A pleasant woodland stroll around the Heart of England Way, which is especially delightful in the spring.
Distance 4.5 miles (7.2km)
Minimum time 1hr 30min
Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Field and woodland paths, 20 stiles
Landscape Gentle rolling countryside
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 221 Coventry & Warwick
Start/finish SP 251820
Dog friendliness Off lead through woodland, otherwise under strict control
Parking Old Road, Meriden, near Queen's Head
Public toilets None on route
1 From the Queen's Head in Meriden, walk up Walsh Lane following the waymarkers of the Heart of England Way and, in about 300yds (274m), turn right on to Eaves Green Lane. In a further ¼ mile (400m) go beneath the main A45 Birmingham to Coventry road and continue into the hamlet of Eaves Green.
2 After passing by a caravan site, continue to the left on a track that leads over meadows into woodland called Meriden Shafts. Continue through the delightful woodland and leave at its north-east end by going left along the track for a few paces, then turn right into pastureland. Continue ahead by the hedge-side, across three fields and on to Harvest Hill Lane in Hollyberry End.
3 Go left past Ivy House Farm and leave the Heart of England Way by following the lane for over ½ mile (800m). After passing Marlbrook Hall Farm, bear right at the next road junction to follow Becks Lane. In about 275yds (251m) the lane bends right near the entrance to Becks Farm where you go to the right of the farm drive on a waymarked path over pastureland. A couple of handgates lead on to a road. Cross the road and the next field on to a quiet lane near two large communication masts.
4 Continue ahead along the lane for about 350yds (320m), then go left through a hedge gap on to a footpath to the left of Close Wood. Enter the woodland, which can be particularly pretty in the spring when bluebells form a magnificent carpet of blue, and enjoy a delightful stretch of walking. Leave Close Wood and walk along the path over cultivated land to a farm track near High Ash Farm.
5 Turn left and descend the track to a stile by a locked gate. Go over the stile and bear right, descending a lane past Lodge Green Farm to reach the Fillongley road. Cross the road and continue down Lodge Green Lane opposite for about 350yds (320m). Turn right and take the path following a line of oak trees across a large field. At the end, go left along Walsh Lane and cross the bridge over the A45. Turn right and take a diversionary path high above the A45. In 100yds (91m) go left into pastureland heading for a footbridge to the right of a pond surrounded by trees. From the footbridge climb right up the next field to the corner.
6 Bear sharp left to descend over several fields towards the village of Meriden. Aim for a stile to the left of a row of fairly new bungalows and go over this on to Old Road. The Queen's Head pub can be found to the left.
This easy walk offers the opportunity to visit an historic place and walk through some of the most attractive woodland in the area. Meriden is a pleasant commuter village providing quick access to Coventry and Birmingham along the busy A45. It claims to be the centre of England and there is a cross on the village green which carries the inscription: 'This ancient wayside cross has stood in the village for some 500 years and by tradition marks the Centre of England.' The cross was built on this site when the green was improved in celebration of the Festival of Britain in 1951.
The Church of St Lawrence, on the other side of the B4202, was founded by Lady Godiva. It has a Norman chancel with gargoyles on its roof and a golden weathercock. At 18th-century Forest Hall, to the west of Meriden, there is a piece of ancient turf where the Woodmen of Arden, the oldest archery society in England, holds its meetings. The turf is believed to have been undisturbed since the trees of the Forest of Arden first cast their shade over the archery butts. The society was established in 1785 and its membership is strictly limited to just 82 archers. There is also a horn here, said to have belonged to Robin Hood.
The Queen's Head in Meriden is the favourite drinking hole for local walkers. It is on the route of this walk and the Heart of England Way and offers a wide range of food, and toilet facilities for walkers. Children accompanied by adults are very welcome, but only guide dogs are allowed in the pub.
Cross the B4202 road and climb the hill to visit the Church of St Lawrence. From the churchyard you will be rewarded with fine views. If you stand near the ancient sundial or by the yew tree with the massive trunk you can see the city of Birmingham and the view stretches to the hills of Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.
The medieval cross in Meriden may not actually be the centre of England, as has been thought for over 500 years. Satellites and global positioning technology has recently identified that it is most likely to be in the middle of a farm field some 10 miles (16.1km) away but, to many people, Meriden will always remain the true centre.