Coventry & District

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Real Ale Rambles

REAL ALE RAMBLE 298 Saturday 19 June

UPPER AND LOWER SMITE 7 miles & 2 pubs

As this is 7 miles and includes what passes for hills in Warwickshire, I do not recommend this walk for the aged or infirm.

This month hopefully we can return to our exploration of the ancient landscape of Warwickshire, after a gap of a year or so. We meet at the Raven at Brinklow at 12 noon. If people don’t like the slope on the car park at the Raven an alternative is the car park attached to the playing fields and doctor’s surgery in Barr Lane.

At 12.30 we can set off from the Raven and walk down Barr Lane to enter countryside. We cross a field and go right after a footbridge. The we follow the hedgerow on our right until we meet a bridleway and charming little packhorse bridge that carries us over Smite Brook to Smeaton Lane. One of my favourite hidden places!

Across Smeaton Lane we turn onto Colehurst Lane, which takes us over the canal and railway. Approaching Coombe Fields Farm we take a gate on the left leading to the top of a hill with great views. We follow the track as it becomes a footpath and then joins another track to cross the motorway. Then field paths take us past the site of Upper Smite and Mobbs Wood.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPPER SMITE

Dugdale (1631) : ‘……… I come now to certain pasture grounds, called by the name of Over Smite, and Nether Smite, where antiently ……. villages bearing the name stood, the depopulation whereof hath been very antient, it seems, for the vestigia of the towns are scarce now discerned.’

Historic England: ‘This village was depopulated during the foundation of Combe Abbey in 1150, so it is Warwickshire’s earliest recorded depopulated medieval village. The old parish name is preserved in the place names Smite Brook, Smeeton Lane and Smite Hill. Traces of ponds exist with farmsteads and enclosures. The monks subsequently developed the site as a grange, or farm, and the surviving earthworks are believed to relate to the period of the monastic estate.’

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A left turn brings us to the access road for Mobbs Wood Farm. Along this path we pass a pond, Mobbs Wood Cottage, over the railway and canal and past Nettle Hill. At the end of the access road we turn left and there is a bit of road walking. At least the verges are quite wide here. Under the motorway we pass Nettle Hill Cottages and walk along the road until we reach a stream. Here a path starts on our right and follows the course of the stream, but the path is not at all obvious. Whilst there are waymarks and a stile at the other end of the path, such facilities have not reached this end. So we have to duck under a strand of wire (fortunately not barbed) and follow tractor tracks to the other side of the field. Here there is a stile, and the next field takes us to another stile and the waymarks.Now we are at Peter Hall, which is all that is left of St Peter’s Church, Lower Smite. I think the buttresses give it away. It would be fascinating to see what other remains there are, especially inside. That would have been a great project for ‘Time Team’. From Peter Hall the path becomes a little more distinct in that field. The village of Lowe Smite stood between the church and Smite Brook.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LOWER SMITE Our Warwickshire: Lower Smite must be associated with the remains of St Peter’s Church incorporated in Peter Hall. There are ‘suspicious markings’ in the field S of Peter Hall, leading down to Smite Brook, although the land is now ploughed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We now head towards a gap in a fence, then the path becomes less distinct again so we head for the middle of what looks like a woodland. It is in fact a row of trees along the course of Smite Brook. Here ther is a farm bridge over the brook and we pass The Grange to reach a road. We pass Walker’s Terrace and where the bridleway begins there is a gate into a field. This path soon takes us back to our start at Barr lane in Brinklow. Here we can sample the delights of the Raven and White Lion before breaking up at the end of our day out.

FUTURE EXPEDITIONS

REAL ALE RAMBLE

Sat July 19 TACKLEY

Meet at Greyhound, Sutton Stop

Copies of the walks are available at Beer Gonzo, Earlsdon.

SUNDAY LUNCH WALKS - in conjunction with the Health Development Service of Coventry City Council.

