Walk F - Great Transport Feats

The walk starts at Stoke Works, criss-crosses the railway up hill with an easy stroll back down the canal towpath. In dry weather only sensible footwear is needed. The link-paths can become muddy and overgrown making boots and trousers sensible at other times. Bring a telephoto lens with your camera.

Between 1791 and 1815 men toiled to link the Severn at Worcester with Birmingham by canal. In doing so they created the Tardebigge Flight with 30 locks, the longest in the UK followed by a tunnel of 580 yards.

 Between 1838 and 1841 navvies linked Gloucester and Birmingham by rail. In doing so they built the Lickey Incline - generally regarded as the steepest main line gradient in Britain - 2½ miles at 1 in 37.

In two places the walk follows the long distance Monarch’s Way. The future King Charles II fled north after the Battle of Worcester (1651) to Madeley, Shropshire before coming south through Bromsgrove to Stratford, Charmouth and Shoreham

The towpath is not a public right of way but the BWB allows walkers access. No cycling is allowed at present.

1. Stoke Works - In 1812 salt was confirmed during the building of the canal. In 1825 and 1828 two works developed which following various financial and technical problems came under the control of John Corbett, the Salt King, in 1852 and 1858. He built an industrial village, including the village school, now the Redgrove Senior School. The works had a large boat fleet and internal rail system.

From the Boat and Railway proceed north along Shaw Lane under the Midland and Great Western Bridges with their associated cottages and houses. There were platforms on both lines with the GWR part finally closing in 1966.

Turn right at F/P sign and follow track parallel to railway across the Hen Brook to reach Foley Gardens (F/P sign)

2. Stoke Wharf - Turn right and right again into Hanbury Road, pass Navigation Inn to canal, where there is a cafe and a Boatyard summer shop. Turn left along towpath from Lock 23 to Lock 28 past Leslie Harris Picnic Site.

3. Thompson’s Bridge - Cross Canal to gate opposite. Follow field round to gate in middle of fence. Continue into an enclosed path. Only cross the tracks if you can neither See or hear or feel a train - many will come round the curve on full power to attack the Bank. Turn right into Fish House Lane (F/P sign).

4. Sugarbrook - Turn right into Sugarbrook Lane and turn left up bank (F/P sign) to tarmac path alongside railway.

5. Formerly Garringtons – (now largely industrial units and housing) Claimed to be the largest automotive forging unit in Europe. Once employing over 1200 people, it closed in 2002 with a pension scandal. About halfway along the path just past waiting point for the banker .

Either turn right across stiles and railway tracks then turn half left to gap in far hedge by corner of sports ground. Best for walkers.

Or continue along tarmac path and turn right over railway bridge and through gate. The stabling point for the Class 37 bankers was immediately on the left, whilst the Wagon Works and MPD for bankers, such as Big Bertha, was to the right. Freight from the oil terminal nearer the station ceased in 1996. This is the best alternative for rail enthusiasts.

6. Footpath Junction - (F/P sign) Go through opening and keep to right of hedge to gate into lane by Maidsmere Cottage. Turn left across stile (F/P sign) and small stream. Keep to left-hand side of sports ground to gap into a small copse. Cross small field into track.

7. St Godwald’s Road - (F/P sign) Turn left just below entrance to Sports Club Pavilion. The new estate occupies the Wagon Works site and the roads are named after railway personalities or fatalities. (See Walk E).

[For Bromsgrove Station, Ladybird, shops, buses and car park, continue over railway bridge and turn left]

8. Aston Fields/Bromsgrove Station - Turn right along railway embankment to next bridge where there is a fine view up the incline.

9. Rigby - Cross rebuilt railway bridge and main road into service road parallel to Rigby Lane. Where this turns go straight on down track between another school and playing grounds. Go straight along track At W/M post go right along cycle track/path. Turn first right into Penshurst Road and right again into Belvoir Road. At end follow tarmac path, becomes combined with cycle track, parallel to railway

10. Oakalls Railway Bridge – Turn right under bridge and through gate, follow track

11. Heydon Road, Finstall - Turn left, right and left (almost a cross roads) into Pikes Pool Lane. [For refreshments go straight up main road to Cross Inn] Go under highway. Just beyond end of pavement turn right over stile, continue parallel to lane and cross fence.

