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IN THE Middle Ages, Feckenham was the administrative centre for the royal forest of Feckenham, growing into a thriving town while nearby Redditch was just a village.
But the forest has gone, and Feckenham is a village again today, though one of considerable interest and charm, with some lovely old houses and a pleasant green known as The Square.
It makes a good starting point for this delightful walk which uses tree-lined green lanes such as Burial Lane, Trickses Lane and Poplars Lane to link nature reserves and unspoilt pastoral farmland currently bursting with May blossom, buttercups and cuckoo flowers.
There are superb views from Callow Hill, embracing almost all of Worcestershire as well as parts of neighbouring counties.
Start: The Square, Feckenham, grid ref SP009615.
Length: Seven miles/11km.
Maps: OS Explorer 220, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Farmland and woodland; a few slopes but no real hills.
Footpaths: Mostly excellent.
Stiles: 21, and one locked gate.
Parking: Public car park, Feckenham.
Buses: Only three buses serve Feckenham: 158 at 0924 from Droitwich on Wednesdays, 151 at 0939 from Droitwich on Fridays and 152 at 0932 from Pershore on Mondays.
You can go via Redditch and start at Walkwood; the 350 goes direct to Redditch (infrequent, Mon-Sat) and there are other services (Mon-Sat) via Kidderminster (295/303 then X3), Bromsgrove (144 then X3/142/143) or Evesham (550/551 then 247).
From Redditch, services 55/56 serve Callow Hill Lane every 20 minutes Monday-Saturday.
Redditch-Evesham bus 247 is a useful alternative, daily, as it serves Evesham Road, only a short walk from Callow Hill Lane. Visit worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or call 0871 2002233.
Refreshments: Feckenham and Elcock’s Brook.
1 Walk through The Square then take Mill Lane and fork right at the entrance to the Old Mill House.
Keep straight on along a bridleway, ignoring a branching footpath and passing the mill pond before crossing a footbridge. Bear right uphill. Arriving at a junction marked by a fingerpost, turn right on another bridleway, signed to Cruise Hill. The bridleway (Burial Lane) starts off as a green lane, becomes a field-edge track for a while and then reverts to a green lane. Ignore all branching footpaths, eventually meeting Cruisehill Lane at Cruise Hill.
2 Turn left, then left again on another bridleway (Trickses Lane). Turn right after 400m, between Meadow Cottage and Bradgate Cottage. Return to Cruisehill Lane and turn left to a crossroad. Turn right on Sillins Lane, signed to Webheath and Redditch. Keep straight on past Hamgreen Lane, then turn left on Norgrove Lane. After 75m take a path on the right, following an oak avenue across pasture.
The path runs to the left of the oaks at first, but towards the end of the avenue it moves slightly to the right, beside a brook running beneath the trees. Soon after this point you’ll cross a stile to join the Monarch’s Way. Ignore another path on the right and keep straight on, following the Monarch’s Way through several fields to a track.
Turn right to Green Lane, and right again to find a sign for Morton Stanley Park and Walkwood Coppice Local Nature Reserve.
3 You can take whatever route you choose through the park and nature reserve, so this is just one suggestion – entering the park, turn right past a building to find access to woodland. Keep close to the woodland edge for a while before climbing steps to head deeper into the wood. Keep straight on at all junctions to the far side of the wood where the path enters the park.
Keep straight on by the outer edge of Walkwood Coppice.
Towards the end of the coppice, with the main road and a large car park visible ahead, turn right into Walkwood Coppice and bear left, skirting a pool then climbing to a bench. Either go to the right to walk through the coppice, or go to the left to leave the coppice, turning right along its edge (Morton Lane), back on the Monarch’s Way. If you go through the coppice you should emerge near the end of Morton Lane. Either way, proceed to Callow Hill Lane.
4 Turn right and then cross to a footpath (still the Monarch’s Way). Waymarked and welltrodden, it is very easily followed: briefly uphill, then downhill, left along a green lane, left past Lovelyne Farm, through woods and flowering meadows and finally down to Blaze Lane. Turn right, then leave the Monarch’s Way, which turns left. Instead, stay on the lane past Chapel House Farm Barns then take the next path on the left. Go diagonally across a meadow to the far side and turn left along Blaze Lane.
5 Take a path at a stile on the left and follow the right-hand field edge to a gate, just before the corner. Go into the adjoining field and follow a well-trodden path back to Blaze Lane, passing a wetland nature reserve which has been developed around Wixon Brook.
Turn left at the lane, proceed to a junction with Crofts Lane and go straight on along a field-edge path opposite.
Arriving at a junction, cross a stile and go the left. Climb over a gate in the next corner and go straight across a field to the far side. Turn right along a byway, Poplars Lane.
Cross Astwood Lane and take Rock Hill Lane. After 100m, take a path at an overgrown stile on the right.
Walk straight across several fields to Feckenham. Turn left to The Square.
Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 220.