Introducing the Old Warden Circular Walk

Carys Underwood | Sep 2022

Each month we will be promoting a walking or cycling route through Greensand Country. This month is the Old Warden Circular walk that takes in the Greensand Ridge and countryside around the village of Old Warden.

One of our wonderful volunteers walked the route recently and gave their highlights. What will yours be?

Details on the route can be found here: https://bit.ly/3c9QARA

Wildlife spots

There is a lot of varied wildlife to explore on the walk. Our pick is Palmer’s Wood, and in particular the impressive Wild Service Tree. These are now uncommon specimens, and denote ancient woodland and hedgerows. In Spring it will show its beautiful white blossom, then in Autumn you can easily spot the tree with its crimson leaves.

Wild Service Trees are also known as the ‘Chequers tree’ and its fruits were once used to make alcohol. You may have noticed many pubs take the name chequers, although historians are still unsure whether the fruits gave their name to the pubs or vice versa.

History spot

The Old Warden Circular has a rich history to discover, so much so that we have had to give you two history spots this month!

The first is the village of Old Warden itself. It is a great example of a ‘closed village’, where the cottages were built to house staff and tenants of the Old Warden Park estate. Whilst there were some cottages in the village in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the late nineteenth century saw substantial building and reworking of older buildings into the picturesque style we see today in their distinctive cream and white livery. Buildings like the Swiss Cottage were directly inspired by the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth. There are also two pumps and a well to find, now only ornamental.

The Church of St Leonard’s is particularly impressive. If the church is open, walk to the right of the entrance, and around the first corner of the wall is a stone slab with its head to the church wall and its foot pointing to the nearby houses. This is a unique twelfth century slab belonging to the first abbot of Warden Abbey, and we believe was moved from the Abbey to the Church in the 1840s.

Charter members on route

The Crown, Northill

The Crown, Northill makes the ideal stopping point. Overlooking the village green and church, you’ll find a freshly prepared seasonal menu, daily specials, and an extensive list of guest ales.

For more information head to our interactive map: Interactive Map | Greensand Country

 

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