A Cheshire pub walk with stunning views gazing down onto miles of magnificent countryside
Boasting spectacular hilltop views, this 2½ mile Cheshire pub walk is mainly along surfaced paths with a few steeper sections. There are many excellent opportunities for observing bird life as you cross farm land.
As you come out of the pub, cross the road and take a moment to enjoy the panoramic views stretching far across the Cheshire Plain. Turn left along the path that runs beside the field. After 200 or so yards, the path dips into a small valley. Cross the stile on your right and continue down the valley towards Gee Cross.
Bird species you might spot on the walk include lapwings, a ground-nesting bird with a distinctive tuft of feathers on top of its head. Linnets are also common – you can recognise this small, slim finch from their rapid chirruping song. In the skies above, you may well spot kestrels hovering or, soaring even higher, larger buzzards.
Continue downhill after the next stile and follow the path as it curves to the left before crossing a wooden bridge over a small brook. Head up a small grassy bank and follow the path as it goes downhill before reaching a road.
“Enjoy the panoramic views stretching far across the Cheshire Plain”
After climbing over the wooden stile, turn immediately right and head downhill along Lord Derby Road. At the junction with Wych Fold, turn right and continue the short way in to the village of Gee Cross. Cross Stockport Road and go down Knott Lane with Hyde Chapel on the right. After a short way, turn right into the churchyard by the large beech trees. Continue to the other side of the churchyard then turn right. At the post box on the corner, turn left and continue past the village shops and the Sam Redfern Village Green.
When you see Baron Road on your right, turn into and walk uphill to the top. Turn left through the gate and continue uphill along the footpath signposted for Lower Higham Visitor Centre. At the next gate, turn left onto Aspland Road, and after a short way, turn right at the junction of Higham Lane. Continue up Higham Lane, turning left to bring you to the Lower Higham Visitor Centre.
Immediately to the right of the centre is a short track leading up to open grassland. Go through the wooden gate on the right and walk along the surfaced footpath sign posted, ‘Quarry Car Park.’ This area of hay meadows and dry heath is rich in flowers during summer months. The path runs parallel to Higham Lane, and after going through a kissing gate and a few more stiles, you’ll reach the top of the meadow where it joins Werneth Low Road. Turn right and walk in front of Quarry Car Park, following the road slightly to the left at the junction. Continue uphill, along Werneth Low Road, passing Hyde Cricket Club before reaching the pub once more. Head straight through the doors and order yourself a well-deserved drink!
A short diversion from the Lower Higham Park’s visitor centre will take you to a memorial commemorating the 710 local men lost in The Great War.
Point of Interest
On a clear day, the panoramic views from Werneth Low stretch as far as the purple silhouette of the Welsh mountains.
Hare & Hounds
Walter Mansfield managed the pub from 1929 to 1983 – an amazing 54 years! His motto was: ‘Less talking, more drinking.’
Enjoying breathtaking views across Lancashire, Derbyshire and Cheshire, the handsome Hare & Hounds was built in 1728. The pub lies at the edge of the beautiful Werneth Low Country Park, a wildlife haven with many attractive walks and trails – yet is less than 10 miles from Manchester city centre.
Constructed from solid blocks of Pennine stone, this rustic country pub is an authentic 18th century farmhouse with two adjoining cottages. As the oldest pub in the district, records show there has been a licensed inn here since 1794, but the commanding heights of Werneth Low have attracted settlement since long before that. Nearby Hangingbank shows evidence of possible Iron Age occupation, and Bronze Age and Roman finds have been uncovered in the area. The Brigantes, a Celtic tribe that dominated northern England, celebrated the summer and winter solstice at Werneth Low, witnessing the same spectacular sunsets that are enjoyed from the Hare & Hounds today.
Inside, the pub still retains a farmhouse feel, with low ceilings and exposed beams. In the evening, the twinkling city lights spread across the Cheshire Plain below make a memorable dining experience.
Ever popular with ramblers, cyclists and nature-lovers, the Hare & Hounds offers the perfect spot to relax and re-energise, with delicious pub restaurant meals available all day – including seasonal specials, fine Sunday lunches and an excellent range of wines and cask ales.
A delightful country pub walk on the South Downs ambling along the stunning River Itchen
Taking you through some of the finest English countryside, this gorgeous 5½ mile Hampshire pub walk features some gentle inclines. Suitable for all the family, proper walking shoes are recommended.
On leaving the pub, take the footpath that leads to Compton Lock. From there, go through the right-hand gate into the water meadows and follow the path to another tributary of the River Itchen. The chalk grassland is home to a wide variety of plants that provide sustenance to numerous rare butterflies: look out for the strikingly-coloured Adonis Blue, golden brown Skippers and dapple-winged Duke of Burgundies.
