20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704_Warwickshire_Cawston to Thurlaston Countryside Walk

20150704-01(b+w)_Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

When : 4th July 2015

Summary : I’m not going to say much here today, instead just a few brief words to say the walk on a warm summer day, was from Cawston [near Bilton/Rugby] to Thurlaston [near Dunchurch] and couldn’t be more than a couple of miles.

The Route :-

• Cawston, (to the south west of Rugby),
• A4642, Coventry Road to Brickyard Spinney
• Across a wheat field (right of way footpath path hadn’t been put in by farmer yet again!!!)
• Past a small pool at Potford’s Dam/Cawston Spinney.
• Wide field verges by the side of a couple of fields, heading south.
• Look up into the sky as two jets approached us, banked around in a wide arc and disappeared into the sun.
• Up to Northampton Lane (hedge/tree lined path).
• Turn left along Northampton Lane, just briefly.
• Right down side of another wheat field (with lots of lovely poppies).
• Reach the B4429 road, another Coventry Road.
• Left alongside the road, passing Medda Place nursery, reach a very striking building with bright yellow corrugated roof
• Cross the B4429 opposite the yellow house to follow side road (Main Street).
• Main street rises a little to cross over the M45 and then into the pretty village of Thurlaston, including a set of stocks on a little green in amongst attractive cottages,
• Met my lovely wife (who was already in the village for other reasons) and got a lift  home.

20150704-01_Sinuous Curves_Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

Sinuous Curves__Wheat Field near Cawston Rugby

And now, to follow, a set of photo’s from the walk, which are maybe a bit more interesting than my words.

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

20150704-04_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-03_Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds near Rugby

Some More Big Blue Sky-Fluffy White Swirly Clouds

20150704-05_Fly Past (out of the blue)

Fly Past (out of the blue) – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-07_Fly Past_Into the Blue

Fly Past_Into the Blue – Can anyone tell me what they are ?

20150704-08_Fly Past_Into The Sun

Fly Past_Into The Sun

20150704-09_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-10_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-12_Wheat Field with Poppies

Wheat Field with Poppies

20150704-15_Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

Yellow roofed cottage_Thurlaston

20150704-16_ Thurlaston Stocks

Thurlaston Stocks

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.

Oh and finally, there are other paths that you can take from Thurlaston, to Dunchurch and Toft and most notably dropping down to the perimeter track around Draycote Reservoir. So it is perfectly possible to make a circular walk around this quiet part of Warwickshire. If you’d like to, please ask about the options available and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP, or you could search through my past “Cawston” or “Dunchurch” walks diaries.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20150523_Echium Pininana (Tree Echium)

20150523_Echium Pininana (Tree Echium)
When : Spring 2015
Where : My Front Garden, Rugby, Warwickshire.

When you click on a photo’ it should open larger on my photostream on flickr.

20150523-05_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower SpikesI have two main interests, which, if you’ve peeked at any of my previous posts you’ll know more or less what I’m about to write …. But if you’re new to my blog, I’ll reiterate again just especially for you.

My first interest is : Country Walking, Hill Walking, Hiking, Rambling, Fell Walking or what-ever other term you’d like to call it.

My second interest is : Photography …. Unlike above, it’s kind of hard to find another descriptive term, except to say, I like taking pictures with a camera.

 

Now, over the last few years I’ve published a series of blog posts describing my country walks 20150523-11_Echium Pininana Plants - Bumble Bee Magnetand enhanced/illustrated them with my photo’s. Most of the time I would describe myself as a walker who takes photo’s. However, I think that’s starting to change, as my knees are becoming worse for wear as I get older, so much so that at times that I feel more like a photographer who can walk a bit. Whichever way I look at it, both interests interlock and complement each other just fine for my blog.

20150523-11_Echium Pininana - Bumble Bee - Heavy CropHowever, as a third interest, I also enjoy a touch of gardening. But I don’t blog much about this, as it hasn’t got that much in common with my walking stuff.

HOWEVER, this post is an attempt to bridge that gap, albeit with a very tenuous link, but hey, I want to show off a bit.

