Walk 40: Warwick Circular: A Town & Country stroll

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6.5 miles (10.5km)

Time to walk: A very easy walk that can all be done in about 2.5 hours, although the centre of Warwick’s worth spending more time in as there’s quite a bit to see, especially if the walk’s combined with a visit to the castle

Difficulty: A flat, easy walk on a mixture of hard & gravel paths. There’s only a couple of spots that might get slightly muddy in winter on a quick grassy section, but nothing to worry about

Parking: Free parking on side roads outside Warwick Racecourse

Public toilets: Pubs, cafes etc en route

Map of the route:

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 This is a superb walk with something for everyone – parks, canals, riverside walks, history & a beautiful town centre

Warwick’s the county town of Warwickshire & was founded on the banks of the River Avon in 914 AD by Ethelfleda, sister of Edward the Elder, as a defence against the Danish invaders, on a site overlooking earlier riverside settlements. It’s built on a small hill which controlled not only the river valley, but also the river crossing on the road to London & the roads to Stratford, Coventry & the salt way to Droitwich. The Anglo-Saxon town was surrounded partly by a wall & partly by a ditch

Saxon burh was created at Warwick in the 9th century & Warwick Castle was established on the site in 1068 by William the Conqueror as part of the Norman conquest of England. The earldom of Warwick was created in 1088 & the earls controlled the town in the medieval period. During this time Warwick was given town walls of which Eastgate & Westgate survive today. The castle developed into a stone fortress & then a country house

Warwick School claims to be the oldest boys’ school in the country

The Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 destroyed much of the medieval town & as a result most of the buildings post-date this period

There’s much to see & learn so…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts at Warwick Racecourse on the A4189 road. Park up opposite the gates in one of the side streets & cross the road into the complex..

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2. Walk along the car park towards the buildings at the end…

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…turning left towards the track

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3. Pass through the gate onto what are known as St Mary’s Lands. The site covers 57 acres including the racecourse & golf club. Historically it was called Lammas Fields & was traditionally common land grazed on by animals & used for recreational purposes

Racing first began at Warwick Racecourse during the 18th century & the golf course was added in the early 1970s. Extensive work’s taken place over recent years to improve the woodland & manage flooding. New wildlife areas have been created &, as such, birdlife has increased

Cross the racecourse (obviously be careful if there’s a meeting on!)…

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We were surprised at how high the fence was – well over 8 foot…

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4. Safely across, turn right & walk to & through the gate into the land in the centre of the racecourse…

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5. Follow the car track for 100 yards before veering left along a grass path leading up the right side of the copse at the top of the hill on the left…

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…passing to the left of the golf course driving range

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6. Warwick Golf Centre is a 9 hole, par 68 (5364 yard), private, parkland golf course. Beware of stray golf balls as you pass by…

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The path goes straight ahead along the right of one of the fairways…

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Nice views over the town

Nice views over the town

The thistles are now putting on their autumn show…

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 7. Pass the green on the left & cross the racecourse again into the woods…

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8. The path now disappears down into the trees before emerging at a junction. Ignore the path on the right leading out of the woods & fork left to follow the other route keeping the metal fence on the right…

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Opened in 2012 this is Diamond Jubilee Wood which was once known less glamourously as Northern Enclosure Wood. It was renamed to celebrate the Queens 60th year on the Throne

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9. Follow the path up the rise looking for a right turn across the railway bridge…

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Some more autumn ‘shows’…

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10. There’s our turn so climb the steps & cross the bridge…

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There’s a large cement factory on the other side…

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11. Once down the other side, squeeze down between the two fences being careful not to do yourself an injury as suggested!

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Dont panic, it soon opens out again & joins a road in an industrial estate. At the junction turn right & cross the canal bridge to the junction with the main road…

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Pretty canal, but not the one we'll be following today

Pretty canal, but not the one we’ll be following today

12. Carefully cross the main road, turning left & over our canal…The Grand Union

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And then turn immediately right to head down to the water…

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13. We’re now going to follow the canal for about 1.5 miles under numerous bridges as it circles towards the east of the town. It’s quite a busy footpath so watch out for runners & cyclists coming up from behind

The first couple of bridges come up pretty quickly…

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…& quiet stretches are mixed with busy moorings

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14. If you fancy a break & a spot of refreshment there’s a very attractive canal side pub which can be reached across the lock…

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The Cape of Good Hope is a free house, apparently famous for ‘Jimmy’s Scotch Eggs’!

