Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hailes Abbey Walk, Cotswolds

Distance: 5 miles
Start & Finish: Hailes Abbey Car Park next to Hailes Church.
Refreshments: Hayles Fruit Farm on the downhill stretch just above Hailes Abbey.
Parking: Next to Hailes Church
Conditions:  Some muddy stretches with a muddy hill climb (during January at least), pass through fields of livestock including sheep and horses, quite a few horses and riders out on the trails and a number of cyclists on the roads.
The AA Walks guide
Runkeeper Route:  Runkeeper

We had the weekend staying in the White Hart Hotel in Winchcombe in the Cotswolds with the plan of spending at least one day walking in the area, Saturday's weather didn't look great, but Sunday was the day with clear skies and just a little light wind.  After an excellent meal in the White Hart in the evening we were ready to burn the calories off on a good walk.

Hailes Abbey Ruins.
We had picked up a reduced priced box of Cotswolds walking guides, published the AA,  from the Bookshop in Broadway on Saturday and chose the walk around Hailes abbey which is 5 miles.

Parking in the car park for Hailes Abbey, which is under English Heritage's care and unfortunately not open during the winter months but the ruins can be seen without entering the grounds we set off and followed the route.

Didbrook Church.
We had a little confusion approaching Didbrook when the card said cross a style, then another style and a foot bridge, the first style has been turned into a kissing gate and there is a style to the left and another kissing gate straight ahead and no sign of a footbridge.  We opted to take the style and head for the public phone box that marked the road through Didbrook.  The AA have corrected this on their online route guide.

After a while following the road up to Wood Stanway you are joined by the Cotswold way and it is the Cotswold way that you follow all the way back to the Abbey.

Climbing up to the top of the hill, which is muddy going especially with the damp winter that we have, gives you a wonderful view out over the valley and there is even a seat to rest and enjoy the view.

The route follows the top of the hill to Beckbury Camp Iron Age fort and Cromwell's Chair, which is where Thomas Cromwell allegedly watched the destruction of Hailes Abbey.
Cromwell's Chair.

Returning back down the hill past Hayles Fruit Farm, where there is a cafe was down a track that was good underfoot.

Hailes Church.
We had an enjoyable walk in good clear weather that gave us good views.

Retrurning home we stopped at the Fosse Bridge Inn on the Fosseway.

Views of the Valley.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A walk around the transport links of Whitchurch

Distance: 3.5 miles
Start & Finish: Either Bell St car park or Whitchurch Silk Mill.  Whitchurch station a possible option.
Conditions: no steep gradients, surface mud underfoot.
Refreshments: (all in Whitchurch town) H's Coffee Shop, The Bell Inn, The Red House, The White Hart, The Kings Arms
Parking: Bell St Car park or the Silk Mill
Whitchurch web walk number 2.
Runkeeper Route:  Runkeeper

As it was warm outside we decided to go for a short walk.  We have a loop around the town that we do regularly but decided to try something different today.

We decided to choose the walk 2 from the Whitchurchweb website.

We started the walk from the Silk Mill and joined the route at the top of Fairclose as it heads up the path.

The directions have changed at the top of the cemetery due to a recent housing development.

After passing the cemetery enter the housing development and follow the footpath sign between two houses, continue following the path as it parallels the disused railway line and past the old railway station and underpass, continue straight until you come to an open field, cross diagonally across the field and rejoin the route as you arrive at Bloswood Ln.

The rest of the route is as described on the website.

Whitchurch from the Northwest.

This walk has a good view of Whitchurch from the north, but suffers in its adjacency from the A34 and the subsequent road noise is present throughout reducing only within the town itself.

Disused Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway.
In places the route is along the disused Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway (DN&SR) which ran from 1882 until its closure in 1964.  The old railway station can be seen early on, although this is now a private dwelling.

West of England Main Line looking East towards Whitchurch Station. 

Also the route passes over and under the West of England mainline and is fairly close the the station.

DNS&R railway tunnel under the West of England Main Line

As an alternative the route could be started from Whitchurch Railway station by exiting the station and heading straight ahead until you meet Evingar Rd, turn right and follow the road downhill, the trail comes up and joins from 'Pesthouse Ln' on the right just before Ardglen Road.  To return to the station, follow the route coming out of the tunnel under the rail line and turn left as it meets Evingar Ln.

We had an enjoyable short walk and will look to do some more in the near future.