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History at Kenilworth

Explore historic Kenilworth Castle and the surrounding countryside.

Distance 4.5 miles (7.2km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 105ft (32m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field paths and farm tracks, 8 stiles

Landscape Rolling countryside

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 221 Coventry & Warwick

Start/finish SP 279723

Dog friendliness On leads at all times

Parking In front of castle by Castle Green

Public toilets None on route

1 From the car park, go through the handgate to the left of impressive Kenilworth Castle. Take the footpath that circles around the castle walls, then go ahead, to the left of a beautiful pink, thatched cottage, and over a stile on to a good wide track. Go left along this track for 120yds (110m), then right over a stile into a cultivated field. Follow the well-walked footpath diagonally north west across the field. Pause at the field corner to enjoy a fine retrospective view of the castle and then leave the main path by going right, up a less-used green track going north. Walk along this track over several fields until you come to Chase Lane, by the side of East Chase Farm.

2 Head left and stroll along Chase Lane for the next 1½ miles (2.4km). This is pleasant, easy walking passing a pair of red-brick cottages, where other paths emerge, the entrance driveway to Pleasance Farm and several attractive cottages before going to the right of Chase Wood. The wood displays a carpet of bluebells in spring. As you approach the end of the wood, the large complex of Warriors Lodge Farm is close ahead. At the wood end, go left and descend a stony farm track to the west of Chase Wood. Up to your right you can see Honiley church.

3 After about 400yds (366m) you reach a junction of footpaths. If you fancy a visit up to Honiley there is a footpath going to the right here, which leads up to the church. It will add about a further mile (1.6km) to your walk. At the junction of footpaths, go left along a fine wide grass track to the right of the field hedge with Chase Wood further to the left. Follow this straight track for about ½ mile (800m) going over a stile and footbridge. Continue over the Pleasance Mound, then walk along the hedged footpath that leads to the farm drive to Holly Fast. Continue ahead along the drive and, as you reach the brow of the hill, another classic view of Kenilworth Castle appears. This fine prospect will follow you as you descend the other side of the hill.

4 Just before reaching the pink, thatched cottage, go right over a stile and to the right of the cottage on a well-walked footpath that leads by the walls of the castle and back to your car.

The dramatic ruins of Kenilworth Castle are an important part of English history. This walk starts from the castle and goes over farmland, then circles around Chase Wood to return along a track from where the best views of the castle ruins can be enjoyed.

This was the stronghold for lords and kings of England in the 11th and 12th centuries. Originally it was a timber fortress and King John paid several visits to the castle, providing £2,000 for its defences. In the 14th century, John of Gaunt transformed the fortress into a grand castle, building a great hall. The castle later passed to Henry IV and remained a royal residence until Queen Elizabeth I gave it to Robert Dudley in 1563. It was then used to host a series of lavish entertainments for the Queen. The Civil War brought about its demise when, after a long siege, Cromwell ordered the defences to be dismantled. Later it was the setting for large parts of the action in Sir Walter Scott's historical novel Kenilworth. It is now in the hands of English Heritage.

Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, built his home in Honiley and obtained a licence from the Pope to build a church and to put a statue to St John and a picture of the Blessed Virgin in it. At the beginning of the 18th century John Sanders bought Honiley and decided to rebuild the church. Legend has it that the architect Sir Christopher Wren, a neighbour who was nearing his 90th birthday at the time, sketched a design for the new church on his tablecloth and Sanders used it to build the lovely baroque building. Although the old hall was pulled down in 1820, Sanders' outbuildings remain. There are two wells (St John's Well and Our Lady's Well) near the church and pilgrims flocked to the site. Sadly there is no longer public access to the wells.

What to look for

If you complete this walk in the spring you can expect to see a carpet of bluebells in Chase Wood. Look out for the views of Kenilworth Castle as you complete the walk and pause from time to time at different points along the walk. After draining part of the lake around the castle, Henry V built a summer house on 'The Pleasance' - can you spot the site?

Where to eat and drink

The Queen and Castle and the Clarendon Arms by Castle Green in Kenilworth are two popular eating places where walkers congregate after a visit to the area. In the town itself there are lots of other cafés, restaurants and pubs to discover.

While you're there

Take the opportunity to visit English Heritage's Kenilworth Castle. This is England's most extensive castle ruin and is famous as the place where Henry V rested after his victory at Agincourt in 1415. A climb to the top of Saintlowe Tower is rewarded with a wonderful view over rolling wooded countryside.

Warks

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