My favourite walk in Tanworth in Arden
by Laurence McCoy
Tanworth in Arden
Distance: Four miles A gentle stroll through lush pasture and farmland centred on a picturesque Warwickshire village.
Dylan and I were raring to go so I couldn’t understand why we were spending so much time in the churchyard while the old fella wandered around looking at gravestones. Something about a singer from the 60s called Nick Drake...
“It’s got to be around here somewhere,” he said, as he ambled from plot to plot. Meanwhile Dylan had found a gap in a hedge and some interesting activity going on in there.
“Ah well, I suppose we’d better get on with it,” said the old fella, obviously giving up with his search.
So off we went, out of the churchyard behind the church at Tanworth-in-Arden, past a shed on our right, heading east, past more boring graves, through a wooden kissing gate and, at last, into wide open fields.
It had been a day of disappointments already and a worrying sign that the old fella’s losing his marbles. His idea had apparently been to catch a sight of the Olympic torch as it was carried close to Tanworth on its way to London (I didn’t even know he was that keen on sport). Anyway, when we got there it transpired that he didn’t really know much about sport after all - he’d picked the wrong day!
We were hoping the old duffer had remembered to bring a map as we headed off across a field, with a mini-football pitch to our left. The leads come off here and there’s plenty of space for a romp.
The path slopes gently down through the meadow to a metal kissing gate near some red-brick cottages and out onto a quiet road. Turn right onto the road and after about 50 metres turn left onto a narrow footpath that runs along a low garden fence, with hedges on the right. It opens out into an open field.
Follow the path along the edge of the field until you come to a small copse and then cross a wooden railway sleeper bridge with a stile. Bear right and follow the path along the edge of the field to the far corner to find a footpath sign and then cross a wooden bridge over a stream.
The railway line appears in front and the path enters a tunnel under the track. It was very wet and muddy when we went through. Follow the path and cross over a stile into another field. There were sheep in here which meant leads on for Dylan and me.
Bear right over the stile and the path follows the line of a single post in the field and then more or less parallel with the railway line on our right.
Pass under telegraph wires and towards the line of trees ahead and a stream.
In the corner of the field cross over a wooden bridge with a red number 4 written on it and a stile at the other end. Go straight ahead across a field. Ignore a bridge over the stream to your right and carry on to the corner of the field and cross a stile. Carry on across the field, keeping the stream to your right and head towards a metal five-bar gate. The path splits here and the old fella had to drag out his map again to make sure we weren’t heading towards Wales. After some deliberation it was decided to cross over the stile and take the left fork and walk directly up the hill towards a line of trees and a telegraph pole. Dylan and I had a race up this bit but I won’t say who won!
At the top the old fella got a bit confused again because there were two stiles on either side of a pond (he was obviously thinking about his previous two failures, the Olympic torch and the missing grave). Out came the map yet again and a bit of muttering and cursing while Dylan and I waited patiently. Of course we knew the path was to the right of the pond...just to the left of the telegraph pole, but we had to let the old fella come to that conclusion by himself.
So over yet another stile. Dylan’s good with these stiles - he just jumps over them, but every now and then he comes a cropper - painful! Me, I have to be lifted over...far safer.
Pass a telegraph pole in the middle of the field and find a stile through the hedge line (watch out Dyl, it’s a high one!) Head uphill across a wide pasture towards some farm buildings on the horizon. Keep the fence line to your right and the buildings to your left and go through a gap into another field. There’s a tiny copse of eight chestnut trees straight ahead. Go around them and to a stile in the corner. You’ll come out onto a quiet road, called Pigtrot Lane. Turn right and wander down the lane. We didn’t see any pigs but did see one or two cars, so be a bit wary.
At the bottom of the lane, after about one kilometre, we come to Danzey Green. Cross over the main road, turn right and immediately left, across the railway bridge. Carry on along a farm track, with barns on the right and a house on the left. After about 100 metres you’ll come to three metal, five-bar gates. Too much choice! We expected the old fella to give up the ghost at this point, given his day so far, but he surprised us all by boldly diving through the middle gate with no hesitation at all. Respect restored.
This part of the walk could be anywhere, never mind a couple of miles away from Solihull! The old fella got quite misty-eyed, waxing lyrical about the forests around here once being the basis of Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden.
As You Like It and all that. Dylan and I listened respectfully, not really getting it but giving him the benefit of the doubt. And thankfully we soon moved on through some lush farmland, with all sorts of four-legged friends, cows and sheep, to pass the time of day with.
Then came a fork in the path, which gave the old fella some bother, and some more muttering and cursing, but we kept straight ahead, ignoring the right turn, to a farm, where all those nooks and crannies to sniff out were a definite bonus.
Before we reach the road there’s a stile, and perhaps some really choice muddy bits before we set off uphill. A perfect chance for another race to get my revenge on Dylan. Again, I’m not going to say who won, but suffice to say my Olympic dreams need some work!
At the top of the hill go through a metal kissing gate and the spire of Tanworth-in-Arden church comes into view. You’d think it would be plain sailing from here, but the old fella still had some dodgy moments to come.
The path is easy enough to follow but we came across a field of beans which completely flummoxed him. We went around the right edge and around the top but still managed to find the footpath marker post with its yellow top. More adventurous souls may well have charged straight across the field.
At the marker we go through a metal gate, turning left, past a conifer wood, some wooden garden fences and back to Tanworth, and the pub. Thankfully for the old fella we dogs could keep him company in the bar while he sipped his beer and wondered where it had all gone wrong....