Anyone who goes on our walks is welcome to send in (use Contact Us page) their stories and details of how the walks went. Have you written yours yet?
Well, at least it didn’t snow for this February’s walk. After last year’s blizzard at Corley Moor, we were blessed with leaden skies instead and a sprinkling of rain for the first mile or so.
Sixteen of us set out from the reservoir car park in Shustoke and headed back down the road to follow the remains of the old tarmac road to Shustoke railway station, long since demolished, and crossed the river Bourne, in spate after the rainfall earlier in the week. It was the river that was dammed to create the reservoirs, initially for water supply to Birmingham, but after the Elan valley was completed the reservoirs became part of the supply system for Coventry and North Warwickshire.
We then joined up with the Heart of England Way and followed the path between the busy railway line (Birmingham – Nuneaton and beyond) and the reservoirs. We then climbed to the other end of Shustoke village and stopped for coffee at St Cuthbert’s church, admiring the view to the distant Shustoke (plague-free from the mid-17th century when home construction was moved half a mile towards Birmingham to escape the black death).
The walk concluded by rejoining the HoEW and crossing back to the reservoirs, following the road and path that brought us back round the sailing club to the car park again. We all found the Plough Inn in Shustoke village for lunch and a chat, and rejoiced as the sun finally came out. It didn’t last!
Dave Higgins – walk leader
The walk was approximately 5 miles along tracks and paths over an undulating area which was once part of the vast Royal Forest of Feckenham and covered 200 square miles.
We set off walking through the church grounds stopping to admire the Parish Church – looking at its very best for the Christmas period. Heading north towards Old Yarr and Bunker Hill having good views of open countryside.
Lots of birds about, buzzards, redwings, fieldfare and finches. Interesting also see two large fields set aside for growing willow trees one can only assume being planted for some form of basket weaving.
We walked through the village Ham Green a farm close by gave us a marvellous view of a commercial herd of red deer (50/60 of them).
Heading back passing Berrowhill Farm, pleasing to hear the noise of cattle in the farm buildings.
12 members gathered in the car park of The Farm Public House (formerly the Shelly Farm) to commence a walk around the Monkspath area. Graham explained that the walk only had 2 stiles, both a little tricky to climb and that some areas may be a little muddy.
The walk commenced down a leafy right of way which cuts across Widney Manor Golf Club and over a foot bridge over the M42 motorway and crosses over the river Blythe. We then walked alongside the railway lines, through a kissing gate, turning right along a leafy lane towards Hogarths Hotel. We proceeded along the Hotel’s gravelled path towards the Hotel’s multi-pooled gardens, crossing a small bridge and our first stile.
We once again hit open fields bearing left and then right across two large fields, approaching the hedge which runs adjacent to the A3400 which we crossed and entered Blythe Valley Park via the large bridge over the M42 motorway. We turned left and then almost immediately right, entering one of the many paths criss-crossing the area and stopped for morning refreshments in one of the many rest areas supplied by Solihull Council.
Following the path out of the park, we again crossed the A3400 near the Tesco Service Station where we entered a concealed pathway which eventually lead into Shelly Lane and thus back into the Shelly Lane Car Park. All members seemed to enjoy the walk and particularly the refreshments in The Farm Public House!
Walk Leader: Graham Stidworthy
Wednesday 7th December 2016
A meeting at the Great Western Arms in Blockley, good weather and a lovely walk led by our illustrious Warden Co-ordinator Brian Keates.
A circular route initially walking almost due south on the Heart of England Way, including a lung testing ascent was followed by an easterly section along the ridge.
Turning north we passed Oldborough Farm before entering the village of Draycott with its mix of old and new Cotswold stone houses.
Passing Northwick Farm Mill we were lucky enough to meet the present owner who explained some of the history of the facility.
Sunday 20th November 2016
A terrible weather forecast a night of rain and high winds, not a great portent for a walk in the woods.
Sunday 20th November started wet but at the appointed start time the rain abated and nine spritely souls departed the Lickey Hills Visitor Centre.
Wednesday 2nd November 2016,
Black Boy - Knowle
Hasn’t the weather been brilliant for walking? The latest Wednesday walk saw 14 of us join Bob and Sandra Thursfield for a 6 mile walk around the Knowle/Chadwick End area starting at the Black Boy pub on the A4141 which is also on the Grand Union Canal. The route took us down the Grand Union towards Knowle, passing the Kings Arms (the original name for it after a brief outing as the Heron’s Nest) then climbing the 5-lock flight up to Knowle where we left the canal at Kixley Lane. We then headed east to pick up the winding Elvers Green Lane passing through the (dry) ford and turning right to eventually re-cross the river Blythe behind Springfield House school after a well-earned coffee break.
The chatter continued to fuel Sandra’s leading group of walkers and we moved on at a leisurely pace round the back of Temple Balsall, picking up a footpath roughly parallel to Temple lane, turning right to reach Park Corner (where for a mere £1.65M, the eponymous house may be purchased). From there it was a short stretch down a deeply rutted byway leading us back to the A4141 a few hundred yards from the Black Boy and lunch!
