First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
A fine afternoon of big blowy skies over Warwickshire. The cobbled lane of Town Yard led up from Brinklow’s aptly named Broad Street to the green mound of a Norman motte-and-bailey, with far views over a countryside of corn and cattle grazing.
Frisky young bullocks came crowding in the fields round Goodes Farm. We gave them a roar and a wave, and they went scampering off, pitching over the corrugations of medieval ridge-and-furrow farming like a squadron of little dinghies in a choppy sea.
A good clear path led across fields of wheat. A shiver among the stalks, and a brace of partridges burst from cover almost under our feet and panicked away low across the crop with a rattle of stiff wings and squawks of complaint.
Meadows of thick shiny grass awaited their first cut of the year. The wind drove a sharp fragrance from a field of beans, the black velvet eyes of the flowers winking at us as the breeze tossed them to and fro.
Beside the road at Newnham stood a derelict tower, its parent building of St Lawrence’s Church long demolished. Black slit windows gave back a hard blank stare. It was easy to see how the lone tower by the lane got its reputation as a haunted place. That ominous fame must have been enhanced when, during excavations in 1852, the corpse of a decapitated man was unearthed from the abandoned graveyard. Meticulously embroidered in black silk on his funerary chemise were the letters ‘TB’. Nothing else was known, or has ever yet been discovered, about this felon and his story.
Through the fields beyond snaked the tight bends of the Oxford Canal, so winding in its course that boatmen inching their slow way through the many bends were said to be able to hear Brinklow bells ringing for matins and evensong on the same day.
As we went homeward along the towpath, a narrow-boat went by, its stag party crew of jolly jack tars in full uniform saluting us with beer bottles in hand. At the same moment a steam locomotive went streaking by along the railway just beyond – ‘Mayflower’ in beautiful green paintwork, passing with a rush and a roar and a hoarse triumphant cheer from her fan club perched on the bridge overhead.
Start: Broad Street, Brinklow, Rugby, Warwicks CV23 0LN (OS ref SP 436795)
Getting there: Bus 585 (Rugby-Coventry)
Road: Brinklow is signed from A428 at Bretford, west of Rugby. Park near Raven PH.
Walk (6¼ miles, easy, OS Explorer 222): Up Town Yard beside Raven PH; path, then steps to motte-and-bailey (437795). Return to kissing gate/KG; left (‘Coventry Way’). In 40m, through KG; down right-hand hedge to gate onto B4455 (437791). Left across Easenhall Road; follow yellow-topped posts/YTP and KG across fields for 1 mile via corner of All Oaks Wood (443786) to cross road (446780). Field path for ½ mile (stiles, yellow arrows) to road at Newnham Tower (449772).
Turn left, then right down Kings Newnham Road. In 50m, left (KG, YTP) between ponds. Don’t turn right across bridge (451770), but follow YTPs to left up slope, to KG/YTP on right of sheds (453711). Diagonally across fields (KG/YTP) to cross road (457774). Diagonally across field; cross plank footbridge at corner (459777); diagonally across next field to corner (462777). Ahead on path skirting left of Fennis Fields Farm, to reach Oxford Canal at Walton’s Bridge (467782).
Left along towpath for 2 miles. At Bridge 34, up steps to road (443794); left (grass verges; take care!). In 350m cross Ell Lane (440794); ahead (YTP, KG) into field. Half right to fence (438795); left along route to retrace route to Brinklow.
Conditions: Cattle may be in fields; tall stile onto towpath at Walton Bridge; towpath rough in place
Lunch/Accommodation: Bull’s Head, Coventry Rd, Brinklow CV23 0NE (01788-832355, bullsheadbrinklow.co.uk)