Spotlight on Carlton Towers, Snaith

Close to the heart of The Vale of Snaith is the village of Carlton, just 2 miles from the Town Centre of the medieval market town of Snaith.  One of the jewels of the village is Carlton Towers, the magnificent home of Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard, brother of the Duke of Norfolk. The oldest part of the building dates to 1614 and this is enhanced by the mainly gothic exterior and imposing clock tower, overlooking 250 acres of stunning parkland.  Inside there are sweeping staircases and impressive ornate rooms.

With all this on offer, it is no wonder it has been chosen to play the part of Windsor Castle in two series of Victoria (ITV), Hetton Abbey in the film A Handful of Dust and a chateau in France for an episode of Darling Buds of May. Other filming includes the series Love, Lies and Records, Guest Wing, Salvage Hunters, and Masterchef, as well as various music videos and Bollywood Blockbusters.

Although the grounds are sometimes closed to the public because of private functions, it is often possible to walk towards the Towers to view the front of this imposing building.

In the former stables there is a Tea Room which is open at the weekends in winter months. The parkland boasts a beautiful lake on which, in winter before climate change, championship ice skating was staged.  The Snaith & Cowick Walking Group walk alongside the lake, four times a year, by permission of Carlton Towers.

The River Aire meanders between Carlton and Snaith and the remains of an 18th century toll bridge will give you an idea of times gone by before railways and canals were built.  An interpretation board and bench on the Snaith side invite you to learn more about the river’s story. It is one of 15 interpretation boards complementing fifteen local Heritage Walks laminated cards bring the past to life as you enjoy walking on picturesque country lanes. There are many more great walks around this part of The Vale of Snaith listed in our Directory of Vale of Snaith Walks.

In the vibrant town centre of Snaith, Christmas Festivities are underway.  There are many ancient buildings, several displaying a Blue Plaque. There is also a wide variety of outlets for food and drink and accommodation are all ready to welcome walkers. See Walkers Are Welcome in The Vale of Snaith website

The Python Arms, Kington

The views are breath taking.  Kington is nestled in the valley below, lying in the shadow of Hergest ridge, still in Herefordshire but loomed over by the Welsh mountains. This is border country, known as the Welsh Marches. A hidden gem and I’m enjoying some of the best walking this country has to offer. I’ve just hiked 4 miles up from Kington and arrived at The Cattle Shed cafe at Penrhos Court. 


Latte in hand I snuggle into a chair next to the large inglenook fireplace and admire the clever renovation of this former barn into today’s cosy rustic café. Out the window I can see the rest of Penrhos Court, over a pretty pond and courtyard to a stunning 15th century timber framed building with a large cruck beamed banqueting hall.  Apparently, there was a murder back here in 1546 when a certain Walter Badam was killed with a sword that gave “one mortal wound or blow on his right eye brow”.   Otherwise little more is known about the original history of this place and its now famed for its more recent history.

It’s hard to image now but in 1970 Penrhos court sat derelict and destined for demolition until business man Martin Griffith and partner Daphne Lambert bought it and transformed the long barn to the west of the courtyard into a hotel. Over the years it became a popular place to stay for famous guests speaking at the nearby Hay Festival.  I’m told Queen, Robert Plant Mike Oldfield and other A listed musicians also found a safe haven here and have jammed together around this very fire. In 1976 Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, teamed up with Martin and they opened up the world’s first microbrewery and created the Penrhos Ale.  It’s said that many episodes of Monty Python were written here and most probably the movie ‘Life of Brian’.

Past: Terry Jones outside the brewery

I’m shown around by the current owner Mark Bentham, who with his partner Laura, have now converted the hotel into 7 beautiful, high spec, self-catering cottages and one B&B, which they hope to open by Christmas 2021. Mark proudly shows off their new super expensive but environmentally friendly heating system, a massive ground source heat pump that fills a whole barn and I’m shown the location of a future swimming pool powered by solar panels, but for me the piece de resistance is the old barn.   Now beautifully renovated but delightfully rustic and medieval, it’s scheduled to open next spring as a traditional old pub and to be called The Python Arms in homage to the late Terry Jones.

