Ramble Reports September 2023

‘Let there be Lite!’

Alan & Pauline’s Ramble Lite – 2 September

When we led this walk as a Midweek Ramble in November 2022, someone commented that it would make a delightful summer walk. To this end, we decided to lead it as the inaugural Ramble Lite.

We set off from The Fleece in Hillesley, this time in late summer sunshine, towards the village of Alderley. We passed a number of stunning Cotswold properties and noted that Alderley Farm was again for sale, with the asking price having risen from £8 million last year to £12 million now.

After a brief coffee stop in Tresham we descended on the Monarch’s Way, meeting several mountain bikers ascending, pushing their bikes until they spotted us, then rashly attempting to ride the rough steep track.

After a convivial meal at The Fleece we headed towards the Somerset Monument before following the Cotswold Way as far as the village of Kilcott and the lane back to Hillesley.

We all agreed that it was a most enjoyable day out – good weather, good food, good company.

Alan & Pauline

10 miles

Quality not quantity

Lesley and Trevor’s Midweek Ramble – 13 September

We met at St Peter’s Church in wonderful weather. The churchyard accommodates the last resting place of several notable figures namely travel writer Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor, Arctic explorer Gino Watkins and Lord Hambro, whose family own the Dumbleton Estate.

Our small party left the High St and headed down the side of two large fields to a road. Crossing this we walked North East reaching a farm next to the petite and very interesting church of St Katherine in Wormington. It is well worth a visit.

After a short coffee break, we crossed the River Isbourne to join a footpath which ran parallel to it as far as Mill Farm. Here, a somewhat dilapidated watermill wheel is being restored. Hopefully, bigger plans are in store.

Leaving the mill and farm, our route south was across a field planted with grasses and clover. Phil, the farming expert with us, suggested it was to be ploughed for winter sowing or cut for fodder. Continuing by the side of several fields, organically-farmed since 1999, we passed an elegant stone farm house and barns and other outbuildings all built of light-coloured bricks with red brick detailing. Eventually we entered a wooded track and then onto asphalt through Toddington, passing the entrance to Toddington Manor, purchased some18 years ago by Damien Hurst, but moth-balled since then.

Some 250 metres beyond we took the track to the church of St. Andrew, an impressive building, from the grounds of which the scale of the Manor may be seen, together with the beautifully maintained grounds including the remains of the entrance gate to long-lost Toddington House.

Unfortunately the church was locked, but we took advantage of a seat and a wall to enjoy a leisurely lunch. We retraced our steps and walked past the rather ordinary houses that lead to the Teddington-Toddington road, along which we travelled some 250yards, crossing into two enormous fields, walking parallel to the road for half a mile. Crossing back, after a short road walk we headed north east up a track to a T-junction, going left to Frampton Farm.

Looking north from the farm we could see the climb before us, gently rising across rough grassland to the steeper stony track. Behind us on the climb lay a marvellous view, fully enjoyed at the top through a funnel of trees (see pic.) On the level again, the wooded path threaded its way at the top of the bank above Alderton, skirting Dumbleton Hill and eventually revealing the A46 to our left. Another short downhill and similar ascent continued our circular pathway leading to a gate overlooking the grassland next to the Dumbleton Hotel. We walked downhill to a line of trees after which we could see the a picturesque Dumbleton CC ground, some 300 metres from our start point.

Our small party experienced beautiful weather, varied settings and we enjoyed great company.

Lesley & Trevor

am 5.9 miles (9.5 km)

Taking to the towpaths

Mike and Val’s Short Ramble – 20 September

Weather forecast is poor but 22 walkers were not put off, nor by the narrow lanes as they entered the lovely farming village of Lowsonford and parked at the Fleur de Lys pub car park ready for the start at 10.00am.

