Distance 5miles (8km)
Duration 2 hours 30 minutes
Begins Packwood House
OS grid reference SP174722
Walk in a nutshell
A good jaunt from a 16th-century farmhouse to a 15th-century moated manor house and back again, through the land where William Shakespeare grew up. The route is fairly long, uneven in places, and could be marshy. There is livestock in the area so dogs must be kept on a lead and cannot enter either property.
Why it’s special
The details of Shakespeare’s early life are hazy but we know it was spent in the Arden area of Warwickshire. There are hints of the area’s importance to him in the Forest of Arden of As You Like It. Although the forests have largely gone, the fields, rivers and buildings of this walk are as close as we can get to the landscape he knew.
Keep your eyes peeled for
Packwood’s interior gives a strong sense of Shakespeare’s world, albeit on a grander scale. The collection includes some beautiful 16th-century textiles and furniture – many of which came from Baddesley Clinton. With its moat and its exquisitely carved oak panelling, Baddesley is no less glorious. It was a haven for persecuted Catholics, a group often said to have included Shakespeare himself.
Using produce from its kitchen garden, Baddesley Clinton’s Barn restaurant serves hot lunches as well as soups, snacks and cakes throughout the day. There’s no cafe at Packwood yet, but there are two excellent posh country pubs in nearby Lapworth: the Punchbowl (bit.ly/b9K3gh) and the Boot Inn (bit.ly/url16L).
If it’s tipping down
If you like motorcycles you’re in luck. The National Motorcycle Museum, “the finest and largest motorcycle museum in the world”, is a few miles up the M42. Otherwise take a train from Lapworth to visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, whose collection includes items from the Staffordshire hoard of Anglo‑Saxon gold.
How to get there
Lapworth railway station is around 1.5 miles from Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton. Buses from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon also stop at Hockley Heath, near Lapworth.
Step by step
1 In Packwood gardens, begin by walking along the causeway towards the corner of the lake and turn left. Near the end of the lake turn right and head diagonally across the field to a metal kissing gate.
2 Go through the gate and follow the footpath to the left until you reach the road. Turn right along Rising Lane signed for Lapworth.
3 At a fork in the road take the left-hand lane and turn left over a canal bridge. Cross the road and, on the far side of the bridge, take the footpath down to the towpath.
4 Turn right along the towpath, following the Stratford upon Avon canal past a series of locks. Shortly after the canal goes under the railway is the Kingswood junction with the Grand Union canal. Turn left over the bridge and carry on along the towpath.
5 At bridge 65 take the steps up to the road, turn right, walk past Navigation Inn and take the footpath on the left signed for the Heart of England Way.
6 Follow this along a drive, through a stable yard and across the fields to meet the approach to Baddesley Clinton.
7 Go left along the drive, passing Badger’s Dell on the right just before the drive curves to the left.
8 At the end of the drive cross the road and walk up the lane opposite. Look for a public footpath sign on the left and follow it through the fields and some gates to join the road at a canal bridge.
9 Turn right along the road, taking a footpath on the right just after the railway bridge. Follow this down a drive and to the right along a hedge-lined path that circles round to the left.
10 Emerge on to a lane and take the signed footpath opposite, heading up the field with the hedge on your left until you meet a road.
11 Turn right along the road taking a footpath on the left by the sign for Packwood House. Follow the avenue, crossing over Two Pits Pool and on to Chestnut Avenue.