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BOTH the river Severn and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal provide green corridors through the city that are obvious and yet rather under-used ways to access the surrounding countryside.
This walk uses the canal to gain access to the farmland sandwiched between Worcester and Droitwich.
The canal itself is an important feature of the walk, with an abundance of locks and bridges along this stretch.
It also offers a far more rural exit from the city than a glance at the map might suggest, with plenty of woodland to block the sight and sound of neighbouring industrial estates.
The walk also provides an opportunity to visit Lower Smite Farm, which is both a working farm and the headquarters of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.
Bird food, leaflets and books are on sale at the farmhouse (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) and there’s a nature trail around the land.
The nature trail is not described in the directions as it is not a right of way and is open only in daylight hours. However, you will see the waymarks which guide visitors around the trail and you may wish to make the short detour.
It includes ponds and woodland, as well as a young orchard of traditional apple varieties with evocative names such as Pitmaston Pineapple and Bright Future. The farm buildings are also of interest and include a 17th century, timber-framed granary that was restored by the trust when it bought the farm.
Start: Perdiswell Park, Bilford Road, Worcester, grid ref SO855571.
Length: 8½ miles/13.5km.
Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150.
Terrain: Canal towpath, pasture, arable; some gentle slopes but no real hills.
Footpaths: There are no problems with the paths used on this walk but some others in the area are very poor (hence the use of Offerton Lane and Smite Lane in point one, instead of adjoining footpaths), so bear this in mind if you intend to vary the given route.
Parking: Perdiswell Park.
Buses: Frequent daily services provided by 31A/31C operating along Bilford Road and 144 along Droitwich Road; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetabl es or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Café at Perdiswell Leisure Centre, pub at Claines.
1 Cross bridge 15 to join the canal towpath by Bilford Top Lock and walk away from the city.
Leave the towpath when you reach Offerton Bridge (number 24, just before Offerton Top Lock and the M5). Follow Offerton Lane to the top of Smite Hill and turn left.
2 Take a path at a stile on the right, at a bend in the lane and go diagonally across a paddock to a stile near the far corner. Go along the left edge of the next field for a little way then through a gate on the left and across a field to the far side. Turn left in Smite Lane, then take a footpath opposite the entrance to Lower Smite Farm.
Walk past a timber-framed granary to a junction then take the path going diagonally right across fields to Pershore Lane. A visible stile gives access to the lane but a concealed gate, a little further on, has replaced it. Walk towards the gate but don’t go throughit.
Instead, turn round and go diagonally left across the field.
3 Meeting Smite Lane at a junction, go straight on, slightly uphill in Brownheath Road. Take the first footpath on the left, which is easily followed through fields.
Keep straight on at a junction with a bridleway, then turn left on a footpath when you come to a stile.
Walk to Pershore Lane, cross over, turn right, and then soon afterwrads left on a footpath to Droitwich Road. Cross over, turn left, and then right att Church Lane. Turn left at a junction, signed
to Martin Church. Walk to a path junction, between the Old Rectory and Martin Court, and go straight on along a path that meets Station Road between Ladywood and Fernhill Heath. Turn left, then
soon right at Kennels Lane. When the lane bends right take a footpath on the left. Follow it to Oak Apple Close, turn left, then right at Station Road.
4 Turn right at Rossendale Close.
At the end of the close keep straight on along a footpath that leads into sheep pasture. Go to the far left corner, then continue across the next field in the same direction until you see an unmarked stile on the left. Cross this and continue to Dilmore Lane.
Turn left and then first right. Join a footpath next to a sign indicating Danes Green Open Space. Keep straight on along a hard-surfaced path that links a network of small grassy areas and ignore
another path branching right. When the path eventually swings sharp left keep straight on through a hedge gap, then turn left. Turn right after a few paces and walk to a lane.
5 Turn left, and then keep straight on at a junction by Orchard Cottage. Turn left at Claines Lane when you reach a Tjunction by St John’s church, then take a fenced path on the right, leading to Claines Cottage. Keep straight on, left of the cottage, into a field. Go straight on then turn left at a junction, after about 200m.
Turn right after a further 350m, aiming for a line of about a dozen tall poplars at the far side of the field. Don’t go through a gate here but turn left along the field edge and walk to Droitwich Road. Cross to a path opposite – it is easily followed across grassland and through woodland bordering Barbourne Brook – then up a bank on the left. Turn right, walking through trees bordering the golf course, to return to your starting point, guided by waymarks and occasional maps.