Leamington Spa

Circular Walk 13 (4.5 Miles)

Walk Overview

This easy circular town walk can be completed in under two hours, but it is better to take at least a half day, so that you can explore some of the monuments, historical sites along the way, linger in the attractive parks, visit the museum and cafe in the Pump Rooms and enjoy the tranquillity of the Grand Union Canal and River Leam. There are numerous opportunities for refreshment along the route or you may prefer to complete the walk and try the Newbold Comyn Arms. For the first part of the walk, you will enjoy a section of The Millennium Way where it passes through Leamington Spa.

NOTE: Walkers can combine this walk with Circular Walk 10 - Warwick to create a 9 mile walk. The two routes cross. Check Section C for where to join the Warwick route.

– Route Update 19th September 2023 –

We have become aware that the wooden footbridge referred to in Section D is currently closed, so please follow the diversion in bold italic letters in Section D

We have not modified the map or the GPS file as we understand the the bridge will be repaired in due course.

Walk Details

  • Start: Newbold Comyn Arms, Leamington Spa CV32 4EW
  • Start Grid Ref: SP329 659
  • Parking: Car Park opposite Leisure Centre
  • Refreshments:
    • Newbold Comyn Arms by walk start (01926 338810)
    • Numerous cafes and pubs along the route
  • Maps: OS Explorer 221 or Landranger 151
  • Distance: 4½ miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Stiles: None
  • Download: Walk GPS (GPS Exchange Format, GPX)
  • GPS and GPX explained
  • Find a mobile app on the Apple App Store or Google Play

Updated September 2023

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Walk Instructions

Section A

Exit from the car park adjacent to the Newbold Comyn Arms, which serves breakfast rolls Tuesday-Sat 10-12am, and turn right In the direction of Leamington to go past the Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre on your left. You have now joined the Millennium Way. Walk on wide tarmac footpath on left side of road. Watch for Newbold Terrace East cul-de-sac on the right then, after the trees end on your left  go diagonally 1/2 left across grassy strip to walk with shrubs and trees left. At the corner, by a waypost, enter the tree line and follow path L down to corner gap to Willes Road. Cross road carefully and take entrance opposite into Jephson Gardens Riverside Walk. Continue on the path ahead, passing the Aviary Cafe and Garden Glasshouse (entry is free) keeping to right of lake, to exit opposite the Royal Pump Rooms.

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Jephson Gardens Glasshouse

Section B

Take the unusual Rainbow Pedestrian Crossing and go left on road, passing famous stone water fountain, to go over bridge and take first road right (the unsigned Spencer Street) opposite All Saints Parish Church. Then go left onto Lower Avenue, passing under railway bridge to find junction of roads. Go straight across to take right hand side of Tachbrook Road. After 50 yards, before brow of bridge, take entry to tow path on right. Turn right onto towpath (do not go under Bridge 41) and go along this pleasant section of the  Grand Union Canal. After ½ mile go under footbridge 42 and turn immediately right, leaving the Millennium Way to meet the main road.

Note: The path here is currently fenced off pending some road improvements scheduled to complete in May 2025. Carry on along the towpath to the end of the fencing and then fork right to join the road at the traffic island. Turn right here to rejoin the route before the pedestrian crossing.

Section C

Walk right to cross road via pedestrian crossing, then left back towards roundabout and follow pavement, turning right down Princes Drive. Stay on wide pavement down Princes Drive under railway bridge, past Foundry Wood, to reach viaduct spanning the roundabout.

Note: At this point walkers can take a detour to walk the Warwick route before rejoining this walk, to increase the total walk distance to 9 miles. 

Go under right hand arch of viaduct and cross over Park Drive via the pedestrian crossing. Enter Victoria Park immediately ahead, then take the left-hand path towards play area. Just after the skatepark take short path left to reach riverside path. Stay with River Leam on left and pass the play area, the riverside cafe and the immaculate bowling greens. Shortly the path forks so take left fork to go under road bridge using short tunnel. Continue on path until you descend the flight of steps. Turn immediately left across bridge, then right to continue now with river right. Follow path with rear of Royal Pump Rooms and cafe on right to reach main road and turn right, once again passing the same drinking fountain (get a hot sausage roll at Londis over the bridge?). Pass All Saints Parish Church and The Old Library pub on other side of the road. Continue ahead over busy traffic lights and under railway bridge into Clemens Street, where you can see the first of several excellent murals. Keep ahead on left of road to find bridge over canal and just before the brow take the narrow gap left and drop down onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal to go left and walk with the canal right.

 

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Quiet Canal side Walking

Section D

Stay on towpath for nearly a mile passing under bridge 38, 37(a) and 37 (The Fusilier pub and some takeaway shops are over the canal).  As the canal bends right, keep a lookout for an exit left and take the steps down to join the main road. Cross over safely and turn left continuing along pavement with hedge right.