For those interested in the pub name, according to the Black Boy’s web-site, pubs across England called The Black Boy are generally named after King Charles II. It was a nickname coined by his mother because of the darkness of his skin and eyes. King Charles is credited with popularising champagne drinking and yachting in England.
The original Black Boy was closer to the Warwick Road than the building that stands today, the new premises were built in 1793 because of the new canal trade….
….and now the leisure seekers, walking through delightful countryside on a decidedly beautiful Autumn day. Thanks to Bob and Sandra for a wonderful walk; See you on the next one? (Sunday 20th November on the Lickeys, or Wednesday 7th December in Blockley).
Wednesday 5th October 2016 - Chipping Campden
A meet at 10.30am on a beautiful sunny autumn morning in the Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. We eventually followed Clive Bostle out of the ancient market hall at 10 45am. Quickly out of the conurbation and following the Heart of England Way, after a short walk we reached the hamlet of Broad Campden with its stone cottages and church. A convenient grass bank afforded a short break for sustenance before continuing on our route across the pastures of the area where the rams were enjoying themselves having been introduced to the ewes.
A group of 19 walkers continued their pleasant stroll across the verdant land of the area which in earlier times had created the wealth, through wool, to build the prosperous town where we stared our journey . We saw the largest ‘wool’ church in England in the distance as we returned to the town centre. Unfortunately our initial choice of pub was unsuccessful in obtaining food and drink before the group split up to go in various ways.
Sunday 18th September 2016 - Ombersley
A walk designed by Graham (thought Madiera was a better option) led by Colin and walked by a select band. A beautiful autumnal morning saw us congregate at the southern end of Ombersley after looking at some of the lovely old properties in the village.
We initially followed the Ombersley village walk signposted by the relatively new flexible Worcestershire waymarks. At last the county is realising the benefits to tourism of well marked paths.
A distant view of Ombersley Court was followed by a reflection in the depths of the aptly named Black Pool . We soon met the meandering River Severn which we followed passing splendid houses , Holt Bridge and the lock just upstream. Leaving the river we ambled through meadows and acres of rhubarb fields before passing through the village of Uphampton with it’s luxurious homesteads. A return to Ombersley and a welcome drink in the local hostelry completed a perfect morning.
Wednesday 10th August 2016 - Evening Stroll
A beautiful evening, excellent company, the lovely scenery of North Worcestershire and a meal at the Hopwood Inn, what more could one want.
On the evening of Wednesday August 10th, we strolled at 6.30 pm from the Inn along the Worcester to Birmingham canal for just over a kilometre to the first bridge. Here we ascended from the towpath to cross the bridge and pass through the stable yard at Bittell Farm .
We joined the path across Bittell Farm Road to Upper Bittell Reservoir. Following rights of way around two sides of the reservoir we joined the North Worcestershire Way back to the A441 and the pub . A few photographs show aspects of the walk.
Sunday 17th April 2016 - Hartshill Hayes
Beginning from a much improved car park (now permanent office, toilets, kioske and weatherproof seating area, we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine. We firsted viewed the expanse of the River Anker valley looking north towards Atherstone and beyond. This walk is based upon the "Quarryman's Walk" and is 6 miles (in a figure of 8, allowing for shorter routes).
We then took trails through the country park woods, north-east to Hartshill Green. Crossing Castle Road, and walking down Grange Road, we come to one of many information boards providing history and local information. Again, a wonderful view of the valley north and east.
Taking a signposted/gated ROW to the right, up and around the first of the former tips/quarries, we skirt around a farm before descending to the Coventry Canal, and footpath to reach the Nuneaton Road (B4111) at The Anchor Inn (gardens, play area, pub food). We now continue along the canal towpath under former railway bridge, before turning left onto field path towards the main rail line (London-North West, route from Tamworth to Nuneaton). Skirting right with railway on our left, we cross bridge and stop for coffee (PS leaders get free coffee and ginger biscuits here - lol).
We then took the clear path diagonally across the field in direction of Caldecote Hall, to a pleasent view of meandering River Anker and the hall. A level track heading south-east takes us to a private road where we turn right and walk back toward the railway. On the way, we again cross the river, via a small bridge with interesting ironwork. Crossing under the railway, we begin to climb again, reaching the very pleasent Springwood Marina on Coventry Canal.
Continuing along the road, just past a bend in the road, and dwelling on the right, we turn right into trees, with steps, to skirt around the second former quarry.
Taking a right into Windmill Hill Nature area, we eventually come out onto Mancetter Road (B4111) and turn right (northward) until we pass the radio-mast and cross the busy road to take footpath around the last (and largest) former quarries. Immediately, there is a reasonable view through the fencing of this extensive (now) lake that has filled the quarry since works finished and water pumping stopped.