  Present: The new Python Arms

 I shall most definitely be back to have a pint here and raise a toast to the Monty Python team. But for now, I finish my coffee and say goodbye to the resident dogs Leo and Mouse (two very friendly and very enormous rescued Turkish Kangals, who are free to wander the grounds).  It’s time to head out and complete the 3 mile walk back to Kington. 

Ali Allen

For a circular walk from Kington via Penrhos Court see website  






Overton Walking Group ( Hampshire)

Overton Walking Group, formerly part of  Basingstoke Walking for Health (W4H), are now an independent walking group continuing in the spirit of W4H. The group has its own logo pictured here. 

Boroughbridge Say “We Are Back”

Plans are coming together for the Annual Boroughbridge Easter Walking Festival.
Taking place on  14th to 17th April 2022, although a slightly reduced programme, it will include The Battle of Boroughbridge Tour in commemoration of 700 years since the battle took place.
The Northern Earls took up against King Edward in 1322, this lead to the demise of The Duke of Lancaster among others. The Duke  was taken out of sanctuary from St James Church and after trial at York was hung drawn and quartered at his own castle in Pontefract.
Other walks planned are the Fifteen mile Round River Walk, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Staveley Nature Reserve Walk and the Bronte 200 a walk at Ouseburn, celebrating 200 years of the Bronte family connection with the area.
Further details available shortly from

Setting Down a Visual Marker – Whitchurch, Hampshire.

Setting Down a Visual Marker – The campaign builds to save the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Whitchurch, Hampshire.

Whitchurch is a gateway town to the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which sits on the settlement’s northern boundary. Despite this being a protected landscape, it currently faces a massive threat from opportunist land speculators, trying to develop thousands of houses in this protected area – contrary to national legislation.

Jackie Browne, co-ordinator for Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome says, ‘whilst we all recognise the need for proportionate growth, the proposal to build thousands of houses and industrial units across the walking trails leading to the North Wessex ridge, Watership Down and the Harroway, ‘the old Way’, an ancient long distance chalk trail that dates back some 6,000 years, is simply outrageous, it makes a mockery of the AONB’s protected designation. Increasing the footprint of the town by 33% would destroy its sense of place, its strong rural and heritage identity and threaten the town’s tourism industry.

The campaign to protect the North Wessex Downs AONB at Whitchurch is gathering momentum and has attracted support from notable celebrities including Bill Bryson, who says, “The North Wessex Downs is a rare and lovely landscape, but it is also painfully finite. What a tragedy it would be to lose it.” To remind people of this, Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome and Whitchurch Conservation Group have joined with the North Wessex Downs AONB Partnership, to lay down a visual marker and remind people that they are entering a National Protected Landscape.

Other North Wessex Downs Parishes have shown interest and Jackie for one would be happy to see these visual markers at all major gateway points into the AONB.

Pictured alongside Jackie (centre) are David Gosling, Whitchurch Conservation Group, Councillor Lucie Follett Maitland, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Councillor for the ward of Whitchurch, Overton and Laverstoke, Paul Miller, the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council representative to the Council of Partners (CoP) of the NWDAONB, whose aim is to enhance and protect the natural beauty of the AONB and Ann Shepley, Communications Officer for the North Wessex Downs AONB Partnership.

Our Walking World by Kate Ashbrook

As delivered to the AGT: 
The pandemic has shown the value of green spaces and paths, and has caused people to walk more than ever. So it is ironic that the government is doing so little to help walking. This year we have been celebrating anniversaries—Offa’s Dyke 50th, Cotswold Way 50th (which was actually last year), and today is the 70th anniversary of the Dartmoor National Park. Ministers then took a real interest in walking, there are photos of them testing out the Pennine Way before it was designated. Today, ministers seem not one bit interested.

The government’s flagship 25-year environment plan, launched in January 2018, pledged that it would make sure that our natural environment ‘can be enjoyed, used by and cared for by everyone and that there should be high-quality accessible natural spaces close to where people live and work’. So far we have seen little action. Despite fine words during the passage of the agriculture bill, and an assurance that public access is a public good that should be funded from agricultural subsidies, we have yet to see any plan for payments for access. This is a lost opportunity because the funding regime could provide more and better access where it is wanted and needed.

