JUL 03,2016 - JUL 03,2016 (1 DAYS)
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal:from Stratford to Wilmcote section.
Duration: 1 day. Weather: only bright days. Distance: every direction - 4.5 - 5 km. Start & End: Stratford Tourist Information Office - near Bridge Street. Transportation: frequent trains from Wilmcote to SuA. (11.55, 12.15, 13.15, 13.59, 14.15, 15.15, 15.59, 16.15, 17.16, 18.16, 18.37, 18.44 etc'). Price: £1.80.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs for just 40 km. from the Birmingham suburbs to the River Avon in Stratford on Avon.
Order of locks (from north to south) - so use it bottom up:
40-50 Wilmcote Locks (11)
62a A46 Chaly Beate Bridge
51 Bishopton Lock
64a Railway bridges
52 One Elm Lock
65 A3400 Birmingham Road bridge
53 Maidenhead Road Lock
55 Warwick Road Lock
68 A439 Warwick Road bridge
69 A422 Bridge Foot bridge
We walk (up) along a short section which climbs gently across quiet rolling countryside and water meadows from SuA to the village of Wilmcote. The towpath from the centre of Stratford to Wilmcote is excellent, wide and for the most part with a good surface. After Wilmcote it becomes more difficult with large sections of mud.
From the Tourist Information Office, walk a few steps northward. On your right - there are stairs descending to the canal towpath. Folow the path NORTHWARD. Just after joining the towpath there are splendid clusters of houses and private boats, on your left, on the opposite bank.
If you stay with the towpath there is no need for any form of navigation for the next four kilometres as the canal takes you northwards and slightly uphill. There are apparently 22 lock gates between Stratford and Wilmcote, a rise of about 40 metres, this is hard work if you are in a canal barge and will take all day, but for the walker it will take between 1.5 and two hours. The return journey is easy, either retrace your steps back down the canal towpath or catch a train or bus back to Stratford:
Most of the time the route up to Wilmcote is in quite beautiful countryside:
There are boat people to chat:
There are some really beautiful little cast-iron and brick bridges that are a charming feature of this canal, built in two halves and separated with a 1inch gap to allow the towing line between horse and boat to be dropped through, without need to unhitch the horse.
You know when you are arriving in Wilmcote when passing a house which looks a bit like a castle on the left hand bank:
Turn left down to the centre of the village, about 250 metres. As you walk down Featherbed Bridge 59. On Featherbed lane, on your right, is the Mary Arden House farm complex. Mary Arden was born in Wilmcote around 1540. A farmer's daughter, she married John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, and gave birth to William Shakespeare, who is recognised as the greatest English playwright ever.
Wilmcote is where Mary Arden’s house (she was William Shakespeare’s mother as stated above) is located and a must trip out for tourists staying at Stratford. Mary Arden was the youngest of eight daughters of a well to do farmer Robert Arden, she married the son of one of her father’s tenant farmers, John Shakespeare. Their first child to survive was named William and although we know they had a total of eight children most died young. The Stratford canal at bridge 60 is just 50 meters from the Wilmcote station. For many people the Mary Arden's farm is the best experience of all the Shakespeare houses. There are actually two farms: Palmer’s Farm was for over 200 years, thought to be the house where Mary Arden was born, until in 2000 new evidence was discovered that the Arden’s lived next door in what was formerly known as Glebe Farm. If the museum is open it is well worth a visit. It is open daily except Sundays in wintertime. There is also a museum of agricultural implements and local rural bygones. In Wilmcote there is a choice of two pubs, The Mason’s Arms and The Mary Arden Inn, also in summer when Mary Arden’s House is open they have a cafe. Buy your ticket to the farm in the Tourist Information near Bridge Street in Stratford upon Avon. It is cheaper there. The farm itself isn't huge but there is plenty to do and see, plenty for children and adults alike. NOT suitable for anyone in a wheelchair. The tickets you get allow you to visit the attractions for 12 months. Allow 1-2 hours. Bring food. The restaurant here is a bit expensive with limited, but delicious, selection. Online prices: Adult: £11.92, Child: £7.65 (3-17 in full time education. Under 3s go free), Family: £31.50, Senior: £11.02 (over 60s), Student: £11.02 (in full time education),
Concession: £11.02 (visitors with disabilities). Add 10% for on-the-spot fees. Not cheap.
There are staff members in costume and in character who are working at the farm, and you can wander around watching them and talking to them as they work.No Elizabethean community was without its blacksmith:
Mosaics made by local children:
Farm's Main Courtyard:
Mary Arden House and Zodiac Garden from the 1500s:
Kitchens from the 1600s:
Timber framing in the 16th century:
Tudor Dinner - preparing meal for the farm's workers. The meal is based on vegetables, fruits, herbs and ... flowers. Must be as much colorful as possible. You encounter the smells, the protocol at the board table and the type of food they would of been having during the time period. This is a multi sensory experience:
Falconry displays. Every one is dressed in Tudor costumes:
I found the Wilmcote village quite pleasant. I took the road pointing to Billesley and surrounded the prosperous village consisting, mainly, of holiday accommodation houses and glorious gardens: