YOU’RE unlikely to find Spindle Wood marked on a map – but it’s a wonderful place which is freely open to walkers.
It was created by planting trees on several former fields and demonstrates just how successful such woodland creation can be.
Its age and structure are varied because the original field boundaries remain within the young wood, and contain many veteran oak and willow trees.
The new planting includes lots of the eponymous spindle tree, with spectacular pink and orange fruits in autumn. There are also wetland areas, brooks, large ponds, a good network of paths and a couple of picnic tables.
Some brilliantly creative sculptures by Roger Jackson also live in Spindle Wood – look out, in particular, for Tyrannobear and Teddy-o-saurus. You’ll see them if you take the route through the wood described here.
FACTFILE Start: Monkwood Green, between Hallow and Wichenford, northwest of Worcester. Grid ref SO801601.
Length: Five miles/8km.
Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Flat pasture, arable and woodland.
Footpaths: Most are good but some require improvement.
Parking: Monkwood Green.
Buses: Astons 308/309/310 Mon- Sat; 308 serves Monkwood Green, while 309/310 go along Martley Road and will stop at Kenswick Manor or Hill Farm driveway (point six); worcestershire.gov.uk/ bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Fox Inn, Monkwood Green.
1 Walk along the southern edge of Monkwood Green, towards Hallow.
At the eastern end of the green cross a farm drive to join a footpath, passing to the left of a barn then continuing straight on across a field.
Cross an overgrown footbridge and stiles then go to the far left corner of the next field. Cross another overgrown stile then proceed along the next field edge. At the far side, ignore a path branching left and continue forward to cross a wobbly stile into another field. After 200m there’s a stile on the left, which is your cue to turn right, but the path is over-cropped with maize. Use it if you can, or continue a little further along the edge to find an alternative path.
Head for what initially looks like one large oak tree at the far side (it’s actually three trees) then keep straight on to reach a gate.
2 Don’t go through the gate; turn right instead. Ignore a path branching left and follow the field edge to a lane. Turn left, ignore a bridleway on the right (broken fingerpost) but take the next footpath (no fingerpost) at a stile. Bear left through a field, cross a stile in the hedge and go diagonally right across the next field to a stile roughly opposite Moseley Farm. Cross another field to meet a bridleway and turn right, then turn left on a lane at Shoulton House Farm. Ignore branching footpaths but go right when the lane forks by Shoulton Cottage.
3 Take a path on the right, opposite the Old Dovecote. A stile soon gives access to Spindle Wood, and a sign indicates that walkers are welcome.
Go past the site of a dried-up pond to reach a junction and turn right, mostly walking by the woodland edge. When you come to a barn, walk round it to regain the woodland edge.
Turn left when you reach a pool and walk around three sides of it before passing through a gap in the trees, with a large willow on your right.
Proceed past a fairly open area, with young willow trees. Reaching a corner, cross a brook at a living bridge cleverly made from a prostrate but still flourishing willow, and turn right.
4 When you reach a tractor shed, look for a narrow path through the trees on the left. Follow it to a major junction by a large oak and turn left to find a clearing where there’s a veteran oak and some of Roger Jackson’s sculptures. Turn right to a picnic table and two large oaks, then left on a wide path which leads back to the brook. Turn right, then go through a gate to find another pool.
Go to the left to walk round three sides of it then turn left through willow coppice to a hedge corner, where stepping stones over the brook give access to a gate to Green Street.
5 Two footpaths are signed opposite.
Take the one that goes to the right.
Keep to the field edge until a waymark directs you across the field.
The line of the path is unclear so look for two tall trees close together at the far side and head towards the one on the right. A footbridge beneath the tree provides access to a huge field.
Go diagonally across it to Martley Road. The path meets the road opposite Kenswick Manor, the grounds of which are filled with trees.
Head towards these trees, specifically towards a flat-topped pine and a mistletoe-covered poplar. You should be aiming well to the right of some highly visible fencing and traffic signs. As you get closer you’ll see a stile and fingerpost.
6 Cross the road and turn right past Kenswick Manor on a wide verge, then cross back again after 300m to take the Hill Farm driveway. Turn right when you come to a junction near Kenswick Substation. Go along a field edge then into a young wood.
Turn right, then second left to walk along the woodland edge. Cross a footbridge at the far side then cross an arable field to a gate. Go straight on, passing to the left of Greenstreet Farm to a junction with a bridleway.
Stay on the footpath, going diagonally across two fields then keeping close to the right-hand edge in two more. Turn right across a brook, proceed to an overgrown stile and turn left to Monkwood Green.
Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 204.