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THE combination of rounded hills, woods, pastures, orchards and hedgerows is always a winning one, as this lovely walk on the Worcestershire- Herefordshire border demonstrates.
The landscape is dotted with beautiful old farmhouses, some of which have more about them than first meets the eye. Longlands Farm, for instance, is an organic livestock farm with cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and ponies. But it’s also a ‘care farm’, one of a growing network of farms which provide therapy and support for vulnerable people through providing them with meaningful work with animals.
Longlands also offers children with special needs the chance to go riding. Local produce is on sale at the excellent community-run shop in Whitbourne and there is a farm shop at Upper Elmores End (open Thursdays, but check first at elmorefarmfoods.com). Look out for the pigs when you walk past the farm – enormous, but charming, they are a Berkshire- Duroc cross.
Start: Bringsty Common, near a post box on the south side of the A44 at the eastern edge of the common, grid ref SO707553.
Length: 5½ miles/8.8km.
Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 149.
Terrain: Pasture, orchard, arable, woodland; undulating but not steep.
Footpaths: Some are excellent, while some are in need of improvement, but there are no serious problems.
Parking: Bringsty Common.
Buses: Worcester-Hereford 420, daily; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: There is nothing on the actual route but Whitbourne’s shop and pubs are close by (at Meadow Green and Sapey Bridge) and so are Bringsty Common’s café and pub.
1 Take a track at the very edge of the common. Pass a house, turn right, and then go left, soon passing a distinctive house painted yellow. Turn left where waymarked with a red arrow. At an unmarked junction turn left into woodland then turn right at another junction waymarked with a red arrow. Go straight on at the next junction, on a public footpath waymarked with the standard yellow arrows. Follow the path past Foxhall and Little Common, and keep straight on at a waymarked junction. Pass a farmhouse at Lower Elmores End and descend into a valley. Go diagonally right uphill to find a stile to a lane. Turn left.
2 Turn right along a track, waymarked as a ‘Worcestershire Way Circular Walk’. After going through a gate turn left and follow the path to Knightwick Manor. Turn left past the front of the manor and continue across a field, heading towards Ankerdine Hill. After crossing a stile, follow the left edge of the next field, so that you’re now heading towards Woodbury Hill.
Go through a gate at the far side then cut across the corner of the next field to a gate and turn left.
Walk to the A44 and cross to a path opposite. Don’t miss a waymark directing you right after about 500m. Proceed to a lane at Whitbourne.
3 Turn right, then left after a few metres. Go straight on towards Fincher’s Farm when the lane eventually bends right. Ignore a path branching left, keep straight on past the farm then climb over a wobbly stile with a rotten step.
Proceed a short distance to another stile giving access to a brookside path. Ignore another path branching right a little further on.
After a few more metres descend left to cross the brook at a footbridge. Walk uphill along the edge of an orchard, staying very close to the edge so as not to miss the point at which the path leaves the orchard. Follow a waymarked route past a pool and some veteran cherry trees, then left along the edge of a garden to find a stile into pasture. Walk to a lane.
4 Turn left past the Mitchells and Rosemore Grange then take a path on the right. Walk through an orchard and three fields to a junction. Go straight on along a field edge, with a pool on your right. Keep very close to the edge so as not to miss a stile on the right as you approach the far corner.
Turn left through blackthorn trees then cut through a line of willow trees and proceed to a gate on the left. Cross a lane and continue opposite, along a field edge. Ignore a path branching left at a footbridge but take the next left, at another footbridge – it’s easily missed but it’s beneath a tall conifer in an area with lots of thistles. After crossing the bridge go diagonally right, heading uphill past conifers and a large ash tree.
Cross a track and continue in the same direction across pasture.
Pass Longlands Farm, walk between two pools then go left to cross a cattle grid. Turn right at a triangular junction by a horse chestnut tree.
5 Cross another cattle grid then take a footpath on the left. It’s easily followed at first but waymarking is absent further on, as you make your way uphill through a large field. Keep close to the left-hand hedge and go through a gate in a corner when the hedge gives way to a fence. There is a waymark here but it indicates that the route is for toll riders only.
However, it is in fact a public footpath, so don’t be put off. Go along the left edge of the next field.
Ignore a cross-path then head diagonally to cut across a corner, after which a plank footbridge takes you across a boggy patch.
Continue to the next corner then walk past houses and into a field.
The field path starts well but overgrowth means that it’s easily lost – bear right towards a whitepainted house to stay on course.
Proceed to the A44, meeting it almost opposite your starting point.