The information contained on this Blog, must be checked and must not be relied upon. Bus timetable are subject to change and Buses may be cancelled, please check with the local Bus Company before setting out.
This is the walking Blog created by Janet and Roger as they walked Book 1 of The Monarch's Way during the Summer and early Autumn of 2014. It gives a really valuable and unique insight into what walking The Monarch's Way is about. It combines interesting snippits of information concerning king Charles escape from Cromwell, with Janet and Roger's experiences as they walked the route.
Janet and Roger are Minders for two sections in Book 3 of The Monarch's Way.
THE MONARCH’S WAY, 2014PHASE ONEThursday, 12th JuneDrive to campsite at Clent Hills Caravan & Camping B62 0NH Deposit £36.05 paid Bal to pay £108.15
Friday, 13th June DAY 1
Drive 12.6 miles to Droitwich Spa Rail Station & leave car
Train D.Spa – Worcester 8.18 Bus Worc –Powick 8.52 (H44) Arr. 9.02 Walk Section 1 and 1A 13 miles
With the sun blazing down on us already at 9 a.m., we found Powick Old Bridge over the River Teme, and set off to find the field of the Battle of Worcester (1651). We followed the river downstream as it meandered on its way to join the Severn. As we waded through the dewy grass, we were serenaded by an insistent cuckoo. We reached the confluence of the two rivers, and then followed the Severn upstream, admiring the view of the impressive Worcester Cathedral over on the east bank. We crossed by Worcester Bridge and then followed the opposite bank back down for 1 km until we reached the narrow bottom lock of the Worcs and Birmingham Canal. In Diglis Basin we found a narrow boat café where we enjoyed cups of coffee and delicious chocolate cakes. Suitably fortified, we pressed on along the canal until we reached the Commandery, which had been Charles II’s headquarters. Carrying on through the streets of the city we admired the old half-timbered buildings in Friar Street. Here we found ‘King Charles House’ where the king was taken to after leaving the Commandery. No sooner had he arrived than Roundhead troopers started to beat down the front door. Charles managed to escape from the rear door and left the city by St Martin’s Gate, heading north. This area is now a modern shopping mall and, care was needed to find our way through. We rejoined the W&B Canal for a couple of miles and then found ourselves picking our way through the houses of Fernhill Heath. We ate our lunch sitting on a bench in a children’s play area, and then headed on to find the recently restored Droitwich Canal. In contrast to the W&B, the locks here are broad, but we saw no boats at all. At Salwarpe we left the towpath and visited the church where there was a copy of a Royal Command – dated August 1651 – whereby Charles II ordered the ‘constables and tithingmen of Salwarpe to bring spades, shovels and pick axes for work on Worcester’s defences. Again, we followed the canal until we reached Droitwich.
Saturday, 14th June DAY 2
Drive 10.7 miles to Chaddesley Corbett and leave car (street parking)
Bus stop adj. Talbot Inn (unmarked) 9.16 Diamond Bus 133 arr Droitwich Spa 9.40
Chaddesley Corbett is a beautiful village. As we had arrived there so early, we spent some time looking around the elegant church with its tall spire, and popped into the post office to buy a newspaper! Our first problem of the day was when the bus did not show up at the scheduled time. We enquired in the PO about a possible taxi, when a very kind lady (called Jan) piped up that she had nothing better to do, and would run us into Droitwich herself!!!!! She told us that we would be passing by her house at Bellington tomorrow.Walk Section 2 10 miles
We set ourselves up for our walk by indulging in coffee and cake, then followed a compass bearing to find where we left off yesterday. Leaving the town we followed a well-defined path up through a wheat field towards the impressive tudor Westwood House, now apartments. Sir John Packington of Westwood mustered for King Charles on 26 August 1651. We skirted the house and farm, headed down to a wood, and passed by a very tidy industrial estate and reached Hampton Lovett church, where it is said Cromwell rested his horses at the time of the Battle of Worcester. A mile or so further on we entered a delightful area planted with many varieties of trees and borders of flowers. Soon afterwards we came to an area of fishing ponds, where care was required and our trusty compass. Back on the correct route once more, we soon reached the church at Rushock, where we found a convenient seat where we could (at last) eat our lunch. From its position on the edge of a low escarpment we could look across the grave-stones to the distant hills of north Worcs. It was then only a matter of a couple miles of field footpaths until we reached Chaddesley Corbett and our car parked outside the church.
