dublin Bay, the tip of the rocky arm populated by a lighthouse. Over on the far side of the bay we could see the coast of Dun Laoghaire/Dalkey and beyond that, The Wicklow Mountains as a soft bluey silhouette against the sky. The coast path carries on down onto the lighthouse peninsula, but that wasn’t for us, as we needed to branch off to the right ascending a roughish path (quite steeply in comparison to the path just walked up) to reach The Summit Car-Park. The climb wasn’t long by any means and we soon reached the car-park and then joined Bailey Green Road, descending away from the coast into an area of housing. After a short time along the road we reached a more major road junction over-looked by The Summit Inn.

20150526-034_Summit Inn _ Howth Penninsula

Summit Inn _ Howth Penninsula

Now, being guests in a foreign land, it would have been just plain rude to just walk on by, don’t you agree? Well we thought so, so headed in to the bar, obtained a round of drinks (including a couple of Guinness’, for me and daughter) and headed back outside to sit on the front terrace to watch the world go by at a quite relaxed pace.

20150526-035_Old Tram Way Path from Summit Inn to Howth

Old Tram Way Path from Summit Inn to Howth

Once our thirsts had been quenched, we headed off again … heading across the green in front of us to pick up a made up track after passing through a gap in a low stone wall. This track is the bed of an old tramway, which heads down the hill all the way back to Howth Railway Station. It in-effect bisects an area of housing, but with wide verges and banks of vegetation, grasses, shrubs, trees and various common hedgerow flowers plus some plants that have obviously “escaped” from the local gardens and are now naturalising themselves in the semi-wide environment. I was particularly taken by a large clump of nightshade in flower. There’s something about the bright purple and yellow blooms that shouts “poisonous”.

20150526-038_Nightshade Flowers

Nightshade Flowers

20150526-039_View over Church Howth to Ireland's Eye

View over Church_Howth to Ireland’s Eye

The way was very easy, and we’d soon crossed straight over Kitestown Road, Grey’s Lane and Dungriffin Road, descending at a steady gradient. It was a few minutes after crossing the last of these roads that I realised we could have turned right and left into Dungriffin Villas (road) to pick up a path dropping into Howth Village via the bottom of a steep sided valley. However, we didn’t feel like back-tracking, but as the path bent around to the left in a sweeping curve there was a break in the right hand bank with a narrow pathway heading down and across some rough scrubland, going in the general direction that suggested it might pick up with the valley path seen below us. I was right, it did, and having carefully passed through a little stand of gorse, it afforded a fantastic view northwards down Howth Village Main Street, over the ornate tower of a church (Church of the Assumption I think) and over the marina to Ireland’s Eye island and beyond out to sea.

 

20150526-042_View over Howth to Ireland's Eye

View over Howth to Ireland’s Eye

20150526-044_Ruins_Howth_Naturalised Snapdragons

Ruins_Howth_Naturalised Snapdragons

The impromptu detour was worth it just for this one view, and yes the narrow path did drop down to the village, but the girls felt their footwear maybe wasn’t up to the steepish descent on the dusty path, so we made our way back up to the tramway within a couple of minutes, turning right along the route as before. We soon reached and turned right down Balkin road and then right again at Balglass Road, which in turn became Main Street as it took a left bend.

We had now dropped quite considerably in height and were now well and truly in a built up area passing homes, shops, a library, pubs, the ruins of an old Abbey and the church we’d been looking down on just a few minutes earlier.

We continued on downwards, just following our noses really, to re-join the marina/promenade area near the landward end of The East Pier. Not wanting to leave Howth just yet, there were four obvious choices on what to do next :-

  • Find a pub for more drinkies (not really necessary).
  • Find a restaurant for a meal (just a tad too early).
  • Just sit and do nothing, (taking in the sights and sounds of Howth in the sunshine).
  • Or find an ice cream shop and then sit and do not-a-lot in the sun.

This Last option won quite easily … and the ice cream was excellent bought from a shop on the front.

Really, this walk’s write-up could end right now with a note to say, walk along the front to the station and catch the DART train back to Dublin, but we didn’t do that, nope, the following paragraph(s) will finish off the description of our day, so you might like to continue reading.