– Here we must take a diversion due to the wooden bridge closure –

After 300 yards you will come to a small car park on the right (signed riverside walk) but as the footbridge to Newbold Comyn is currently closed we need to make a short diversion. Continue past the car park and St. Mary's allotments then turn right into Leam Terrace, continuing past the New Inn. Just after the road swings left, turn right by a telegraph pole into a narrow alleyway adjacent to house number 145 and signed Sailing Club & cycle route. Walk down the alleyway between wooden fence & brick wall and at the end bear left into large grassy area and then bear right towards an information board to enter Welches Meadow Nature Reserve. Continue past the information board for 60 paces to junction of paths and here turn right to follow a narrow path which evemtually swings left to keep trees/shrubs & River Leam on your right. Eventually you will pass another information board on your left to reach Willes Road. Turn right to cross bridge then immediately right through wooden posts to rejoin The Millennium Way. The path climbs gently to a junction, bear left here in front of the waypost, then immediately bear right to reach a wide grassy area ahead. Once on the large grassy area bear diagonally left to reach surfaced track bordered by short wooden posts & stay along track eventually passing Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre & you will arrive back at the car park at Newbold Comyn Arms.

Replaces

After 300 yards take the path right (signed Riverside Walk) to walk through small parking area. Stay ahead to cross wooden footbridge over picturesque River Leam to enter Leam Valley Local Nature Reserve. Immediately after bridge and before the information board, go left keeping river on left.

Where the track forks, stay left and take the metal kissing gate directly ahead, then cross small bridge. Here you leave the river as it bends left and walk fairly steeply uphill to enter a childrens' play area. Continue through the play area, passing the red painted swings on your left to reach the access road, then turn left. In a short while you will arrive back at your starting point for refreshments at the Newbold Comyn Arms pub.

Points of Interest - What to know and what to see...

by Andy Botherway
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Pump Rooms

In 2021 several excellent pieces of artwork appeared along the stretch of canal which you use on this circular. Banksy has a local rival. It is a real highlight of the walk, especially the cat which is better viewed on your phone camera.

In the Domesday Book Leamington Spa was called Laminstone and in later medieval times as Leamington Priors, both names being taken from the River Leam. The Pump Rooms at the far end of Jephson Gardens were built in 1814 and were state of the art with the worlds first gravity feed hot water system. This innovation soon gained the town its Spa status and the young Princess Victoria visited in 1830 and must have been impressed as, on coming to the throne in 1837, she granted the Royal prefix in 1838. Napoleon III of France lived in exile in Leamington in 1838 (not many French people know that).

Jephson Gardens

Jephson Gardens are named after Dr. Henry Jephson who promoted the healing properties of the spa thus ensuring the town’s growth. In the park is a Corinthian styled temple inside of which is a statue of the good doctor. Dr. Hitchman is remembered in a fountain as he commissioned the temple and employed the poor of the town to build it. Edward Willes who donated the land is remembered with an obelisk and indeed by the road you must cross at the eastern end of the park. The tea rooms used to be an aviary, but were rebuilt with funding from Cadburys. The subtropical greenhouse was built with Heritage Lottery money. A significant memorial stands for the Czech forces stationed in Leamington during WW2. A three times mayor of the town Councillor Davis is commemorated with a clock tower. Perhaps visit the sub tropical glasshouse, known as the Temperate House which, it is claimed, seeks to represent plant evolution from 500 million years ago.

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Beautiful Jephson Gardens

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Czech Forces

The Grand Junction Canal was built between 1793 and 1805 and after the acquisition and amalgamations of several companies along the route from Birmingham to London, it became the Grand Union. Near point C you will notice the canal bears off to the left and goes under a new bridge. In the 1980’s the main Old Warwick Road was widened and the canal was moved for a distance of 400m to allow for the building of the roundabout. The Moorings pub off that roundabout recreates the old world of life on the canals. The canal crosses under the GWR line to Birmingham Snow Hill built by Brunel and secondly the River Avon - looking east on the river bridge towards the town you just cannot see the confluence of the Leam and Avon!

On the bridge at the end of the Pump Rooms is a small stone drinking fountain from which you can sometimes partake of the spa waters - it's not particularly nice and tastes of sulphur. At the junction of Spencer Street and Lower Avenue look right beyond The Manor House. In the gardens the game of lawn tennis was invented in 1872 by Major Harry Gem, a Birmingham solicitor.

The railways came to Leamington in 1844 (London North Western Railway) and 1852 (Great Western Railway). In March 1851 the LNWR opened another branch, this time from Rugby, which ran through Leamington and made an end-on connection to the Coventry branch at Milverton. Although the new line ran briefly parallel to the route of the Great Western Railway's Birmingham to Oxford line, which was then under construction in southern Leamington, and within spitting distance of the more central GWR station which opened in 1852, the LNWR did not open a station of its own alongside the GWR station until February 1854. This was evidently a somewhat hastily constructed timber affair - a more permanent brick-built station followed in 1860. The Coventry line closed under Beeching but the evidence of the old bridges are adjacent to the current main line north of the bridge in Lower Avenue.

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