We continue to follow the path up and around the perimeter fence, until the path (muddy) reaches Castle Road. Turn right for a short time, before crossing to other side when you see the remains of Hartshill Castle across the road. To the right of the small viewing platform in the wall, is a path down and alongside the country park.
Taking this path, we walk alongside the woods, with the cemetary on our left, before reaching a residential street/estate - stay on same direction, and take path on right into the country park. Following the path in north-west direction we retraced our steps towards viewpoint and the car park.
Tip - 50p guide from wardens office at HHCP is a helpful map to use with other OS maps for the many trails through the country park.
Write Up and Leader: Mike Westley
Sunday 20th March 2016 - Oversley
The walk was led by Brian Stone and began from the newly renovated 'Three Horseshoes' country dining pub in Wixford. It had discouraging signs about muddy boots on the entrance, but seemed very nice from what could be seen through the windows. Eleven walkers set off for a tour of route sections of both the Heart of England Way and the Arden Way and including a climb up to one of the twin peaks of Oversley wood where we enjoyed coffee. The work Warwickshire CC had done to re-establish a walkable route from Oversley wood to Rosehall farm was admired, it still remains to be seen if we revert to that route for the Arden way or stick to the new route through the cricket pitch to Exhall and through the village to the horse stables. Any thoughts on the subject are welcome.
We returned up the hill above the cricket pitch (see photo), skirted round Oversley Castle again, where new houses/apartments are under construction (as John remarked,'nice, but it's a long way to the pub', my reply was that it woild be even harder staggering back up an unlit, steep farm track!).
Thanks to Brian for a great walk, apparently it was largely based on the first HoEWA walk he went on.... some years ago.
Write Up: Dave Higgins
If anything could go wrong with this walk, then it proceeded to do so. Launched in my mind over a summer evening pint and great food, following Brian Keates’ excellent sunset stroll last August, I took a look at the OS map to see what else could be walked around the area. Within the month, I had determined a near 5 mile route which used pathways from 2 long distance routes (usually a good guide to quality paths), our own HoEW and A Coventry way (ACW).
I then walked the route, granted it was a little soggy in places on the initial section of ACW, I also had trouble crossing a hedge between two fields on the return from Fillongley (part of one of Stephen’s circular HoEW return routes) due to extremely tall bracken and briars, but the route was going to be walked in March so it should be no problem? Then I came to Barrat’s farm! The paths were more than soggy, I would have been better in Wellingtons to get over the puddle (lake?) before the motorway bridge, but, I thought…. We can manage this, it won’t be any worse in March and there is a nice section of the way coming up after Hayes Hall Farm. So there we leave it for the winter months…..
So, now it’s February, I really need to go and check the route again. ACW was oozing water and was passable with dry feet if one jumped from tussock to tussock… OKaaay-ish… The good news was that the Fillongley section was passable – no giant vegetation – but Barrat’s farm and the next kissing gate on the HoEW required grit, determination and wet feet to progress as well as an aptitude for climbing around metal gates. Not suitable for all our members!
Back to the drawing board!
A new shorter route came to me sometime later, but on checking it out on the ground the Sunday before the walk, the whole path network on the land used by the corporate event company, Heart of England (yes, they stole our name), set up on land behind Old Fillongley Hall was subject to major alterations and I couldn’t find the entrance to the network from the access road. AAAARGGHHHH. Then, unusually for me, I collapsed to my bed with a chest infection.
The show must go on, so despite my incomplete recuperation, an afternoon funeral at the bull and butcher and the worst weather of the winter so far, 12 intrepid souls completed a 4 mile walk, enjoyed an excellent meal at the pub and paid for it (despite my addled brain ‘losing’ a £20 note, temporarily).
Never mind, summer’s coming……. (and I’m much better, thanks)
Write Up and Leader: Dave Higgins
Immediately before reaching the canal, we turn right and a short walk along quiet street to reach The Longhorn - for a quick drink and chat - then onto the canal, north past the flight of (2) locks to Aldridge Road and the Hay Head branch. Turning south onto and crossing Longwood Lane into car park, we now venture into the woods and head east along route of canal branch (it is also possible to skirt around the edge of the former Aldridge Airfield for a while. We are now on the Beacon Way, and follow the meandering path through woods before heading north-east to The Dingle in a clockwise direction to Cuckoo's Nook.
Eventually, we head south and cross the Sutton Road (B4151) and follow field path with house on the right. Reaching Crook Lane, we turn left, then right along resident's driveway, to a tatty wooden stile. Bearing left around the perimter of the residence, we cross, with difficulty, another forlorn wooden stile (watch out for rotten planks in wooden bridge - lol). Then its ahead across fields (signposted) to Pinfold Lane. Turning left we reach Beacon Road (B4154). Turning right, and crossing safely to other side of road, a vehicular exit from the Beacon provides us a route back to the car park.
A bright day, with cloudy spells, and plenty of interesting things to look at.
Write Up and Leader: Mike Westley