A ley line walk from Upton House and Gardens
A ley line walk from Upton House and Gardens A circular walk tracing the ley lines across Edge Hill that amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins first discovered in 1921. Look out for the pub with octagonal tower where King Charles I raised the Royal Standard, with another said to be haunted by the ghost of an opposing Roundhead. Start from Upton House and Gardens’ car park, (please check closing time of car park before setting off). The surrounding land is not in the care of the National Trust; take care to follow the Countryside Code. Please check directly with any places mentioned for up-to-date opening information.
National Trust car park at Upton House and Gardens; grid ref: SP371461
In the car park, with your back to the main road, head for the grassy knoll, then proceed through the kissing gate set in the fence line. Keep to the right. When the farm buildings come into view, continue on the left to a stile. Cross the stile, staying on the left. Cross the valley to the kissing gate set in the hedge.
Take the straight, diagonal path to Sugarswell Lane (the first time you cross the Cotswold ley). Cross the lane, go through the gate and cross the field via the diagonal path to the gate set in the fence. Pass through the gate and turn right on to a bridleway. Continue on to the next gate and proceed through this. To your left, see a panoramic view of south Warwickshire, at a height of 700 feet (215 metres) above sea level. To your right, view the site of the Battle of Edgehill, the first battle of the English Civil War, in October 1642. You will find a noticeboard with information about the battle, halfway along the fence line.
The Battle of Edgehill
In October 1642 King Charles left Shrewsbury, marching his army to London to confront the Parliamentarian army. The King unexpectedly encountered Parliamentary forces near Edge Hill and, on 23 October, descended the steep slope to engage in what was to be the first major battle of the English Civil War. Neither side was capable of inflicting a decisive result and around 1500 combatants died. The English Civil War continued for four years.
You are now on the long distance walks of Warwickshire's Centenary Way (from Kingsbury Water Park to Upper Quinton, 98 miles (158km)) and the Macmillan Way (from Boston in Lincolnshire to Abbotsbury in Dorset, 290 miles (467km)). With a distant view of the Malvern Hills on your left continue north along the ridge line of the Edge, which marks the north-eastern extremity of the Cotswolds. The path here is spectacular in any season. In spring and summer the ancient woodland is rich in wildflowers and for the rest of the year the leaf fall reveals vistas across the plains to the west. Continue along the edge to the next iron gate and through the woodland, passing the paddocks on the right and the stables to the left. Viscount Bearsted chose this property for his hunting retreat in the area until his acquisition of Upton House which in due course he vested to the National Trust. At the farm turn right on to the short metalled lane, then left at the T junction to the A422 road at Sun Rising Hill. Take great care crossing, as there is no pedestrian footpath. Cross the A422 diagonally to the left for a few paces, then take a footpath, marked by a yellow-painted-post, which continues through the trees along the line of the ridge.
A mile or so to the south, Shenington Gliding Club occupies the site of a World War 2 Bomber Command RAF base. It was used for bomber training and for operational bombing flights to Germany. In 1942 it was selected for test flights of the first British jet aircraft, the Gloster E28/39 Pioneer invented by (Sir) Frank Whittle. Look out for birds surfing the updraught caused by the escarpment; gliders from Shenington Gliding Club might also be circling above you.
Continue along the line of the ridge, catching glimpses through the trees of the plains below. Cross the metalled lane (this leads to Westcote Manor), slightly to the left, for a few paces to rejoin the path on the other side of the lane. Continue on until you come to a small area that opens out to the left, and going downhill is a track known as King John's Lane. You will see some ruined walls either side of the track, which leads down to the end of the village of Radway. Cross the area to the path and continue along the ridgeway. You will soon spot the unmistakable octagonal tower of the Castle Inn on your right. This is about half way through the walk so you may wish to take a rest. Just a few paces down to your left across a stile you will find a stone bench where you can sit and take in stunning uninterrupted views. Whatever your choice continue along the ridge-line path, past an obelisk, and within a few minutes you approach 'Jacob's ladder', a long flight of stone steps leading up to a B road. At this point you can cut the walk short and return to Upton House by turning right onto the road, past the Castle Inn, then after 1 mile (1.6 km) or so left at the T junction and soon after the car park at Upton House comes into view on your right. Otherwise cross the road to take the turning signposted for Ratley village.
The Octagonal Tower at the Castle Inn
The tower at the Castle Inn was constructed in 1742 by Sanderson Miller of Radway Grange. Built to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Edgehill, it was inspired by Guys Tower at nearby Warwick Castle and is reputed to be the spot where King Charles raised his standard before engaging with Oliver Cromwell's opposing parliamentary forces on the plains below.
Continue for around 750 yards (700 metres) to the bottom of the hill in Ratley village. Once the road bears to the left you need to take the right turn onto a track heading towards Manor Farm. However there is another chance to divert for refreshment, this time to the Rose and Crown, by continuing to follow the road as it bears left until you come to the end of the village. Retrace your steps to take the track towards Manor Farm. Just before the farm gate, cross the stile in the corner to the right.
A haunted inn
The Rose and Crown is a 900-year-old, Grade-1-listed inn. Its inglenook fireplace is reputedly haunted by a roundhead from the Battle of Edgehill. Probably one of those who saw fit to flee the scene, he was out of luck - he was beheaded here.
The path climbs the hill then drops down to another stile beside a gate. A longer climb follows to the far right corner of the field with an open byre near one more stile - to the left of three trees. Once over the stile walk across the lane to the left of the tree and continue forwards along the left side of the hedge.
Continuing alongside the hedge leads to the other side of the valley and Uplands Farm. Follow the path to a stile; cross the stile and walk, with the barns to your right, to another stile. Cross the stile and walk a short way through the trees to an open field. Stay on the path, with the hedge on your left, until you come to a metalled road.
Turn right into the lane and walk to the T junction with the A422. Turn right again along the wide grass verge, which leads back to the National Trust car park on your left. Revive yourself with tea and cake from the Pavilion café. Please check our website for up to date opening times, the car park is locked outside of these hours.
National Trust car park at Upton House and Gardens; grid ref: SP371461
You made it
Following this trail on mobile or tablet? Share your experience.