Sunday, 15th June DAY 3
Drive 6.2 miles to Stourbridge and leave car at Junction Car park DY8 1NH (Sunday off peak rate)9.00 Taxi from Stourbridge to Chaddesley Corbett. Booked ABM Taxis (Arslan 01384 838383) £15
Walk Section 3 + Section 4(a) 11 milesThe church bells were ringing as we left Chaddesley Corbett at 9.20. They sounded as though they could do with some help, but we needed to be on our way. Not long after the bells stopped, we heard a cuckoo. We soon reached the moated Harvington Hall. There were many cars coming and going, and we realised that this was because of the Sunday services taking place in the adjacent church. The Hall was owned by a prominent Catholic family, and contains many priest holes. It may well have featured in the fugitive’s escape plan. Today the Hall is owned by the Catholic Church. We met a man who was helping to organise some medieval games event this afternoon. There followed walking through grass along field boundaries, later we crossed a road, and followed a path across a barley field to pick up the track to Bellington Farm. There was no sign of Jan being around (only a man cutting the grass) so we continued on our way up to the top of a hill where we could sit and enjoy the view, and our elevenses. The main instruction of the day seemed to be “follow an enclosed path”, thinking it was lunch time, we sat down by the side of a potato field, with a view down over Hagley, and across to the leaning obelisk on Wychbury Hill which we would pass later. We walked down into Hagley and made a short diversion to look at Hagley Hall. We were disappointed to find that this Hall is a more recent Georgian building, but nonetheless imposing. There was a cricket match taking place on the green below. Returning to the route, we re-crossed the main A456, and walked up Monument Lane to reach The Obelisk. From here we followed another enclosed path down to the housing estates of Stourbridge. Taking a path between houses we found ourselves in Ham Dingle, a very steep-sided wooded valley, where the path clings precariously along one side for almost ½ mile. Emerging at the lower end, we zig-zagged through housing estates to finally reach our car at Stourbridge Junction car park.
Monday. 16th June DAY 4
Drive 11.9 miles to Wombourne and leave car at Bratch picnic area. Walk east to Bullmeadow Lane8.29 National Express West Midlands 256 to Stourbridge Town Station (28 mins) and Stourbridge Shuttle to Stourbridge Junction Station (5 mins)
Walk Section 4(b) + Section 5 12 milesWe picked up the trail from yesterday, and walked into Stourbridge town centre, where we prepared ourselves for the day with coffee and cakes! We walked on down the High Street until we turned into Canal Road and passed The Bonded Warehouse, “Home of The Stourbridge Canal Trust”. The remainder of the day’s walk was a doddle for navigation, as all we had to do was keep on the towpath, but also take care to jump out of the way to avoid the frequent cyclists. The scenery quickly changes from industrial midlands to rural, and in just over two miles we reached the couple of locks just above Stourton Junction. Here we joined the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, and immediately there was markedly more boat traffic. We climbed past several picturesque locks, and sat by Greensforge Lock to eat our lunch. The walking was so easy that, before long we reached the staircase of two locks at Bumblehole. A couple of people taking a boat down the locks were just figuring out in which order to work the paddles. We soon reached the outskirts of Wombourne and then, rounding a corner, we saw the distinctive red brick octagonal tower of The Bratch Toll House. There is a staircase of three locks here and, because of the complexity of working them, there is a lock-keeper in attendance. We watched as he assisted a boat going down, and then walked just up the road to find our car.
