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 Pub Walks in the Midlands Region

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The walk starts and finishes at the award-winning Fountain Inn. The picturesque pub has expanded over the years into the adjoining cottages but, despite its subtle changes, remains a charming village pub. A building dating back to the early 18th century, Fountain Cottage was the home of Clent builder and joiner, William Phillips. His son appears to have opened the Fountain Cottage first as a pleasure garden and tea room to cater for the many visitors from the nearby industrialised area of the Black Country. In 1855 he successfully applied for, and was granted a full alehouse licence by Stourbridge Magistrates. Subsequently, Fountain Cottage became known as The Fountain Inn. Walk uphill in a south-easterly direction along Odnall Lane towards the church. You can safely walk on an elevated path passing the front of Hill Crest, a pretty brick house dating from the mid-19th century. This was once the home of the Bedfordshire-born grate manufacturer Jannion Steele Elliott. Continue along the pavement of Odnall Lane until you reach Clent Cottage on the left-hand side of the road. This is an interesting hotch-potch of a building that has been converted into apartments. In the 19th century this was the home of the Amphlett family. A significant landowner in the area, John Amphlett financed the first school to be erected in Clent in the early 18th century. A descendant, also named John, wrote the highly-regarded "Short History of Clent" that was published in 1890.  Without being too intrusive, it is possible to crane one's neck to see a lovely dovecote in the garden.

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Continue along Odnall Lane. A few yards further along and on the opposite side of Odnall Lane is the aforementioned Charity School. It was built in 1705 and renovated and enlarged in 1847. It was not until 1974 that the school was replaced by a new building at Holy Cross. Continue along Odnall Lane until you reach the crossroads next to the church. Look out for the sign "Elsie Partington Walk" that tells you that you are following in the footsteps of John Partington's wife. A former president of the Clent Women's Institute and involved in many of the village's gatherings and activities, she regularly walked this route between her home at the School House to the church. She died in 1977 and the footpath was dedicated to her two years later. Continuing in a south-easterly direction walk straight over the crossroads. Pause for a view of the church or take a detour around the building. Founded in the late 12th century, the original church on this site was dedicated to St. Peter. The building is tucked so closely into the slope of the hill that its chancel is several feet higher than the rest of the building and has developed a pronounced sideways tilt. St. Leonard's has an imposing and embattled tower. The church grounds are entered through a large lychgate which was erected as a memorial to Mrs. Harriett Moss Grazebrook who died in 1874. The whole church was once covered with shingles, or wooden tiles made of cleft oak and they remained until the late eighteenth century. In 1811, a new vestry was built adjoining the church and in 1836 the church was enlarged when the north aisle was built. The church was thoroughly restored and partly rebuilt in 1864. Walk uphill in a south-easterly direction. Clent's other old school which has since become a private dwelling is located close to the church on the road to Walton Pool. This was built by the Durant family of Clent Hall. Continue along Walton Pool Lane. The lane bends around to the right and then left as it skirts around the grounds of Clent Hall. Unfortunately for us nosy walkers, the building is hidden from view. In the early 1890's the house was the residence of home of Essex-born William D. Thatcher, rector of Romsley.

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Continue along Walton Pool Lane. There may be a change to the route here. Before the next road junction one used to be able to cut the corner by using a public footpath. However, the last time we walked this route, the gate was locked so perhaps the path has closed to the public. If this is still the case, simply walk the hundred yards or so to the next road junction and turn left. After around a hundred yards you encounter a track to the right. Here you can pass through a gate and take the path through the field and up to Walton Pool. At the top of the field the path narrows between two fences. You then pass through a metal gate. When you emerge from the path onto the road turn right. Walton Pool is a quiet little hamlet. Just on the right is Holly Cottage, a building that still has its old enamel signs for cyclists which shows it was once used as a café. There is also a King George post box embedded in the wall. On the opposite side of the lane is The Gables, once a convalescent home for the Ancient Order of Foresters. Continue past Holly Cottage. The road bends around to the right and you continue walking in a south-westerly direction past the attractive row of white-painted cottages. You soon pass the road name sign of Highfield Lane and carry on past the cul-de-sac on the left and walk downhill. After a short distance you pass Walton Farm Cottages on the right-hand side of the road where the lane bends to the left. Take the next bridleway on the left. This wide track passes Walton Farm and you can get a good view of this building on your left. Continue along the bridleway in an easterly direction. As you walk along the track the view of the pasture land to the left is quite wonderful [see photograph to the left]. The fields are divided with a variety of trees and shrubs and the view extends up a shallow valley towards Walton Hill.

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Continue along the bridleway in an easterly direction as it heads downhill towards the woods. At the array of metal gates, the track bends sharply to the right and you then start the gradual ascent to Calcot Hill with the woodland to your left. This is a nice steady climb with a crunchy path underfoot. There is one section however that is a pebble bed gullet that can get quite muddy in the winter. With increased height you can enjoy splendid views of the landscape to the south. Calcot Hill Farm and the tall wind pump can be seen ahead of you. The farm house is another lovely Georgian building. One can appreciate the frontage without being a nuisance. However, the footpath you follow is before the house. You will see a few steps leading up to a metal gate next to a boulder. This originated from the Arenig mountain range to the west of Bala in North Wales. The boulder shifted to this location with the Welsh ice sheet in the glacial period. Pass through the gate and follow the path past the outbuildings of the farm. You walk uphill towards the elevated waymarker. Follow the path to the metal gate located in the tree line. The path turns left [north] and follows the tree line and through a gate. You are now on the North Worcestershire path and this section is a delightful meander through the woodland. The narrow footpath follows the contour with the woodland falling away to your right. Keep your eyes peeled for foxes and badgers. You pass through a stile and the landscape opens out with the valley to your right - you could almost think you are in the Derbyshire peak district at this point as the landscape is very similar. Ahead of you is Walton Hill Farm and you follow the path towards this property. There is a gate to negotiate close to the farm wall.

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Walk a short distance to the second gate. Pass through the gate and turn left, walking in a westerly direction. The main path veers right but you head to the left [sort of 11 o'clock] and maintain your general westerly direction. You continue along the path with the low barbed-wire fence to your left and the scrub to your right. There are some wooden benches en-route with dedications to walkers and contemplators. Continue along the path with the fence to your left. You are heading downhill and shortly enter a wood. The surprising element of this walk is that the descent of Nag Hill is quite severe and yet it didn't seem such hard work to achieve the height in the first place. This is because the climb to Calcot Hill is quite easy and continues uphill in a very gradual manner to Walton Hill. The blue arrow indicates that this is a bridleway but, to be honest, we haven't encountered horses on this path despite walking it several times. May is a good time to walk through this wood as there are bluebell carpets to savour. At the end of the wood there is a stile and you emerge on the grassland hill above St. Leonard's church. From here you can enjoy a marvellous view to the hills in the distance. This really is a walk with wonderful landscape appreciation. Follow the worn path down the hill. The hill is quite sharp down the the church. The path follows the brick wall of the churchyard and emerges close to the lychgate. Turn right and retrace your steps along Odnall Lane until you reach the Fountain Inn. Whenever we follow this walk we enjoy sitting outside the pub with our dog whilst tucking into a superb hot open sandwich and some well-kept beer.

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