These walks all start at 12 noon. Copies of these walks can be obtained from Beer Gonzo in Earlsdon, or for more details contact moc.liamg@ttekculfg>

SUNDAY LUNCH WALK 98 Sunday 4th July 2021

LAWFORD MILLS 4 miles

Some parts can be muddy after rain

Recommencing our theme of industrial history after a gap of goodness knows how long we visit two mills on the River Avon. One is just a few brick piers and a pile of rusting machinery beside the river; the other is now converted to cottages.

We meet at the OLD SMITHY in Church Lawford at 12 noon, either inside or out or in the lane alongside depending on covid regulations!. At 12.30 we set off along the lane past ancient cottages, through crofts and orchards with views of the old church tower at Newnham Hall, down to the river. Here a footbridge crosses to the old mill on the opposite bank. This mill was mentioned in Domesday Book, in 1291 and 1508, and is thought to have closed around 1924. You can still make out the mill leat, bits of masonry and big lumps of rusty machinery. Within my memory a number of millstones were taken for use in Wellesbourne mill.

From the old mill we go right and walk round the river terrace to join a path from Kings Newnham. We go through a field passing round a depression which represents old lime workings dated to about 1900. Here we look over a cottage called ‘Siloam’ which was previously ‘The Wells’. This cottage was built on the site of three medicinal springs, providing water which was of milky colour, diuretic and said to be good for kidney stones. Dr Bailey, physician to Queen Elizabeth I attributed the springs’ discovery to a labouring man, who having wounded his hand while felling trees was cured by the waters. A John Gifford came here for two weeks for his health in both 1581 and 1587. There is also a reference to ‘the famous spring of medicinal water, commonly called the Bathe Well’ in 1699. The baths then seem to have fallen into disuse before being restored in 1857. In 1892 Kelly’s Directory said ‘There is a bath here of some celebrity, the water of which is impregnated with lime, and is said to be efficacious in the cure of rheumatism and dyspepsia, and at the beginning of the 17th century was much frequented.’

We emerge onto Little Lawford Lane and go right to pass the house that is surrounded by Brown’s Spinney. Then we turn right into the lane towards Long Lawford. Here we pass the somewhat odd looking Little Lawford Hall. The original Hall was built in the reign of Henry VII (1489-1503) and stood directly opposite the mill. In 1780 the owner, Sir Theophilus Boughton, was killed by laurel water poisoning at Little Lawford Hall. The murderer was his brother-in-law Captain Donellan, who wanted to inherit the estate. The family demolished the Hall in the 1790’s and moved to other properties in order to escape the unhappy memories; there is supposed to be a ghost. The building now occupied as Little Lawford Hall was originally the stable block.

We now turn left and walk past Little Lawford mill, still standing and converted into cottages. Lawford mill has identical dates to the mill at Kings Newnham, but in this case the buildings survive. The water wheel was removed to ease the flow of the river but the mill continued to be used by the farmer to grind cattle feed, powered by a drive taken from a tractor, into the 1950’s. I have memories of it being used as a barn; now it is an idyllic site for country living.

We follow a track over two river bridges and into Long Lawford. We turn left at the little church to reach the main street.

St John’s church was built in 1839 and has never been extended or renovated. The interior is a rare survival of the furnishings of that date. The village church’s website, www.lawfordlighthouse.org.uk offers ‘Faith Hops and Love’. This certainly attracted my attention. However, it is a typo for ‘Faith Hope and Love’.

In the main street there are two pubs, the LAWFORD ARMS and CALDICOTT ARMS. Hopefully one of them will be open. After half an hour’s rest and refreshment we set off again, through fields towards the tower of St Peter’s church in Church Lawford. St Peter’s was built in the fourteenth century, but so heavily rebuilt in 1874 that little remains of the original. There are some fourteenth century cross slabs built into the tower walls.

From here we return through the final field to the OLD SMITHY.

FUTURE EXPEDITIONS

Aug 1st RADFORD AERODROME Meet at the Pilot, Burnaby Road

These walks all start at 12 noon. Copies of these walks can be obtained from Beer Gonzo in Earlsdon, or for more details contact moc.liamg@ttekculfg