12. Pikes Pool Bridge - Turn right. Follow track with partial hedge initially to the left and then cross to right. Path then keeps to left of hedge/fence until stile is reached in top corner of field. Continue alongside hedge/fence across two stiles. Turn left along driveway but turn right across stile just before second gate.

13. High Barn Farm-Vigo - [To continue following incline turn left onto bridleway, then left onto road and right onto path before the railway bridge. Keep straight on for Burcot with Garden Centre and bus 145] [For Tardebigge Cider continue straight up roadand take first right.]

Turn right back along the other side of the hedge. Go through gate by barn, keep close to right hand side of field to small wooden gate in corner. Head half left down hill to Finstall Farm. Go through gate into farm yard and along driveway parallel to highway.

14. Tutnall Lane (B/W sign) - Go under highway and turn right into Alcester Road.

15. Finstall - Turn left by B/W sign by second bus stop. (Keep straight on for Cross Inn). Some say this was part of a pack horse road for salt from Droitwich. Follow this bridleway through woods and down towards Stoke Cross Farm .

16. Dusthouse Lane (B/W sign) - Turn left, keep left at road junction until road turns sharp left by F/P sign. Keep left of wire fence. Cross bridge into copse. Turn right through kissing gate, then left parallel to copse to gate. Go half left up hill and then aim for brick canal bridge (No 56) to right and beyond metal barn on other side of farm track. Go down steps onto towpath.

This path apparently closely follows a tramway (closed in 1870) from Dusthouse Quarry to Tardebigge Wharf.

17. Canal - Turn left under bridge and follow towpath back to Stoke Works.

[17A]. Tardebigge Basin & Church - turn right. There is an information board and on the bank just past Lock 58 a plaque commemorating the founding of the Inland Waterways Association in 1946. Turn right and over a gate and through two gates to visit the Baroque St Bartholomew’s Church. At one time the church straddled the Worcester/Warwickshire boundary and has also been in Staffordshire. The School House (1845) completes a charming church yard. There is a car park just below the church. The towpath continues over the top of the tunnel to Alvechurch and Birmingham]

Just after the London Lane bridge is Tylers Lock on the Water. This building once housed a pumping engine.

18. Tardebigge Reservoir - Where a bridleway crosses the canal it is worth going up the bank to admire the wildlife. [At either Bridge 52 or Lock 33, turn right for short cuts back to Aston Fields. See walk E]

19. Queen\\\'s Head - Just beyond the start of the Stoke Flight is this popular inn. [Follow the road to Point 4 and up to Avoncroft Museum. See Walk B] 3,2,1 Continue along the towpath. This part of the walk is also common with Walks B, C and D, which contain more detail.

The total walk will take about 6 hours. (Approx 12½ miles)

Most of the shorter walks are about 2 hours, more if you are a sadist and like watching holidaymakers struggling in a heatwave or just watching trains.

Both Ottakars Books and the Tourist Information Centre stock many histories on the railway, canal and salt works.

 

Bus Routes Points Served
143 Catshill-Redditch Weekdays 8,9,11,14,15&17A
343 Catshill-Bromsgrove-Studley (Sundays and Weekday evenings) 8,9,11,14,15&17A
141 Bromsgrove - Droitwich 1 and 2 & 8 (Nearby)
940 Bromsgrove – Droitwich (Operates beyond Stoke Works by prior telephone request 08456 077 077) Weekdays 1,2,3 and 8 & 9 (Nearby)
145 Birmingham-Bromsgrove 13 (About 1 mile)
* Bus Stop nearby

For Tourist Information ring: Bromsgrove TIC 01527 831809
Droitwich TIC 01905 774312
Redditch TIC 01527 60806

London Midland Trains serves Birmingham -Bromsgrove - Worcester - Hereford
For train times ring 08457 484950

Black Prince Holidays - Stoke Works 01527 575115 hire canalboats

There are car parks at Aston Fields and Tardebigge Church. Most public houses will allow walkers to park but please check.

If you encounter any problems please ring Worcestershire County Council – Public Rights of Way Section 01905 768289 or visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk  

There is an on-going policy to replace stiles by gates, which will shortly affect this walk