ABBERLEY Hill is the obvious highlight of this walk but the rolling countryside further north, between Abberley and Wyre Forest, is delightful too, especially now that the first signs of spring are so apparent.
The scenic quality of this area is partly dependent on its underlying geology, so look out for two information panels on Abberley Hill which give interesting insights into its geological history.
Start: Abberley. If arriving by car, start at the village hall (grid ref SO746678); if arriving by bus, start by the village shop on the A443 (grid ref SO743674).
Length: Nine miles/14.5km or seven miles/11km (omitting Abberley Hill).
Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 138.
Terrain: Pasture, arable and woodland; mildly hilly.
Footpaths: Some are excellent but others are very poor, especially north-west of Abberley. Waymarking is missing, brambles and nettles are encroaching, some paths have not been reinstated after ploughing and the stiles are dreadful (see below).
Stiles: 27, many of which might more accurately be described as barriers. Most are in poor condition, often without steps or leaning at an angle. Some are ridiculously high, several are partially obstructed by fencing and a few wobble precariously. Several combine two or more of the above features. On the whole, they seem intended to impede access rather than facilitate it. You will also have to climb over a few locked or tied gates.
Parking: Abberley village hall car park.
Buses: Yarrantons’ 758, Mon-Sat only: worcestershire.gov.uk/ bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: There is a pub and shop at Abberley and a pub at Snead Common.
1 From the village hall, walk to the main road, following signs for the village shop. Turn right beside the road. The first footpath is obstructed, both physically (a locked gate) and psychologically (no waymarking) but there’s another, on the right after about 250m. Keep left through two fields then climb over a precarious gate and turn right to a junction. Don’t cross the stile but turn left and walk to St Clairs Farm. Go straight on into the yard then turn right to find a gate. You may have to climb over it. Turn left, with the path now easily followed and soon going diagonally left downhill to enter Ridding Coppice. Bear right to meet a lane near Worles Common.
Turn right and walk to the B4202, meeting it opposite the Bell at Snead Common. Turn left.
2 Cross the road to a footpath and walk through three fields, keeping straight on at a junction.
Meeting a farm access road, cross a stile almost opposite. Turn right through the next field, keeping close to the right-hand edge to pass a bungalow. A succession of waymarked stiles then takes you past Hawkley Farm and straight on through two fields. There are two stiles at the far end of the second field – cross the one on the right. Cross a brook at a footbridge then go to the right. Follow the waymarked path through woodland, above the brook.
3 When you enter a large ploughed field a trodden path continues through the wood, but it is not the right of way, which is easily missed. If there’s any waymarking it’s not readily apparent. The path is supposed to gradually bear away from the wood so that you’re about 200m from the trees as you approach the far side of the field. However, at the time of writing, the path has not been reinstated after ploughing. When you reach the stile don’t cross it but turn round and walk back across the field, going diagonally right (look on the other side of the stile for a waymark indicating the direction). Join a track by the top edge – if you aim to meet it as the brambles which border it start to peter out you’ll be on the right course. Duck under barriers to cross a horse track and then cross a farm track to a stile. Go down a brassica field, slip between the bars of a fence at the bottom and go diagonally left through woodland towards Worsley House.
The final section is seriously overgrown with nettles – not yet a problem, but already the new growth is coming through strongly. Climb over a stile and turn left.
4 There are two paths on the right by Worsley House – take the second one, which bears right across pasture. Go through a gate in the corner and turn left, then cross a brook at a footbridge. Go up the bank into pasture and continue in much the same direction but gradually climbing uphill away from the brook. Head towards trees forming the field boundary and then keep left of them, proceeding to the next field. Keep going in the same direction, again heading towards trees, then left by the field edge. Cross the next stile and continue by the hedge. When you meet an access track go straight on, ignoring all branching paths.
You will soon be walking on the Worcestershire Way, which joins the track from the left. Follow the track to a lane and turn right.
After 200m the Worcestershire Way leaves the lane on the left – go with it, and follow it to Netherton House.
5 If you prefer to take a short, easy route, just go along the lane and fork right when you come to a junction. It’s less than a mile to Abberley village centre. For the longer route stay on the Worcestershire Way, following the frequent waymarkers, which guide you to Shavers End then along the top of Abberley Hill. When you eventually descend to Wyniatts Way the Worcestershire Way goes left, but for Abberley it’s better to turn right. Take another path after about 100m and follow it down to the village centre by the Manor Arms. Turn left along the road to the village hall or bus stop.