UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
St Kenelms Way
From Clent to Winchcombe
52 Miles longOfficial Guide Available
St Kenelms Way
Romsley to Himbleton (19.5 miles)
Himbleton to Great Comberton(14 miles)
Great Comberton to Dumbleton(9 miles)
Dumbleton to Winchcombe(10 miles)
Clent to Himbleton: Total Mileage: 20 miles

My eldest daughter and I had long wanted to do some walking together and I had long wanted to walk St Kenelms Way so it seemed like a good fit that we walk it together. To ease us in, I planned the first section, a mere 15 miles from Clent down to Himbleton. It turned out, in fact, to be closer to 20 miles which came as a bit of a surprise to us both, but we had great weather and the walking was pretty easy. It also meant, as I pointed out more than once, that we were closer to the finish than we would have been if we had only done 15 miles.

St Kenelms Way - the first Spring

Our taxi deposited us at St Kenelms Church near Romsley and we headed off with an immediate steep climb to the ridge of the Clent Hills and some great views over to the Malverns and Bredon Hill. We could also see the Radio Masts at Droitwich which we would be passing later in the day. I'd done this section a while ago to see how the walking was so was reasonably familiar with it - even so, I had to check the guide as we descended to ensure the correct way down. It is where the path forks a few minutes after the Trig point - the left fork is the correct one. Downhill and flat to cross the A491 and then pretty much straight on into Belbroughton. It is a pleasant village, famous, it seems, for Scythe making in times gone by. There are numerous reminders including an old hammer, and a memorial plaque in the church wall.

Soon through and we left the roads for the village hall and the open fields beyond. Heading up, we came to Hurst Farm, initially missing the turning, which looks like the gate to the house, but actually passes through the farmyard before heading out to more fields. A slight incline bought us to the lane before leaving it again for more fields, and more stiles. Stiles would feature heavily today! Some easy, some designed, we decided, to discourage walkers, such were their poor design. Following the obvious path, we emerged onto a lane and looked for the continuation path on the other side. Nothing. A runner came past and told us it was down a little and off we set. It felt wrong. Rechecking, we had missed a turning in the field, so followed the road down and around the corner to rejoin the route.

Some nice woodland followed but since the guide was written (2005) some changes had been made in the woods and we had an navigation issue at one point, but knowing the approximate direction, continued on, eventually emerging at the correct place. Walking down and crossing the busy (and fast) Kidderminster to Bromsgrove road we decided it was lunchtime, and spying a felled tree, decided we would not find a better place to sit. By now the sun was shining and the sky blue - perfect.

Of course, we had to depart and so collecting our gear and double-checking nothing had been left, especially rubbish, we set off for a couple of miles of pretty much straight line walking until we arrived at Cobblers Coppice where a few twists and turns bought us to the bridge over the M5, as busy and noisy as ever. Some pleasant wooded paths took us behind the Webbs shopping complex, eventually popping out very close to the Radio Masts we had seen at the start of the day. The route crosses the road and alongside the masts, which being so close, looked huge. A couple more fields and we crossed two railway lines and up to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which we followed for a mile or so. It is easy to see why so many people choose barge holidays - they must be so relaxing, well apart from the 'Lock' work that is.

Finally leaving the canal, we walked through the Hanbury Hall Estate, remarking at one point on some youngsters trying to get close enough to pet lambs. Of course the lambs and sheep were having none of it and the only probable result would be the mother abandoning her offspring! Some people are really thoughtless!

St Kenelms Way - Worcester and Birmingham Canal

Being a holiday day, the Estate grounds were very popular so we passed through, mindful of proximity to others. For the next couple of miles, we crossed numerous roads, numerous stiles and numerous fields until finally arriving at Temple Broughton where the route entered a huge field with no obvious path. Consulting the guide, it went directly across, so we did, feeling a little conscious that we were walking across a field with no obvious path, but then, it was clear from the guide we were right so on we went. Our reward for this was to arrive at Shell Manor and Shell Mill, both of which were incredible properties and must be the envy of all around. Another road/stile/field combination and we could see Himbleton in the distance. Some few minutes later we arrived and sought out the pub and our transport home.

We had covered 19.5 miles in total but only a few hundred metres of ascent. The estimated distance from the guide was 15 miles, so quite a bit further. The walking was never hard going, but we had a beautiful and very dry day for it. Miserable and raining would have made it a very different prospect that's for sure.

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