By Sarah Richardson
These are three of my favourite rides around the village and complement the walking routes on our website. All routes are suitable for walkers and mountain bikers as well as riders. You will often see me riding round the village on my piebald cob, Dassett’s Mr Darcy, and young sports horse, Safari.
All walks start from the playpark in Avon Dassett (on the corner of Farnborough Lane and Lower End). There is a layby there where you can park your lorry or trailer. The Yew Tree serves drinks and food daily. Check their website for up-to-date details: theyewtreepub.co.uk I have also included details of other local pubs on routes.
Farnborough Hall and the Slade
From the playpark, take the lane towards Farnborough.
After a mile or so, you reach the wooded landscape of Farnborough Hall (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farnborough-hall) an eighteenth-century country estate. There is a permitted bridleway across the front of the hall and it makes a nice canter track alongside the lake.
Carry on up the road, either take the second turn left towards Farnborough village, or, for a short detour carry on up the road over a small bridge and take the bridleway up towards St Botolph’s Farnborough’s twelfth-century church – again a nice field for a canter. Either route takes you through the pretty village of Farnborough and past the horse and dog friendly The Kitchen pub (http://www.thekitchenfarnborough.co.uk/)
Heading out of the village towards the A423 Southam-Banbury road, you will ride past a bridleway/gated road sign on your left. Go through the gate and ride diagonally across the field to join the gated road to Fenny Compton. This road is open for traffic but only used by farm machinery and the occasionally dog walker. It has wide verges to canter on.
At the end of the gated road you emerge in the small village of Fenny Compton. You can either join the Burton Dassett Hills ride by turning right towards the village and then left along the track by Woad House, or turn right into the village and visit The Merrie Lion pub (https://www.opentable.co.uk/the-merrie-lion) or turn left and take the road back towards Avon Dassett, making good use of the steep hills for fittening work.
Burton Dassett Hills
From the playpark follow the road into the village of Avon Dassett, passing The Yew Tree on your left hand side. Take the road up the hill, making use of the steep hill for some fittening trot work.
Follow the road past the Burton Dassett crossroads down into the village of Fenny Compton (see the Farnborough Hall and Slade ride for details of The Merrie Lion pub).
Take a left turn up the track to Woad House which turns into a field. This opens into a long bridleway which gradually steepens allowing for along canter or gallop. The bridleway is usually quiet although there may be the odd dog walker present.
Follow the bridleway across another field and small stream to a large hilly field showing signs of medieval houses – long deserted. Again, another field which is great for a good gallop – although avoid the sheep and lambs in the spring!
At the top of the field, go through the hunting gate and turn right towards Burton Dassett Country Park (http://countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk/country-parks/burton-dassett-hills-country-park/) Use the gates at the side of the cattle grids to enter.
You are free to explore the park but I have found keeping to the right hand side of the park avoids most of the dog walkers and kite fliers. There are lots of small hills to canter up and you can take the road down to All Saints, Burton Dassett and visit the medieval wall paintings as a detour.
Return to Avon Dassett by following the road out of the park and turning right at the crossroads which will take you down into the village.
Splash Leys and Edgehill
From the playpark, turn left out of the village, over the motorway bridge towards the B4100. Turn right at the crossroads along the relatively busy road for a quarter of a mile to Splash Leys Farm.
Turn into the farm and immediately into the field on your right (note: the gates can be quite tricky to open on horseback, so be prepared to dismount). The bridleway takes you across a number of open fields, with good ground for cantering or galloping. You will need to negotiate some gates and a narrow footbridge though. This ride is best done with two or more riders!
After passing some farm buildings and a small field you emerge onto a road. Turn left and follow the road to a T junction. Turn left again and you take the steep climb up towards Edgehill. Pass the turn towards Arlescote village on your left and the look out for the entrance to Edgehill woods on your right hand side a few hundred yards further up the hill.
The woods have bridleways running through them and provide natural jumps and canter tracks. Follow the stony bridleway at the end of the woods and emerge in the carpark of The Castle Pub (https://www.castleatedgehill.co.uk/), based on an eighteenth century folly, built to commemorate the battle of Edgehill in the English Civil War.
From the pub you can either turn left and make your way down the hill and take a right turn towards Arlescote and Avon Dassett or turn right and after half a mile take King John’s Lane, a steep bridleway, through some woods into the village of Radway. Turn right at the end of the lane, through the village and at the T junction take a right turn onto the Edgehill road. Turn left at the Arlescote turn and follow the lane back to Avon Dassett.