Ramble Reports August 2023

Alvechurch – canals and reservoirs

Hazel and Paul’s Midweek Ramble 9 August

After roadworks and traffic caused stress, 16 walkers set off on a lovely sunny morning. The walk route led us along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to be revisited in the other direction in the afternoon. The canal starts in Worcester, as an ‘offshoot’ of the River Severn and ends in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham. It is 29 miles long but we weren’t walking all of it!

After leaving Withybed Green, we walked up to Rowney Green with beautiful views down across the valley. Alvechurch’s claim to fame is that Godfrey Baseley, the man who created The Archers, was born there. Godfrey, the son of a local butcher, Walter Ernest Baseley, invented The Archers back in 1950.

The noise of the M42 lasted only a few minutes before we were heading downhill again through meadows. The area was originally in the Forest of Feckenham.

After either a picnic by the canal, or a lunch in The Crown at Withybed, we walked along the canal towards the Lower and Upper Bittell reservoirs, which were built to feed the Canal in the 1790s, although the reservoirs were not completed until 1837. The ‘Upper’ reservoir is to ensure that the level of the canal is kept sufficiently high, even in times of drought. The ‘Lower’ reservoir(s) are compensatory reservoirs to ensure that the local area does not become parched in dry times.

The River Arrow rises on the Lickey Hills nearby and heads generally southeastwards to become a major tributary of the River Avon. The river flows through Cofton Hackett, it then feeds Lower Bittell Reservoir and flows through Alvechurch before reaching the Arrow Valley Country Park in Redditch.

In former times it provided water for fishponds and power to run a number of mills in the area, some of which still exist (notably Forge Mill, now part of the National Needle Museum).

Hazel & Paul

am 5.8 miles (9.34 km) pm 5.2 miles (8.37 km)

‘Who goes up, must come down.’

Alan & Pauline’s Evening Ramble 11 August

When you plan a route for a walk and do the recce in glorious weather with far reaching views you keep your fingers crossed that, come the day, you can replicate it for club members. And so it was for our Evening Ramble from Winchcombe.

Twenty three of us, including welcome guests Jon and Victoria, headed off, unburdened by rucksacks bulging with extra layers and waterproofs. Leaving the town via Vineyard Street, we joined the Cotswold Way on relatively flat terrain, giving a sense of false security that this was going to be an easy stroll. It soon became very apparent that the only way was UP, but the steady climb was tempered by the chance to look back at Winchcombe nestled in the stunning Cotswold countryside.

It seemed that we might have a short respite as we emerged onto a lane but UP was still the order of the day and this time the gradient was tempered by tree shade for half a mile and then a refreshing breeze as we reached 960ft and the point where we turned towards Belas Knap. This Neolithic long barrow dates back nearly 6000 years and we took the opportunity to explore its chambers and have a snack break on the summit, reflecting on the centuries of history that this Megalithic monument had witnessed.

Gathering everyone for a group photograph at the false portal (believed to have been a ‘spirit door’, intended to allow the dead to come and go and partake of offerings brought to the tomb by their descendants) we were pleased to announce that now, the only way was DOWN.

As we descended we could see farmers hard at work combine harvesting, straw baling, ferrying grain – making the most of the balmy evening and in a race against time before unsettled weather returned. Our route down followed the Winchcombe Way through Sudeley Valley with views of the castle where Catherine Parr saw out her last days and is now buried.

Winchcombe’s impressive St Peter’s Church soon came into view, heralding the end of the ramble and at Abbey Terrace, the group separated with some heading back to the cars and the rest negotiating the labyrinth of rooms in the 15th century Plaisterers Arms to enjoy ‘a pint’ in the garden.

Alan and I would like to thank everyone who joined us on the ramble.


5.5 miles (8.85 km)

It’s Wednesday morning – and the sun comes out!!!

Fran and Paul’s Short Ramble 16 August

The horrible, rainy weather gave way, at least for a few days, to some nice sunny weather. 27 rambling members turned up at the Boot Inn in Flyford Flavell (originally Fleferth in Saxon times, meaning old, wooded district) including new members Nic and Heather and guest, George.

