This circular walk incorporates two idyllic villages, quiet country lanes, pleasant woodland, open countryside, and an interesting church at Hellidon. A small section of the walk crosses Hellidon Lakes Golf Course, so extra care should be taken near the fairways. This is arguably one of our most scenic walks. This is walk 21 from the 44 composing the Millenium Way.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Start: Red Lion at Hellidon NN11 6LG. Start Grid Ref: SP519 581
(D/A) Start from the delightful Red Lion Inn at Hellidon. With your back to the pub go up the road directly opposite the front of the pub signposted Priors Marston 2 miles. After 100 yards take the lane on the right and follow around to the left, signposted Priors Marston and Southam.
(1) Ignore the footpath on left near the bend and continue ahead (West) along the lane past the T-junction (on your right you have some splendid views past Canning's Spinney to the north). Pass the entrance to Hellidon Lakes Hotel and Golf Course and continue along the lane until you reach crossroads.
(2) Turn right at the crossroads and, after 100 yards, take the stile and footpath left to go ½ right across the field keeping the Charwelton Communication tower to your far left. As you descend down the field you can enjoy an attractive panorama of open countryside ahead.
Go through a narrow waymarked hedge gap and continue down the field keeping a low broken hedge left. Go past the spinney on the left to the corner then stay straight ahead across the open field towards the gap to the right of two trees, into next field. Keep ahead on track until you reach the road through a metal gate.
(3) Turn left on the road for 80 paces, then take a waymarked footpath right along the track, at the end of which take a stile into a field and continue ¼ right towards the corner of copse to take the gap into the next field keeping fenced hedge and small concealed pond on your left.
(4) Go through the two gates ahead and turn immediately right keeping the hedge right. Here you have joined The Millennium Way. Continue with the hedge right and follow the hedge as it curves left. Go over a stile which sticks into the field and after 100 yards go past a metal gate then a few paces further on take a stile right and then go through a metal gate.
Continue straight for 30 paces keeping the hedge right and, after passing the bush at the end of the grassy mound, go half left across the field to take the metal gate then footbridge through the hedge and over the stream. Keep ahead with the house left and after 100 yards, take a stile left to the path and then driveway to reach the road.
(5) Turn right on the road and enter Priors Marston. On reaching the T-junction bear left up the road to pass the Priors Marston War Memorial (go right here for The Hollybush pub) on your right and, where the road divides, take the right fork signposted Lower Shuckburgh and Napton.
Continue along Shuckburgh Road passing the telephone box on left and continuing past School Lane, St Leonards Close and Vicarage Lane on right. On reaching a red pillar box we leave The Millennium Way and continue on to the next junction and turn right up Keys Lane.
(6) After 50 yards take the waymarked lane left, into the second Keys Lane (with a list of named cottages on the sign). Stay ahead to the end of the lane, which swings left, and take the gate ahead to follow the footpath diagonally right under the power lines across the field. Take the next gate and cross the farm track to go through another gate then continue ahead through a small copse. Take the metal kissing gate ahead and follow footpath half right across the field.
(7) Go through the gap ahead to cross a small plank footbridge and continue directly ahead across the centre of the next field. Go through the large five-bar gate ahead then immediately leave the cinder track to continue slightly right on the previous line towards the edge of the wood.
Be sure to maintain a straight line (East) towards the centre of the wood to find a narrow gap (with large black & white waymarker arrow - which is very difficult to see from a distance) to enter the wood.
Go along a well-defined path through wood following signs, eventually to emerge on to Hellidon Golf Course, after a pond on your right.
(8) At the edge of the golf course follow the waymark sign and go half right across the first fairway uphill towards a copse of trees. Pass just to the right of a small clump of trees to enter the copse of trees following another black & white waymark sign just inside the copse and emerge at the other side of the copse to meet another fairway.
