A lovely stroll through old Kingsbury and around the pools of its magnificent water park.
Distance 3 miles (4.8km)
Minimum time 1hr
Ascent/gradient 33ft (10m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Reservoir paths and footpaths, 1 stile
Landscape Reservoir parkland
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 232 Nuneaton & Tamworth
Start/finish SP 217962
Dog friendliness Under control at all times
Parking Pear Tree Avenue car park (free)
Public toilets Visitor centre in Kingsbury Water Park
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1 From the car park, go left along Pear Tree Avenue to reach the A51 road. Go right along the pavement of the A51, then cross the road passing in front of the White Swan public house. About 20yds (18m) beyond the pub, cross over the road and go left along the well-walked footpath by the side of the churchyard. Follow the Heart of England waymarkers past the church building and descend the steps to reach a footbridge over the River Tame. Cross the bridge and walk along the raised footway planks to enter Kingsbury Water Park. With Hemlingford Water close on your left, walk by the side of Bodymoor Heath Water, leaving the Heart of England behind as you proceed ahead to reach the visitor centre complex.
2 From the visitor centre follow the signs to the sailing club along lanes and footpaths. As you veer to the left, walk by the side of Bodymoor Heath Water, then pass by the entrance gate to Tamworth Sailing Club. Continue to the right-hand side of Bodymoor Heath Water, along a mixture of tarmac lane and grass footpaths.
3 At the end of the stretch of water bear left, then right and follow the waymarkers for the Centenary Way. These take you near to Swann Pool and then between Mill Pool and Hemlingford Water as your route veers north east. Shortly you will reach a gateway and can cross over the Hemlingford Bridge.
4 Walk along the tarmac lane towards the busy A51, but just before reaching it go left over a stile and cross the edge of the field to a final stile on to the pavement of the A51, near the middle of the village of Kingsbury. Go left along the pavement until you reach an area of open land on the other side of the road. Cross over the road and go right, through a kissing gate on to a clear footpath that goes along the back of some houses. In about 220yds (201m), turn left into Meadow Close, then left again into Pear Tree Avenue to return to the car park.
The water park around Kingsbury was once 620 acres (251ha) of old sand and gravel pits, but today it has become a major leisure facility with more than 30 beautiful lakes and pools attracting some 200,000 visitors each year.
Raised planks lead into the water park where you can stroll around a number of the larger pools to enjoy watching a wide variety of contemporary activities taking place such as sailing, windsurfing, fishing and horse-riding. There are also several hides where you can do a spot of birdwatching.
The old village of Kingsbury sits on a small hill overlooking this wonderland of water. On this high ground is the Church of St Peter and St Paul from where you get a delightful view over the lakes. The church contains a 12th-century nave, a 14th-century tower and a 16th-century belfry. One of its old arches is incised by deep grooves in which it is believed the local bowmen used to sharpen their arrows.
Kingsbury village has been associated with many famous families over the years. In the Middle Ages the Bracebridge and Arden families were involved in a Romeo and Juliet-type feud when Alice Bracebridge married John Arden against the wishes of both families. John's brother's granddaughter was Mary Arden, the mother of William Shakespeare.
By the middle of the 19th century most of the land in the village was owned by Sir Robert Peel. The long-serving MP for Tamworth, one-time Prime Minister and founder of the modern police, lived at nearby Drayton Manor and was buried at Drayton Basset, a few miles up the Tame Valley. The main business of the area had been agriculture, but coal mining took over. Later sand and gravel was extracted from the land on the other side of the River Tame. Today the river divides a thriving village from the Kingsbury Water Park.
You leave the water park over Hemlingford Bridge which crosses the River Tame. This bridge was first built by public subscription in 1783 and takes its name from the Hundred of Hemlingford in which Kingsbury stands (a hundred was an old Saxon local administrative area). There used to be a toll house at one end of the original bridge, but this was demolished in 1937. On New Year's Day in 1982 the original bridge was destroyed by catastrophic floods which swept down the Tame Valley. Flooding has been a regular feature of the area, with the water frequently rising and spreading over the flood plain between Kingsbury village and the nearby hamlet of Bodymoor Heath. Most people now live on the east side of the River Tame.
Many wild birds visit the water park and you will certainly see plenty of ducks, swans, coots and moorhens, especially Canada geese. Look out for herons, kingfishers, common terns, great crested grebes, cormorants, little ringed plovers and lapwings. Some 200 species of bird have been recorded here and the park has one of the UK's largest inland breeding colonies of common terns.
Kingsbury's Norman church stands on a hill overlooking the River Tame where the kings of Mercia were said to have had a palace. Mercia was the main Saxon kingdom at the time of King Offa who died in ad 796. Close to the church, the crumbling wall round Kingsbury Hall is now part of a farmhouse which retains its Elizabethan splendour.
The White Swan which you pass on your way into Kingsbury Water Park is a regular haunt of local rambling groups. Well-behaved children and dogs are allowed in the bar. Alternatively you might like to try the Old Barn Coffee Shop at the visitor centre in the park. There is an outside seating area and a menu big enough for even the heartiest of appetites.