My last walk of my visit to Snowdonia wasn’t actually in Snowdonia, but along the A5 on the way out of Wales, at Llangollen, or rather a small National Trust car park by Horseshoe Falls, a little to the west of the town. I was sure I remembered this being a free car park, but it’s now pay and display.
I never sleep particularly well in tents, and this last night was a prime example. It wasn’t helped by not having an airbed to sleep on (I discovered that the one we had wouldn’t keep air in it for more than a couple of minutes), but at least it meant I got a lot of reading done.
Once it was late enough to be sensible to be up and about, I drove the short distance up to the outskirts of Caernafon to buy some supplies (and breakfast), and plan my walk for the day, which was almost certainly going to be a route up Snowdon. As I’d previous done the eastern approach (via the Pyg and Miner’s track), this was an ideal opportunity to go up from the west, via the Rhyd Ddu path (which I still have no idea how to say!).
At the end of August I went up to North Wales camping for a couple of nights, giving me the chance to do one big walk, plus smaller ones on the first and last days. I’m not a massive fan of camping (I find it very hard to sleep in a tent), but the price difference between camping and hotels is enormous – particularly at the end of August.
I’ve done a fair amount of walking over the last couple of months, which you wouldn’t know from the website… Partly this is due to me taking a while to upload all the walk photos to Flickr, and also the slightly painful way you embed photos in a WordPress post. So, instead, here are links with brief descriptions to some of my recent walks that I’ve put up on ViewRanger. Incidentally, all these routes are free to download from the ViewRanger site (although I believe you have to create an account to do so) – I used to have a separate link to a .GPX file for each walk, but no one ever used the links, so I stopped.
The ‘local’ area that I’ve most enjoyed exploring recently is the region south of Daventry, north of Banbury, and west of Northampton. It’s very rare to see anyone else walking these routes, which is a pity, because it’s a great area of the world, with plenty of quiet chocolate-box villages which would be incredibly expensive to live in if they were thirty miles south-west in the Cotswolds.
Edge Hill and the Cherwell Valley
In fact, there are several walks which technically are in the Cotswolds, as the AONB was extended to include Edge Hill, including probably my favourite recent walk, between Warmington, Arlescote and Ratley. A little further to the east, and just over the other side of the M40, was another enjoyable route joining four villages: Mollington, Farnborough, Claydon and Cropredy (I’d been through the last two before, on circular routes given on the Millennium Way website). Further to the west, on the western side of Edge Hill, is a hilly route from Middle Tysoe up to Epwell and Shenington. For a really good exploration of the area, you just need to combine these with a walk around Edge Hill itself, and the Burton Dassett hills just north over the M40.
Only one Cotswolds walk in the last few months, but it was quite a long one. The Winchcombe Way is a figure-eight route centred on Winchcombe. I chose the western loop, which takes you out to some of the flatter and less-walked footpaths to the north and west of Winchcombe before heading up to the highest point of the Cotswolds, Cleeve Common.
South of Daventry
A little to the east of these are four walks which explore the region south of Daventry, almost connecting up to one of my favourite walks, from Badby to Everdon.
- Culworth, Eydon, Moreton Pinkney and Sulgrave
- Canons Ashby to Preston Capes
- Weedon Bec, Everdon, and several Stowes
- Flore, Little Brington and Brockhall (this one’s a little noisy as it stays close to the M1 for a while)
Close to Rugby
Firstly, a walk from the centre of Rugby over to Whinfield Recreation ground, then continuing to the Hillmorton Locks, and back along the canal.
Secondly, a walk along the canal, starting in Braunston, and heading up to Barby, then back down again on field paths.
Lastly, a figure eight walk from the centre of Rugby up to Harborough Magna and back.
We spent a week in August up in Northumberland, next to Kielder Water reservoir, staying in a chalet at the Calvert Trust. I went on a number of short dog walks (and a couple of longer ones), which I have added as ViewRanger routes. Most of them are completely on forestry tracks and would be very suitable for bikes, although the first two have off-track sections which would be rather painful in the wet! The link to the first one is here, and you can find the others from the ‘walks close to here’ section at the bottom of that page. I have to say that I didn’t really find forest walks to be ‘my thing’ — too many pine trees, and not enough views!
I’ve been around the Clent Hills several times – this route follows a short family dog walk. If you haven’t been before, it’s a popular area with great views (and excellent bacon sandwiches in the National Trust car park).
Over the summer my children took part in several activities around Oxfordshire, including one in Bicester. I took the opportunity to go for a walk starting at the windmill in Brill, heading westwards to Boarstall and back again. This was the first country walk I took our new cocker spaniel on, and he coped very well, apart from needing to be helped over several stiles (and learning not to sniff stinging nettles).
Length: 7 miles.
Location: Layby just off the A439 to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Date: 31st March, 2016.
This route is based on a Pathfinder walk around a small Country Park close to Stratford-upon-Avon, although I have removed the section of the walk from the Pathfinder book that took you into Snitterfield, as it involves crossing the very busy A46, and there isn’t really anything exciting in Snitterfield that demands a visit – the pub that would have made a good half-way rest point has closed down. There are some good points to this walk, particularly the wide views in several places south and east over to the Cotswolds, but there is rather too much road walking for my taste. It’s worth a try if you’re in the area and don’t mind field walking and route finding (and walking through rape fields!).
Length: 5 miles.
Location: Roadside parking by the village green in Ilmington.
Date: 13th March 2016
A fairly hilly route in the extreme north-east of the Cotswolds, and the extreme south of Warwickshire. Starting in the pretty and isolated village of Ilmington, the route heads to the highest point in Warwickshire.
Length: 4 1/2 miles.
Location: Public car park in Broadway village.
A classic walk from the pretty Cotswold village of Broadway, south and east up to Broadway Tower, with a great view westward over towards Shropshire and Wales, then back down to Broadway along the Cotswold Way.