THIS gorgeous walk in hilly, wooded country begins at Newnham Bridge, on the River Rea, close to its confluence with the River Teme in north-west Worcestershire, near Tenbury.

Though just a hamlet, Newnham Bridge has two pubs, and once had both a railway station and a canal wharf.

The Leominster Canal was first surveyed in 1789. It was to run from Kington to Leominster, then north to Woofferton, from where it would head eastwards along the Teme Valley before cutting through the hills to meet the Severn opposite Stourport. Work began in 1791 and went well at first.

By 1793 it had reached Newnham Bridge. But problems started to mount and, by 1796, only 18 miles of the intended 46 miles were open, from Leominster to Mamble.

The project floundered on for a while longer before hope of completion was abandoned. It was briefly revived in 1833, when the route from the Rea to the Severn was re-surveyed, but nothing came of it.

Finally, much of the completed stretch was sold to the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway Company, which built its Tenbury Railway over parts of the canal bed. The Tenbury Railway opened in 1861, linking Tenbury with the main line at Woofferton.

This was followed, in 1864, by the Tenbury and Bewdley Railway, linking Tenbury (and Newnham Bridge) with the Severn Valley Railway.

A century later, both lines were closed. In 1964, the stationmaster at Newnham Bridge described to a journalist the sending of tons of fruit by train, including 8,000 boxes of apples a year from just one grower.

The railway was also used by hundreds of Black Country hop pickers who travelled to the Teme Valley on working holidays each year.

Not only are the trains long gone, but most of the orchards and all of the hop pickers. Where hops are still grown, picking is mechanised. The station building at Newnham Bridge survives intact, but forms part of a garden centre. The course of the railway is still evident, and traces of the canal are visible in places - though not on this walk, so if you're interested you'll need an OS map.

Walk up the lane signed to Bickley and Knighton. At Tavern Lane, turn right on a bridleway. Keep straight on past the entrance to Oxnalls Farm. You'll soon come to a pair of gates: go through the left-hand one, staying on the bridleway.

Eventually, you'll reach a T-junction with a bridleway sign. Turn right, and don't miss the point at which the bridleway enters a field. Stay by the field edge and then straight on at a junction, through a gate.

Keep straight on uphill, ignoring branching paths, to reach a junction above Sturts Farm. Turn right, descending to cross Mill Brook at a ford or footbridge. Rejoin the track and follow it uphill.

Turn left when you reach a lane, soon descending to re-cross Mill Brook. Take a bridleway on the left just before Hilltop Cottage. The bridleway soon meets the brook, but then bends right to climb to a house. Go through a gate and proceed to a barn. Turn right through another gate and follow the bridleway across a large field to a fence corner. Turn left, go through a gap into another field and straight on by the left-hand hedge.

Turn right at a waymarked junction by an orchard, and right again at the next junction (no waymark), near Wood Farm. Follow a track back to the lane and turn left, then left again after 350m, on a footpath.

Head across a field to a large oak tree, then continue in much the same direction, tending a little towards the left. Very soon, you will see a pair of gates below - pass through the gates and go straight across a field to pass through another gate (the one on the left) into Milson Wood.

Walk straight through the wood, soon joining a forestry track. When this bears left, keep straight on along a trodden path, descending to cross Trapnell Brook (look for deer prints here) and then climbing to the woodland edge. Go into a field and follow the left-hand hedge to a gap.

Go through the gap and across the next field (the path has been cropped over and most walkers use the left-hand field edge instead). Join a track in the corner and proceed to a lane. Turn right.

After 250m you'll see two paths on the left: take the right-hand one. Pass a house and walk along the edge of an orchard, with a wood on your right. Cross a stile and plank-footbridge in the corner, then turn right, still beside the wood.

Turn left as you approach a metal gate, with a brook on your right, and walk along the valley, soon crossing the brook at a footbridge. Turn left, cross a stile in the field corner and keep straight on across the next field to a gate at the far side.

Continue by the brook through three fields. When it moves away, you should still keep to the left-hand field edge, and then left of some young trees. Go through a gap to another field and follow the left-hand edge to the Knighton lane. Turn left to Newnham Bridge.