Tuesday, 17th June DAY 5Drive 26.5 miles to Boscobel House ST19 9AR and leave car (roadside parking)
So much heavy traffic on the roads that it took us a whole hour to reach Boscobel, and our taxi was already there, waiting.9.00 Taxi from Boscobel House to Bratch.
Walk Section 6 + Section 7 14 milesLeaving The Bratch, we set off walking two miles along the South Staffordshire Railway Walk, formerly the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (The Old Worse and Worser!) We walked mainly in dappled shade, as the trees growing along the embankment are now quite mature, and the distant views were rare. After this easy section, there was a lot more proper footpath navigating to do. Today we had to cross a couple of very busy trunk roads, but scurried across without mishap. Soon after joining up with the Staffordshire Way we followed a sunken track (called Toad’s Nest Lane) which is reputed to be part of Charles’ route to Boscobel. We passed by Wrottesley Hall, but were disappointed to be unable to get a glimpse of it, there being so many tall trees surrounding it. After walking through the pretty village of Oaken we arrived at Oaken Lawn and a “picnic area” as shown on the map. The next stretch was wet, even after our lovely summer weather, We passed by Wood Hall Farm (note the Moat!) and emerged onto a road opposite Pendrell Hall (now a residential college). We completed our day’s walk by tramping for two miles along the road to Boscobel, crossing over the busy M54. Luckily we were able to jump out of the way onto the verge whenever a car came past. So that completes our Phase One of the walk ………………sixty miles in five days……not bad.
PHASE TWOSunday, 24th AugustDrive 135 miles to campsite at Whiston Mill Farm, Albrighton WV7 3BU 5 nights booked £60.00 Mr Latham 01902 374819 Monday, 25th August DAY 6
Drive 8 miles to Brockton TF11 9LZ Leave car by post box at triangle
9.00am Taxi from Brockton to Boscobel House. Royal Taxis, Telford 01952299299 £15.00 Walk Section 8 11 miles Heavy rain was promised for all day but, fortunately, it held off for a few hours. At Boscobel we headed across the field to take a look at the famous oak tree. It is not even the actual tree, but a descendent of the one Charles II hid in. Ironically, it was also a miserable wet day when he was here back in September 1651. Throughout the day we followed a series of green lanes (interspersed with quiet narrow roads) which were very likely to have been the actual route of Charles II and his friend Richard Penderel. We passed the ruins of Whiteladies Priory, and later visited the interesting church at Tong, where we had our elevenses, and chatted with a lady from the village. The buildings around here are either of quaint half-timbered construction or beautiful weathered red sandstone. As the rain increased in volume, we passed along the edges of vast market garden fields of lettuces, carrots and other crops. We had been hoping to find a sheltered seat somewhere to have our lunch but, soon after Evelith Mill, we had to settle for a log under a very small oak tree which dripped very large drips of water on us. We very soon arrived at the upmarket village of Kemberton, and popped in to see the church up some steep steps. Then it was not far to Brockton, where we had left the car.
Tuesday, 26th August DAY 7
Drive 10 miles to Norton TF11 9EE. Leave car in rear car park of Hundred House Hotel. Entry by village hall and phone box along side road. Agreed with Charlotte.9.00am Taxi from Norton to Brockton Royal Taxis (Abdul) £6.00
Walk Section 9 (visiting Ironbridge Gorge) 9 miles
After more torrential rain overnight, there was merely a fine drizzle as we set off from Brockton. We passed by an overhanging Victoria plum tree, which was too much of a temptation for us! We followed some surfaced lanes for a short while, and then crossed just one field before arriving at Sutton Hill on the outskirts of Telford. Here we walked alongside residential roads until we turned off down a footway/cycleway which led us to Madeley. We stopped by the large Old Vicarage where eleven out of the twelve windows facing the road had been blocked up, because of the window tax! Next to this was the octagonal church which had been built by Thomas Telford, and was famous for being the burial place of a founder of the Methodist movement, John Fletcher. Just up round the corner we found The Royal Barn, where Charles II and Richard Penderel, having been unable to cross the Severn, and therefore escape through Wales, had hidden for a day before heading back to Boscobel. Retracing our steps we rejoined the Silkin Way, passing The Blists Hill Open Air Museum. At £27 entry, we were definitely NOT going to visit there. We soon reached the Hay Inclined Plane, however, and crossed the Severn by a footbridge (not there in 1651) to The Boat Inn where we persuaded a publican to sell us some coffees! As we left, we noticed that his pub had been flooded so many times during his tenure, so he was probably not very happy. Re-crossing the river we then climbed up alongside the Hay inclined plane, eventually reaching the golf course. We found a well-appointed seat where we could stop and eat our lunch, and only one golfer came past us. The final leg of today’s walk was across recently ploughed fields and, after yesterday’s heavy rain, the going was sticky. We reached the Hundred House Hotel in Norton where we had left the car, and rewarded ourselves with a refreshing drink before driving back.We met up with Hill and Rob, the newly-weds, at the Oaken Arms, just down the road from us, and enjoyed some good food and a convivial evening with them.