The outdoor bodies tried to get access targets in the Environment Bill but our amendments were opposed. The budget, announced last week, had merely £9 million to create 100 parks, which is a pittance as it will not buy new land and will achieve little.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is struggling, with constantly shifting staff and exiguous legal support. Consequently, it is making no progress on implementing the Deregulation Act 2015 and yet the definitive map cut-off looms, only four years away now. We have a strong case for its deferral or preferably abolition.

Things feel better in Wales where we have sympathetic ministers who are prepared to put money into access. It seems that they will ensure access can be funded under their agricultural grant scheme.

Despite the gloom, Walkers Are Welcome Towns have a vital role to play. We are a movement, we demonstrate the value of walking to local economies, the need for good public transport and good paths and access. We know that highway authorities have no money, but relatively small sums go a long way on access and we can make the case to councillors, the decision makers. So we must work together to impress on national and local government the value of what we do in bringing money to local economies, and creating walking communities.

Photo shows Kate testing her new coat from The Walking Hub, Kington.

Wellington Joins in Telford T50 Children in Need Event

Wellington joined in the Friends of the Telford T50 50 Mile Trail‘s event on October 10th for the BBC Countryfile Ramble for  Children in Need . Each mile of the trail was walked by at least one person on that day.  The total on their Just Giving page is well over their initial target.  Wellington’s secretary organised the whole T50 event and  4 committee members walked a total of about 22 miles.  We hear that Market Weighton also took part  in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  Following the Annual Get-Together, there is a suggestion  to encourage more Walkers are Welcome towns and villages to take part in 2022.

10th Wellington Walking Festival hailed as a success

Wellington (in Shropshire) celebrated their 10th walking festival in September.  The celebration was the last event of the week.  The success can really be judged by smiles and happy participants. There was something for every kind of walker, ranging from a tour of the nearby Wappenshall wharf to a 20 mile hilly walk. The local independent cinema showed  “Wild” to coincide with the festival. Feedback forms received  have been positive about the festival with some suggestions for next year.  Wellington WaW report that: they ran a total of 25 events, and also participated in a shared pre-festival event with Ironbridge Walking Festival, giving 26 events in total;  209  people came , with a total of 472 occurrences of someone doing something in the festival;  they estimate that the total distance walked was a shade under 2000 miles. 

The Quantock Hills Walking Festival 2021

Stowey Walking would like to thank all those who contributed to the success of last weekend’s walking festival in and around the Quantock Hills. The event, which was postponed from 2020 due to Covid-19, was based in Nether Stowey and 88 walkers from all over the country took part. The main sponsors this year were The Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme who provided funding and support and EDF & Somerset Passenger Solutions who supplied transport to some of the walk start points. Walks were led by volunteers from various local charities and organisations such as Sedgemoor Ramblers, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Steart Marshes, The Thomas Poole Library and ‘Walkies and Whistles’ dog walking agency.

Plan your trip to the Pewsey Vale

Newly accredited, Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership has launched Discover Pewsey Vale – an online planner for your trip to the Vale of Pewsey.

Offering a selection of walking and cycling itineraries, the routes follow recognised walking trails but also take you off on local detours that you otherwise may not find. If you love getting out in the great outdoors, then look no further.
Ranging from one-day up to a week and beyond, there are routes and activities for you to select. With lots of ideas on where to eat, where to stay and local transport options, the itineraries provide you with all the information you need to plan your visit to the beautiful Vale of Pewsey. All the information can be found at
Dawn Wilson, Chair of the Partnership, said, ‘These planned itineraries can be used by visitors or by local people – there are lots of ideas for people to use and adapt to suit their speed and the time available to them. They include self-guides for places of interest, as well as GPX files for use on walking apps. The itineraries support our recent accreditation with Walkers are Welcome, demonstrating the quality and variety of walking in the area. We are looking forward to releasing details of our walking and cycling route – the Pewsey Vale Circular Way – later in the year.’
The Itineraries will encourage people to visit and to stay longer in the Vale of Pewsey, helping the local economy in the Pewsey Community Area. If you are a local business and would like to be included in the itineraries, then just contact Susie Brew at

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