15. Continue down the slope past the lock…

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IMG_2988 …&, at the next one’s a family all working together to get the boat through the gates…

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16. There’s more boats moored up along here…

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…&, as the canal’s getting busier, we’re also entering a more industrial area of the town…

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That's some impressive decking!

That’s some impressive decking!

17. The reason there’s more activity along here is we’re approaching a marina…

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This is The Boatyard, Nelson Lane where you can hire a holiday boat from Kate Boats

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18. Pass under the next bridge & the canal’s now starting to enter the town…

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Our time along it’s also drawing to an end as we pass underneath the road bridge where the canal opens into a wider pool…

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19. Follow the bank for another 400 yards looking for a signpost on the left pointing towards the Riverside Walk…

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Be careful heading down the steps as they’re very steep…

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On reaching the bottom turn right & pass underneath the aqueduct…

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20. We’ve left one stretch of water behind & are now following a much bigger one…the River Avon. We’re going to follow the river all the way into Warwick itself. It’s quite overgrown here & there’s a lovely tunnel of buddleia…

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Buddleia is a great attractor of bees & butterflies…

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 21. Once through the buddleia there’s clearer views of the river & there were plenty of fishermen around…

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22. Pass through the next barrier & under the bridge…

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…& for the next couple of hundred yards the path is quite narrow again…

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23. Eventually though it opens up…

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…before crossing a path near the bridge to become a hard surface again & entering the riverside park…

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24. This is where we get our first view of Warwick Castle in the distance…

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The riverside walk is picturesque

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25. Follow the path until it reaches the road bridge near the boat hire shed. There’s all kinds of boats for hire along here…

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Pass by the shed & climb the steep steps up to the road…

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26. At the top of the steps our route into town lies to the right, but if you want the most photographed view of the castle, turn left & cross the road onto the bridge…

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27. Right…now let’s go & have a look at the town itself so head up the hill…

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On the right’s the entrance into St Nicholas park…

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28. So pass the entrance to Warwick Castle on the left & have a look down Mill Street as we’ll be coming back here later…

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Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house & it was owned by the Greville family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group

29. Pass the entrance to the Castle & head up Castle Hill, taking the first left into Jury Street…

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Head up Jury Street

Head up Jury Street

There’s some fine buildings & restaurants up here…

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…& it’s good to see the town’s really taking a pride in its flowers…

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Hola!

Hola!

30. The first historical building of note we come to is the Court House which now contains the Tourist Information Office & Council Chamber…

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This classical building designed & built in 1725 by Francis Smith, contains a fine Georgian Ballroom. It was constructed on a site given by Robert Dudley, in exchange for the buildings now forming the Lord Leycester Hospital

31. Turn left immediately after the Court House into beautiful Castle Street…

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…& pass through the arch to have a quick look at Pageant House Garden…

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32. Continue down the street to the left of Thomas Oken’s House which is now a very popular tea room…

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Set against the castle wall, this beautiful old building was built over 500 years ago for its namesake, a wealthy & philanthropic merchant. Thomas Oken died on 29th July 1573 & left most of his money in trust to aid the poor & fund education & housing in Warwick. The house is still maintained by the charitable trust he set up in his will

33. At the bottom turn right & then right again up the alley along the other side of the tea room…

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34. Arriving back at the main road, turn left into the High Street…

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Fine doorways along here

Fine doorways along here

…stopping to have a look at the Warwick Unitarian Chapel on the left…

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The first chapel was built in the grounds of the castle, but when the Earl wanted to extend  the castle he gave them land on the High Street where the present building stands. Although the original one dates back to 1635, the current building was erected in 1780, but has undergone several changes since then

35. There’s another interesting building on the left…the Friends Meeting House…

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Behind the Friends’ Meeting House is a quiet intimate retreat. The house was originally the home of some of the earliest Quakers in the town who buried their deceased members in the garden. Burials have long since ceased here & now the public can visit

The Great Fire of Warwick is thought to have started behind here. It broke out about 2pm on 5th July 1694 & was driven by strong winds for about 5 hours destroying much of the centre of the town. Following the fire buildings were restricted to 2 storeys & breaks were inserted between them – we’ll see some of these later

36. Over the road’s one of Warwick’s jewels…the Lord Leycester Hospital

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The Lord Leycester Hospital has never been a hospital. It’s a retirement home for ex-Servicemen in Warwick. Built mainly in the 14th century, the Hospital comprises the medieval Chapel of St James the Great, living quarters (including the Master’s House), a Guildhall (with anterooms) & a Great Hall. Also contained within it are the Master’s Garden & the Museum of the Queen’s Own Hussars. For 200 years it was the base for Warwick’s medieval guilds. The hospital is a grade I listed building