20150526-045_Howth Village Cottages_Olympic House

Howth Village Cottages_Olympic House

Once our ice creams had been eaten, we headed back along the prom to the start of the east pier once again, where we wondered why one building has the Olympic Rings displayed on the sky blue walls. I guess I’ll have to investigate further at some point in the future. We also passed by the posh boats in the marina once again. I fancied a walk out to the lighthouses at the end of the pier, but the others didn’t fancy that, so the girls sat on a bench chatting and doing crosswords in the sun whilst my son went clambering around on the rocks on the far side of the pier (overlooking the picturesque Balscadden Bay) and I went off on my own on top of the strong sea wall, just me and my camera.

20150526-051_Balscadden Bay_Headland and Houses_Howth_Ireland

Balscadden Bay_Headland and Houses

20150526_East Pier, Howth, IrelandAs with many piers, the length can be quite deceptive, and I reckoned it was maybe half a mile to reach the far end with its two lighthouses, the furthest one out being pristinely white-washed with a bright red railing at the top standing out against the now deep blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I’m not sure if I really captured an excitingly captivating image of the two structures, but hey I tried.

20150526-060_Howth Harbour_Chains

Howth Harbour_Chains

Heading back I decided to try something a bit different from a photographic sense, just trying to be arty with colour, detail and composition in some dock side buildings : so, Red Doors/Symmetry, Blue Door with yellow squares, Blue Vents, Yellow Chains, etc. became my subject matter, pretty much ignoring the obvious of boats in the safe haven of the harbour.

20150526-059_Howth Harbour Workshops_Blue Vents

Howth Harbour Workshops_Blue Vents

20150526-063_Howth Harbour_Stainless Steel Spike Sculpture Thing

Howth Harbour_Star of the Sea (Stainless Steel Spike Sculpture Thing)

A tad further back towards land, a side arm of the pier took me down to a different looking sculpture named “Realt Na Mara” (Star of the Sea). A completely stainless steel slender mast topped-off with a set of equally shiny stainless steel spikes in a three dimensional star. I don’t often like modern sculptures, but this one I did, albeit it seems a little out of keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of Howth. The reflections in the polished metal almost made it disappear from view, even from a few feet away. Now here was a photographic challenge if ever I saw one, and I think I made a fair fist of capturing its essence (well at least I hope I did) and then I played around with some fun shots of reflections including a distorted “selfie”, or should that be self-portrait.

20150526-071_Howth Harbour_Mending fishing nets

Mending fishing nets

Well time had moved on and we decided a meal would now be in order, so another stroll back along the front brought us back to The West Pier and the series of fish restaurants. Somehow we settled on Crabby Jo’s (part of Wright’s of Howth). A good meal was had, including BBQ wings, Mussels, Crab Claws and Whitebait for starters, and Hake, a couple of Fish Pies and a Half-Lobster with Crab Meat for mains (we didn’t need a dessert). After eating we headed back over to the harbour side and were fortunate enough to see a group of seals bobbing and diving and generally swimming around I’m sure having fun in the lovely evening light.

20150526-084_Seal_Howth Harbour

Seal_Howth Harbour

20150526-091_Shadows_Three Guinness + Soft drink

Three Guinness + Soft drink

Well, that put the seal (please excuse the pun) on a simply super day at the seaside, except we got to the DART station just after a train had left. So, what to do to whilst waiting for the next train ? … The answer was obvious really, so we headed into the pub situated in a building directly under the station and sat in the sun on the outside terrace drinking – Yep you’ve guessed it, another Guinness.

Well, that’s it I’m afraid. We caught the train back to central Dublin and made our way to our hotel. 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.

20150426_Cawston Woods Walk – Bluebell Meander

20150426_Cawston Woods Walk – Bluebell Meander

20150426_Cawston Woods - Bluebell Meander

The route, mapped on WalkJogRun

When : 26th April 2015
Who : Me and my kids
Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire.
Start + End Point : Cawston Grange Housing Estate
General Grid Ref. : SP47,72
Distance : Approx 2.25 miles (3.6 km)
Significant heights : None to speak of

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

Summary : An hour or so just wandering or meandering to enjoy the bluebells.