Wednesday, 27th August DAY 8
Drive 5 miles to Boscobel House ST19 9AR Leave car on roadside verge as before
9.00am Taxi from Boscobel House to Norton. Royal Taxis £18.00 Walk Section 10 12 miles
A beautiful and perfect day for walking – bright, sunny and breezy. There was to be a great deal of road walking, so our feet felt pretty battered. After two miles of roads and then an overgrown woodland path, we crossed by a bridge over the River Worfe, where Charles had assisted his friend Richard to ford the river because the water was deep, and he couldn’t swim! Soon afterwards we reached Beckbury, and its little church, where an industrious lady was polishing all the brasses. She directed us to the east end of the church and a lovely new seat where we sat to enjoy our elevenses in the sunshine. After that, we followed a very long concrete road which meandered its way across a large and prosperous-looking arable farm. Potato harvesting was in progress. Our next objective was the little town of Albrighton, where we ate our lunch seated in the churchyard, then searched for a place to get a good cup of coffee. We walked along the street to “The Bar Next Door” where a cheerful lady was pleased to help us. We then made our way to a tunnel footway under the M54, and followed field edges until we reached Hubbal Grange which we had passed on Monday. All that remained was for us to retrace our steps back up the lane past Whiteladies (where we paused for a little refreshment) and so back to Boscobel House.
Thursday, 28th August DAY 9
Drive 12.4 miles to Moseley Old Hall WV10 7HY (closed today). Leave Car at end of no through road!
9.00am Taxi from Moseley to Boscobel House.. Amber 01902 724040 (Raj) £15
Walk Section 11 11.5 miles
Leaving Boscobel, our walk in the morning was through delightful countryside. We soon passed by Pearse Hay Farm where, it is said, parliamentary troops searching for the king used pikes to pierce the hay ricks. There was plenty of variety as we walked quiet roads, green lanes, field-edge footpaths, and the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal. We passed by the impressive Chillington Hall, where a wedding was taking place today. Opposite the main gate was a long, wide avenue where a herd of long-horned cows resided with their bull. We met a few narrow boats as we walked alongside the canal, and then turned off in search of a lunch stop place. The best on offer was a step stile where we sat one each side of the fence! We back-tracked to take a look at mosquito infested Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, the site of the place where Charles parted from his Penderel friends, while a new escort took him on to Moseley Old Hall. As we approached Moseley Old Hall, we were never without the buzz of the M54 traffic. We, in fact, had to cross its path no less than three times, and our destination was tucked away at the end of a no-through-road which is cut short by the motorway.
Friday, 29th August
Move to Clent Hills Caravan & Camping B62 0NH for 4 nights. A lovely welcome by Ed and Carol, the assistant wardens, who persuaded us to join the Camping and Caravanning Club!
Deposit £25.78 paid Bal to pay £77.32
Saturday, 30th August DAY 10
Drive 18 miles to Moxley WS10 8SR Leave car in Aldi Car Park, with permission.
