AVERY pleasant stretch of the Worcester and Birmingham canal features in this walk, along with a short stretch of the partly restored Droitwich canal.

Away from the canals, a delightful loop from Dunhampstead Bridge to Shernal Green Bridge includes a ridge-top walk past Trench Wood, part of which is a nature reserve belonging jointly to Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation.

The parts of Trench Wood included in this walk are private, with no public access other than rights of way. Walkers wanting to visit the nature reserve should go further down Trench Lane to gain access. Trench Wood used to have a population of nightingales but they no longer breed here, although other summer migrant warblers still do along with typical woodland species such as woodpecker and nuthatch.

At Saleway a house called Curlew Call provides a clue to the sort of landscape that lies ahead – damp, low-lying meadows with a scattering of pools, bounded to the north-east by Dean Brook. Like the nightingale, the curlew has become scarce and you’d be lucky to see or hear one at Saleway now but you should see other species, including grey herons, which often stand completely motionless in the meadows for long periods, seemingly oblivious to the sheep grazing all around them.

Large flocks of mallards frequent Dean Brook and neighbouring meadows, while swans may be seen on a nearby pool. A pair of buzzards is in residence too.


Start: Hanbury Wharf, on B4090 east of Droitwich, grid reference SO921629.

Length: Six miles/9.5km.

Maps: OS Explorer 204, OS Landranger 150.

Terrain: Canal towpaths, fields and woods. No hills.

Footpaths: Mostly excellent but some in the Saleway/Dean Brook area need improving.

Stiles: 11.

Parking: Hanbury Wharf.

Buses: Bus 144 or train to Droitwich, then Flexilink 940, Mon-Sat only – this service must be pre-booked on 08456 077077 (open 7am-5pm, Mon-Fri); worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Eagle and Child at Hanbury Wharf, Fir Tree Inn at Dunhampstead.


1 Join the Droitwich Canal towpath and walk towards Droitwich. After a short distance the path drops quite steeply – at this point you should start looking for a place where you can squeeze through the hedge to join the roadside footway. Continue towards Droitwich until you see the Wychavon Way signposted on the other side of the road. Follow it across fields to a T-junction and turn right towards Hadzor. As you approach Court Farm you have a choice of routes – you can take a path which goes diagonally through the farmyard or you can stay on the Wychavon Way, which takes a less direct route, skirting the farm and then turning left past Hadzor Open Space (a sort of village green) to meet a lane.

2 Keep straight on past Court Farm into the village. Soon after passing the Old Manor take a footpath on the left and walk to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Cross Hammond’s Bridge (32), descend to the towpath and turn left, soon passing under Shernal Green Bridge. As you approach Dunhampstead Tunnel the towpath leaves the canal and climbs slightly to meet a track.

Turn left, then turn right after Tunnel Farm. Keep straight on when you come to a junction.

3 Pass under bridge 30 then join a road. Turn right walking past the Fir Tree Inn before taking a footpath on the right just before the railway. Follow it into a field then turn left and cross the railway with care. Walk straight through woodland, ignoring branching paths and climbing slightly. Cross a stile to a field and go straight on along the edge of Trench Wood on a ridge-top path with good views.

When you come to the end of the wood keep straight on across the ridge-top to a much larger block of woodland (this is also Trench Wood). Proceed along the inner edge of the wood.

4 Ignore a path branching right and continue forward for a few more paces until you can join a path branching left. The line of the path is unclear but just head for the far side of the wood and you should soon find you’ve joined a wide, deeply rutted track. Follow it to a gate and walk straight across a field to Trench Lane. Turn left.

5 Take the first path on the right. If you have a dog with you please make sure, for its own safety, that it is now on a lead. Walk along field edges then past a garden to a lane.

Turn left, then shortly take a path on the right at Curlew Call. Cross a driveway to a field then follow the right-hand edge to a stile and go straight on along the edge of a wood. Ignore a path branching right by a pool and continue along the woodland edge until a stile gives access to a field. Go straight across towards a footbridge at the far side.

6 Stop just before you reach the bridge and turn left through a gate. Walk the length of a narrow pasture, with Dean Brook on your right. Climb over a broken stile at the far side, then cross the next field to a slippery footbridge and stile giving access to the railway.

Cross it with great care and descend to a footpath junction.

Cross another stile and turn right across Dean Brook, briefly joining the Wychavon Way. This soon turns right to pass under the railway – don’t go with it but turn left instead, walking through fields and along a farm drive to a lane.

Turn left to Shernal Green Bridge, then follow the canal towpath to Hanbury Wharf.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 204.

Please note this walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be accurate at the time of publication. No responsibility is accepted by either the author or publisher for errors or omissions, or for any loss, accident or injury, however caused.