 

20150523-03_Me with Echium Pininana Plants in FlowerLet’s start by going back to a family holiday [2008/2009 ish it must have been], to the Torbay area of south Devon with a combination of walking/sightseeing/normal touristy stuff. On one walk (tenuous link) around some hilly gardens on the outskirts of Torquay, we came across a tall exotic looking flower spike many feet taller than me (I’m just over 6-feet 4” tall) and my lovely wife said “Can you grow me one of those please ? I’d like one very much”, or words to that effect.

I’d never seen one of these plants before, but, luckily there was a big clue as to what the plant was, as there was a label stuck in the ground near where it’s single thick stem anchored it onto the hillside. So I learnt that it was an ECHIUM PININANA and I took a photo just to remind me later (did you notice the tenuous link to my photography 20150523-07_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Spikesinterest there). Little did I know that this chance finding would lead to this blog post some seven or eight years later.

We found a couple of garden centres in the area but no one seemed to know anything about these Echiums, they certainly didn’t stock any plants and didn’t have any seeds either. So, upon reaching home, some research on the internet and a trawl through different potential suppliers, led us to a nursery/garden centre in Cumbria who sold seeds and we ended up with a packet being sent through the post. Of the seedlings I managed to germinate, I got one to flower (a neighbour helped over-winter it in a pot in his greenhouse for me), the others succumbed to the winter cold and died. However, the one flower spike seeded which has eventually resulted in what I can now call a successful growing, with 20150523-04_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Spikesnine plants now in flower, the smallest just under 6-feet tall, the tallest well over 13-feet tall I reckon. They are certainly the hardest plant I’ve ever tried to grow.

Why are they hard to grow ? Because Echium Pininana plants are Non-Hardy plants native to The Canary Islands … They can grow on the south coast of England without protection (like we saw whilst on holiday).

But I’ve grown these in Rugby in the English Midlands nowhere near a maritime climate and where we can get some quite hard and persistent frosts.

I’ve managed to cajole my current crop to flower by :-

• The luck of two relatively mild winters,
• Planting near a south facing wall,
• Protected by other shrubs against the wind, and
• The use of copious swathes of horticultural fleece.

Apparently, sometimes these plants are biennials but I’ve had to nurture them through two winters as triennials ….. they are now in their third year and flowering !

• Self seeded 2012 (from the previous flower spike).
• Seedlings came up 2013.
• Over-wintered 2013/2014.
• Carried on growing 2014 (reached about 5-feet tall).
• Over-wintered 2014/2015.
• Started really growing on Spring 2015.
• AND they have really taken off, late spring 2015 and in flower.

 20150523-10_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Clusters

20150523-09_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower Clusters

20150523-06_Echium Pininana Plants - Flower SpikesOne spike in particular is heading skywards, I think it’s easily 13 feet tall and maybe even more …. They are now coming into flower and the spikes are becoming a head turner in the street ….

Interestingly, the flowers spikes have come out in different shades of colour. One is almost white, there are pinks on view, and one is has a purpley-blue tint.

From a distance the spikes themselves are quite impressive, but up close, the flower clusters are pretty as well and worth a closer look.

 

And a final word … Once they’ve seeded they will, sadly, die.

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.

20150412_Daffodil Festival Monks Kirby

20150412_Daffodil Festival Monks Kirby

When : 12th April 2015
Where : Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.
Distance : A little wander – Not even worth measuring the distance.
Significant Heights : None to speak of.
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No.222 Rugby and Daventry (but not needed).
Start + End Point : approx. SP 477,835

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

This is not really a walking post this one, but still kind of out-doorsy all the same, and it is associated with raising money for charity so I’ve deemed it more than worthwhile writing about it on my blog.

20150412-A_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Daffs

Daffs _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival

A rough indication of the “walk” around the festival’s grounds

Every year, the village of Monk’s Kirby (a member of the Revel Villages), holds its annual daffodil festival, a sort of village fete, at Newnham Paddox, at the kind permission of The Earl and Countess of Denbigh who live there. It’s all organized by and in aid of The Friends of the C-of-E Revel Churches.

