Broadway Tower Winter Walk
There were 9 hardy souls that braved the somewhat unexpected weather in the Cotswolds for a winter version of our summer solstice walk. When we arrived at Broadway Tower to park, we were met with clear evidence of what we already know……The country is in tatters!
We set off towards Dovers Hill and as we left the tower and headed downhill, the weather started to clear and we were teased with sunshine. It was cold, especially in the wind and it was muddy! Very, very muddy! I had warned people but I wasn’t expecting this much mud, even if it was the Cotswolds in February.
We were rewarded up on Dovers Hill with huge views across Worcestershire and it was clear enough to see the Clee Hills in the far distance. The descent into Weston-Sub-Edge was wide & grassy and a welcome relief from mud. We found the perfect lunch spot, in the sunshine on the village green. No sooner had we sat down at the picnic tables, the sun vanished, the heavens opened and it was a mad dash to the lychgate at the local church.
From there on, it was through farms and open fields to the very pretty and typical Cotswold village of Saintbury, where we attempted another food break. The minute we sat in the churchyard, it started to hail… We obviously weren’t destined to hang around. As we walked through the grounds of Foxhill Manor, now a luxury hotel, we were met with lots of signs for the non-walkers that stay here. Most notably were the signs warning of the need for wellies and we soon found out how true this was. We headed through the worst of the mud in a horses’ yard where you were lucky not to lose your boots. I apologised further when I spotted a higher, parallel grassy path.
Next stop was Broadway, which was the quietest I have ever seen it, presumably due to the sub-zero temperatures. The only thing left to do now was the climb back up to the tower. And it is certainly a climb! Not steep but long, and the vast plains of the Worcestershire countryside opening up behind you are the perfect excuse to stop, take a breath and soak up the enormous views. Once we reached the top, the sun started to sink and with it the temperature, so the only sensible thing to do was to hit the cafe and enjoy their wonderful cream tea.
Well done to everyone who braved the early morning conditions, and didn’t waver through the excessive mud and cold.
Seven of the Monday walking contingent continued with the Wychavon Way on January 28th with a 9-10 mile stretch between Droitwich and Flyford Flavel. We cheated slightly, but only slightly, by leaving out the walk out of Droitwich town, starting at the car park near the marina. This section is mainly devoid of uphill sections, taking a route to the south of but fairly close to Madam’s Hill. A very pleasant rural, pastoral route with regular views of Bredon Hill (which our version of this Way crosses later), the Cotswold escarpment and occasional views across to Abberley Hills and others.
One particular highlight along the way is Shell Manor Farm, a 15th century substantial house which has retained much of its original character, with no more recent extensions (but with one or two rather grotty farm buildings adjacent) and the rather special nearby Packhorse Bridge with original low-cut parapets to allow horses with panniers to cross easily. A good spot for lunch with a picnic table.
Our next section is to be on to Elmley Castle, still fairly level but 13 miles worth, on February 25th. Anyone interested, not already on the mailing list, should contact us via our contact page.
Five of us set out from Clun in Shropshire on 29th July for our monthly Red Rope walk. The walk was 11.5 miles mostly along well trodden paths. We initially crossed yellow cornfields and woodland tracks towards our first climb giving us good views over Clun. We passed between Radnor Wood and Steppleknoll through National Trust land at Walcott Hall. Merry Hill presented our first real challenge but we were rewarded with amazing views over Long Mynd and the Shropshire landscape in the foreground. The weather was reasonable – no rain but cloudy- so the views were good. Our second and longer climb after Clunton was from Ladye Bank to Sowdley wood was challenging but not disappointing as we got even more spectacular views from a higher perspective- clearly seeing most of Long Mynd, the Lawley and Caer Carridoc as well as Wenlock Edge, Brown Clee Hill even the Malverns in the distance.
We completed the descent into Clun accompanied by the sounds of Buzzards and Jays and circling Red Kites.
We had Left home at 8.30 and back by 6.30. Such a lovely day and good company en route. Thanks for that to Rachel, Janey, Adrian and Emmanuel.
Staffordshire Way Walk,
Eleven of us set off on this New Year’s walk, an eight mile meander around Abbots Castle Hill near Penn Wolverhampton. Red Rope West Midlands offers a variety of walks based on location, and degree of difficulty to cater for all sorts. This one was intended as a year opener gentle non- demanding circular trip especially for our numerous injured, recovering and not so fit members.
We set off from the famous Bratch Bridge canal locks and then proceeded to enjoy unseasonable sunshine and a clear sky for the duration. The route took us through the villages of Trysull and Seisdon (where our resident historian gave an account of each) and along the Staffordshire Way to join up with the Staffs. and Worcs. canal back to the locks. Since Gill lives nearby we were invited back to her house for tea and cake, maintaining our tradition of always ending our walks on a sweet note.
