Hellidon

Circular Walk 21 (5.75 Miles)

Walk Overview

This lovely circular walk is a favourite of our Chairman. It incorporates two idyllic villages, quiet country lanes, pleasant woodland, open countryside and an interesting church at Hellidon. A small section of the walk crosses Hellidon Lakes Golf Course, so extra care should be taken near the fairways. The two nice pubs have restricted opening hours.

There is one hill approaching Hellidon but otherwise there are no difficult sections on this walk. It includes a short section of The Millennium Way either side of Priors Marston, which is clearly waymarked with our distinctive waymarkers.

Walk Details

  • Start: Red Lion at Hellidon NN11 6LG
  • Start Grid Ref: SP519 581
  • Parking: Roadside
  • Refreshments:
    • Red Lion, Hellidon (01327 261200)
    • Hollybush Inn, Priors Marston (01327 260934) Restricted opening hours, please check on their website for up to date times.
  • Maps: OS Explorer 206 or OS Landranger 151
  • Distance: 5¾ miles
  • Time: Under 3 hours
  • Stiles: 6
  • Download: Walk GPS (GPS Exchange Format, GPX)
  • GPS and GPX explained
  • Find a mobile app on the Apple App Store or Google Play

Updated March 2024

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Walk Instructions

Section A

We start from the delightful Red Lion Inn at Hellidon (01327 261200).  Note the beacon opposite. With your back to the pub go up road directly opposite, signposted Priors Marston 2 miles. After 100 paces take the lane on the right and follow around to the left, signposted Priors Marston and Southam. Ignore footpath on left near the bend and continue ahead along the lane (on your right you have some splendid views past Canning's Spinney to the north). Eventually pass the entrance to Hellidon Lakes Hotel and Golf Course on your right and continue along lane until you reach crossroads with Charwelton Communications Tower ahead.

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Red Lion Pub
Hellidon

Section B

Turn right at crossroads and, after 100 paces, take stile and footpath left to go ½ right across field keeping the tower to your far left. As you descend down the field you can enjoy an attractive panorama of open countryside ahead. Go through narrow waymarked hedge gap and continue down field keeping low broken hedge left. Go past the spinney on left to corner then stay straight ahead across open field towards gap to right of two trees, into next field. Keep ahead on track until you reach the road through a metal gate.

Section C

Turn left on road for 80 paces, then take waymarked footpath right along the track, at the end of which take a stile into field and continue ¼ right towards corner of copse to take the gap into next field keeping fenced hedge and small concealed pond on your left. Go through the small double gates ahead and turn immediately right keeping hedge right.

Section D

Here you have joined The Millennium Way. Continue with hedge right and follow hedge as it curves left. Go over a stile which sticks into the field and after 100 paces go past metal gate then a few paces further on take stile right and then go through metal gate. Continue straight for 30 paces keeping hedge right and, after passing the bush at the end of the overgrown mound, go half left across the field to take metal gate then footbridge through hedge and over stream. Keep ahead with house left and after 100 paces, take stile left to path and then driveway to reach road.

Section E

Turn right on road and enter Priors Marston. On reaching the T-junction bear left up road to pass the Priors Marston War Memorial (go right here for The Hollybush pub 400 yards away) on right and, where the road divides, take the right fork signposted Lower Shuckburgh and Napton. Continue along Shuckburgh Road passing telephone box on left and continuing past School Lane, St Leonards Close and Vicarage Lane on right. On reaching a red pillar box we leave The Millennium Way and continue on for a few paces to go right up tarmac footpath and then straight across road into Keys Lane (with a list of named cottages on the sign). Stay ahead to the end of the lane, which swings left, and take gate ahead to follow footpath diagonally right under power lines across field. Take next gate and cross farm track to go through another gate then continue ahead through small copse. Take metal kissing gate ahead and follow footpath half right across field.

Section F

Go through gap ahead to cross small plank footbridge and continue directly ahead across centre of next field. Go through large five bar gate ahead then immediately leave cinder track to continue slightly right on previous line towards edge of wood. Be sure to maintain a straight line towards centre of wood to find a narrow gap (with large black & white waymarker arrow - which is very difficult to see from a distance) to enter wood. Go along well defined path through wood following signs, eventually to emerge on to Hellidon Golf Course, after a pond on right.

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Stunning views

Section G

At the edge of the golf course follow the waymark sign and go half right across the first fairway uphill towards a large copse of trees. Pass just to the right of a small clump of trees to enter the copse following another black & white waymark sign just inside the copse and emerge at the other side of the copse to meet another fairway. At this point go half right across the fairway keeping small cluster of trees to your left to find a mid-hedge wooden footbridge. Cross the footbridge and walk slightly left across the fairway aiming to go between the two lakes ahead and partly walk around the edge of the right hand lake and turn left to follow the line of trees left. Continue ahead towards a fairway and green and cross the fairway with green right to reach another waymarker post just beyond the green. Descend steps through small copse crossing wooden plank bridge, then go over gap stile into field.

Section H

Go ¼ right and steeply uphill (towards the large Oak) to find top right corner kissing gate (ignore first wooden kissing gate right, 2/3rds up the field). Take that corner kissing gate and continue along edge of field with hedge left to take next kissing gate then follow path round with fence, then hedge, on left to emerge onto road. Go left for 50 paces to a bench with a fantastic view, then right and down Church Lane, passing Berry Lane and Cox's Lane. After passing St. John the Baptist Church (often open), immediately take a left turn into Little Back Lane and walk 75 paces to a T-Junction opposite a red telephone box. Turn right passing the Old Mill House on your right to walk up the lane, which will bring you back to your starting point at The Red Lion Inn.

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

by Andy Botherway
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Glimpse of The Windmill

Hellidon

Hellidon is first recorded in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) and is a charming village with an industrial past. Until the 1950’s it was a centre of ironstone quarrying, Hellidon Lakes being a legacy of that activity. An industrial railway connected to the Great Central line at Charwelton. Its population reached 449 in 1861, but today is around 200.

Now the area is home to several vineyards, the most notable being the Windmill Vineyard with its distinctive silver-capped mill at Windmill Hill Farm, visible at the very start of our walk.

Returning back into Hellidon we cross several fairways of the Hellidon Lakes Golf Course, which has a large hotel and conference centre. Then we pass some lovely old houses and the Church of St. John the Baptist, which is a lovely small, medieval Gothic Early English style church, worth a look. There is a stained glass window on the right when entering which is a memorial to four local men killed in WW1, taken from photographs of them.

Priors Marston

The village originally belonged to St. Mary’s Priory, Coventry, hence the ‘Priors’. The ‘Marston’ comes from Old English ‘merse’ or lake and ‘tun’ meaning settlement.

The ‘merse’ was a fishery which served the village. The primary school was one of the first ‘free’ schools to be established, state funded but independently managed. Local children attend free whereas pupils from outside the local catchment pay fees. St. Leonards Church is largely a Victorian rebuilding from 1863.

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St Leonards
Priors Marston

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Holly Bush
Priors Marston

The Hollybush, a 16th century inn with an excellent restaurant, can provide refreshment and accommodation (01327 260934). It is 300 yards off the route in the village. Opening times can vary.

The remoteness of the village meant that it only received a mains supply of electricity in 1934 and of water in 1948.

The village is set on the very ancient Ridgeway track, an Iron Age trading route locally linking Nadbury Camp Edgehill to Arbury Camp at Catesley. The Salt (Welsh) Road dating from at least the Roman occupation links Droitwich to Northampton and was used to carry salt for meat preservation and general trading. It runs across the centre of the Parish east to west.

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