“You should be OK.” We will find out later how wrong I was, answering a perfectly reasonable question in the way. Walking Companion asked the question that inspired my answer, in a text the day before our walk. The question being. “Do you think I will get away with trainers?” We will come to the outcome later.
Our completion deadline was 2.00pm. So I had planned a shortish walk of about 6 miles commencing with coffee at a cafe on Alcester High St. This walk is a bit of a departure for us because it is strictly, an Alcester walk, it does not start by the church. A short drive to a lay-by on the A46 took us to our start point, a gap in the hedge just beyond.
Basically the route took us across the fields to Haselor. Then, passing the church, through Wilmcote and then following The Arden Way across more fields to through Withycombe Wood and then follow the top of the escarpment and crossing the A46 by The Stag at Red Hill. The path then wound its way through summer meadow, crossing a lane and finally finishing on Croft Lane with a walk back to our start point.
The walk began somewhat inauspiciously by the need to plunge through a field of ripening wheat where no path had been left in the sowing process and a lack of ramblers to maintain the pathway. We waded laboriously until reaching the far side. The second field was easier. A generous track beside a maize crop. But our problems were not over. The path through a farmyard was blocked by metal fencing presumably placed to restrain livestock. Again we were equal to the problem, carefully re-tying the fencing afterwards.
A beautiful grassed tunnel of trees and shrubs led us to Upton where we turned right down a narrow lane flanked by timbered, rose covered cottages redolent of a Hardy novel. The lane opened out onto fields and sheep eyed us with little interest as we walked up the gentle rise to find the exit gate.
The church stands atop a low hill offering gorgeous views. Admiring the countryside we follow the path down to Wilmcote and follow the lane to a point where we join the Arden Way towards Aston Cantlow. Through a field gate and an easy walk through some large fields to the point where The Arden’s Way enters the wood and turns left. We turn right and follow a narrow bridleway as it climbs through the wood towards the top of the escarpment.
And this is where the footwear error became apparent. The path, bridleway, was narrow, squeezed between thick undergrowth and a barbed wire fence. Previous equine traffic had created a slippery, muddy slurry of porridge-like consistency which clung to our footwear and made progress increasingly difficult. My sure-footed companion slipped, narrowly avoiding a muddy fall. Worse, the undergrowth stopped us finding an alternative route. Onward we struggled until finally mounting the crest into a field.
Back in sunshine we scraped the worst of the mud off our footwear. (Oops, nice trainers!) Further along the ridge the path ducked back into the wood, dryer here, though. We began to hear the traffic as we descended, finding a couple of logs on which we cracked open a couple of miniatures. Today’s theme was Rose´. After a pleasant if slightly uncomfortable break perched on the log we pressed on down through the wood until we emerged, blinking in the sunlight at the A46 close to The Stag Hotel.
Crossing the road was, too say the least, hazardous but with care we prevailed to begin our return journey on the south side of the road. A narrow sun-dappled lane gave into a succession of summer meadows.
A final rickety stile; down the lane and across the A46 to our destination. This was a lovely walk along rarely used paths; rolling Warwickshire hills and rare summer meadows. So lovely, I think I was forgiven the mud-caked trainers.
Walking guidance can be found under the Walks menu on this site. Enjoy!