River Avon Loop via Nafford

A good book has captured Lynnie’s attention so Crosby and I are venturing out on our own today.   It is an essential part of our packing to ensure the caravan contains a sufficient number of books to open a small library.  Both of us have a bit of a book habit and can’t be trusted to walk out of a charity shop without having acquired more reading material.  The idea of an undisturbed day to read is, therefore, ideal as far as Lynnie is concerned.

I am walking from the site with a rough idea of a circuit but no clear route planned.  I refer to days like this as “jamming about”, I just go where the mood takes me.  As long as I’ve a flask of tea and some lunch there is no need for a strict route.

Leaving the site by the pedestrian access I walk down to the road and then turn left heading uphill into Pensham Hill and continue until I reach a road junction where I turn left and follow the lane out of the village on the route of the Shakespeare’s Avon Way.  

Soon the lane turns into a farm track and the route continues between fields with the snow covered Bredon Hill in front of me.

After passing junctions with two other paths the map shows the footpath going diagonally across a field, however it is clear the route around the edge of the field is well walked so rather than damage crops I follow the field margin to reach a footbridge over a stream.

The path now goes to the right and then left around the edge of a recently ploughed field and then turns to the right to walk a grassy path besides the site of a former golf course currently being turned into a mobile home park.

After going through a kissing gate the path descends to the River Avon where I turn left and head along a broad grassy path besides the river.

After going through another gate the footpath turns away from the river and heads up a lane towards Great Comberton.  At a junction with a road I turn right to walk into the village and then fork right by a telephone box to continue through this attractive village.

At a way-marker for a footpath to Nafford I turn right following the path to a wooden gate which I go through and continue downhill.

I am still on the route of the Shakespeare’s Avon Way, this is an eighty-eight mile long distance trail following the River Avon from its source at Nasby in Northamptonshire to Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.

At the foot of the hill I go through another gate and then follow the path as it turns to the right and heads through a field of sheep pasture.

After another gate into a field I get fine views over the River Avon.

Keeping the fence line close to my left I continue through the field and then descend to reach a footbridge over a stream.  Over the bridge I cross a field to a gate and another field.  The path heads towards Nafford House and then after going through a kissing gate reaches a minor road.

I keep straight on to pass Nafford House and then take a footpath on the right heading downhill to reach the River Avon at the sluice gates.

Crossing the sluice gates I reach Nafford Lock which makes the River Avon navigable at this point.  According to the Avon Navigation Trust’s website it was back in 1636 when William Sandys of Fladbury came up with a plan to make the river navigable from Tewkesbury to Stratford.  In the 1830’s the Worcester and Birmingham Canal company leased the river, but like many canal companies suffered from increased competition from railways.

By World War II the route was barely navigable but in 1950 restoration commenced and by 1962 the Lower Avon Navigation was reopened to Evesham and then in 1974 it reopened  all the way to Stratford.

Crossing on a swing bridge I continue to the weir over the Avon.

After crossing the weir I had intended to turn left and follow the footpath towards Birlingham, however, I spot a permissive path way-marker and follow this to the right heading towards the river.  The permissive path then enters a field beside the river.

This path is not marked on the map so I am unsure where it will lead me. But then as luck would have it I meet a chap walking in the opposite direction who explains that the path follows the river for a few miles and then heads back to Birlingham via Woodfield Farm.  Comfortable in this knowledge I continue along the path.

This is pleasant walking with nobody else about as I follow the frequent way-markers.

The river is very tranquil and there are cracking views of it as the path heads north.

After crossing a footbridge over a stream, with a plaque saying it’s “Baker’s Bridge” I decide to stop for lunch in a spinney which has a great outlook over the river.

I am soon heading along the river on the opposite side of the bank from where I was walking earlier as I headed to Great Comberton.

The land in this area is mainly used for growing vegetables and there are extensive irrigation systems which use water pumped from the river.  To facilitate the extraction of the water, pump houses sit close to the river.

I stay with the river until reaching a fence into a field, here the permissive path goes left towards Woodfield Farm which has a number of static caravans, presumably used by agricultural workers.

After passing the farm I reach a road where I turn right and walk along it heading west.  I ignore a minor road on the left and carry on to a T-junction turning right and then almost immediately take a footpath on the left, initially through trees, to reach an open area and then continue through a field.

The path joins a driveway passing properties and then continues along a track.

Near the end of the track I take a footpath on the right way-marked to Upper End.

This path leads along the hedge line of a field to reach a minor road where I cross and continue on the hedge-lined footpath besides a property.  At a kissing gate the path enters an old orchard, Rough Hill Orchard, and turns left with good views across to the River Avon.

Rough Hill Orchard is owned by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and contains 30 old apple trees, 65 young apple trees and 25 plum trees.  Apparently on this site nineteen nationally scarce species insects have been recorded.

Initiatives like this are great for the environment and educating people on the importance of maintaining habitats for flora and fauna.

The path leads to an information board beside a gate.  Here I leave the orchard and cross the busy A4104 with care and follow a path into Tiddesley Wood.  

This area of woodland was once an enclosed deer park owned by the Abbots of Pershore Abbey. In the 1950’s the Forestry Commission took ownership and planted coniferous trees making it a commercial woodland.  Now in the ownership of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust they are in the process of clearing the remaining coniferous trees and replacing them with traditional deciduous woodland.

The path leads through the trees to reach a track where I turn right and head down to reach the A4104 again.  I cross and take a way-marked footpath on the far side turning left to walk along the grassy verge to reach a kissing gate leading into a field where I head towards the River Avon.

At the river I turn left and follow a path beside it heading back towards Pershore.

It has started to rain, but luckily I don’t have far to go.  After walking besides fields the path goes along the edge of a copse and then reaches open land.  I keep by the river and climb steps at the end of Pershore Bridge to the road where I turn right across the bridge.

At a road junction I turn right and walk the short distance back to the pedestrian entrance to the caravan site.  

You can view this  9.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here

To follow this walk, you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map – 190 – Malvern Hills & Bredon Hill

9th March 2023

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2023)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.

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