There was a small entrance fee of £3.00 for adults and £1.00 for children.

…..

……..

…………

20150412-C_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Wooded Glade

Wooded Glade _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

The six churches of The Revel Group are, in no particular order :-

• St Leonard’s, Willey,
• St. John The Baptist, Brinklow,
• St. Denys’s, Pailton,
• All Saints, Harborough Magna
• Holy Trinity, Churchover
• And of course in Monks Kirby, St Edith’s.

Once in the grounds of Newnham Paddox, there were various stalls to peruse, live music, performances and displays to enjoy and, of course, food and drink to be had.

Performances this year (I’m writing in 2015) included :
Ocho Rios Steel Band, Jill Bartlett School of Dancing and Dunchurch Silver Band.

Foody stuff had all the usual suspects ;
Ice Cream, Cakes, Hot Dogs, Hot Drinks, etc.

Other exhibitors etc. included ;
Coombe Abbey Woodturners, Beekeepers, CPL, Jewellery, Kids Games, Alpacas, RSPB, Preserves, Donkey Rides, and various others, notably a super Model Woodyard.

20150412-K_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cherry Blossom

Blassom _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Despite all these attractions, the star of the event, was the grounds themselves. The initial “fete” area, leads into a shallow valley, surrounded by farmland (mostly crops), and within the valley are a couple of ornamental lakes. Well, lakes may conjure up an image of huge, wide expanses of water, but these aren’t in that league. No, they’re more like sizeable ponds, but large enough to be in scale with the surrounding landscape, mature trees and shrubs making a slightly wild appearance whilst also being obviously planned out. In fact, the drive up to the entrance, out of Monks Kirby village, is along a sweeping drive through landscaped grassy parkland, [by Capability Brown between 1745 and 1753] with individual specimen trees apparently randomly scattered across the pastures.

20150412-E_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Spring Bud

Spring Buds _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-D_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Primroses

Primroses _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Getting back to the grounds; there are large drifts of daff’s, blossom trees, mature deciduous trees coming into bud after their winter slumber and interspersed with evergreen conifers. Other spring flowers graced the area, including some beautiful clumps of primroses. I don’t think the grounds are overly gardened though, they certainly aren’t very manicured. However, there is a certain unkemptness which maybe adds to the charm rather than detracts. The lakes themselves are lined with sizeable areas of reeds and rushes and the whole area doesn’t take long to walk around, unless of course, like me you stop to look closer at the details and attempt to take photo’s, trying to do the place justice.

20150412-B_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Poolside Daffs

Lakeside Daffs _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-G_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Decaying Wood

Decaying Wood _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

20150412-F_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Decaying Wood

Decaying Wood _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

I say attempt, because I wasn’t really happy with my photographic attempts today; I just couldn’t find a decent exposure setting, but hey, maybe there are days when things just don’t work out OK.

20150412-I_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cheetah Sculpture (b+w)

Cheetah Sculpture _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

In the past, the lakes area was laid out as an outdoor sculpture park, with some very large pieces of art (including a couple of huge plate-iron elephants), but I was disappointed to find that over the last few years (when I haven’t visited) many of these art-works have gone and not been replaced, leaving only a few pieces of note. Of these, I think my fave would be the Cheetah and cub.

20150412-H_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Cheetah Sculpture

Cheetah Sculpture _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

I’ve had a look on the inter-web and cannot find any recent web-pages/sites that suggest the Art-Park is currently open, but I stand to be corrected. Good luck if you fancy finding out more yourself.

20150412-J_Monks Kirby Daffodil Festival 2015_Sun Bleached

Sun Bleached Branch/Stick _ At 2015 Daffodil Festival, Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire.

Anyway, I don’t think there’s much more to add, apart from I’m sorry that I’m posting well after this year’s event; but it is an annual happening, so make a note and next spring, sometime around Easter, go find out about 2016’s event and hope for some sunshine to make the day really extra special.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my photo’s such as they are …. 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.

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

Smoke

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.

T.T.F.N.
Gary