Walk of the week – Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is the focus of our walk today.

Kenilworth Castle is the focus of our walk today.

This week we’re headed to Warwickshire for our walk of the week, to the town of Kenilworth that is famed for it’s ruined castle (where Queen Elizabeth I was said to have had an illicit affair with Robert Dudley) and for being the first place in Great Britain that potatoes were grown (useless fact that may come in handy one day in a pub quiz!).

Distance: 6.39 miles (10.28km)
Time: 2 hours 10mins
Map: OS Explorer Map 221 – Coventry & Warwick
Route: Available on OS getamap

We are starting and finishing our walk today at Kenilworth Castle (OS grid reference: SP279723) which has plenty of car parking (charges may apply). I’d recommend spending some time exploring the ruined castle and learning of it’s colourful history (we’ll come to more about that later on in this blog)! Admission charges do apply – unless you’re an English Heritage member.

St Johns church in Honiley is said to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren

St Johns church in Honiley is said to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren

To start our walk we’re going down Purlieu Lane – it’s to the north of the castle, next to Castle Green (near the Queen & Castle pub) – we’re heading due west along the lane. Whilst this walk starts walking down a minor road, you will be walking across fields that have the potential to be muddy! The further down this lane you travel, and as the footpath takes you into the fields, don’t forget to look back to admire the view of the castle.

We’re going to be heading in pretty much a straight line, heading due west for around 2.25miles (should take around 45minutes). This is when we arrive in the village of Honiley. Once in the village we walk along the road side, skirting around St Johns church, which is said to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the early 18th century.

Following the road we’re now heading south, towards the village of Beausale where a left turn followed by a right and another left brings us onto a footpath that takes use back in a north-east direction, back towards Kenilworth.

The flooded echo meadows of Kenilworth Castle that provided hours of fun in my childhood!

The flooded echo meadows of Kenilworth Castle that provided hours of fun in my childhood!

As you get closer to Kenilworth you can’t help but notice the Castle looming ever larger on the horizon. The castle was built over several hundred years and is believed to date back to around 1120. It was the focus of the longest siege in English History in 1266 that lasted 6 months. During the War of the Roses it was a base for the House of Lancaster, it was where Edward II was removed from the throne and where the Earl of Leicester threw a massive reception for Queen Elizabeth I. As I said before, the castle has had a colourful history and is certainly worth a visit!

As you approach closer to the castle you come to what is locally known as the Echo Meadows. Having grown up in Kenilworth, we regularly used to visit the castle and the competition within the family was to see who could shout the loudest and get the most echos reverberating off the castle walls. If you’re visiting in November – this is also the scene of the towns bonfire and firework display – it comes highly recommended!

As you walk out of the Echo Meadows you’re back in The Brays – one of the car parks for Kenilworth Castle. Now the choice is yours – do you head home, explore the castle or have a refreshing drink in one of the many bars and cafes that Kenilworth has to offer?

Have you been to Kenilworth Castle? Which other ruined castles have you visited? Share your favourites with us here on the blog.

What to do this Boxing Day?

This week we thought we’d look ahead to Boxing Day. Having indulged the day before on turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies whilst sat in front of the television watching the Queens speech followed by the usual “celebrations” in Albert Square – cabin fever sets in and there is a desire to get outdoors and do something on Boxing Day. But what to do and where to go? We’ve come up with some suggestions for you …

Wherever you are – why not get your local Ordnance Survey map and go for a walk? If you’re not sure of where to go walking – you could join in with the Ramblers and their Festival of Winter Walks that runs from Christmas Day until 3rd January each year. Alternatively the Woodland Trust has suggestions on 12 woodlands for a stroll through this Boxing Day.

Around the country there are many duck races taking place on Boxing Day

Around the country there are many duck races taking place on Boxing Day

Many towns have annual duck races on Boxing Day – Kenilworthin Warwickshire, Bibury in Gloucestershire and Bottesford in Nottinghamshire are some of the places you can watch the ducks race.

If you’d rather be in the water – how about the Tenby Boxing Day Swim? Now in it’s 40th year – this annual swim sees over 500 people, many in fancy dress, take to the water to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Alternatively you could join in Boxing Day swims in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight or in Sidmouth, Devon.

Or how about taking in some culture with the Keynsham Mummers Play? A Mummers Play is a seasonal folk play performed by groups of actors known as “Mummers” or “Guises”. They date back to the mid to late 18th century and are broadly comic plays with a good versus evil plot line.

