THIS is a lovely and very varied walk, including two canals and the fine parkland which surrounds the National Trust’s Hanbury Hall.
There are panoramic views from Oxpasture Bank and Middle Hill and glimpses of secluded Mere Hall, which is possibly the most spectacular house in Worcestershire.
Start: Droitwich Canals Gateway Park, on B4090 between Droitwich and Hanbury Wharf; grid ref SO915631.
Length: 10 miles/16km.
Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150.
Footpaths: Most are excellent but waymarking is absent in places.
Terrain: Pasture, parkland, arable and woodland; a few brief slopes but mostly flat.
Parking: Droitwich Canals Gateway Park.
Public transport: Bus 144 or train to Droitwich (daily), then WCC services 151/158/354 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – or walk the short distance from Droitwich, using the canal towpath; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Vernon Arms at Hanbury, Eagle and Sun near Hanbury Wharf, National Trust café at Hanbury Hall.
1 Climb steps to the rugby club access road and turn left, then take a footpath on the right and follow it across two fields, as waymarked. Cross the access road/bridleway to Westfields Farm and keep roughly straight on along the footpath, walking past farm buildings before crossing two fields, the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the railway. Beyond the railway, follow a field-edge track and ignore a path branching left.
At the end of the field cross a track and go diagonally left across Summer Hill to the top corner of Summerhill Wood.
2 Walk uphill in the next field, pass to the right of a pond at the top then proceed as waymarked, to the far corner of Lady Wood, which is on your right. Proceed to a gate and footbridge in the hedge ahead and then turn left along a field edge. Turn right in the next corner and walk to a road. Take another path on the left and walk across Hanbury Park. Pass in front of Hanbury Hall and through a gate with five differently coloured waymarks on it. Continue a little further to a waymarked post ahead and turn right, following a fence to a stile. Proceed to the road and cross to a path opposite, which is easily followed through four fields to Pumphouse Lane.
3 Turn left and keep straight on at all junctions until you have passed Carters Hill House. Take the next footpath on the right and go diagonally left across a field, cross a track then go along the left edge of a field, across a paddock, along a passageway, straight through a residential development then along a driveway to meet Salt Way (B4090). Turn left past the Vernon Arms, crossing the Bromsgrove road (B4091), then take a path on the left just before a garage. Go along the edge of the forecourt, through a gate and across a garden. If you feel uncomfortable going through the garden you will have to walk for 500m along Salt Way instead, but there’s no footway.
4 Assuming you have walked through the garden, then turn left along a field edge and walk the length of the field. Turn right in the corner and walk to the top of Oxpasture Bank. Turn right across a stile and walk along the top edge of a wood to return to Salt Way.
Cross over and turn left, then turn right on the Park Farm access road. After 500m you will come to a path junction: turn right beside a hedge (don’t be put off by the apparent lack of waymarks – they’re concealed within the hedge) on a poor-quality field-edge path. Keep to the left edge of the next field then turn right at the far side. Walk to the top of a slight hill, go through an open gateway and descend by the left edge of the next field. Turn right at the bottom to follow the hedge to the righthand corner. Cross a stile then turn left over another.
5 Walk along a field edge and then across a footbridge in the corner. Pass through a strip of woodland into a large meadow and turn left, heading towards a prominent, round-topped, treecovered hill (Madam’s Hill) and a line of lime trees to the right of it.
As you get closer you’ll see a stile ahead so walk towards that, adjusting your course if necessary.
Cross into another meadow and continue in much the same direction, ignoring a footbridge on the left. Cross the Mere Hall access road and follow a hedge to a road.
Turn left, then take the first path on the right, which is also the access road to Upper Goosehill Farm. Stay on the road when it bends right at a junction.
6 Pass Harding’s Knapp then turn left towards The Croft. There’s no waymarking but walk a little way along the driveway and you’l find access to a well-made path across a field. Having crossed the field, pass through a strip of woodland and climb over a fence into a meadow. Cross to a stile at the far side, at the right-hand corner of Goosehill Wood. Follow the northern edge of the wood, going through a gate on the left to follow its north-western edge. Cross Goosehill Lane and proceed along the edge of Little Goosehill Wood.
7 At the far end of the wood turn right and cross fields to Hay Lane.