Blessed with crystal clear waters, the River Itchen is a special treat for those interested in wildlife. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it supports a number of protected species, including water voles, otters, white-clawed crayfish and kingfishers.
“The River Itchen is a special treat for those interested in wildlife”
Once you cross the river, go up Berry Lane to Twyford Parish Church, parts of which date back to Norman times. It’s also worth noting the churchyard’s magnificent yew tree. Believed by some to be one thousand years old, it’s one of England’s oldest.
Continue onto Bourne Lane and, at the junction with Bourne Field, take the footpath directly in front of you. This leads across a field to Hazeley Road. Turn left and follow it to just before the water works, where a track branches off to the right. The track traverses farmland for about 800 or so yards before reaching Mare Lane. Turn left and walk along it to the T-junction. On the far side of the road is a footpath – follow it across the fields, through a small group of trees and over a narrow farm track. When you reach the finger of trees at the edge of Hockley Golf Course, bear to the left and follow the path that runs along its edge. After about 1000 yards, the path bears left, away from the fairway and across fields to New Barn Farm Lane. Turn right and follow the lane a short distance to Coxs Hill Road. Opposite, you’ll see the entrance to Church Lane – head along it and, at the end, you’ll find yourself at Twyford Parish Church once more. Turn right, back onto Berry Lane and retrace your steps over the bridge, across the water meadows and along the River Itchen into Shawford – where you can quench your thirst with a refreshing drink in The Bridge.
The nearby grassland is home to the increasingly rare Skylark. Listen out for its trilling song cascading down from on high.
Point of Interest
Just 4 miles further along the river is the city of Winchester – capital of England during the reign of Alfred the Great.
The Bridge Inn
The Bridge formed a backdrop to the demise of TV’s Victor Meldrew – mown down by a hit-and-run driver right outside the pub!
With a beamed ceiling and flagstone floor, The Bridge Inn is an idyllic retreat that – thanks to its riverside location – is adored by nature lovers and ramblers, alike. It’s located in the tranquil village of Shawford beside the beautiful River Itchen, one of the best chalk rivers for wildlife found in Europe.
In the warm summer months, guests can savour meals from the pub restaurant on the terrace while listening to the soothing sounds of the river running by. In winter, piping hot food can be enjoyed by the crackling warmth of the pub’s real fires. Whatever the season, relaxing Sunday lunches with all the trimmings, classic dishes with contemporary twists, superb wines and tasty cask ales are a permanent treat at The Bridge.
The lovely, sleepy village of Shawford is actually two villages in one – Compton and Shawford. For the past one hundred years, it has been said that, ‘Compton is the one with the church and Shawford is the one with the pub!’ That pub is, of course, The Bridge. We hope you enjoy your visit.
A glorious Hampshire country pub walk through peaceful countryside and canalside towpaths
This leisurely 3½ mile Hampshire pub walk follows the Basingstoke canal to the lakes and ponds of a local nature reserve. Apart from a short flight of steps leading down to the canal towpath, it’s mostly flat and suitable for all abilities.
From the pub, turn left and walk over the bridge. Immediately on the other side, steps lead down to the canal. Once on the towpath, continue straight on. This stretch of the Basingstoke canal was built in 1794 to transport agricultural goods from Hampshire to London. Now a designated conservation area, it’s home to many swans and various species of duck. Moorhens and coots favour the more sheltered stretches, though you may only hear their chirrups from the reeds fringing the water’s far side.
“This stretch of the Basingstoke canal was built in 1794 to transport agricultural goods from Hampshire to London”
Continue along the towpath for about ¾ of a mile until the towpath forks. Take the right-hand branch up on to Vale Road. Turn right and follow the road to the mini roundabout and turn left on to Lakeside Road. A minute or two along it, you’ll see the white posts leading into Lakeside Nature Reserve in beautiful Blackwater Valley.
This 20 hectare site was once peppered with gravel workings. Now lakes, ponds and wet woodland, the habitat supports some rare species – including the hairy dragonfly and water violet. Roach, rudd, carp, tench, perch and pike thrive in the bodies of water.
At the end of the parking area is a small wooden bridge. Cross over and pass a wooden post with trails written on it. After entering the trees, you’ll come to a T-junction, where you should head right. The path then bears to the left, passing a sign for Blackwater Valley Path.
The way is now bordered on both sides by water. A short while after, the path turns to tarmac and you’ll see a left turn by a pond. Head down it and past a bench on your left. At the fork, turn left and follow the path back to the car park. From there, retrace your steps along Lakeside Road and Vale Road to rejoin the canal where you left it. Once back at The Swan, head inside and reward yourself with a refreshing drink.
From the 1960s, the canal lay derelict. After being restored, it was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent in 1991.