One of the oldest traditions in Scarborough takes place on Boxing Day – the annual Fisherman versus Fireman football match on South Bay Beach.  First played in 1893 the game helps to raise vital funds for the Fisherman & Fireman Charity Fund – supporting local needy people through donation of food vouchers.

Boxing Day is an important day in many sports – tradition has it that local derby games are played. In rugby union Saracens are playing Wasps at Wembley stadium, in football Blackpool take on Liverpool at Bloomfield Road. Alternatively you could take in a horse racing meeting at somewhere like Fontwell Park or Kempton Park. For those who prefer the sound of leather on willow, and are happy to sit up in front of the television through the night, the fourth Ashes test match starts down under between Australia and England in Melbourne on Boxing Day (come on England!!). Live coverage will be shown on Sky Sports.

If you’re still looking for inspiration of what to do and where to go this Boxing Day – Baxters can lend a hand. In a new campaign fronted by Ben Fogle they are offering solutions to help you have the Best Boxing Day. They provide advice of outdoor activity along with ways to spruce up your left over turkey!

How do you like to spend your Boxing Day? Whatever you decide to do – we hope you have a very merry Christmas.

A winter wonderland

Now that winter is here we have our top five suggestions of how you can make the most of the winter wonderland that Great Britain becomes. Grab your hat, scarf, gloves, your cosy winter coat and an Ordnance Survey map and head outdoors.

1. Take to the piste!

As we showed in the blog earlier this month – whilst many Britons head to the Alps, the Pyrenees or further afield to take in the alpine air whilst gliding down the piste – the mountains of Scotland are home to some fantastic Ski resorts – Cairngorms, Aonach Mor, Nevis Range, Glencoe, Glenshee and The Lecht.

The Glenshee Ski Area is a popular Scottish ski resort

The Glenshee Ski Area is a popular Scottish ski resort

But did you know that you don’t have to travel as far north as Scotland to find a ski resort in Great Britain? The Pennines have four ski areas – all centred around the Weardale Valley with ski runs at Allenheads, Harwood Common, Swinhope Moor and Yad Moss. Alternatively you could head for the Lake District at ski at Raise-Helvellyn. If you do want ski in the Pennines or the Lake District – you will need to have your own equipment as none of these resorts have ski hire facilities.

To find details of your closest venue to ski in Great Britain – have a look at the Ski Club of Great Britain’s website that gives details of both ski resorts, real snow indoor slopes and dry ski slopes.

2. Go cross country

Aberdeenshire is home to the only cross-country skiing venue in Great Britain – The Huntly Nordic Skiing Centre - where visitors are treated to a gentle, fun way of seeing the snow-covered scenery.

Even if there is no snow – you can still experience cross country skiing through the all weather tracks or roller-skiing.

3. Ice skate in the open air

All around the country there are outdoor ice skating rinks popping up just for the winter. You can find rinks in Worthing, Winchester, The Eden Project, Newcastle/Gateshead, Lincoln, Stoke on Trent, Cambridge, York and of course many in London

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum in London

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum in London

4. Sliding stones

Curling is a sport that gained a high profile in Great Britain after our women’s curling team brought home the gold from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA. It is a sport that originated in Scotland in the 1500′s and the country is still the spiritual home of curling.

Across Scotland there are various outdoor curling rinks including Glasgow, Partick, Kinross and Balmoral Castle. If you’re south of the border – the only dedicated (indoor) rink for curling can be found in Kent – Fentons Rink is near Tunbridge Wells.

5. Sledging in the snow

When the country is covered in a blanket of snow, the schools are closed and the roads are just too treacherous to try driving anywhere – grab your sledge and find your nearest snow covered hill!

I spent many childhood winters sledging in the Abbey Fields in Kenilworth

I spent many childhood winters sledging in the Abbey Fields in Kenilworth

 Our top five places for sledging in Great Britain are:

  1. Brecon Beacons – the gradients of slopes are suitable for beginners and experts alike.
  2. Abbey Fields, Kenilworth- gentle slopes with views looking out of the ruins of Kenilworth Castle. Just make sure you don’t hit Finham Brook at the bottom!
  3. Cairngorms – visit the Sleddog Centre for adrenaline fuelled winter fun reaching speeds of up to 25mph.
  4. Lyme Park, Cheshire – on the edge of the Peak District you have 1400acres of mounds to slide down.
  5. Hampstead Heath, London - the highest point in London, Parliament Hill, not only gives you wonderful views over the capital but also offers great fun in the snow. It’s a popular place to sledge in London and can get icy.

 

These are our top five suggestions of how to enjoy the snow this winter – what are yours?

However you decide to enjoy the snow this winter - stay safe and keep warm.

Photographs from Geograph.