More Grand Union Canal Loops (From 0.75 to 5 miles)

A further series of four circular loops that can be combined into walks of differing lengths, from three quarters of a mile to five miles, including delightful strolls along the footpath of the Grand Union Canal.

Recommended for most of the year. This is another walk for seeing not only boating on the canal and wildlife, but also some intriguing sights.

Three ancient Halls sit tantalisingly just out of sight from the route, but it gets up close to some lovely old cottages. This route sees at first hand the ancient industries of agriculture and the waterway as well as roads that no longer carry traffic, and contrasts these with the M42 and that master of disguise - the thriving modern factory at Whale Tankers.

There are three possible start points to pick up these loops. The route description assumes the first of these. They are

  • at the Car Park beside the Canal Bridge on Hampton Road out of Knowle,
  • at the end of Barston Lane, near Copt Heath Wharf,
  • in Catherine-de-Barnes near the Boat Inn.

(Note: the second and fourth loops are both very short and can only be undertaken in isolation from their far ends, rather than as described below, starting at Barston Lane and the Boat, respectively.)

(Please note as well that this route includes a fair bit of walking on road, most of which are quiet country lanes, three of them dead ends. Key exceptions are at the two extremities of the route - Hampton Road near Knowle and Hampton Lane in Catherine de Barnes. The latter must be crossed twice near the canal bridge, where approaching traffic can be difficult to see, in order to use the parallel footbridge.)

Those keen on post walk refreshment will want to begin at the Boat, or return along Hampton Road to the Wilson Arms.

 

 
LOOP ONE - START POINT: THE CANAL BRIDGE CAR PARK, HAMPTON ROAD
DISTANCE: 2 MILES
ROUTE:
Entrance to Thackers Nursery Site

From the Car Park, turn left onto Hampton Road. There is a verge which is suitable for walking on this side of the road. Continue until you approach the '30mph' sign, at which point a glimpse of Grimshaw Hall is possible through the trees to your left.

Near the sign (pictured) is a track to the right, which you follow, which leads to the old Thackers' Nursery site. Continue straight on past the old Nursery and on down the hill.

Boardwalk Over river Blythe

Eventually the track turns into a boardwalk over the brook (pictured), which leads to the back of the houses in Wychbold Avenue. The path continues between the houses to the road. Turn left, follow Wychbold Ave up the hill and turn into Broadfern Road.

 

Between 49/51 Broadfern Road

Between nos 49 and 51 Broadfern Road (pictured), a path leads between the houses. Follow this through to the end of the cul de sac at Lightwood Close.

 

Beside Keepers Cottage

Shortly after this, turn right immediately after Keepers Cottage, between the houses, to follow a further path, down through a tunnel of leaf (pictured). This leads into Queen Eleanors Drive, named as a reminder that the Manor of 'Knolle' once belonged to King Edward I and Queen Eleanor.

Turn right into Queen Eleanors Drive, cross the road and proceed around the corner. A driveway can be seen ahead, with the number '19' presented on a section of a tree, pass this and follow towards a white painted cottage.

Leading to no 19

(NB This is an easy point to go wrong. There is a tarmac path to the left beside no 17, by the sign with the no 19 on it, ignore this tarmac path and proceed up the drive towards the cottage.)

Just before the cottage entrance, the footpath proceeds to the left of the property (pictured), follow this to a stile and along the right hand side of the field beyond. At the end of the field, turn right on to the driveway of Grove Farm and proceed towards the farm itself.

Grove Farm Barn Upon reaching the farmyard, you will see a barn to the right (pictured) and a kissing gate beside it. This leads along the side of the barn and the field beyond, where you keep the hedge on your immediate left.
Canal Bridge at Grove Farm

You then reach a stile (pictured) leading to a bridge over the canal.

To close the loop turn right over the stile on the bridge and then left down the towpath, back to the start point. Otherwise proceed onto Loop Two.

LOOP TWO - START POINT: CANAL BRIDGE, GROVE FARM
DISTANCE: 0.8 MILES
ROUTE:
Stile Beyond Canal Bridge

From the Canal Bridge, go straight ahead over the stile beside the gate (pictured). Continue up the left hand side of the field beyond and the one beyond that. When the hedge finishes there is a clearly defined path straight across the field to the far hedge.

Henwood Hall Farm can be seen clearly to the right from this path.

Gate near Henwood Hall Farm

A track then leads down to the field entrance and another gate. The stile is to its left (pictured), cross this and turn left down the farm drive toward the tall telecomms microwave pole.

 

Gates Near Barston Lane

Approaching this installation, you will see that there are two gates, the right hand gate leads to the pole. The path, however, crosses the stile to the right of the left hand gate. This leads down the hill to Barston Lane.

Barston Lane Junction

Turn left here and then, almost immediately, follow Barston Lane as it turns right (pictured) to go under the motorway bridge and left again on the other side. Continue past the cottages and up to the bridge beside Copt Heath Wharf.

To close the loop turn onto the canal before the bridge and then go under the bridge and along the towpath back to the start point. Otherwise, proceed along Barston Lane onto Loop Three.

LOOP THREE - START POINT: COPT HEATH WHARF, BARSTON LANE.
DISTANCE: 1.2 MILES
ROUTE:
Stile After Yew Tree Cottage

There is usually parking space in the 'hammerhead' beyond Copt Heath Wharf, where the road ends (pictured).

Here join the footpath that goes straight on, tracing the route where the road itself used to go. Follow this as it passes along the side of the M42 and then swings away from it, to the right and towards a gate.

Gate to Ravenshaws

This gate (pictured) is at the cul de sac of Ravenshaw Lane. Join this lane and follow it down the hill, across the front of the Whale Tankers plant, its frontage amazingly belying the activity beyond.

 

Ravenshaw Junction

At the next junction (pictured) turn right and proceed along this road, past Ravenshaw Hall, which also hides from view, until this road ends as well. Once more a footpath continues where the road used to go, and the route takes you over what was once a ford across the Blythe.

 

Road Begins Again

Shortly beyond, the road starts again after a gate (pictured). Join this and proceed up the hill for the length of one field.

You then find gates and stiles on either side of the road. The left hand path would take you a short distance to Berry Hall, which you cannot quite see. But you turn right here.

Stile Back into Fields

You leave the lane by crossing the stile (pictured), and proceed across the edge of a couple of fields, keeping the hedgerow to your left.

Access between fields is by two intermediate stiles. You will pass under one of a pair of National Grid lines and will for a short distance have one on each side of you.

Exit From Fields

The field comes to an end in a wooded area. A pylon is dead ahead as you approach it. Follow the path into the trees where you will find another stile and the start of a high metal fence which will remain on your right until you reach a track.

Follow this track until you reach Henwood Lane by its Canal Bridge. To close the loop, cross the bridge and join the towpath, turning left.

LOOP FOUR- START POINT: HENWOOD LANE BRIDGE
DISTANCE: 1 MILE
ROUTE:
Henwood Lane

Otherwise turn left onto Henwood Lane (pictured) and follow it to its junction with Hampton Lane in Catherine de Barnes.

Turn right here, past the Boat and across the bridge. (NB only the opposite side of the road has a footpath, cross with care).

Canal Access at Catherine de Barnes

Return to the same side of the road as the Boat, to walk down to the canal towpath (pictured) and continue in this same direction down it to return to your original start point.