• Start: Bidford on Avon
  • End: Bidford on Avon
  • Country: England
  • County: Warwickshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey:
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Richard Shurey enjoys the sunshine as he takes us on a June ramble.

Richard Shurey enjoys the sunshine as he takes us on a June ramble.

The famous seventeenth century poet Robert Herrick was ecstatic about the 'four sweet months' from April to July but his favourite was June which 'brings us more gems than those two that went before'.

The long warm days when the evening rays of the sun are reluctant to give way to night are an excuse to dally along our route and feast on the lovely countryside views. The hedgerows this month are so characteristic of the English country scene; they are delightfully interlaced with the delicate shades of pink of the honeysuckle and wild rose.

It is good to see around my village that many of the hedges that were ripped out a decade or so ago on the promise of a monetary grant are now being replaced - no doubt with another grant in this mad world!

These hedges are wonderful worlds of nature which attract birds and insects; I especially love to witness a tiny wren flitting in and out of the undergrowth.

We walk this month around the little town of Bidford on Avon. The place was described as 'drunken Bidford' in the rhyme about Shakespeare's villages. The Bard is said to have visited the Falcon Inn with the Stratford 'Topers' (a convivial club) and to have met the locals in a drinking contest. The building that was once the Falcon still stands solidly in the square and looks good for another four centuries but it long since ceased to be an inn. It has also served as the workhouse.

'The Bidford of today' I read 'is very different from that of twenty years ago. It was then an old rural town. Now it is much modernised and largely frequented by pleasure parties from Birmingham; but visiting it on a quiet day there is much that is quaint and charming'. The 'today' I hasten to add was actually more than a century ago.

Many visitors still come to the attractive riverside town which so welcomed the by-pass which came a few decades ago.

The Romans took their Icknield Street to Bidford. The original ford of the river was within a stone's throw of the church and upstream of the ancient bridge on which, perhaps, Shakespeare lingered. This bridge can scarcely cope with today's traffic.

The 700 year old tower of the church dedicated to Saint Laurence overlooks the town. The guide book says 'into this church Shakespeare must have been' but he would not have recognised many things we see today as the place of worship suffered from the blight of restoration in 1886-9.

I started and finished the walk at a hamlet half a mile over the meadows from Bidford. The reason for this was that at Barton there is a delightful inn. The lovely-named Cottage of Content nudges the river so here is a place where you will hear angler's tales of the one that got away!

It is a lovely place to rest awhile as a reward for completing the five mile summer walk.

From the inn turn right to a junction with the main road. Keep ahead for a few yards then, as the road bends right, take a stony track that leads to a yellow post after 400 yards, at a junction of farm roads. Take the right hand way. Pass a house along a tractor way which becomes a footpath. We go through a coppice of sapling trees then reach a clump of trees and (by yellow-topped posts) are directed right over the open field to walk to the right of a wood. We join a farm drive and continue to the road at the hamlet of Bickmarsh.

Turn right then take the lane left to the B4985. Keep ahead along the main road at Marlcliff. Within a few steps the road bends right. We maintain the old heading along a lane called The Bank.

When the lane splits take the left hand track. We come to a car parking area but just before go right over a bridge and through a gate to a meadow. There is now a riverside path (Shakespeare's Avon Way) to emerge on the road by Bidford bridge over the Avon where swans glide.

Cross the road to a gate to pastureland. There is now a path never far from the river to return to that welcoming inn with the pretty name at Barton.

When the sun is beating down it is tempting to just sit in the garden rather than seek the delights of the countryside this month. I recall the words of that ubiquitous countryman of the past (Mr Anon) who also did not want to travel far when he wrote the following. 'When June is come, then all the day, I'll sit with my love in the scented hay, And watch the sunset palaces high, That the white clouds build in the breezy sky'.

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