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

Also, please use this link to my pic’s of Cawston Woods and surrounding area, from my this and previous visits.

20150426-10_Cawston Bluebell Woods - Tree Trunks + Bluebells

Bluebells and Tree Trunks – Cawston Woods

20150426-05_Cawston Bluebell Woods - New Leaves (colour)

I really liked the way the light shone through the leaves

I’m not going to say much at all in this post, it’s really just a reprise of other diary posts I’ve written about Cawston Woods, BUT, it’s almost an annual pilgrimage during each springtime, and with good reason, every year at the end of April and beginning of May a good proportion of the woods are blanketed with bluebells. They only flower for a couple of weeks and I nearly always seem to arrive just as they are going over, but this year I went a tad earlier only to find them not quite in full bloom but lovely all the same.

20150426-21_Cawston Bluebell Woods - Bluebells

Bluebell Flowers – Lovely

My kids came with me (they love our local woods too) and they went off happily chatting together whilst I wandered taking photographs. In the greater countryside the woods are really quite small, but large enough for them both to disappear from view. However, I knew exactly where to find them; at the top of their favourite yew tree. If you didn’t know they were perched in amongst the top branches you wouldn’t notice them at-all, they almost disappear completely.

20150426-20_Cawston Bluebell Woods - Tree Trunk + Bluebells

Bluebells

Equally as interesting as the bluebells, are the trees themselves, don’t forget to look up into the canopy, I love the silhouetted shapes of the branches against the bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The newly emerging leaves are fresh and bright as well and I like the way they contrast against the dark shady areas in the trees. Also, if you just sit and be quiet the bird song is just beautiful and you may catch a fleeting glimpse of a grey squirrel or two (assuming there aren’t too many dogs being walked in the area). If you are extremely lucky you might even see a Muntjac Deer.

20150426-07_Cawston Bluebell Woods - Rape Seed Field

Rape Seed Field next to Cawston Woods (the round object rotates as a bird scarer)

Anyway, the route …. I’ll not bore you too much with a detailed description this time, instead I’ll do it as bullet points :-

• Start :- Cawston Grange Estate. Let’s say I started on Trussell Way, just past the side roads of Cave Close and Durrell Drive. Trussell Way is currently a dead end with plenty of easy parking (until they push the road further into the local farmland as the next phase of housing is built).

20130519-21_Cawston Grange - Perimeter Path - Bridleway

Perimeter path around the Cawston Grange Housing Estate

• Head out onto a strip of grass at the end of Trussell Way to join the Perimeter path around the edge of the current housing. (Turn left on the path).

 

• Exit the housing estate and turn right to follow the Coventry Road B4642 (was A4071) away from Bilton/Rugby.

20140309-09_Cawston Farm + Public Footpath

Cawston Farm on the right … Nature Trails Nursery to the left.

• Cross the road to pass between Nature Trails Nursery School and Cawston Farm buildings.

 

 

 

 

20130512-02_Public Footpath passing Cawston Farm - Rugby Warwickshire

Farm Track heading towards Cawston Woods

• Follow farm track down a gentle slope, passing some low barns and heading towards some woods.

• Enter the woods to the left of the farm-track and wander on the small paths under the trees (just coming into leaf). By the way, the woods to the right of the track are now designated “out-of-bounds” as a nature reserve and now no longer accessible to the general public.

,

20150426-26_Home Building_Lime Tree Village Expansion Cawston Rugby

Retirement Home Complex_Lime Tree Village Expansion, Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire

• Exited the woods onto Cawston Lane, opposite where the Lime Tree Retirement housing “village” is currently being extended.

• Turn left up Cawston Lane, which is quite narrow, so walk in single file taking care of the traffic using the road to/from Dunchurch.

 

20140309-05_Road-side trees + Fence_Cawston B4642 Coventry Road (old A4071)

Coventry Road (B4642 was A4071) at Cawston, Rugby

• Meet The Coventry Road at a tee junction, and turn right/cross again.

• Re-join the perimeter path around Cawston Grange houses.

• Finish, where you started.

