A short but hilly walk from Ilmington taking in some fine views over the neighbouring Cotswolds.
Distance 3 miles (4.8km)
Minimum time 1hr
Ascent/gradient 492ft (150m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Field paths and country lane, 5 stiles
Landscape Edge of Cotswold Hills
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 205 Stratford-upon-Avon & Evesham
Start/finish SP 210440
Dog friendliness On lead at all times
Parking Sports Ground car park, Ilmington
Public toilets None on route
1 Start from the village sports centre where the only sensible parking is available. Cross the sports field, taking care to avoid the playing areas. When you reach the far fence, go right and follow the waymarked path westwards over a stile. Continue in the same direction, crossing several fields and stiles, but take time to pause and enjoy the fine view to the north. The path veers from one side of the hedge to the other as you descend into a valley and then, as you proceed to the top of the next rise, there is a fine Cotswold hill view with an attractive farmhouse at Lower Lark Stoke, immediately in front of you.
2 Descend to a pair of stiles near a small pool and walk by the fence on your left to emerge by the gates of the farmhouse and on to a tarmac lane. Go left and follow this lane for about ½ mile (800m). You will climb some 80yds (73m), but stop occasionally to recover your breath and to enjoy a wonderful retrospective view over the surrounding countryside.
3 Before you reach the brow of the hill, go left through a couple of handgates which take you to the left of Upper Lark Stoke Farm, then go left again into another dell. After crossing a small footbridge, climb again towards the hilltop. Follow the farm track, which hugs and arcs right with the contour of the hill, taking in the fine views to the left. After passing the drive to the Hill Barn, continue through a farm gate until you come to a road.
4 Do not go on to the road, but bear left to cross a stile on to a footpath now going in a general north east direction and eventually descending towards the village of Ilmington. The path will take you to a gate where you bear right to follow a hedged track that leads down to Hurdlers Lane in the village. At the road, go left and walk by the church as you retrace your steps past the school and across the sports area to return to the car park.
This hilly walk, by Warwickshire standards, take you to an attractive Cotswold village, offering some of the best views in the county.
Remote Ilmington is the highest village in Warwickshire, standing on the border of the Cotswolds, at the boundaries of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Brimming with typical Cotswold honey-coloured stone cottages, it is a place where time seems to have stood still. The name is probably derived from a Saxon phrase describing elms on a border hill - a mid-10th century record reveals its earlier name was Ylmandunes.
In 1934 Ilmington achieved a brief five minutes of fame when the very first Christmas broadcast by King George V was relayed to the world from Ilmington Manor, the home of the Flower family. It was introduced by 65-year-old Walton Handy, a local shepherd, and also included carols from the Ilmington Singers and bell ringing from the village. The local papers were delighted with the story, describing it as 'perhaps the most wonderful (feat) that has been accomplished since wireless has been brought to its present state of perfection.'
Like many country villages today, local facilities are fast disappearing. Although Ilmington still boasts a general store, a post office, a primary school and a hurdle maker, it no longer has a blacksmith or a baker. However, it has managed to retain its two pubs - the Red Lion and the Howard Arms - and these are enthusiastically supported by local walkers. The Ilmington Morris Dancers are well known and can be seen performing regularly in the local area.
The Norman church, with its battlemented tower and fine Norman arches, can be seen among the trees, as can the old 17th-century gabled manor house. Inside the church is a modern sculpture of a weeping youth at an urn. It was erected in memory of Francis Canning from the manor house.
Nearby Chipping Campden, just 5 miles (8km) south west of Ilmington, is a typical wool town built by the affluent merchants of the 14th and 15th centuries. It has many gabled Cotswold stone houses with oriel, dormer and mullioned windows, and an outstanding market hall. A visit to this wonderful old market town is like taking a step back into the Middle Ages.
Crab Mill is a lovely old building, built from local stone. Earlier in the 20th century, it was home to Lady Borwick, whose fortune came from baking powder. Later it was occupied by Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964 for her pioneering work in crystallography.
The Red Lion is a favourite eating place with local walkers and reasonably priced food is the order of the day - try the excellent home-made soup. Children and guide dogs are allowed in the pub, but there is also a small rear garden. The Howard Arms, once owned by the Howard family from the nearby hamlet of Foxcote, enjoys a peaceful setting on the village green and offers delicious food and a quiet pint.