LONG-DISTANCE walking trails proliferate with bewildering frequency these days. Not so long ago, somebody came up with the Shakespeare Way, which claims to follow, as far as possible, the route taken by Shakespeare when he walked from Stratford to London.

Now there is another Shakespeare trail, which has been named Shakespeare’s Avon Way.

This one follows the river Avon for 88 miles, from its source at Naseby in Northamptonshire to its confluence with the Severn at Tewkesbury. The trail was devised by the Shakespeare’s Avon Way Association and has the worthwhile aim of raising awareness of the work of Myton Hospices and raising funds for them through the sale of guidebooks and by encouraging people to obtain sponsorship for walking the trail.

You can sample a short stretch of it on this enjoyable walk in the Vale of Evesham, which begins at Jubilee Bridge.

This is the second Jubilee Bridge on this site built in 1933 to replace a somewhat ramshackle affair (or so old photographs suggest), which was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee. Before the first bridge was built there was a ford there equipped with a watergate, which consisted of gates and sluices set into a weir. This could be used to raise the water level when necessary. The local name for this type of watergate was wyre, as at Wyre Piddle.

Close to the bridge lie Cropthorne and Charlton, which are two attractive villages with many timber-framed houses. St Michael’s Church at Cropthorne is famous for its Saxon cross-head, which is beautifully carved and dates from c800.

Cropthorne Mill, by Fladbury Lock, is an impressive building of c1700, the last of a succession of mills built on this site. It is a popular destination for people making short strolls from Jubilee Bridge.

As you walk between Charlton and Cropthorne you will pass Eoves Wood, which belongs to the Woodland Trust. This is open to the public so feel free to explore or perhaps stop for a picnic. If you wish, you can vary the route described by walking through the wood instead. At the far side you will meet a track which is the same track mentioned in point two. Turn left here to rejoin the route at the start of point three.

However, if you do this you will miss Clark’s Hill, with its semi-wild grassland, scrub and orchards where cowslips bloom from late March. This was originally Clerks’ Hill after the monks of Evesham Abbey who cultivated grapevines here. They may also have planted the first orchards.

Some remaining orchards are still managed for fruit but others have been left to their own devices resulting in thickets of self-seeded plum trees, frothy with clouds of white blossom in spring and providing a useful habitat for wildlife.


Start: Jubilee Bridge between Fladbury and Charlton, grid ref SP001456.

Length: Five miles/8km.

Maps: OS Explorer 205, OS Landranger 150.

Terrain: Mainly pastoral farmland, with no noticeable hills.

Footpaths: Mostly excellent – but see point three.

Stiles: 16. Over half of these can be avoided if you turn right along Yessell Lane at point four, joining the bridleway at Yessell Farm instead of taking the cross-field footpath.

Parking: Jubilee Bridge picnic place.

Buses: 550/551 Monday-Saturday, 166 Sundays/bank holidays; 550/551 travels through Cropthorne and Charlton and along Yessell Lane; the 166 travels along the B4084 so get off at Hampton and walk up Clark’s Hill to join the walk; worcestershire.gov.uk/ bustimetables or 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Gardeners Arms at Charlton.


1Take the lane which leads to Charlton. Turn right at a junction on the edge of the village and then take a path on the left after 100m. Aim for a large, white, plastic disc in a hedge, beyond which the path is easily followed, except where it’s unclear which side of a hedge it runs – it’s the right-hand side. The path leads to the village green at Charlton. Walk the length of the green then take Ryden Lane. Turn right when you come to Brook Lane, then left at The Steps on to The Bight (no through road). Keep straight on at the end of the lane on a field-edge path (Shakespeare’s Avon Way) which runs to Ryden Lane (bridleway).

2Turn right on Ryden Lane, which becomes Red Lane after passing Ryden Farm. Eventually, you will pass Eoves Wood and soon after this you can take a waymarked footpath on the right.

When you come to a tumbledown barn, pass to the left of it, after which the path is easily followed past orchards and through paddocks to reach a track.

3The path continues in much the same direction but appears to have been rerouted to run to the right of the hedge ahead, not to the left of it, as shown on OS maps (typically, there is no waymarking at this point). Pass to the right of a green barn then cross a ploughed field (at the time of writing, the path has not been reinstated after ploughing) to a footbridge in the hedge. Cross the next field to the far side and turn right along the edge to the corner. Turn left, crossing another field to Yessell Lane.

4Continue opposite, then take a cross-path after 120m, turning right to walk across fields, paddocks and orchards, then through a caravan park to return to Yessell Lane. Turn left on a bridleway which runs through an orchard and then through fields to Blacksmiths Lane at Cropthorne.

Keep straight on to Main Street, turn right and then left at The Green, following Neigh Lane to Jubilee Bridge.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 205.

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.