 

20150426-30_Daisy Flowers_Cawston Rugby WarwickshireAnd to finish, I spent another half an hour taking photo’s of the little display of tulips and wallflowers I have in flower in my front garden – They were just about at their best in the afternoon sunshine – Happy flowers in a range of colours including yellows, oranges, pinks, russets, rusts and maroons.

20150426-45_Tulip Pink

20150426-34_Wallflower Rust Red Orange

20150426-50_Tulip Pink

And to really finish, if you want to just visit the woods without the walk around Cawston Grange/Coventry Road, there is limited parking space on a rough layby on Cawston Lane, opposite the Lime Tree Village complex.

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.

20150405_Great Witley_Clifton Upon Teme_Circular Walk

20150405_Great Witley_Woodbury Hill_Teme Valley_Clifton Upon Teme_Circular Walk

When : 5th April 2015
Who : 11 members of the Coventry CHA Rambling Club (including me).
Where : Great Witley, Worcestershire
Start and End Point : SO,753,663
Distance : Approx 11.75 miles ( 19 km)
Significant Heights : 1,805 ft up and 1,560 ft down … details at the end, after the text.
Maps : 1:25000 O.S. Explorer Map No. 204 Worcester & Droitwich Spa.

20150405_A Hilly Teme Valley Walk

Waking Route mapped out on “WalkJogRun”

Summary : A strenuous (at least for me) circular walk in the hills either side of The River Teme a good few miles to the west of Droitwich Spa. Starting at Great Witley ; over Woodbury Hill ; Worcestershire Way over the ridge of Rodge Hill/Pudford Hill ; Across the River Teme at Ham Bridge ; Rise up to Clifton Upon Teme ; Down and over The Teme again at New Mill Bridge ; and then a final climb back over the ridge before dropping back to Great Witley to finish.

I’m a member of The Coventry CHA Rambling Club and this walk was one from the Sunday A+ walks programme. These “A+” walks take place on the first Sunday of the month. If you’d like to know a little more about The Cov-CHA Rambling club, please see my previous blog-post or for more details please go to their web-site.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk (Me striding out)

I would normally now give a link to an extensive set of photo’s I’d taken during the walk, on my photostream on Flickr. But, I was very annoyed with myself, for, when I took my camera out for the first photo of the day, I found I hadn’t inserted the SD card (it was still in my computer at home, coz I’d been downloading photo’s the night before).

This became doubly annoying as the walk took in some absolutely beautiful scenery that I’d never walked through before … and … it turned out to be the best day’s weather of the year so far, a perfect spring day for a good walk and for taking photo’s … Grrrrr …

However, a couple of my friends in the party have shared a few pic’s of their own with me and, with their permissions, I’ve been able to attach them to the post, along with some “generic” non-specific images of my own and I hope these make for an interesting post for you.

Many thanks to Gerry and John for use of their images.

I’d arranged to share a lift with a couple of ladies that were going on the walk; the meeting time in Coventry based on some details emailed out by the walks leader. I won’t mention names in the interest of privacy, but thanks to the lady who drove, it was very much appreciated. We were the first of three cars to arrive at the starting point, a large car park just to the side of The Hundred House Inn at Great Witley in Worcestershire, on the A443 road between Droitwich Spa and Tenbury Wells. The impressive grade-2 listed building looked decidedly closed and tired (writing in Apr-2015) and a quick search on the web suggests it may have been that way since 2013. Anyway, that’s where we parked.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Ploughed Field Crossing

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Ploughed Field Crossing

Once we’d all gathered, donned boots and adjusted walking poles to desired lengths, we set off in a southerly direction, crossing the main road with care because there was virtually no road-side verge in front of the stile on the other side. As with all stile crossings, the party quickly started to string-out somewhat. This wasn’t helped in that, once over the stile, we were greeted by a wide, very rough-ploughed field. The path hadn’t been re-instigated across the churned up lumpy soil, but luckily we’d had a little period of dry weather and the crests of the ploughing were reasonably solid. Even my weight was supported OK!, so progress across to the far side wasn’t too bad (quite frankly it could have been horrible if we’d had recent rain). Hopefully the farmer will put the path back in again (as he is legally supposed to do) in a short time.

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One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Pussy Willow.