Paul led, and Fran shepherded, the group along the 5.5 miles (ish) route which took us across fields (and stiles), across more fields (and more stiles), across even more fields (and even more stiles) until we came to the village of North Piddle. Avid readers of the walking reports will have learned last month about the earthquake that happened here in 1896. This time, teacher Fran shared information about the church, which was once described as being miserable and damp, though it seems to be in better fettle these days.

They say everyday is a school day. And a morning out with ERC is no different. We learned that sheep can be stopped from roaming by a ‘ha-ha’. No, it’s not funny, it’s a deep, steep sided, ditch that the woolly things can’t jump across. Also, how can you tell the difference between an apple and a pear? Apparently pears don’t float. So, it’s best to always keep a bucket of water handy, just in case. And if next Halloween, you are invited to a pear bobbing contest, its probably best to decline.

After North Piddle, our wanderings took us to Naunton Beauchamp, where the beautiful people live, and Paul and Fran live there as well. A short refreshment stop on the village triangle, to the tuneful melody’s played by a petrol-engined hedge cutter and we were ready to go again. But not before we had another history lesson from teacher Fran and, I am sure all present were shocked to learn that some bloke called Peter Pattison once called the place “Dirty Naunton, and that its inhabitants, though civil, seemed little accustomed to strangers”. Bloomin cheek.

Three hours after the start, the group staggered back to the starting point rather tired, I think the last hill was to blame, who built Flyford Flavell on a hill eh? Oh, and the group were hot. The hot weather has just got to stop, some nice cooling rain can’t come soon enough, can it?

Our guest, George, was so shook up by his experience that he is leaving the area and flying to San Francisco. Not sure who did what happened there. New members Nic and Heather, on the other hand, seemed to be up for more, so see you both soon.

As always, thank you to everyone who attended.


5.5 miles (8.8 km)

The place where nothing happened

Geoff & Pat’s Sunday Ramble 20 August

We welcomed everyone and said they had done well to find Andoversford as some people had never heard of it. This may be because it is a place famous for nothing ever happening here. It once had two railway stations, now only Station Road. The former hotel and cattle market were demolished and houses built over all these sites.

It was a lovely warm and sunny day as we set out along a tree-lined avenue past Owdeswell Manor, turning right by Shipton Golf Course then through Foxcote Village. We headed South, enjoying the widespread views and wild flowers in the fields.

Continuing around Foxcote Hill our route followed a cool and shady path along the edge of a wood. On our previous recce the peace had been destroyed by the sound of ‘heavy metal’ coming from the 2000Trees Festival which could be heard from 3 miles away.

A sign indicated the former site of a Medieval village. We then crossed the gallops of the race horse trainer Kim Bailey whose stables are situated in a beautiful part of the countryside. We were soon back at Andoversford where we had our picnic lunch at the village hall with club next door serving refreshing drinks (at very reasonable prices!).

On leaving the village for the afternoon loop we almost lost three people but they managed to find us.

We walked across fields to the village of Whittington with its pretty stone cottages and old water fountain with the motto ‘Waste not want not’. From there we climbed up through more fields of wild flowers to reach Sevenhampton, passing the church and the River Coln.

More fields where we had to step over straw which had been cut but not gathered in. We were now at a high point with extensive views before returning through Syreford woods and past the old railway track, to Andoversford.

Pat & Geoff

am 6.5 miles (10.46 km) pm 6.1 miles (9.98 km)

‘Twyning’ the Avon and the Severn

Hazel and Paul’s Evening Ramble 25 August

17 walkers assembled in the village of Twyning for the last evening ramble of the year. We set out with fingers crossed that we would avoid any heavy showers.

Initially, the route followed the banks of the River Avon towards Tewkesbury. This was an easy section passing a number of night time fishermen. After about 2 miles we crossed the A38 to go towards the River Severn passing the waterworks.

The path along the River Severn was the most challenging part of the walk. The group had to endure a few seasonal stinging nettles and stray brambles. A drinks stop was completed on this part of the walk before moving away from the river and cutting back across arable land to our starting point. A number of stiles made this part of the walk a little more challenging and slowed down the pace.

We finally arrived back to our cars just before 8:00pm and the more hungry members made their way to the Fleet Inn for drinks and varying choices of food.

Hazel & Paul

5.5 miles (8.85 km)