Seven wonders of Warwickshire
PUBLISHED: 11:07 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 15:54 20 February 2013
Petra May's pick of seven great attractions in the county. Why not have a day out this Spring?
Any building that has over 1,000 years of history behind it has got to be worth a visit. The earthen ramparts were constructed in around 914 Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, to protect Warwick against Danish invasion and it was William the Conquerer himself who ordered the building of the motte and bailey, replaced in 1260 by a stone construction. In the first half of the 14th century Caesar's Tower and Dungeon was built and many a hapless soul has been tortured in the centuries that followed. Queen Elizabeth I visited in 1572 - she came to the area several times, not least to visit her great friend the Earl of Dudley. Since 1984 the castle has been owned by The Tussaud's Group. It is still possible to soak up the history and there is a new dungeon attraction this year which should frighten the living daylights out of some of the thousands of visitors expected this year!
Tel: 0870 442 2000 (recorded information line) www.warwick-castle.co.uk
Atherstone Ball Game
You've missed it for this year so put a date in your diary for next year (Shrove Tuesday) if you want an afternoon of rough and tumble - it makes rugby look as rough as a game of tiddlywinks. The origins of the game are lost in the mists of time. The whistle is sounded at 3pm. Players have to retrieve ribbons from the specially made leather ball. The person holding the ball at 5pm is the winner. In the old days the winner was assured of a good farming job (the strongest person in the town) and a bag of gold from King John.
Standing at the top of Edgehill you have a beautiful view over the plain in which the River Avon meanders. The villages between Radway and Kineton were the scene of the Battle of Edgehill and while most of the site is now MOD property there are some footpaths around Radway, in particular, which overlook the battle site. The best place to start is at The Castle Inn at Edgehill and there is a good guide to the walk, with information on the battle, at www.battlefieldstrust.com. There is little to mark the fact that on 23rd October 1642, one thousand people lost there lives and a further 2,000-3,000 were wounded here, but the Battlefield Trust is campaign for a waymarked route with visitor information at the site.
The River Avon
This beautiful river rises at Naseby in Leicestershire and flows through Warwickshire and on to Worcestershire and the to Tewkesbury, where it joins the River Severn. The river is navigable from Alveston weir, two miles north of Stratford right down to Tewkesbury, thanks to a series of locks and weirs. The river passes through some beautiful countryside and is very popular with leisure boat traffic.
Right on our border with Leicestershire, Twycross Zoo is a lovely day out if you have children. Zoos are, of course, controversial but so much important conservation work is carried out by our zoos that it is worth supporting them. Twycross is renowned for its work in saving endangered species of monkeys. Look out for the pygmy marmosets which are high on the 'ahh' factor!
East Midland Zoological Society
Tel: 01827 880250 www.twycrosszoo.org
It's one of the biggest reservoirs in the region - 600 acres of water - and is a fantastic place to go, whatever your outdoor interests. Birdwatching, fishing, sailing, cycling walking - all are catered for, oh, and look out for the alpacas too! Draycote Water is just off the A426 one mile south of Dunchurch near Rugby, the country park is well signposted.
The stately homes of Warwickshire
The county is crammed with stately homes of all ages and varieties. Just around Alcester there is Coughton Court, with its links to the Gunpowder plotters and beautiful rose gardens, and Ragley Hall, the Palladian mansion that is set in magnificent parkland. Then there's Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton, Compton Verney...take your pick, you'll find details of all of these at your local Tourist Information Centre.