08.53 (09.04) Bus to Moseley arr 10.17 Managed to catch an earlier bus!Walk Section 12 and 13a 11.5 miles
From where the bus dropped us, we followed a compass bearing (!) and found the road to Moseley Old Hall. A pleasant path brought us to Northycote Farm, which is a community farm run by Wolverhampton City Council. It was 10am, and the coffee shop had just opened for our refreshment, although apparently, Charles had been denied shelter here. The following footpaths were generally in very good condition, apart from one short overgrown stretch. We reached the outskirts of the great Brum conurbation but, before we could get too depressed by street walking, we found ourselves walking along the delightful Wyrley and Essington Canal – well nicknamed “the Curly Wyrley”. After about three miles we turned off into Bentley Haye and Rough Wood Chase Nature Reserve, climbing up to a sort of view point where there was a seat. As it was 1pm, we stopped for our lunch, but were interrupted twice by two pairs of police officers looking for a missing person. After a short bit of road walking we reached the site of Bentley Hall where the king had met Jane Lane who he (as Will Jackson) was to journey with to Bristol. Nothing remains of the Hall. Not much further on, and we were walking along the towpath of the Walsall Canal which, after another three miles, brought us to Moxley, and our car. We had been more than pleasantly surprised by our first day of walking through Birmingham!
Sunday, 31st August DAY 11
Drive 5 miles to Halesowen Abbey. B62 8RJ Leave car at Black Horse PH car park. Agreed with Mike
08.54 Bus 9 & City Metro to Loxdale, Moseley Our day’s adventure started here when we couldn’t seem to find Snow Hill Metro station in B’ham. So we missed our timed connection, but another tram came along in 15 minutes anyway, so all was not lost.
Walk Section 13b 12 miles
After a 15min walk from the tram stop at Bradley Lane via residential streets to the canal bridge at Moxley where we left off yesterday, the canal towpath beckoned with its green freshness. The sun continued to shine on us, while much of the day’s walking was along towpaths, sometimes almost rural, sometimes backing onto industrial premises, and sometimes not far from a noisy dual carriageway. There were some anglers fishing with their long rods from the towpath, but we saw only one leisure narrowboat the whole day. There was an occasional cyclist or walker but, generally, the towpaths were very quiet and empty. It is amazing how you can walk for two days across the whole West Midlands conurbation and hardly need to walk along streets! We emerged at Great Bridge Bridge (!) to find a KFC where we fortified ourselves with some indifferent coffee. The canals which we followed today were the Walsall Canal, past Tame Valley Junction and Ryders Green Junction up past eight locks to Pudding Green Junction where we joined the B’ham Main line. At Albion Junction we turned onto the Gower Branch which took us up to the Wolverhampton level at Bradeshall Junction. We declined to walk through the two mile length of the Netherton Tunnel and opted instead to walk up City Road and over the golf course to reach Warrens Hall Country Park where we ate our picnic overlooking a small lake. Just around the corner we arrived at the Engine House which used to pump water from the former colliery which was here. Then we rejoined the canal at the southern end of Netherton Tunnel, by Windmill End Junction and so along Dudley No.2 Canal. This brought us in 2 miles to Gorsty Hill Tunnel which, having no towpath through it, required us once again to climb over a hill. We came to yet another country park leisure area, and followed the now derelict canal until it disappeared among trees, and a path brought us out to where we had left the car at the Black Horse PH just east of Halesowen.
Monday, 1st September DAY 12
Drive 9 miles to Parkgate B61 9AB (nr Bromsgrove) Leave car in lay-by
09.06 Bus X3, Bus 192 and Bus 9 to Halesowen, Cloister Drive We had arrived far too early for the first bus, and were almost surprised when it turned up on time, as did the subsequent ones!
