Ramsden - Wilcote - Bridewell Farm - North Leigh - Holly Grove - Ramsden
Approximately 7 miles; 2½ hours
Mostly footpaths and some quiet lanes; interesting church at North Leigh. In late May/early June, amazing show of bluebells in Holly Grove.
From Ramsden War Memorial walk up Wilcote Lane (road running alongside Royal Oak car park, with cul-de-sac sign). After the last cottage on the left, you will come to a No Through Road sign; take the marked footpath leading past a very small plant-choked pond on your right and over a stile. After about 100 yards pass through a squeeze-past and skirt woodland on your right.
The path curves right and after about 200 yards bear left around field edge. Follow the path down over a ditch and under telephone wires, keeping the hedge on your right. The path now leads gently uphill through a gap in the hedge with a large oak tree on your right and then bears right towards farm buildings.
Shortly after passing the farm buildings on your right, climb the stile and follow the path through a small copse and emerging onto the road. Cross the road and take the open path between the houses, passing a small duck pond on your left and continue along the gravelled path between hedges. The path swings right and the track then leads downhill between two rows of trees, through two gates to Ladywell Spring (surrounded by circular stone wall).
Ladywell Springis said to be an ancient fertility spring and local people used to gather here on Lady Day (25 March).
From Ladywell Spring go straight ahead through gate, over stream and squeezepast stile. Bear half-left uphill across field towards gap which you can see in hedge about 100 yards away. From this point you will see Bridewell Farm across one broad field and the tower of North Leigh church further to the right in the distance.
Cross the field to Bridewell Farm following the narrow track. Skirt farm, keeping it on your left and reach stream. Pass in front of the farm and turn right over the stream via a broad cart-track. Your path now leads straight ahead of you, uphill, keeping the hedge on your left.
Where the hedge turns sharp left, you will see Field Farm in front of you; the right-of-way leads straight across this field towards the farm and through a gate. Pass to the left of the barns and follow the farm lane over a cattle-grid. Stay on this lane, making for North Leigh church that is clearly visible a few hundred yards away.
Leaving the church, turn right and walk up a long hill to a T-junction in the centre of the village. Turn right and you will find The Woodman a little further on, on your left (real ale and bar food).
North Leigh church is well worth a visit. It is late Saxon in origin, containing interesting wall-paintings and a remarkable 15th century chapel with superb fan-vaulting, stained glass and alabaster effigies of Sir William Wilcote and his wife.
Immediately after the pub, the road bears left but you go straight ahead down Green Lane. After about a mile the lane bears right towards End Farm but you keep straight ahead along North Leigh Lane. After another a mile you will join a track which runs off sharply to the left to New Yatt Farm; keep right here.
After about 100 yards you will pass a footpath sign on your right. Ignore this and after ¼ mile reach a 6-barred metal gate with a squeeze-past (signed Wilcote).
Pass through this and you will see Shakenoak Farm ahead and to your left, with a tall clump of pine trees to the left of the house.
Follow the obvious track leading straight ahead to Holly Grove. Enter the woods past a metal gate and follow the welldefined path that leads through them and brings you out onto the Wilcote road.
Turn left and immediately right into fields (signed Finstock) and follow the ditch, with telephone wires overhead, as far as the next hedge.
Turn left and walk up as far as the woods, turn right and follow the line of the woods back towards Wilcote Lane and the outskirts of Ramsden.