Point of Interest
To raise the canal up from the River Wey to the plateau in Hampshire, 29 locks had to be built.
Extensively refurbished in 2006 in a contemporary style, the pub features two crackling fires during the winter months.
Located by the beautiful waterside setting of the Basingstoke Canal in Ash Vale, The Swan pub restaurant is the perfect place to come and relax after enjoying a canal side walk, bike ride or boat trip. Stop by and you will be welcomed by our friendly team and introduced to our ever-popular choice of pub restaurant meals and impressive selection of cask ales.
As with any property built well over a hundred years ago, The Swan boasts a colourful history. Originally known as Tupper’s Tavern, the entertainment it laid on for its patrons included cock fighting and boxing matches! Later, it became a military pub, complete with a rat-trap outside for confining unruly soldiers. By the early 1900s, it was a hotel hosting genteel performances by The Salvation Army band and Mr Rowlling’s String Orchestra. Many years and refurbishments later, it has evolved into a relaxing family-friendly venue.
In the warmer, sunnier months you can enjoy alfresco dining in the excellent garden on the embankment of the canal, a haven for ramblers who enjoy exploring its towpaths.
A magical woodland country pub walk through ancient Essex wild woods
Known as Boundary Walk, this leisurely 3 mile pub walk hugs the edge of Hockley Woods, the county’s largest swathe of ancient wild wood. Suitable for all the family, it involves some gentle inclines and a couple of small footbridges.
In Hockley Woods car park next to the pub, head to the side of the play area – from there, a path leads down into a valley thronged with oak, sweet chestnut, birch, ash and rowan trees. Keep following the path as it leads along the perimeter of these enchanting woods.
After about 500 or so yards, you’ll reach a stream. Cross the small bridge and note the concentration of hornbeam trees. The age-old practice of coppicing – whereby trees in a particular area are felled and then allowed to regrow – provided the local economy with a never-ending supply of wood.
Still continuing today, coppicing creates a constantly shifting woodland landscape. In newly-exposed clearings flowers are first to flourish – including foxgloves, honeysuckle and cow wheat. In June and July, look out for the rare heath fritillary butterfly which favours cow wheat’s golden blooms. The domed nests of wood ants also often spring up in these cleared areas. Birds that like to nest in the light-filled spaces include willow warblers, chiff chaff and whitethroats. Aside from hornbeam, the trees that then gradually take over these cleared areas include sweet chestnut and trusty oak.
“Hockley Wood is also home to Western Europe’s largest population of the rare wild service tree…”
…recognise it by the sharply jagged edge that runs down each side of its wide leaves.
Dotted through the woods are several ponds. Over the summer months, dragonflies can be seen darting across the water in pursuit of their prey. Toads, frogs and newts all spawn in the still water.
After running for a short distance beside a horse trail, the path then bears left and starts to rise. Observe how the types of tree begin to change; chestnut and birch thrive on the slopes, whereas oak dominates the highest ground. Here, at the wood’s southern edge, you can take in fine views across to Rayleigh and Eastwood.
For a long period, the area was treated as a group of separate woods, each one under a different owner. Earth banks acted as boundaries and, at certain points, they are still visible as thin mounds snaking their way through the trees.
The path then arcs through the wood’s eastern section where the soil is more acidic. Brambles, bracken and bluebells prefer it here, as does birch. Walk this part of the woods in Autumn’s cooler months, and you may spot distinctive red and white fly agaric toadstools standing out against the brown carpet of birch leaves – an enchanting sight to enjoy before heading back to the warmth of the Bull Inn for a well-earned drink! A final bridge crosses over a stream before the path climbs back up to Hockley Woods car park.
Hockley Woods are over 130 hectares – and the entire area has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Point of Interest
Many of Hockley Wood’s plants - such as wood spurge, cow wheat and wood anemone – are only able to grow here because the soil has lain undisturbed for so long.
The Bull Inn
Rumour has it, one of the pub’s mighty ceiling beams came from the scaffold used to hang the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin.
With its distinctive weather boarded exterior and magnificent bull’s head above the door, the Bull Inn is a Grade II listed country pub that exudes a peaceful, rustic charm. Parts of the historic timber frame date back to the 16th Century – and since that time, it’s been welcoming visitors into its cosy interior.
There is also a pub restaurant with an imaginative menu that features regularly changing specials and sumptuous Sunday roasts with all the trimmings. On long balmy summer days, the lovely garden buzzes with people choosing to enjoy their food al fresco.
But perhaps the Bull Inn’s most endearing feature (and one why we’re so popular with ramblers!) is the fact we’re situated at the edge of Hockley Woods, last remains of an ancient forest that seeded 10,000 years ago when the last Ice Age came to an end.