We soon regrouped to cross another couple of fields, eventually reaching a minor road which was reached by means of another stile. This one was particularly rickety, the tread being held in place on its rotting upright by the end point of a single nail. To hinder some more, the whole thing was also at an awkward angle. The slow progress here (even with only eleven of us) meant the group got rather spread out again very rapidly, especially as the onward route was on the road (after turning left over the stile) and the first people over obviously moved relatively quickly on the tarmac surface.

20150405_By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Above The Teme Valley

By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Above The Teme Valley

After just a couple of hundred yards along the road, a side track leaves the road on the right. Bisecting this track and the road is a footpath heading up into some woodland, this was a little indistinct at first and as the walkers at the front started to disappear up into the trees, I held back a touch to ensure the back markers (who’d stopped briefly to shed coats in the warm spring air) knew which way to come. I soon came to realise I should have put my own fleece into my ruck-sack, but I waited until I reached the top of the climb as we all re-grouped again. We’d now completed the first climb (about 460 feet) and it felt good to have raised a little sweat and, as we moved on, it was great to be high above the surrounding countryside spread out in a superb vista – a very English feel of mixed farmland, small fields, hills and valleys, farmsteads and pristine country cottages (well some were more akin to small country mansions). Having made the climb, the path (continuing pretty much southwards) promptly dropped, forcing us to quite rapidly loose most of the height previously gained, passing around Lippitts Farm en-route and then further down to Woodbury Old Farm situated on another minor road.

Our route was left along the road (Camp Lane) skirting high above a deep flooded quarry. It must be something about the minerals in quarry lakes, but the colour of the water was a notably turquoise bluey-green; it was quite beautiful looking down into the man-made bowl with sparkling jewels of light playing on the water below us. After a short distance we took a right hand turn onto another minor road (heading west). We were still dropping in height.

We were now on The Worcestershire Way and after a short distance, we turned left, off the road and onto a footpath (still on The Worcestershire Way) heading up Cockshot Hill and alongside/into another area of woodland (Cockshot Coppice). The climb started steeply, but eased somewhat to become a long ridge of maybe two miles long, including Rodge Hill and Pudford Hill. About half way along the ridge, a perfectly situated bench prompted a short break for some well-earned drinks and nibbles (we’d completed just over 3-miles by now). It was here that a box of Quality Street chocolates were dug out from a ruck-sack and handed around several times. Well it was Easter Sunday, and chocolate is THE order of the day (isn’t it?). Anyway thanks Jan’, very nice thank you very much.

20150405_By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Near The River Teme

By John Osbourne_Coventry CHA_Near The River Teme

Some lovely wide open views had opened up here out to the west, over The Teme Valley and up to Clifton Upon Teme high up in the distance (the church spire just about visible). Our leader for the day pointed out part of the route we’d be taking to get to the village, our intended lunch stop. This including crossing The Teme via a bridge. Now you’ve probably guessed that as we were high on the east side of the valley, and Clifton was high on the west side we first had quite a drop to negotiate, still following the ridge southwards; as we descended through some more woodland (Callow Coppice) it was just a tad muddy and slippery in places. After a while, we crossed a minor road (Pudford Lane) and then after a couple of fields, crossed what felt like a main road (in fact it was just a B-road; the B4204). After a little drop down some roughish pastureland we arrived right down on the banks of the river.

20150405_By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk_Mistletoe

By Gerry West_Coventry CHA_Great Witley Walk_Mistletoe

I was really enjoying the day and turning north along the river bank added yet another dimension to the walk – Pretty much flat walking! I will admit, it felt good. Although the map shows a path heading diagonally across to Hambridge Farm, the footpath in fact hugs the line of the river to arrive at where the B4204 crosses the river via Ham Bridge. The re-routed path happily prevents the need to do some road walking. We regrouped and crossed the bridge in a neat single file, but not needing to worry about vehicles – there weren’t any around.

Once over the bridge and after a hundred yards or so, we turned right off the B4204 into a minor road, giving way for a sizeable tractor and a large fork-lift truck to rattle past at quite a speed, they certainly weren’t worth arguing with for space on the road. This tarmac section didn’t last long at-all, instead we turned left onto a bridlepath. I seem to remember it was quite muddy here, but extensive muddy sections seem to be more of a a recurring theme on country walks these days, perhaps a sign of global warming and differing rain patterns over recent years?

