By Margaret Maughan
Welcome to Avon Dassett.
What better way to take some exercise, get to know the area and perhaps meet some of your fellow villagers than getting out and about in our beautiful local countryside?
I’ve put together a couple of my favourite very local walks; they are fairly easy and include cross-country as well as road walking so, hopefully, there will be something to suit everyone. I’ve suggested a few diversions to the main walks if you want to extend them further, however the basic walks are each a little over 3 miles long. The routes I have chosen do not stray from public footpaths, permissive routes or highways; I hope you find them a useful basic guide to the area. The walks can be found in both Ordnance Survey Explorer 206 and Landranger 151 maps which, of course, give you access to the extensive network of footpaths in our area.
I always walk with my dog Charlie; suffice it to say that these walks are dog friendly provided your pooch is sufficiently agile to jump stiles (or sufficiently light to be lifted over them!). Much of our local countryside is livestock farmland and, therefore, stock-proofed. Please ensure that your dog is under close control when crossing farmland. Please respect the countryside and abide by dog fouling byelaws; I’ve indicated where dog waste bins are available. Also, it goes without saying that, depending on seasonal weather conditions, you should be prepared for a little mud, so appropriate footwear is advisable!
You might want to find out a little more about the local landmarks mentioned. A good place to start is by visiting our village website.
AVON DASSETT TO FARNBOROUGH HALL AND BACK AGAIN
1. Begin at the Reading Room, cross the road heading down the village and turn left at the public footpath marker between Post Box Cottage and St Anne’s Cottage. Follow the public footpath signs, keeping to the right of the large barn up ahead.
2. Go through the farm gate and straight on over the stile. Follow the footpath – a post marker leads diagonally left up the hill. (Look back at a splendid view of Avon Carrow below.)
3. At the top of the hill, cross the next stile and go straight ahead (your path is lined by gorse and bramble). Both the terraced landscape and ridge & furrow ploughing at the foot of this field give clues as to its former agricultural use. Go straight on, keeping the top field boundary to your left, cross a stile leading through a crop field and pass through this over the next stile and into the next crop field.
4. From here the footpath leads diagonally to the left down towards the road. Before descending, take a moment to look at the ‘fortress-style’ hedgerows of The National Trust’s Farnborough Hall gardens.
5. At the bottom of the hill, cross a wooden foot-bridge, go over a stile and turn left onto the C113 Dassett Road (known locally as Farnborough Lane). Continue along this lane.
6. Ignoring the right-hand lane, a few yards further on to your left go over a stile, which leads into Farnborough Hall woodland. Take the left path and, with farmland on your left side, cross a wooden foot-bridge. Keep on until you climb some rustic steps and emerge from the wood to the lakeside.
7. Turn right (noting the fallen tree etched with the date ’16/01/07′ as a reminder of the severe storms of that night) and follow the lake path until you cross a bridge, leaving the woodland edge and emerging into an area of grassland. (Note: dog waste bin at the woodland car park.)
8. Diversion: A formal visit to The National Trust’s Farnborough Hall and gardens or, as a cost-free alternative, take time to explore the woodland surrounding the Hall’s lake.
9. Our route keeps the lake to our left, crossing a small foot-bridge and along the ditch. At the end of the ditch, with farm buildings straight ahead, take a sharp left (still keeping the lake to the left). Follow the track through the woods emerging at a crop field – see NT bridle path sign – and carry straight on to the road, observing the reed bed sited at the lake’s edge to your left.
10. At the road turn left, cross the road bridge over the lake feeder stream, past Dassett Fields (on your left) and continue up the lane taking in farmland views to both sides of the hedgerows.
11. Follow the lane then turn left over the stile at the first road-side property (Crandon House).
12. Diversion: Take the permissive route stile on the right side of the lane (opposite our stile) and follow footpath signs to Fenny Compton.
13. On crossing the Crandon House stile at Shooter’s Hill, follow the footpath signs past a large hollow to the exit stile. Pass through a narrow track (with a copse to the left and a small lake to the right) and go through the farm gate at the end of the track. Note: this field is the summer home of a bull, half a dozen cows and their young!
14. Keep the boundary fence to your right, walk up the hill and turn right, crossing a stile to leave the field.
15. Cross the lane and turn sharp left, passing between manicured Leylandii hedges. Continue along this footpath and descend alongside St John’s cemetery, emerging at the road at Church Hill.
16. Turn left past St John the Baptist Church; follow the road-side path leading into the village, past the Old School on your right. The Reading Room is a few yards further down the road on the right.
THREE CHURCHES WALK
1. We start at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in the heart of the village of Avon Dassett. Cross the road (where you will find a dog waste bin) heading in the direction of The Avon pub, and turn into Park Close. Go to the end of the Close, through a field gate, and into the field (signposted as part of the Centenary Way).
2. You will see the stile to the next field up ahead but take a moment to look to your right at Bitham Hall.
3. Cross the stile and take the footpath diagonally to the right across a crop field, then along the field boundary to the next stile.
4. Over the stile, keeping the hedgerow to your right, there is an excellent view of the Edge Hill escarpment on the left. Continue along the field boundary (passing some farm outbuildings on your right) and cross a wooden bridge which takes you over a ditch and then over the next stile.
5. Still keeping the field boundary to your right, go straight ahead over a stile, which leads immediately to a foot-bridge crossing a small stream. Cross the bridge and join the next crop field. Note: If the field has just been ploughed it can be difficult to find your way here as it is not possible to see the exit stile from the field entrance. Walk straight ahead towards the opposite tree line, keeping the coppice up ahead to your left. If you’re in luck, the route is usually well worn!
6. Pop over the next stile, which is followed immediately by a pedestrian gate, and cross this livestock field diagonally right. Up ahead, you can now see All Saints Church, Burton Dassett.
7. Go through the pedestrian gate where the footpath cuts the corner of the next field, leading to another stile & gate arrangement. Keep to the footpath (with the farm buildings on your left) and go through a gate, which is immediately followed by a stone barrier, which leads into All Saints churchyard.
8. Walk past the Church – or take time to have a look around – go through the gate and past the signpost ‘Avon Dassett 1 1/4 miles’. This is the distance covered so far! .
9. Head along the road, past the stone well to your right, walking in the direction of the Burton Dassett Hills. Passing the enclave of Burton Dassett, enter the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park (via the gate or the cattle grid between Hartshill Cottage and Lower Cottage).
10. Diversion: Take time to explore the country park. Note: dog waste bins are provided near the main car park at the heart of the Hills.
11. The route for our walk, however, clips the edge of the country park, keeping Lower Cottage’s field boundary to your right, climbing a fairly steep incline to exit the park through a pedestrian gate or cattle grid next to the White House B&B.
12. Walk along the lane (about a mile) past Caudle Hill Farm and later past the old red brick barn on your left. At the staggered cross-roads (Fenny Compton to the left, Farnborough straight across, and Avon Dassett to your right) follow the sign-post ‘Avon Dassett 3/4 mile’.
13. Diversion: If you want to extend the walk you could head towards Farnborough at this point and explore the numerous public footpaths clearly signposted.
14. We turn right, taking the road alongside the nursery to Avon Dassett. At Top Lodge, descend the footpath at Church Hill leading to St John the Baptist Church.
15. Past St John’s, with The Old Rectory to the left, we return to the heart of Avon Dassett.