10 mile circular walk in Shropshire
6 of us set from The Bridges in Ratlinghope Shropshire for a circular walk around the valley between Stiperstones and Long Mynd. After a short initial climb on road along the Shropshire way we turned right through the gate at the disused quarry and followed the path between the hills. With Stiperstones visible behind us we managed through the mist to get some lovely views of the hills towards the North West. Our original intention if the weather had been bad was to descend via The Port Way but at New Leashowe farm we were all enjoying the walk so agreed to extend our original plan and, with a team effort, navigated our way around and up Wilderley Hill and were rewarded by a wonderful panorama of the whole area, The Strettons, Long Mynd and Stiperstones having provided the perfect amphitheatre for our walk. But the best was kept for last and as we descended to the valley the sun came out and lit up the scrub and heather on the opposite hillside and showed us the true beauty of this area. We continued our descent via Golden Valley and Darnford Brook with another change of scenery as the wooded riverbed shaded us from the rain. Overall everyone agreed a good experience and worth repeating at different times of the year.
Summer Solstice Walk, Broadway
Broadway Tower, the Cotswolds
Summer solstice picnic:
Home-made scones, goat’s cheese flan
Organic salad, red wine, round cherries.
Summer’s dialectic, the internal contradiction –
Dark within the light.
Sunset streaks across the sky
Ridge and farrow fields.
Starting from tomorrow,
We will be eking out the light.
Martley & Worcester Way
Martley is a small village west of Worcester/Droitwich. St Peters church itself is famous for its unique wall frescos and the oldest set of six bells in the country. Nine of us took the walk on a pleasantly warm day.
Partly along the Worcester Way, the walk passed through traditional orchards in full blossom, pastures, ancient woodlands, and dingle valleys with spectacular views across Worcestershire along the scarp of Rodge Hill. The ridge overlooks the ecologically rich River Teme. Both the Martley geological site and local pub provided a diversion at the end of the day.
Below are some on the team enjoying the tranquility of the river bank.
Walk from Great Witley in Worcestershire
Distance ~ just under 8 miles.
Several steep climbs and descents
Wooded hills and farmland.
Starting point – The Hundred House Hotel on the A443 just past Great Witley (SO 752662)from which we crossed the road to walk through fields and farmside tracks. After about half a mile we climbed up a steep wooded hillside to reach the top of Woodbury Hill which has the remains of iron age fort. Then on to the ridge of Walsgrave Hill from which we had views over hill ranges to the west and Abberley Hall clock tower ahead. A steep descent to the A443 and then we crossed over to Abberley Hall School and the side of the clock tower. Into abberley Village via farmland tracks, we picnicked in the churchyard of a tiny Norman church, St Michael’s. From there we followed quiet roads and paths by hop fields to Netherton House and then turned right to rejoin the Worcestershire Way. Uphill through woodland to walk just below the ridge of Abberley Hill. After some confusion and debate we managed to take the correct, steep and winding path down through woodland and then fields back to the Hundred House Hotel. NB The hotel is no longer open to the public but, for now anyway, there is a large, free car park.
An enjoyable walk, worth doing again when the trees are in full leaf.
The “You’ll Never Walk Alone” walk, The West Midlands Red Rope alternative to St Valentine’s Day (no cards allowed)….
“ Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone!!”
On a dry and grey day, we headed for Warwickshire, specifically Morton Bagot, for a farm and woodland walk. 10 people turned out to ensure I didn’t have to walk alone, including a few from our Coventry & Warwickshire group and our very own weather god. We set off from Studley Parish Church & the 1st half of the walk followed the Arden Way through Castle Farm and took in Studley Castle, which has an interesting history, including being a women only horticultural college as recently as the 1960s.
Having stopped for a tea break overlooking a fishing lake we headed through another farm, negotiated the wettest part of the walk so far by wading through a gate (!) & after drying out with a bit of road walking, we headed up to the highest point of the walk, a lofty 147 metres, which afforded us with wonderful views across Warwickshire.
From there we entered Bannams Wood, an SSI and an area of ancient woodland, one of few remaining in Warwickshire. Here we found a great spot for lunch in a very secluded part of the woods. We then picked up the Heart of England Way and followed this on and off for the rest of the walk. We headed out towards Greenhill following farmland and quiet lanes and passed through plenty of land being replanted. We climbed one more hill, and whilst it was only around 80m we had huge views across Studley, Redditch and out to the Lickeys. We then left the Heart of England Way and followed the River Arrow as it meandered though fields of newborn lambs back to the Parish Church.
We managed to dodge any rain all day & at some points the sun even threatened to come out, for this special thanks must go to our weather god. A varied walk, very muddy in places but worth the dirty boots just to walk through seldom used footpaths and see some of the best views that Warwickshire has to offer.