Sunday, 9 August 2015

Fenny Compton Walk

Readers will realise that after leaving Oxford we have been slowly heading north with each lock taking us slightly higher.  The Claydon Flight of five locks has raised us to the summit pound and from this point we will start descending.

Today’s Jan’s camera was desperate for a walk around the local area and being kind hearted I took it for a long one.  The objective was to reach some high ground and get an idea of the ‘lay of the land’.  The camera and I headed back south down the towpath and then west along various public footpaths.  Most of the crops are ripe and the harvesting has begun. 

Field of grain

The first part of the walk was through fields of ripe barley as we headed north west towards Fenny Compton Village. From there is was possible to see high ground to the south west.

heading for the high ground  That hill on the skyline looked promising.  The route took me through the southern edge of Fenny Compton where I happened to notice a small brick building adjacent to the village primary school.  The sign by the front door read “The Old School”.

Fenny Compton old school

There must have been only one classroom!

You can see some of the route on the following map.

pleasant hill

The canal on the right and Burton Dassett Country Park is the green patch on the left.  I hadn’t realised my objective was a country park.  Burton Dassett Country Park is owned by Warwickshire County Council and is 666ft above sea level.  The area was once quarried for ironstone.  The top is so broken up I thought it might have been the site of a ancient hill fortress.

In this next photo you can see the broken ground in the foreground and in the distance a line of hill to the east.

hills to the east

Looking in the opposite direction it is possible to see a line of hills running to the west.

windmill hill to the west

The Warwickshire plains stretch away to the north.

bonfire hillIn the middle of the above photo is Bonfire Hill.  One of five knolls on top of the feature.  Looking south the Norman tower of the 12th century Burton Dassett parish church can be seen in the distance.

burton dasset church

The most prominent of the knolls at the top is Windmill Hill which has a circular stone tower with a conical top.

windmill hill It’s possible to obtain a good insight about the local geography from Windmill Hill.  The ground has been gradually rising since we left Oxford and from this point it is possible to see a line of hills running from east to west.  The canal (and railway) has managed to find a slightly lower route through a valley but is still approximately 300ft above sea level.  The canal will descend another 60ft to reach the beginning of the Warwickshire Plains.

The route from the country park then took me north back through the small village of Northend.  To my surprise, north of the village I came upon a rail line running east-west.

rarely used sidingI was rather intrigued with the state of the track.  It had timber sleepers which might mean it was old.  But the track was secured to the sleepers by ties which suggested it was modern.  The rail head was rusty which suggested it was rarely used.  A little mystery which I solved once back at Waiouru.

The track is a siding to MoD Kineton.  The siding joins the main line at Fenny Compton and then runs to a large rail terminal inside the Ministry of Defence base. 

military base

you can see in the above map that the base is very large (red arrow).  There is an extensive rail network around the base.  According to Wikipedia the base was established as an ammunition depot in 1941.  It is here the British Army trains Ammunition Technicians (ATs) and Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs).  The Defence School here trains personnel in the removal or neutralising of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

We must have driven along the adjacent M40 motorway on a number of occasions without realising this large base existed.


Ade said...

Some great photo's and info there Tom, was it a hot day walking? It was really hot here just watching cricket in the sun!

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Ade, probably hot for England but cool if we were in Oz. I didn't take a drink so it can't have been very hot. An interesting walk which I enjoyed!

nine9feet said...

Your photo of the track shows bull head rail and chairs fixing the rail to the sleepers. Shows the track is old as flat bottomed rail has been in use since the fourties I think. Will have to go and look it up now!
John, NB Samsara (we met on the Thames 27 July at Benson Lock and moored at Abingdon - you have a photo for that day's blog!)

Tom and Jan said...

Hi John,

We remember both the meeting and YOU! But it was Sue on No Problem who gave us your name! Your comments regarding the age of the rail match the age of the wikipedia information. The rail might be recycled as I believe spikes were being used in the forties. But I might be wrong.



Ade said...

Tom Your comment on our interpretation of hot weather is interesting, talking to Bob (I know not his surname) but also from Adelaide at cricket on Saturday. He was saying this hot day Saturday just gone 15th August, not as hot as the previous Saturday I may add, but our hot none the less would be like mid winter in Adelaide! That makes the summers down under pretty damn hot!
Up to date I guess your laptop has suffered a fatality!! :)

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Ade,

Yes it can get much hotter down-under. On my regular 3 hour sunday morning walks through the Adelaide Hills I would leave a 7am and drink 2 litres of water during the walk. I would be thirsty at the end (sometimes very thirsty) having consumed all the water. My clothes wouldn't be wet with sweat and neither would my face. All the perspiration instantly dried as it reach the atmosphere. I'd feel all "gritty" and the salt would chaff me if I didn't use Vaseline in the crevasses before starting! :-)

Ade said...

Yep that would be hot!! Too hot for us northern hemisphere softies!

Tom and Jan said...

Your northern ancestors went there and colonized it! They learned to manage in the heat. :-)