At this point go half right across the fairway keeping a small cluster of trees to your left to find a mid-hedge wooden footbridge. Cross the footbridge and walk slightly left across the fairway aiming to go between the two lakes ahead and partly walk around the edge of the right-hand lake and turn left to follow the line of trees left.
Continue ahead towards a fairway and green and cross the fairway with green right to reach another waymarker post just beyond the green.
(9) Descend steps through small copse crossing wooden plank bridge, then go over gap stile into a field. Go ¼ right uphill across the field to find the top right corner kissing gate (ignore the first wooden kissing gate right, 2/3rds up the field).
Take that corner kissing gate and continue along the edge of the field with hedge left to take next kissing gate then follow the path round with a fence, then a hedge, on the left to emerge onto the road.
(10) Go left for 50 yards to a bench with a fantastic view, then right and down Church Lane, passing Berry Lane and Cox's Lane. After passing St. John the Baptist Church, immediately take a left turn into Little Back Lane and walk 75 yards to a T-Junction opposite a red telephone box.
Turn right passing the Old Mill House on your right to walk up the lane, which will bring you back to your starting point at The Red Lion Inn. (D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 172m - Red Lion Inn
1 : km 0.28 - alt. 185m - Lane
2 : km 1.77 - alt. 195m - Crossroads
3 : km 3.1 - alt. 141m - Metal gate.
4 : km 4 - alt. 131m - Small concealed pond
5 : km 4.78 - alt. 140m - Road
6 : km 5.69 - alt. 156m - Waymarked lane
7 : km 6.66 - alt. 153m - Small plank footbridge
8 : km 7.31 - alt. 155m - Golf course
9 : km 7.95 - alt. 144m - Descend steps
10 : km 8.45 - alt. 182m - Road
D/A : km 9.13 - alt. 174m - Red Lion Inn
Start: Red Lion at Hellidon NN11 6LG. Start Grid Ref: SP519 581
Maps: OS Explorer 206 or OS Landranger 151
A small section of the walk crosses Hellidon Lakes Golf Course, so extra care should be taken near the fairways.
There are no difficult sections on this walk and it includes a short section of The Millennium Way at Priors Marston, which is clearly waymarked with the distinctive black and white waymarkers.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Points of Interest - What to know and what to see.... by Andy Botherway
Hellidon is a charming village with an industrial past. Until the 1950’s it was a centre of ironstone quarrying, Hellidon Lakes being a legacy of that activity.
An industrial railway connected to the Great Central line at Charwelton. Its population reached 449 in 1861, but today is around 200.
Now the area is home to several vineyards, the most notable being the Windmill Vineyard with its distinctive silver-capped mill at Windmill Hill Farm, visible at the very start of our walk.
Walking out of the village, the Hellidon Lakes Country Club, hotel and golf centre can be seen to the north.
The village originally belonged to St. Mary’s Priory, Coventry, hence the ‘Priors’. The ‘Marston’ comes from Old English ‘merse’ or lake and ‘tun’ meaning settlement.
The ‘merse’ was a fishery which served the village. The primary school was one of the first ‘free’ schools to be established, state funded but independently managed. Local children attend free whereas pupils from outside the local catchment pay fees.
The church is largely a Victorian rebuilding from 1863.
The Hollybush, a 16th century inn with an excellent restaurant, can provide refreshment and accommodation (01327 260934). Opening times can vary.
The remoteness of the village meant that it only received a mains supply of electricity in 1934 and of water in 1948.
The village is set on the very ancient Ridgeway track, an Iron Age trading route locally linking Nadbury Camp Edgehill to Arbury Camp at Catesley.
The Salt (Welsh) Road dating from at least the Roman occupation links Droitwich to Northampton and was used to carry salt for meat preservation and general trading. It runs across the centre of the Parish east to west.
Returning via the golf course to Hellidon, we pass some lovely houses and the Church of St. John the Baptist, a medieval building in the Gothic Early English style. The end of the walk is the Red Lion, another traditional village inn. Note the interesting "beacon" across the road.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.