Great outdoors – Lovely New Year walks
Overindulged a bit too much over Christmas? Haven't we all. Pull on your wellies and take on one of these walks across Warks and the West Mids. Best bit? Most of them have a pub stop.
Hatton Locks, Hatton, near Warwick
Canal towpath, countryside and woodland: this 5-mile circular walk is full of changing scenery. Sounds like heaven? Aptly enough, you’ll also be able to view The Stairway to Heaven, aka Hatton Locks flight of 21 locks on the Grand Union Canal.
Beginning from the parking area in Hatton, pick up the canal towpath before heading into the countryside and along country lanes to Hampton on the Hill. Then, skirting Whitehill Wood and passing Hatton Country World, return to the canal and follow the locks back to your start point. Book at table at the Hatton Arms – dogs welcome in the bar area and heated outdoor space – for lunch or an early dinner.
Burton Dassett Hills Country Park
This scenic Warwickshire park all about far, far-reaching views from rugged, rolling ironstone hills rising to 667ft (203m). Explore 100 acres of freedom, sprinkled with historical curiosities like the hilltop beacon (which could once have been a windmill) and quarry remains. Information points across the site provide insights.
A 3-mile circular tour will give you a good, breezy taste of the park’s wide, open spaces. Drop into The Red Lion pub at the foot of the Dassett Hills for a real ale and good honest food, or in the nearby village of Avon Dassett there’s also The Yew Tree.
Put your best foot forward on this 2-mile circular wander around Kenilworth, strolling through the castle grounds and town. From the castle car park, follow footpaths around the romantic ruins and beautiful Elizabethan Gardens, then pick up the pace for a race into Abbey Fields Park before dawdling along the pretty Finham Brook. St Nicholas Church and the ruins of the ancient gatehouse of the medieval Abbey of St Mary are worth a browse before you saunter the pleasant footpaths back to the car park.
If you want to extend your walk, you can always keep going along the Finham Brook and explore waymarked trails through Kenilworth Common Nature Reserve – look out for kingfishers on the brook! Short or long walk: options for refreshments in town include the 16th-century Virgins & Castle on the High Street.
Ryton Pools Country Park
Surfaced paths around Ryton Pools Country Park at Bubbenhall make for easygoing exploration – you’ve 100 acres stretching out around you, with tranquil pools and woodland providing habitat for a variety of birds and wildlife. There are also play areas and a pirate trail for the kids.
Stretch your legs on a 5-mile route that combines a walk through the park with nearby woods including Ryton Wood, one of the country’s largest surviving semi-natural ancient woodlands (if you take Fido keep him on a lead here).
Coombe Abbey Park, Binley
With 500 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland, lakeside walks and ‘Capability’ Brown landscaping, Coombe Abbey Park near Coventry is ideal for days out – dogs on leads are also welcome and are also allowed off-lead to exercise in signposted areas.
Come for an hour or more, as the mood takes you: following numerous walking trails, enjoying waterside scenes and a sense of gentle adventure amid the trees. There are also splendid views of Coombe Abbey, whose story entwines with the Gunpowder Plot.
Pooley Country Park, Polesworth
A wonderful example of how nature rebounds to heal the workings of industry, in this case the old Pooley Hall Colliery (later the North Warwickshire Colliery) which closed in the 1960s. Today’s 62.5ha green and peaceful site on the Coventry Canal offers a refreshing escape into woodland and poolside habitats, with a third of the park designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Paths once used by miners are now used for recreation and the stunning 12-metre Gold Leaf landmark sculpture celebrates the park’s regeneration.
Here’s a 6-mile walk around the park beginning and ending at the family-friendly, dog-friendly The Samuel Barlow pub overlooking Alvecote Marina and the Coventry Canal, the route takes in a number of pretty pools (originally caused by mining subsidence), the ruins of medieval Alvecote Priory, and oodles of space in which to run around.
Kingsbury Water Park, Kingsbury
Does walking around 15 lakes and 600 acres of country park sound enough to tire you, the kids and the dog out? We thought so. There’s loads of gorgeous trails around this park along with birds and wildlife to spot. While swimming in the lakes isn’t allowed (they’re old gravel pits so can be really deep) there’s some areas to do water sports, a ride-able miniature railway and bike hire available. Or just fill up a flask (hip or coffee, we won’t judge) and head out.
Oakley Woods near Bishops Tachbrook
One of the area’s largest accessible ancient woodlands, this 116-acre plantation woodland dates to the 16th century is very peaceful with two marked walking trails. There’s lots of wildlife to spot – 200 species were counted here by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust from minibeasts like wolf spider and red-tailed bumblebees to birds like the great spotted woodpecker and blackcap. Within the wood there’s Oakley Wood Camp – a scheduled ancient monument site believed to have been a Bronze Age or Iron Age fort.