Walking down the road we come to Bridge 41 and lock 31 by the Lengthsman’s Cottage (now called Ned’s Lock) built 1812 and we walk by his memorial seat. In 2015 Anthony Gormley was commissioned by the Landmark Trust to mark their 50th anniversary and he made five iron men called “Land”. These were placed for one year at 5 compass points, Lowsonford being one. Walking on the canal path we pass the back view of the Fleur de Lys pub until we reach road bridge 40 and lock 30 where we take a sharp turn right onto the road and walk back to the red telephone box at the village crossroads by the Old Post Office. Over the crossroads and up the lane to our 1st stile on the right and into the soft meadow, bearing up to 2nd stile which then has two KGs bearing left to a lovely quiet wood with tall trees. A KG into more soft meadows keeping to left hedge we see one of many huge farm building sites in this landscape on the right bank. At the broken bridge we stop at a huge fallen tree trunk to have a 5minute break when Val informs us about her walk question “Is the Fleur symbol good or bad?”

A concrete track takes us to Coppice Corner, turning right over a bridge and KG we walk diagonally by the newly modified house – then a fenced narrow path wends us round to KG Heart of England Way and, despite reporting it to Warwickshire CC, the one KG is still broken. Up the field and through a hedge opening we take two tracks left, to see the road sign 5mph with another road sign warning “cars must avoid the deep ditch” off the farm track.

More huge farm barns leading us to the country road and we see a signpost depicting Lowsonford, Kites Green/Henley and Preston Bagot. We take Preston Bagot and take the immediate left metal gate designed to keep farmland sheep and head up the hill to the treeline. Another stile keeps us to the right of the meadow and straight towards Preston Bagot church. Built 11th century (1274) where we take a rest and notice the prominent grave of John Shakespear b.1780. Val informs us of the various antiquities inside like the font, oak chest, a huge chair and a Ken Tickell organ 2014 and outside marked in the church wall by the small door is a sundial. Leaving the church we see a KG directly opposite where a downward meadow path takes us to a treeline, over a stream with its metal bridge and a narrow path leads us steadily up the bank to the Stratford upon Avon Canal. We are at Bridge 44 and lock 34, going over the Yarningale Aqueduct and then crossing two Morris Bridges

so that we are now on the right side of the canal to walk back to the Fleur de Lys. Rachel gives the Vote of Thanks to the Taylor family and received applause as she has spotted yet another type of Fleur symbol on a moored narrowboat. An enjoyable lunch is served smoothly at Fleur de Lys and the walk totals five miles.

Val and Mike Taylor

Walking on The Edge

Alan & Pauline’s Sunday Ramble – 24 September

With the weather forecast a mixture of sun, rain and gales, it wasn’t surprising that when we met at the Kingsford Forest car park the group was attired in everything from a T-shirt to full wet-weather winter clothing.

We set off on the North Worcestershire Path through the forest to reach a tree-lined bridleway which we followed for the next two miles, climbing gradually all the way. Coffee time was scheduled for a grassy slope with far reaching views across to the edge of the Black Country, but in the other direction, the view was rather more sinister with sheets of rain heading our way. A convenient barn provided shelter for our break and to don waterproofs before setting out, but the rain was short lived and five minutes down the route, everyone was disrobing again. We plunged into ‘The Wilderness’, a large wood in the ownership of the Woodland Trust before following a quiet lane that led to The Sheepwalks, a group of rolling hills with panoramic views of Shropshire.

We entered the Enville Hall Estate, the former home of the Earls of Stamford. The original 16th century hall was destroyed by fire in 1905 and replaced by a concrete structure that looked incongruous in its surroundings. We could not see any signs that RAAC had been identified!

We reached The Cat Inn in good time only to discover that two bookings for a table of ten at the same time had been construed by a member of staff as a duplicate booking in the diary and had deleted one. As a group of ten walkers had arrived before us, they were already seated at OUR table, eating OUR Sunday lunches. However, this was soon resolved and we were shown to a large round table in the function room where we enjoyed the pub’s fine hospitality.

Now in short-sleeve order, we left the pub to join the Staffordshire Way and followed a superb sandstone sunken path which took us to Kinver. As we were in good time, we suggested an impromptu visit to the Rock Houses for those who were National Trust members, but the general consensus was to leave that for another day.

A series of steep steps took us to Kinver Edge with clear 360⁰ views. We followed the ridge before dropping down to the car park in good time for our homeward journey.

Alan & Pauline

am 7.5 miles; pm 4.5 miles