Walk Section 14 10.3 miles
The first obstacle was getting ourselves across the busy A456 from the bus stop. The Black Horse was just open so we were able to set ourselves up for the day with coffee. By now the early drizzle had strengthened to more persistent rain, and continued all morning. However, it was good to be out in the countryside proper again, and we enjoyed the atmospheric views of Halesowen Abbey ruins across the first field. The footpaths were mainly across meadows and ploughed fields (reinstated thankfully) and we had no trouble with route finding as the way-marking was clear and frequent. We met a walker with his dog, and stopped to chat with him for some time, before we continued on our way to cross over the M5 and so reach Waseley Hill Country Park. The rain seemed to have stopped, there were picnic tables, and we were hungry, so we stopped here for lunch. Then we climbed up to the top of Windmill Hill (287m) where we should have extensive 360° views. Despite the poor visibility, we managed to identify several distant landmarks – the Cotswolds, the Malverns and, of course, the conurbation we have just left behind. We continued across the hill and down the pass under the M5 by a muddy farm tunnel. Then followed a little road walking, and some enclosed paths. As we passed alongside a security fence we were suddenly un-nerved by several ferocious guard dogs on the other side. We passed by Royal Content Farm, where the king supposedly rested, and walked through the lovely deciduous Pepper Wood, and then through the village of Dodford. This was created by the Chartists, a 19th century reformist movement that sought to settle townspeople on land of their own in the countryside. The settlers were granted a cottage and about 4 acres. Consequently the village does not seem to have a real centre, and we both agreed we would not like to live there! There were only a few more fields and a steep little valley to cross before we arrived back at Park Gate, and our car.
Tuesday, 2nd September A hot and sunny day.
Move to Dodwell Park C/Park, nr Stratford CV37 9SR
Went along to see Ann Hathaway’s Cottage, which is quite nearby. Wednesday, 3rd September DAY 13
Drive 16 miles to Swinburn Rd, Redditch. B97 5 Leave Car at Morton Stanley Country Park
08.16 Bus 55A & Bus X3 to Park Gate Inn, Bromsgrove Despite timetables changing this week, both buses turned up, and we were able to set off on our walk by 9.20am
Walk Section 15 11 miles
We walked the couple of miles into Bromsgrove, and started off by a visit to the parish church on the hill. “Don’t touch anything!” exclaimed a voice from the front as we started to look around. Apparently, there had been a break-in last night, so the police would be arriving to search for finger-prints. We walked on into the town centre to fortify ourselves with coffee and cake, then headed on past Ye Olde Black Cross PH, where it is possible Charles stopped for his horse to be re-shod. We soon followed pleasant footpaths up to Tardebigge, where we crossed over the Worcs & B’ham Canal, took a look at the tunnel portal, watched a boat come up through the top lock, and then climbed the hill to the landmark St Bartholomew’s church with the spire. Even the views, which should have been spectacular from here, were pitiful on this hazy day. There were then wide open, recently-harvested corn fields to cross, many with broken rows of oak trees marking the position of a previous hedge. One such provided a comfortable seat for us to enjoy our lunch under, albeit with hazy views. Our next objective was the impressive Tudor-looking Norgrove Court, another reputed resting place for Charles and Jane Lane. Another mile brought us to the edge of Morton Stanley Country Park, and just a short way back to the car park.
Thursday, 4th September DAY 14
Drive 9 miles to Alcester B49 5DP Leave car in Bleachfield St Car Park behind Swan Hotel
08.44 Bus 26 to Headless Cross centre Different bus, longer route, but we got there!
Walk Section 16 9.5 miles
We followed residential roads out of Headless Cross until we re-joined the MW near Morton Stanley Country Park. It was a murky morning, so the promised spectacular views were not to show themselves to us today. However, the paths were good and well way-marked, and the sun broke through before very long to produce a very warm day. There were one or two overgrown stretches, but walkers had evidently been taking the easier option on the other side of the hedge. There seemed to be an endless succession of step stiles to negotiate, and our weary legs were beginning to complain of this! We were fortunate to find a good seat for our lunch stop in the hamlet of Cladswell. After this there were just a few more field footpaths and a clear path through Coldcomfort Wood to bring us into Alcester, which lies at the junction of two Roman roads, Ryknild Street and the Saltway. Leaving our exploration of the town until tomorrow, we returned to the car.