37. Let’s head towards the Norman gateway & the unique red post box…

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This is a Victorian Doric column post box with a vertical slot (we’re feeling we could get obsessive here!). Two of the 8 remaining of this design are in Warwick & we’ll see the other one later. They were cast in 1856 & the reason the slots were eventually changed to horizontal are the vertical ones let in the rain

38. We’ll come back to the West Arch later, but for now about turn up the hill & take the first left into Brook Street…

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Nice views up here…

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39. At the top turn left into Swan Street heading towards the large building that’s the museum…

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On the left’s one of the best Italian Restaurants in Warwickshire – Micatto

Go try. Micatto is fab!

Go try. Micatto is fab!

40. The Museum is pretty familiar with other old towns of this period where the bottom was once used for trading. The Market Hall was built in 1670. William Hurlbutt, a local butcher created it

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When we visited there was a classic car show going on in the town centre…

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41. If you could see it the market square’s pretty impressive, but today was not the day. There’s several impressive buildings & statues around here. On the right’s a pub called The Tilted Wig – this area was once an abattoir & the pub served beer to the butchers

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Today it still serves beer from Warwick’s Slaughterhouse Brewery

42. Across to the left from the pub is a statue of a well-know pugilist…Randolph Adolphus Turpin..

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Randolph Adolphus Turpin (7 June 1928–17 May 1966), better known as Randolph Turpin & in the United States as Randy Turpin, was an English boxer who was considered by some to be Europe’s best middleweight boxer of the 1940s & 1950s. In 1951 he became world middleweight champion when he defeated Sugar Ray Robinson. Turpin was inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2001 with a record of 66 wins (48 knockouts) , 8 losses & 1 draw. Sadly he struggled to adapt to retirement & shot himself in 1966

43. Head to the north end of the square passing the car enthusiasts…

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…to arrive at The Abbotsford…

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This property was built in 1714 as a 4 storey townhouse. Today it’s been converted into flats

44. Leave the square down the road nearest to The Abbotsford…

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…turning right into Barrack Street – this used to be Warwick’s red light area before the Great Fire

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45. We’re now entering a really interesting part of the town. The large building on the right used to be a womens’ jail &, at the end of the street, you can still see one of the original cell doors…

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46. At the junction, directly over the road’s Northgate House which replaced 5 houses burnt down in the fire…

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In 1905 it was described as having been divided into 2 houses, having previously been a coaching house called the “Lamb and Flag”

47. Turn right & walk towards the church. On the right’s Shire Hall, home of Warwickshire County Council…

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…plus the County Court

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There’s some very desirable properties along this street

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48. We arrive at St Mary’s Church & splendid it is too!

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The Collegiate Church of St Mary is a member of the Greater Churches Group. The church has the status of collegiate church as it had a college of secular canons. In governance & religious observance, it was similar to a cathedral (although not the seat of a bishop & without diocesan responsibilities)

49. Pass round the church into Church Street stopping at the War Memorial on the left…

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…& then down Tink a Tank alleyway to the side. The alley was called this after the noise shoes made walking down it

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There’s a good view of the Church along here. You can see that the older part on the right that survived the fire is lower than the new part on the left…

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50. Follow the alley turning right at the end & then turning this way & that to eventually arrive at the road…

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…where it’s another right turn to arrive at Eastgate

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51. Eastgate is a 14th century building that was once a school, but is now an exclusive holiday rental property

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Here’s the second of the Victorian vertical slot post boxes

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52. Pass through the arch to arrive at a property that has some of the smallest lead windows we’ve ever seen…

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This & the large property next to it called Landon House are part of King’s High School for Girls

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53. Turn right into St Nicholas Church Street…

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…& at the end cross straight over into Mill Street again which surely could be part of a film…

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54. At the bottom’s another view of the Castle…

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Once seen head back up Mill Street…

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…& turn left again along Jury Street passing Lord Leycester Hospital & under the arch…

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55. After passing through turn immediately right & then left to pass the Racecourse again…

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56. After another couple of hundred yards we arrive back where we began the walk

So there we go & what a fabulous little walk this was – it just about has everything…town, canal, park, woodland, hire a boat (or a swan pedalo)

It’s a cracker so…

Go Walk!

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