So, here we are. The night before the annual Shakespeare Stroll. My walking bag is loaded with waterproofs, water, first aid kit – and hip flask. The weather is set fine and we will be setting of tomorrow morning from St Nicholas’ Church, Alcester.
However, some wonderful people have already begun to support the appeal and I am very grateful to them for their continuing support for us and The Shakespeare Hospice.
For more details of funds raised and an opportunity to join in just click here We are all very grateful to you.
Day One 17 Sep. Route starts St Nicholas Church @ 10.00. Exit town via Allimore and Cold Comfort Lanes. Through fields and over/through the ford. Continue to @Millennium Way. Follow to Coughton. At main road turn left to Thro0ckmorton Arms. Afternoon. Retrace steps to cross roads. Turn left onto Coughton Fields Lane. Continue to Church Farm then follow footpath to Alcester keeping river to right. Cross road and return to Alcester via Conway Fields to start.
Day Two 18 Sep. Route starts St Nicholas Church 2 10.00. Follow Heart of England way to Oversley. Take the footpath that passes the football pitches up to Oversley Wood car park. Turn left down lane. Cross main road and follow footpath to Haselor. Pass church to Walcote. Through fields to the weir and cross river then skirt Great Alne Mills. Follow footpath to village centre and The Mother Huff Cap. Take Spernal Lane to footpath on left then follow to Monarchs Way. Follow Monarchs Way to Alcester trig point then back to start.
One way or another I have spent the Summer in flip-flops or deckshoes. A fabulous seven week road trip around Europe has been followed by a hot, dry Summer in the UK and a couple of trips away in the caravan. Having said that, I had a couple of walks while away in Pembrokeshire and a full length walk last week without any trouble. But today my feet are in The River Arrow and my boots are on the bank.
I am walking the potential second route for my September Stroll on behalf of The Shakespeare Hospice. Having enjoyed a pre walk coffee on The High Street my route followed the Monarch’s Way roughly east to exit The Exercise Yard at the Grid point portal following the low ridge towards The Alne Hills. It is a beautiful clear day. The autumn sun would be warm but for a southerly breeze that keeps the heavy-looking clouds moving along. Swallows and Wagtails zip through gaps in the hedge and, looking towards the west, the air is crystal clear.
Turning left onto the lane I part company with The Monarch’s Way. I stroll along enjoying the sun. Only a couple of vehicle mar my reverie and one of them is a tractor – so fair play. The walk down the lane is about 1.5 miles, crossing The River Arrow at the ford. A short distance further and on the left is a marked footpath across the fields heading roughly south and parallel to the A435 a couple of fields away. Along this stretch I become surrounded by shimmers of butterflies. The usual Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals were joined by some I had to check in my Observer Book of Butterflies. The butterflies fluttered among Campion, Trefoil, Willowherb and Chicory all of which bathed in the Autumn sunshine.
The path finally emerges at the Coughton Round about and I opted to follow the river through Conway fields emerging at Gunnings Bridge and thence back to the start. This was a surprisingly good walk with ample opportunity for walkers to break their journey at The Twisted Boot or The Throckmorton Arms should they so wish. The final walking distance was 6.8 miles so not quite enough for The Shakespeare Stroll but I think I have an excellent alternative idea anyway. Now I’m off to bathe my feet again.
I do have to confess I find it very hard to walk when it is hot so, looking out of my Hermit’s Cave I am pleased to see changes afoot in the countryside beyond my Exercise Yard. The blistering summer heat is subsiding. We are promised some rain too. In fact I see it falling now outside my cave. Temperatures are falling and the countryside has greened in gratitude to the rain. There is even some danger of my having to cut the lawn! The very idea.
In addition I have made a commitment to another September Stroll and I need to give some thought to the route and more importantly, refreshment stops. Last year we walked two decent routes, bearing in mind we are walkers of a certain age, this allows supporters to join us for the weekend; the day or any part thereof. A couple of decent pubs were included allowing walkers to take part of refreshment should they wish.
Last years Stroll went really well. The weather was kind to us and we had great fun walking the routes with friends – and raising a little over £1100 for the Shakespeare Hospice, Stratford On Avon, in some thanks for their marvellous help they gave my wife – and myself, during her final illness. Was it really nearly four years ago?