Visit N.T. Coughton Court. Friday, 5th September DAY 15
Drive 9 miles to Langley Green CV37 0HN Roadside parking at Ford Lane junction
9.00am Taxi to Alcester Ideal Taxis The taxi was punctual and conveyed us swiftly to Alcester. Walk Section 17 and 18a 10 miles
It was another very murky start to the day as we began by exploring the charming town of Alcester, which has won the Britain in Bloom award many times. There were quaint streets overflowing with colourful floral displays of every description. Firstly, we went into the parish church of St Nicholas. Just outside we found a small coffee shop which served us some excellent coffee and delicious cakes to set us up for the day. Leaving the town we were joined by the Arden Way and Heart of England Way as we headed north east. We climbed over a hill, but the hazy views were disappointing. However, the footpaths today were generally well maintained and delightful. We skirted several arable fields which had recently been harvested, and crossed fields of sheep or cattle. We came to a very ‘horsey’ area, met some riders out exercising some very expensive looking horses, and then passed by Dan Skelton’s riding stables. Arriving at Wootton Wawen, we went into the parish church of St Peter, which contains a Saxon Sanctuary and is the oldest in Warwickshire. We spent some time absorbing the exhibition on the history of Wootton Wawen which was set up in the Sanctuary. There was a seat in the church yard, so we took the opportunity to have our lunch here. We walked on to join the Stratford on Avon Canal and walk across the unique aqueduct before continuing northwards along the towpath for another half mile and then heading south east along a bridle way up through the delightful Austy Wood where we saw a deer. We soon reached Langley where we were reunited with the car.
Being Friday evening, the campsite was already beginning to fill up for the weekend, and it is hard to see how the facilities will manage to cope. Saturday, 6th September DAY 16
8.30 am Taxi from Dodwell Park CV37 9SR to Langley Green CV37 0HN Ideal Taxis 01789 290444
Walk Section 18b 6 miles
We were dropped off at Langley Green ready to start walking by 8.45 on yet another murky morning. We should have had lovely views across the rolling hills of Warwickshire, but no such luck today. Some pleasant field paths brought us into the village of Snitterfield, where Shakespeare’s grandfather, Richard, farmed land near to the church. As we walked up the village street we met two walkers, Mark and Drew, who were walking 26 miles per day from Land’s End to their home in Halifax, and raising funds for Cancer Research. We assumed that they must have had a support vehicle handy, because they were not carrying much at all. We soon turned into King’s Lane where the King’s first encounter with the parliamentary troops is believed to have taken place. Charles and Jane had left the road to avoid them, only to meet the same troop again in Stratford. We passed through Snitterfield Fruit Farm, which was in a very sorry state with abandoned poly-tunnels and overgrown orchards. We next climbed up to see the obelisk on Welcombe Hill, which is a very large memorial to various members of the Philips family. Once again the wonderful views from this prominent hill were hidden in the mists. So we continued on southwards and soon passed by Clopton House, which was, for a time, the home of Ambrose Rookwood, one of the Gunpowder Plotters. Very shortly, we were in Stratford-upon-Avon, and walking along the canal towpath to Bancroft Basin, the River Avon and the R.S.C. Theatre. The sun started shining as we sat on a bench overlooking the river to eat our lunch in a more-than-usual leisurely manner. NOW WE HAVE COMPLETED BOOK ONE (180 miles)
We had allowed ourselves the whole afternoon to explore Stratford upon Avon. The streets were abuzz with tourists and we had to dodge from side to side as we walked to avoid them all. (A bit like dodging patches of mud on a woodland footpath) We walked along Henley Street to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a very picturesque half-timbered old building. Next we walked to Holy Trinity Church to see his grave, which is actually in the chancel alongside that of his wife Anne. By now, our feet were feeling rather street-battered, so we made our way to the bus stop to get back to the camp site.
15.42 Bus 28 back to Dodwell Park