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THE countryside between Worcester and Pershore is mostly intensively farmed, but a fair amount of woodland survives just to the south of Hawbridge, much of it belonging to the Croome Estate.
Sadly, access is minimal as the woods have very few public footpaths. However, there’s still a good chance of seeing the roe deer which live in the woods as they often venture into neighbouring fields, which are fairly well supplied with footpaths.
Unlike red and fallow deer, roe don’t live in herds, so look out for individuals or small family groups.
A new wood was planted at Windmill Hill about 20 years ago with a range of native species, including oak, birch, field maple, guelder rose and wayfaring tree.
As its creation was grant-aided by the Forestry Commission there is full public access, and it’s worth exploring this attractive site, which is bordered by a brook and veteran willow trees.
More tree-planting was carried out earlier this month when villagers planted a boundary hedge at the churchyard in Stoulton, using trees donated by the Woodland Trust as part of a nationwide project to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The trust hopes that six million trees will be planted as a tribute to the Queen.
Start: Hawbridge, a hamlet situated on a loop off the B4084 Pershore road, a little way south of Stoulton, grid ref SO906492.
Length: Seven miles/11km.
Maps: OS Explorers 190 and 204, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Pasture, arable, woodland, no noticeable hills.
Footpaths: Mostly excellent, except that waymarking is absent in several places.
Parking: Roadside, north of fusion brasserie, Hawbridge.
Buses: First 550/551, Mon-Sat; Diamond 166 Sun/bank hols; alight at fusion brasserie; for more information, visit the website worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or call 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Fusion brasserie (formerly the Bird in Hand) at Hawbridge, The Old Oak at Drakes Broughton.
1 Take a footpath which leaves the road opposite the car park of fusion brasserie. Cross a paddock to the main road and cross to another path almost opposite which soon enters an arable field.
Bear right to enter a long, narrow pasture and turn left along the edge. Walk the length of the pasture, ignoring branching paths.
Go through a gate at the far end and turn left along a field edge then left again at the next corner, along a green lane. Turn right on another path (not waymarked) after 100m. Follow it to
Stoulton, going through the churchyard to the main street.
2 Turn right, joining the Millennium Way, which is easily followed through fields, under the railway, through more fields and across an orchard to meet a bridleway at Lower Wolverton Farm. Leave the Millennium Way here, turning right on the bridleway. Follow it along two sides of the orchard to return to the field you just crossed, and then turn left into another field. Keep to the left-hand edge.
When you come to a hedge corner continue across the field, heading towards a railway bridge visible ahead. After 100m, leave the bridleway and turn right on a footpath. There is no sign of it on
the ground but you’ll see trackside notices indicating another railway crossing-point, so head for this.
3 Cross the railway then turn right in the next field. Walk along the base of a wooded bank until it bends right, then go diagonally left across the field to a gate. Cross a brook and another field then turn left along the edge of the arable field which you crossed earlier on the Millennium Way. Return to the long, narrow pasture and walk along the lefthand edge until you come to a bridge which takes you into a young wood. Walkers are welcome here so feel free to explore, but end up at the top left corner. If you want to go directly to this point, keep to the public footpath which runs along the edge.
4 Go straight on after leaving the wood in the top corner, and straight on again at Windmill Hill Farm, passing several houses as you follow Windmill Lane to the main road. Turn right, then cross to another path. After a few metres a stile gives access to a field. Walk along the right-hand edge to a fence corner then turn right. Walk to a gateway then turn left along the field edge, without going through the gateway. Cross a footbridge in the next corner and turn right along another field edge.
Cross a footbridge to a junction and turn left. Cross another footbridge and follow a clear path to Stonebow Road at Drakes Broughton. Turn right.
5 Take the next path on the right, along a field edge. After about 400m you’ll come to a field/woodland corner. Leave the field edge and proceed to the far side, then turn round and walk along the right-hand field edge.
Keep straight on in the next corner, along a well-trodden path which leads back to Stonebow Road. Turn right to the B4084, turn right again and cross to another footpath which is easily followed to
Caddicroft Farm. Turn right just before the farm, keep straight on at a junction and walk to Chevington Lane. The path continues opposite.
6 Keep straight on at a crosspath (not waymarked) then turn right at the next junction, just before a brook which borders Deerfold Wood.
Follow the path to a lane, turn left then take the next path on the right, which goes left across a field. Cross a driveway and follow the footpath across another field, keeping close to the left edge. Go through an unmarked gate (take care, as it hangs from twine, not hinges) at the far side. Go straight on at a staggered cross-path then cross a stile on the right, rejoining the Millennium Way, which is easily followed to Hawbridge.