THIS doesn’t look too promising on the map, which shows all too clearly the encroachment of roads, railways, housing and industry, but in fact it’s a delightful walk and full of interest. Right at the start, St Michael’s Church at Upton Warren is worth a look, especially as the churchyard offers a good view of a former watermill by the river Salwarpe.

From Upton Warren a lovely path leads to Henbrook through young woodland with a good variety of native species, including lots of spindle, which bears vivid pink-and-orange fruits in autumn and winter.

Later in the walk, there is more woodland to enjoy as you cross the estate of the paintbrush manufacturer Harris. The company allows permissive access to woodland and parkland and has also provided a picnic area by the canal at Stoke Wharf.

It’s just a short walk from there to Stoke Prior, where you join a charming bridleway which passes some beautiful houses and provides views of the windmill at Avoncroft Museum.

Take binoculars if you’re into birdwatching as the path from Henbrook to Shaw Lane goes through old orchards visited by green woodpeckers and past pools where wildfowl congregate.

Towards the end of the walk there are glimpses of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Christopher Cadbury Nature Reserve, where more pools and wetlands attract a wide variety of wildfowl and waders.


Start: The Swan at Upton Warren, by the A38; grid ref SO933674.

Length: 6½ miles/10.5km.

Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landrangers 150/139.

Terrain: Flat farmland and woodland.

Footpaths: Most are problem-free but some would benefit from improvement, especially between the two railway lines where overcropping is often an issue.

Stiles: 15, and one fence.

Parking: Roadside at Upton Warren.

Alternatively, start at Astwood Bridge, where there is parking space just after the Shaw Lane/Astwood Lane junction.

Buses: First 144 WorcesterBromsgrove-Birmingham via Upton Warren, daily; visit worcestershire. or call 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Upton Warren, Stoke Wharf and Stoke Heath.


1 Walk along Swan Lane at Upton Warren. When you reach a junction take an unsigned track on the left, opposite Rectory Lane.

Pass a couple of houses, cross an overgrown stile and continue along a tree-lined path. Keep straight on at a junction, past Webbs and through woodland and grassland.

Cross a track and continue through more woodland. Join the A38 when you meet the access track to Little Gains Farm.

2 Cross the A38 and turn left, then take a path at a stile just before Sagebury Cottage. It’s part of the John Corbett Way, waymarked with a raven logo.

Cross another stile into dairy pasture, follow the right-hand edge and climb over a fence next to a padlocked gate. Pass two pools, climb a stile and bear right through the remains of an orchard to pass Sagebury Farm. Cross another stile and go diagonally across another remnant orchard to a stile at the far corner.

3 Turn left in the next field and cross the BirminghamWorcester railway at a footbridge.

Turn left, then after a few metres turn right on an unsigned fieldedge path to the left of a hedge.

After about 200m go through a hedge gap at an easily missed junction. There are two paths going to the left, one by the hedge and another passing obliquely across a field. Both may be overcropped – they certainly were when this route was checked. It doesn’t matter which you take as both lead to Shaw Lane. Turn right on Shaw Lane, then left on Astwood Lane.

4 Keep straight on after crossing Astwood Bridge, ignoring signs for Astwood Fishery, then take the first path on the left. Walk through a field. Entering a second field, turn right after a short distance, gradually drawing closer to the left-hand hedge and following it to the far left corner. Cut across the corner of a third field to find access to a lane. Turn right, then take the next path on the left, opposite Elms Farm.

5 Turn left, crossing the driveway to Weston Hall Barn.

Go through a gate into a field planted with young trees then go across the field, passing close by a house, to an overgrown gate in the far left corner. Turn right along the edge of an old orchard and past fields of goats, pigs and chickens.

Keep straight on to join a farm drive. Once you’ve passed most of the farm buildings bear right at an unsigned junction, with some young trees on your left. Follow the field edge and then continue along a well-defined path to the B4091. Cross over and turn right.

6 Pass the entrance to Appletrees then turn left on a footpath. After 200m look for a junction marked by an easily missed post on the left. Turn left here, joining a permissive path and following it through woodland, then past industrial buildings.

Turn right past the front of the Harris factory and keep straight on along the edge of sports fields then between two belts of woodland to the Leslie Harris Picnic Site by the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Stoke Wharf.

7 Go up to the B4091 and turn right. Follow the road round to the left at the junction with Stoke Pound Lane. Pass Fish House Lane then take a footpath through a churchyard, passing to the right of St Michael’s (Stoke Prior) then straight on to Fish House Lane.

Turn left past Stoke Meadow Cottage, then left on a bridleway.

Pass Needle Mill Cottage and cross the river Salwarpe by some massive poplars, after which the bridleway continues as a tree-lined holloway.

8 Meeting the B4091 again, cross over and turn right, then left on Brickhouse Lane. Walk to the end of the lane and keep straight on along a footpath. Turn right after crossing the Salwarpe again at a footbridge. The path is then easily followed, eventually meeting the A38 opposite Swan Lane