We now had a long climb ahead of us, rising about 500 feet over about a mile. At first through some woodland (Slashes Coppice), but soon after, exiting the trees into a grassy field still rising steadily following the edge of the woods and then more open farmland. The warm spring sunshine and the exertions needed for the climb raised a sweat across my brow. In fact, it was quite a pull, however it was definitely worth it as the views once again were simply beautiful and a good excuse for a breather-stop every now and again to look behind, back down into the Teme Valley. The gradient eventually started to ease and soon after passing through Church House Farm, we entered Clifton Upon Teme, emerging in the village next to the spired church.

Clifton became our lunch stop, where we given about half-an-hour, it was also pointed out that there was seating in the church yard, and also on the triangular green situated opposite one of the village pubs (The Lion Inn, if memory serves me right about the name). The pub was open, but none of us investigated the charms inside, preferring to sit outside and chat, whilst eating our packed lunches.

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One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Wood Anemone

We were now over half-way (around-about 7 miles completed) and we had some easy walking to re-start the walk; at first retracing our steps past the church and out into farmland, picking up a route over/around a few fields (with a degree of muddiness) to arrive at some more woodland hugging the steep western flanks of The Teme Valley between Harrisfield and Top Barn. Our way was directly into the trees on a narrow path descending steeply in a small side valley heading down towards The Teme. We were entering the brilliantly named Withery Hole in Rock Wood. The way was, well, difficult underfoot, being wet, muddy and steep, at times with fallen trees and branches across our route and always just wide enough for one person at a time. Sometimes it was a case of just planting a foot and letting it slide in the clay and leaf mold whilst hoping not to be the first to “come a cropper”. Progress certainly wasn’t as elegant as skiing or ice-skating but kind of felt akin to them both. I was pleased to have carried two walking-poles with me; they’ve paid for themselves on this trip alone.

The descent through Withery Hole [I love that name] was slow going, probably the slowest pace of the whole walk, but the half mile or so was eventually negotiated and, as far as I know, not one person ended up going head over heels or even sat down in the mud. A short section after exiting the trees (more muddy bits) brought us out onto a road which in turn soon brought us to New Mill Bridge and our second crossing of The River Teme.

There was now about ¾ of a mile of flat riverside walking (heading north), sandwiched above the high banks of the river and farmland, some arable and some pasture, walking on the rivers’ flood-plain until heading gently up to Brockhill Court. There was a lovely display of daffodils here, which just kind of fits in with my write up at this point in the walk, but the spring flowers had adorned several places along the walk, along with primroses, and various other pretty starry flowers adding attractive displays along the route. I’m no wild-flower expert but I think these included celandines, wood anemones, miniature violets and such like. I like spring!

20130330-19_Daffodils - Cawston Rugby

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Daffodil – A happy sunny flower.

Having not walked very much during the winter, I was starting to feel the walk now, but a short rest-stop as we re-grouped again, a drink and a chocy-bar revived me somewhat as we chatted. The way ahead (more or less north-eastwards) was over more pastureland rising steadily over quite undulating ground. The way was very indistinct here and I’m sure our leader would have been concentrating hard at this point, but his skill wasn’t at-all in doubt and the way into a small wood was reached dead-on, absolutely perfect!

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One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Wood Anemone

If the path just followed was indistinct, then the way in the woods was practically non-existent. But we wound our way onwards, picking our way through, crossing a small stream en-route (the foot-bridge marked on the map no longer crossing the stream, but uselessly placed at a slant up the far bank). The ground was covered with the thick new-growth leaves of wild garlic (not in flower yet) but decidedly smelly when-ever it was stood on or even brushed against. I don’t find the pungent aroma unpleasant, but you certainly wouldn’t want to wear it as a perfume! It’s not a floral scent at all !

