Ramble Reports April 2023

Much more than April Showers

Lesley’s Midweek Ramble 12 April

We gathered in the car park at Hailes Church for a ten o’clock start. Here the group learned a brief history of Hailes Church, Hailes Castle and Hailes Abbey and their links to each other and the surrounding area.

The morning started bright and cool as we set off, passing the Fish Ponds for the Abbey. Having reached the village of Hailes we turned right down Salter’s Lane then left up Puck Pit Lane onto the Winchcombe Way. After 400 meters we took the field path. Having crossed two fields, we took the footpath up to Haile on the Hill, and as we climbed we caught sight of two swallows, fresh from Africa, making an early start here in the Cotswolds. Climbing further up the ‘Bank’ and taking a brief rest at a stile we spotted a Gloucestershire and Warwickshire steam train heading for Hailes Halt and Toddington. At Monk’s Hole we joined the Gloucestershire Way to Little Farncote Farm, where ancient ‘Strip Lynchets or Linchets’ are clearly seen. These are a feature of ancient field systems, essentially steps of farmed land on steep ground, often found near Iron Age Forts or earlier barrows from the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The views from here took in the valley and across to the village of Farncote and North Farncote, and one could imagine an ancient Hill Fort being sited here. At Lynes Barn we continued on the Gloucestershire Way and along to the ‘Salt Way’. Before continuing along ‘Campden Lane’ we enjoyed a much needed pop-up coffee and cake stop but the weather turned ugly, the heavens opened and the wind blew, making it rather challenging.

However, undeterred we set off once again following the track, known as Campden Lane passing a number of small, disused quarries to ‘Stumps Cross’. Here we examined the base and post of one of several types of Christian crosses erected during the mediaeval period mostly from the 9th to the 15th Century AD. The commonest type would have had a wheel head on which various forms such as figures in relief or Christian symbols and were erected to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those passing by, acting as reassurance to the traveller and way-markers in difficult terrain.

With the rain at our backs we crossed the B4077 to take the footpath out to Carey’s Covert passing Guiting Quarry. The high quality honey-coloured limestone from the famous 80-acre quarry site “rings like a bell”, so many Cotswold mansions have been constructed from the historic stone; two pieces are being carved to form a new base for the spire of St Mary’s Church in Childswickham.

In the small village of Taddington we passed Manor Farm and ‘Pauline’s Veg’. Stall from where some of our number bought farm-fresh vegetables for their supper. We rejoined the Winchcombe Way crossing two fields to Hornbill Bank in rain and a gale across the ridge, making us very cold and damp.

On reaching the edge of woodland we stopped for lunch, when the rain also decided to stop and the sun tried its best. With the shelter of the woodland it made an ideal spot to dry out a little and enjoy our picnic lunches.

Lunch over, and the dark clouds looming once again, we decided to get on our way down through the woods, spotting early celandine and anemone blanda, to the rough track from Park Farm to the village of Stanway. The rain started again just as we came out onto the pavement beside the B4077 heading west, where after 400 meters, we crossed to the Cotswold Way over several of the Stanway Estate fields, and on to Wood Stanway.

Here we exchanged the Cotswold Way for the Winchcombe Way, following it out past Wood Stanway Farm and the Village of Didbrook. At this point the rain stopped and the skies brightened as we wended our way back to Hailes Church and the Abbey.

All agreed that the walk had been suitably challenging and we had certainly done enough to earn our tea and hot shower/bath.

Michael and Paul kindly proposed a vote of thanks for an interesting walk and I wished everyone a safe journey home.


10.2 miles or 16.42 kilometres

Relaxing Ramble around Oversley Wood

Geoff and Rachel’s Short Ramble 19 April

After welcoming members Lorraine and Neal to their first walk with the club, sixteen members set off from Bleachfield Street, Alcester, on a dull but dry April morning.

Alcester, which is at the junction of the Rivers Alne and Arrow,was founded by the Romans around AD 47. The walled town developed from the military camp on Primrose Hill. It was sited on the crossing of Icknield Street and The Saltway. By the end of the 2nd Century Roman Alcester had developed into a bustling trading and market town: A small walled area in the centre of the town was surrounded by an extensive grid of roads serving a complex of workshops and their associated housing, which specialised in various trades. Many artefacts have been found locally and are on display in the Roman Museum in the town.

After crossing the River Arrow, we made our way over the A46 onto Primrose Hill, thinking how thoughtful the planners were to install mounting blocks on either side of the bridge for horse riders to dismount before crossing.

After some track walking we reached Oversley Wood. This is an ancient woodland owned by the Forestry Commission. Luckily the mud from the recce two days earlier had dried up well and it was fairly dry underfoot. We were hoping the bluebells would be out, but after the recent cold weather we felt lucky to be able to see them just beginning to bloom. Primroses, wood anemones and violets added to the feeling that Spring was finally here.

Leaving the wood, we crossed under the A46 and followed footpaths back to Oversley Green. Reaching Alcester we took a short detour along picturesque Malt Mill Lane before returning to the cars.

After changing our boots, we enjoyed the comfort of the Bear Hotel, where Maggie joined us and 13 members stayed for a leisurely lunch.


5.5 miles

A lap of the Littletons

Geoff and Rachel’s Evening Ramble 28 April

24 members met at the Ivy Inn at North Littleton for the club’s first Evening Ramble of the season.

After all the rain of the previous weeks there was not as much mud as anticipated las we made our way towards Cleeve Prior, going up West Side and down East Side of the village before crossing two large fields to circle South Littleton. A short stop at South Littleton Recreation Ground was taken before we gradually climbed up Windmill Hill. Despite the sunset not being as dramatic as one on a previous ramble, there were good views across the Vale and Evesham Bell Tower could be seen in the distance.

As the light began to fade, we made our way down to Middle Littleton, disturbing a group of deer. Soon Middle Littleton Tithe Barn came into view. This 13th century tithe barn, one of the largest and finest in the country is owned by the National Trust.

Arriving back at our starting point, just before dusk, 20 members enjoyed a well earned drink at the Ivy Inn.


5.4miles/ 8.7 km

Two Castle Walk

Carl and Michael’s Sunday Ramble 30 April

Gathering at Skenfrith Castle, Monmouthshire, we began our walk to Grosmont Castle.

Our route took us across country to join the The Three Castles walk and into the village of Grosmont where we planned to have lunch. Although the skies were overcast it was dry and we made rapid progress to the first of many stiles, passing through the first of many sheep infested fields.

Our route led to a woodland path bordered by a strong flowing and cascading brook with derelict water mill. Having reach the summit of the first climb we were engulfed in low cloud and unable to enjoy the panoramic views.

Descending, we joined the Three Castles Walk and made our way to Grosmont and had lunch in the castle grounds.

After lunch and keeping to the Three Castle Walk we began our return to Skenfrith, following the route over the hills via a long steep climb and then an extended descent to the river Monnow, shadowing its flow to Skenfrith.

The route was approximately 13 miles long and our walking time roughly 5½ hours.


7 miles a.m. 6 miles p.m.