Last years routes were roughly follows. Both walks departed St Nicholas’ Church Alcester at 10:00am then Day 1. Depart Alcester through the Roman Way portal. Cross the A435 and follow the footpath crossing the A422 Worcester Rd. Then up to The Ridgeway at Weethley. Pass the church and down hill following the path to Wood Bevington before crossing the B4088 to Dunnington. Next, refreshments at The Fish Inn at Wixford before following the Roman Road back to Alcester.
Day 2. Depart via the Footbridge portal. Then through Oversley. Take the path up to Oversley Wood car park. Down lane crossing Trench Lane. Through the fields to Haselor then pass the church to Walcote and over the fields to Aston Cantlow and The Kings Head. Return via Little Leigh and The Monarchs Way all the way to the Alcester Trig point and thence to returning to the start.
This year I am hoping to use the newly-re-opened Mother Huff Cap in Great Alne as our refreshment stop. So with that in mind SHWF and I switched on the Walkers App and set off on a bright but slightly draughty day. The route was as already described above for Day 2. However having paused at Walcote we crossed the lane and set off towards Great Alne. Hidden buzzards mewed as we walked but it was not until we reached the river that we actually saw a couple circling high above us. We circumnavigated Great Alne Mill and then through the fields, crossing the old railway line to emerge on the B4089 and thence to lunch.
SHWF and I often lunch as part of our walks. Usually when the walking is done. Today was different. We still had some distance to go and it took some time to get the stiff legs working again as we followed the first part of our journey along the old railway line until we emerged into fields. Our path, to the left, diagonally bisected a newly-harvested field towards Kinwarton Dovecote.
Through the village, we crossed the fields and over the River Alne footbridge to the lane towards the main road. Then home via Oversley and the portal through which we originally departed.
Distances shown on the plan below are to/from from my home so approximately one mile should be added to the route from St Nicholas’ Church and it could be extended by routing the inward journey via The Monarchs Way and the Alcester Trig Point.
will be giving some thought to the second route over the next few days and I will be launching my Just Giving page too. So please look out for that both here and on my Facebook page.
I’m standing at The Alcester Trig point watching the drizzle roll in from the north. Visibility is not good and I am extremely pleased I packed my spare waterproof jacket. My Facebook followers will know that The Hermit broke free this year and I have been travelling around Europe for the past seven weeks or so.
But I’m back in the cave now and I have a commitment to undertake my September Stroll again this year. So I am standing here as part of my first training walk. Also I am trying to establish the route for the weekend bearing in mind there are those not as stunningly fit as may and may not want to go the full distance.
One of the key planning issues is lunch. I need to arrange the route so walkers get a lunch stop: somewhere where participants can leave or join, too, should they not wish to walk the full day. Today’s candidate is The Mother Huff Cap in Great Alne. So I have planned a circular route just to get back into walking.
The route takes me from Alcester Town Centre; crossing The River Arrow and leaving the roadway at Captains Hill and heading towards the Trig Point, where I am now. The light drizzle is getting heavier so I don my waterproof and set off along the Monarchs Way, over Coughton Field Lane and on into the wood. Leaving the Monarchs Way I follow the 4×4 track to the lane and turn left to the pub.
I’m early. No food yet, so I treat myself to a cider and push on. Following the road to Pelham Lane and immediately left at the old level crossing onto the old railway line towards Alcester. Emerging into a golden wheat field I strike right into the next field and follow the path through a glorious field of barley.
Through the next field, passing the famous, 14thcentury, Kinwarton Dovecote. Then following the lane past the pretty church. The lane empties into a field by The River Alne. Keep going over the footbridge and follow the path up to the main road. There follows a less pretty walk along the footpath adjacent to the Stratford Road back to Alcester. A walk of approximately 6 miles. Good start.
So this is it. Finally, the last of 31 walks to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK and the work they do to research into a disease that affects one in eight men, killing 11000 a year. I, among many others throughout the country, have been pacing 11000 steps a day, a total of 341,000 steps. And this is my last day.
The day dawned bright, sunny and bitterly cold. Indeed as I stepped out snow flurries were being whipped along the street on a bitter northerly wind. As if my resolve to finish my programme was not depleted enough by an arthritic toe; a sore hip and for the last couple of days, something of a stomach upset which means today’s walk has been designed so that I am never too far from “facilities”.
