THERE is some lovely countryside in the north-west of the county, with fine views from the high ground which rises north of the Teme Valley.

The well-wooded region round Menith Wood and Pensax is particularly delightful and ideal for exploring on foot. Between Pensax and Stockton on Teme, a tributary of the Teme has cut a steep-sided valley, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Though it includes farmland, it has a glorious variety of habitats and plenty of wildlife. The buzzards are the most noticeable but there are many other birds, including red-legged partridges.

There is a small marshland, where wild flowers still bloom, even this late in the year, and there are far more butterflies than most areas of Worcestershire can boast.

The majority of footpaths used in this walk, around Stockton on Teme, Menith Wood and Pensax, are well-maintained, or reasonably so.

Elsewhere, however, things are not so good.

In fact, I did a longer walk, heading north to Mamble, on what turned out to be very poor footpaths, but decided later that it was too unpleasant to inflict on Evening News readers. Consequently, the lane between Frith Common and the A456 is used here as a substitute for the paths to and from Mamble.

Ironically, the worse the footpaths, the greater the proliferation of signs produced by the Country Landowners' Association (CLA), bearing the legend "landowners welcome caring walkers". Well, it's a nice idea, but "welcome" is not the word that springs to mind when you walk in this area.

Even with the Mamble paths excluded, you'll see more than enough of these irritating signs, including several on one particular farm where an attempt is made to dissuade walkers from using the right of way.

Please don't be intimidated by this so-called "welcome" - the route description given here will enable you to avoid obstructions and hazards without difficulty.


n WALK west beside the A443. After passing a postbox join a footpath which climbs to the top left corner of a field. Continue by the left edge of the next field to meet a driveway by a sign for Rotten Hay (the name of a house).

Don't join the driveway but take a bridleway to the left of it. After going through the second of two gates, fork left and then keep straight on until you have passed Coppers End, where you turn left on a footpath.

Walk across two fields towards Menith Wood. The stile to the lane is wobbly so use a nearby gate, then join a bridleway opposite the stile. Follow it to a lane and turn left.

The lane becomes a bridleway which skirts Menith Wood, eventually entering the wood below a huge Scots pine.

Walk to a junction and turn left over a bridge. Pass most of the buildings at Dumbleton Farm before forking right at a bridleway sign. Pass a group of barns and follow a track which climbs to a junction with a driveway. Turn right to Frith Common.

Turn right along a lane. After a sharp bend it heads north-east towards the A456. When you are almost at the road, after passing Foxley Farm, join a footpath on the right beside a large oak tree.

Walk down the right-hand edge of a field to a broken stile (there's a gate not far away) and down the next field to enter woodland by Dumbleton Brook.

Turn left to find a bridge, a broken stile and one of those CLA 'welcome' notices, together with a warning not to stray off the footpath.

The path climbs to a stile adorned with a 'private' sign, another 'welcome' sign and a notice instructing walkers to use a diversion. Ignore this: the reason given is spurious and there is absolutely nothing to indicate that this is an official diversion. In any case, it's completely impassable.

Cross the so-called 'private' stile and follow the right-hand field edge to a barrier in the corner.

A gate over to the left provides safer access. Continue to an unnecessarily high stile and turn left along a track. Keep going along here until you see a stile on the right. Go diagonally right across a field then along the edge of another to a lane.

Turn right and walk to Stile House Cottage. Join a bridleway which leads to another lane. Turn right, then left on another bridleway. Pass Coppers End again and join a footpath at a gate next to the Yeldon Farm driveway (look at the map/notice by the driveway).

Cross a field to a stile then turn right and follow the waymarkers which soon direct you into an orchard and diagonally left past the farmhouse.

Steps descend to a track and the path continues opposite, down more steps then through burgeoning vegetation into a flower-filled valley.

Turn left, ignore a footbridge on the right but cross a second footbridge (easily missed) a little further on, to the right of the trodden path. Walk through woodland to a field and go straight across to a stile below silver birches at the far side.

Walk through Pensax Wood to a road and turn right to Stockton.

n PLEASE NOTE This walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be correct at the time of publication. No responsibility is accepted by either the author or publisher for errors or omissions, or for any loss or injury, however caused.


n Start: On the A443 at Stockton on Teme, by the Shelsley Walsh turn, grid reference SO715673 .

n Length: 7 miles/11km.

n Maps: OS Explorer 203/204/218; OS Landranger 138.

n Terrain: Farmland and woodland; hilly but not steep.

n Stiles: 13.

n Parking: on the Shelsley road (opposite the church) or 250m east of this point, in the layby next to the phone box, almost opposite the Pensax turn.

n Buses: Yarrantons 758, Monday-Saturday; alight at the Shelsley turn but board your return bus by the Pensax turn; Traveline 0870 608 2608.

Refreshments: Cross Keys, Menith Wood.