The Heart of England Way gives a green route, for 100 miles, the length of the West Midlands region. Linking Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Staffordshire, with the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Gloucestershire, with much mileage in rural Warwickshire.
Starting at the Northern end, adjacent with the seat of the Earl of Lichfield, Shugborough Hall, at Milford near Stafford, the first sections of the WAY take the walker across some of England’s most precious heath lands, within Cannock Chase AONB. Past the Iron Age fort of Castle Ring, and onward, a gentle roll down to Lichfield where “The Mother of The Midlands” (Lichfield’s three spire Cathedral) stands proud.
Steeped in history, from Charles II and Dr Johnson, as well as Roman roads (Ryknield Street is crossed first), onward towards the hilly and impressive section near Hints and the Roman road of Watling Street. On towards Drayton Manor Park (the former home of Sir Robert Peel) and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, to Kingsbury Water Park, before running to the east of Birmingham, and then to Meriden (the centre of England).
The pretty English villages of Berkswell, and the moated Baddesley Clinton Hall (NT property) are next, before crossing the Grand Union and Stratford Canals. On to our second “Beaudesert” and the Motte & Bailey castle at Henley in Arden. On to Alcester, there is gentle walking through low-lying country with woodlands, canals and agricultural land, and the well-wooded landscapes of the Forest of Arden, the Avon Valley, the Vale of Evesham, to Meon Hill and Chipping Campden.
After this honey-pot of a Cotswold treasure, you walk along through long shouldered hills and deep wooded valleys, through Batsford Arboretum, Swell and Lower Slaughter. This is The Cotswolds where Heart of England Way finally ends in Bourton on the Water. An exquisite place and a grand final point. Alternatively, a great place to start! Here is a neat table of approximate distances from key points along Heart of England Way!
Distance 100 to 101 miles depending which route you follow! - Distance 162.6 Km (101.0 miles); 2109 m (6,919 ft) ascent; 265 m (869 ft) maximum height.
Start: SJ973209 - Milford Common, Staffordshire
Finish: SP166208 - Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
Waymark: Named green and white discs with oak trees
This is a link to a useful GPS guide to the route: http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksWalks/heart-of-england-way-walking-route