This was a walk dominated by a need for expert timing. Firstly because we had a lunch date booked at The Nevill Arms and secondly because it was my turn to collect the grandkids from school. So it didn’t help when SHWF turned up at mine at 9.40 demanding pre-event coffee.
The plan was further disrupted by the continuing closure of the Coldcomfort Lane portal out of The Exercise Yard. However the objective was to walk from Alcester up to The Neville Arms on top of The Ridgeway at New End and to return while simultaneously hitting the deadlines.
Exercise Yard departure was through the Roman Way portal and up into the fields beyond. It was a gorgeous day. The sky was a clear blue. Buzzards circled lazily high above us like jets waiting to land at Heathrow. There was the faintest hum of bees attending to the remaining Primroses and Violets we encountered on our way. SHWF fancies himself as something of a birdsong officionado so there are frequent stops to allow him to demonstrate his prowess.
Our path follows the hedge line until we reach Coldcomfort Farm buildings. Then straight through the middle of a newly sewn field down to the lane. Then we strike through the wood. The ground is dry and rock hard leaving the shapes of many feet, hooves and wheels for us to stumble over as we press on through the wood where a blue blush of Bluebells is just visible.
At the exit to the wood we met an elderly couple on their first walk after lockdown. After a chat they set of towards The Spittle Brook Interchange while we crossed the field and ascended the ever steepening climb to Cladswell. We followed the lanes through the village until meeting The Millennium Way and Monarch’s Way at the corner of a field where, I recall, Alcester 41 Club rebuilt the footbridge. Not far from here to our lunch appointment and we arrived ten minutes early.
But lunch was good and the beer, cold, so our departure was later than I had hoped as we dived into the woods opposite the New Inn and down the bank swinging left at the site of the old ruined barn. We parted company with The Millennium way at on old wooden footbridge and followed the hedge line to my nemesis: The Spittle Brook Interchange.
But today the ford was entirely benign and I was able to proceed dry of foot and ergo intact. We skirted the field and entered the next, a beautifully and newly-harrowed expanse: a process which had totally obscured our path. So we set off across the wide and dusty spaces leaving footprints akin to those of earlier explorers Armstrong and Aldrin. Having spoilt the symmetry of the harrow we crossed into our final field where we, again, hugged the hedge line until reaching our portal back into The Exercise Yard. At which point we parted, he for home and me towards school but not before I relieved him of a couple of pieces of Mrs SHWF’d Ginger Cake. After all it would make a great pudding for the kids. And I was at the school gates in good time to meet them too.
Distance walked (including school pick up) 9.72 miles. The walk can be found in OS Explorer Map 205 Stratford-upon-Avon & Evesham. Look out for the walking guide under the Walks Tab.