Distance: 5½ miles
Time: 3 hours
Description: An easy ramble using footpaths, stiles and road. Not suitable for pushchairs. The ground can be muddy and overgrown in places.
This walk was devised by Sue Sherwood and Peter Standen on behalf of Cowbeech Bonfire Society and has been used by the society for many years as their annual fund raising village walk.
Start in the centre of Cowbeech, where parking is restricted to on-road. Take Trolliloes Lane opposite the Merrie Harriers pub and follow it as it leaves Cowbeech. Continue along the lane for about 300 metres until you come to a sharp right hand bend.
On the outside of the bend directly facing you is a farm gate. Go through the gate and bear diagonally right heading for a point in the opposite boundary hedge about two thirds along to the right. There should be a stile, but don’t worry if you can’t find it as there are plenty of gaps in the hedge. In the next field, go straight across to the large oak tree in the opposite hedge(A). Cross over the stile to the left of the tree and turn immediately right and follow the hedge towards some buildings. As you approach the buildings there is a stile on the right. Go over this and turn immediately left to take you around the buildings and down to the lane. In the lane you will see Bemzells lane opposite. Go down the lane and right again after a couple of hundred metres into Studdens Lane.
Follow this lane to the end where it becomes a byway and descends into a wood. The path crosses a small stream via a bridge and climbs up to the edge of the wood and its boundary with Greenaway Fruit Farm. Leave the byway as it moves right and instead go through the gate(B) into the orchard. Turn immediately left along the hedge for about 100 metres. Here the hedge moves further left, but you should bear right and follow the main track through the orchard. Continue along the track until it takes you around a large farm building and up the concrete access road to the public road at Stunts Green.
Cross the road and locate the track on the left signposted to a number of different dwellings. Follow this wide track as it approaches Erreys and skirts round to the left and passes a small number of other buildings. As the track enters the drive of the last group of buildings, the public footpath branches left through a field gate into a broad greenway(C). The path continues straight passing fields and paddocks on either side and finally enters Starvecrow Wood over a stile. The path continues more or less straight as it ascends to a large ancient Beech tree. Pass the tree on the left and descend to the edge of the wood after about fifty metres.
Exit the wood over a stile to an open field. Head down through the field to a gate into the next field and continue straight ahead. On the left you will see a hedge that borders Squirrel Lane. Continue heading to the gate to the left of a large mound. Exit via the gate to the junction with Squirrel Lane and Old Road.
Turn right in Old Road to the first house on the right. Take the footpath that goes to the right of the property(D) and around the back of the house. Once around the house turn right through a little wooden gate and proceed through an avenue of oak trees as it ascends to Squab Lane. Enter Squab Lane and turn right and continue as it winds its way to a t-junction. On the other side of the road is a gate to the footpath that will take you to Nobody’s Wood. The footpath moves off diagonally to the right through a small field that then opens out. On the horizon you will see the trees you are heading for. The footpath moves through to the next field via an open gateway and climbs the slope towards the nearest tree. Keep the first tree on your right and descend to the gateway into the next field. Keep to the right-hand boundary hedge as you approach Nobody’s Wood.
Enter Nobody’s Wood over a stile(E). The way through the wood is marked only occasionally with footpath signs. However, there are a number of additional signs warning that dogs must be kept on leads. Use both the official and unofficial signs to lead you through the woods. Start off by heading downhill and over a stream using a footbridge and then up the other side. On reaching the top of the slope the path flattens out and widens to a track. Continue ahead following the signs, until you come to a clearing with a large oak tree(F). Go straight across the clearing and bear right up the narrow track. Shortly you will approach a pond on your left and then two overlapping fences across the path. As you reach the end of the pond turn left at the junction with a gravelled track(G). Follow the track to the next junction, where you turn right and walk the short distance up to Cinderford Lane. Turn immediately right in the lane and continue until the lane turns sharp right. Here on the left is the entrance to Blackford Farm and a short flight of steps up a bank.
Go up the steps to the open field and follow the footpath obliquely to the left as it crosses to the wood ahead. Enter the wood by a gate. Continue ahead, ignoring tracks to the left and right. The footpath leaves the wood via a farm gate(H). Here the path splits. Take the left hand fork across the open field and enter the next wood via a hard to see gap in the hedge. The path ahead is quite clear, if a little boggy at times. Follow the path through the wood until it ascends and exits at the corner of a narrow field. Keeping to left hand edge of the field, continue to the weather boarded cottage and exit onto the road via a stile to the left of a field gate. All you have to do now is to turn left and walk the couple of hundred metres back to the centre of Cowbeech.