However I needed to walk a final 8000 steps to complete. If you look at the route map for today you will note it looks pretty confusing. This for the reason noted above and also I took the opportunity of my last walk to meet some of the folk who have helped and supported me over the last month. I will not attempt to describe the route but it included The Nature Park; Conway Fields and the town centre and finally the school run to collect my grandsons. Total walk distance 5.79 miles and 16000 steps.
So I guess its time for a quick review. 31 walks predominantly around Alcester but also taking in Coughton, Upton Upon Severn, Bourton on the Hill and Great Alne. And passing great houses at Madresfield, Waugh’s inspiration for Brideshead revisited. Coughton Court, epicentre of religious dissent and bolt hole for the Gunpowder plotters and Sezincote, the blueprint for The Brighton Pavilion. I have learned the difference between Red Kite and Buzzard and seen my first Bluebell of the year.
During the course of my walks I have enjoyed the hospitality of The Mother Huff Cap, Great Alne; The Turks Head, Alcester; The Upton Muggery, Upon Upon Severn; The Swan Hotel, Upton Upon Severn; The Horse and Groom, Bourton on the Hill; The Kings Court Hotel. Kings Coughton and last but certainly not least, Coffee @ 26, Alcester.
Many thanks, too, to my walking partners Bill, David and Jude who have walked, chatted and imbibed with me along the way.
So, it only remains to finally record 349,300 steps walked and £500 raised for Prostate Cancer UK.
This was a beautiful but familiar walk for me. The route took me across the Exercise Yard exiting through the Oversley portal, the footbridge over the river. Then along the lane and left onto Icknield Way. A few hundred yards then left uphill towards the crest of Oversley Hill. The sun shone. Truly the first day when I felt overdressed for the walk. A lark was ascending from a newly sewn field close by. Trilling exultantly it rose almost vertically into the sky.
A left turn close to the crest and a few hundred yards later, right beside a gate towards the edge of the wood. A straggling flock of Fieldfare rose from a couple of trees before me, relocating in a field to watch me pass by. I watched them for a time while taking a break.
Then, keeping the wood to my left, I walked on. The Fieldfare swooped, chuckling across my path, disappearing into the wood. At the bridleway where The Arden Way turns south I entered the wood. I bit of a muddy wade here up to the well trodden circular wood walk. Then right passing piles of newly-hewn trees awaiting departure to the saw mills.
Instead of my usual route home I turned left and followed the track to the exit point on The Arden Way and then the descent to Oversley Village, re-enterring The Exercise Yard via the exit portal over the footbridge.
The total route was a very pleasant 5.15 miles, 14,500 steps towards my target for the March The Month campaign for Prostate Cancer UK. If you would like to help me in my quest please do feel free to click the link to my Just Giving Page. If you would like to know more about Prostate Cancer UK and the work they are doing click here.
This is probably one of my favourite walks, certainly locally. Depart from The Hermit’s Cave, across The Exercise Yard departing through the Cold Comfort portal. Then up through Coldcomfort Wood; across the fields and then following then fording The Spittal Brook and then return. Wild flowers can be seen and birds watched in almost total peace and calm.
But today a cold and blustery wind whips in from the east carrying spatters of driven rain. Not a single flower can be seen. Not a primrose; not a bluebell. The newly cut hedges and verges seem to add to the bleak prospect for this walk. At the far end of the field beyond the wood I turn into the wind and almost immediately pull up my coats zip and bend into the wind, rain spatters bounce off me. A single other walker, a Lowry-like figure, half a mile away, hunches into the wind and trudges after her dog.
However, there is one bright spot. I have to cross the ford over a Spittal Brook at a point I call The Spittal Brook Interchange. A point where several paths meet and cross. Usually I manage some disaster here. From a simple wet foot to last years disaster when I managed to slip and land face down in the icy waters. But today I managed to cross, equipped with walking pole and new boots, safe and dry.
And so an hour later, with hands clamped around a steaming cup of coffee I reflected on a good walk but perhaps a couple of weeks too early in the year. Walk distance 5.1 miles.