We were still generally climbing as we wound on through the woods and this continued after we exited the trees heading upwards (still north-easterly) towards the very aptly named Hillside Farm. In fact this hummocky grassy field was quite awkward to negotiate as we had to climb half left; the slope trying to throw me off to the right added a particular strain on my ankles and knees, again, my walking poles came into their own. Upon reaching the farm we joined a wide well-kept drive still climbing but much easier underfoot and we emerged onto a minor road (Camp Road again as it happens).

We had now increased our height by about 120m (over about a mile) since leaving the riverside. However, the climbing wasn’t over yet, as we crossed the road to pick up a distinct footpath heading up into a narrow strip of woodland. We were now back on The Worcestershire Way, heading almost northwards now and soon found ourselves turning almost back on ourselves as the path made a single hairpin bend and a very short (still upward) section brought us to the top of the hill … Yay, made it ! … In fact, we’d been climbing up the western side of a ridge stretching south from Walsgrove Hill maybe half a mile to the north. Effectively this ridge was the very same one as the one we’d followed during the morning, just separated briefly by the quarry area we’d walked around several hours earlier.

IMGP5199_Celandines (I think)

One of my “generic/stock” photo’s – Celadine ( at least I think they are Celandine – can anyone confirm please ? )

Our route from here was away from the trees dropping into farmland above Easthope Farm. The views were once again more than worth the exertions of the climb and as we turned north again we could see our finishing area about a mile away. Our way was pretty much contouring/slowly descending now with the views off to our right kind of spoilt by a messy plethora of caravans, motor homes and food & beer trailers scattered across the large field below us.

This turned out to be the Red Marley motor-biking hill climb meet, an annual event each Easter Sunday & Monday. Our path had to cross the actual hill climb route, forcing us to step over the bright tapes marking the course boundaries. I say we had to step over the plastic ribbons, but in fact only the taller of us straddled the tapes, many of the party choosing instead to stoop low to pass underneath, although I didn’t see anyone actually try limbo dancing – Maybe it was a little late in the day for that, or maybe heavy muddy hiking boots don’t lend themselves to limbo (he-he, it’d be fun to watch though). Thankfully, there were no motors heading up the course, making the crossing no problem at-all.

Once over the course route, we made our way down to the buildings of Walsgrove Farm, picking up a surfaced drive dropping past the red brick buildings with two distinctive oast house tops (you’d think we could have been in Kent rather than Worcestershire). We now had a section of road walking along a very minor road (heading north) pretty much on the flat now. The walking was easy but we just had to step aside several times as some rather large camper vans etc., trundled past heading towards the hill climb base-camp. To end the walk, we left the road, headed around a field boundary to emerge out onto the A443 main road almost exactly opposite The Hundred House Inn and our parked cars.

Well, what a superb day of walking.
• A sense of discovering an area previously not walked through.
• Descent spring weather, the best of the year so far.
• Varied and interesting terrain, including :-
• Woods; Farmland, Riverside; Hills; Ascents; Descents; A pretty Village,
• and, Lovely views throughout the day.
And most of all …. The most excellent company to walk with.

The end.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings.
T.T.F.N. Gary

And finally, as promised earlier, the Significant Heights – Both Ups and Downs.
Approx. only; by reading contours on my map.

1. Great Witley to Woodbury Hill.
135m to 275m = Approx 140m ascent (460 ft).

2. Woodbury Hill to Near Flooded Quarry.
275m to 160m = Approx 115m descent (380 ft).

3. Above Flooded Quarry Along the Ridge of Rodge Hill / Pudford Hill.
120m to 200m = Approx 80m ascent (260 ft ).

4. Ridge of Rodge Hill / Pudford Hill to River Teme.
200m to 35m = Approx 165m descent (540 ft).

5. Ham Bridge (Over River teme) up to Clifton Upon Teme.
35m to 190m = Approx 155m ascent (510 ft).

6. Steep Slippery Descent through Withery Hollow.
150m to 40m = Approx 110m descent (360 ft)

7. Brockhill Court over the Ridge of Walsgrove Hill.
45m to 220m = Approx 175m ascent (575 ft).

8. Ridge of Walsgrove Hill to Great Witley.
220m to 135m = Approx 85m descent (280 ft).

Approx total significant ascents = 550m (1,805 ft).
Approx total significant decents = 475m (1,560 ft).

T.T.F.N. Gary.