On Countryfile this Sunday: Warwickshire

This Sunday the team is heading to Warwickshire. John Craven travels to the birthplace of William Shakespeare to see how growing up on a farm had an influence on his writing. Matt Baker joins the Shipston-on-Stour Young Farmers and their tractors. Ellie Harrison learns to ride side-saddle and tries out a classic British bicycle. See the other interesting and historic lures of Warwickshire below.

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Warwick Castle, Photograph: ©Shutterstock

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ACTIVITIES

1. The Mill Garden is situated beneath the walls of Warwick Castle with stunning views of the River Avon. Hidden down a medieval street you will be taken through winding paths and see a huge variety of plants and beautiful flowers. Interesting for even for the most experienced enthusiasts and with all benefits of this private garden going to charity it is well worth a visit.

2. Pittern Hill Stables are deep in the heart of Warwickshire in the village of Kineton. Travel back in history and learn how to ride side-saddle at the place made famous by the Cavaliers and Roundheads at the battle of Edgehill. All levels of rider are accommodated here to enjoy the splendour of the bridleways and countryside.

3. Pro Falconer is a bird of prey experience in Baginton on the edge of Warwickshire near Coventry. Here you can encounter owls, hawks, falcons and eagles and fly them over the secret garden at Russells Garden Centre. Once you have learnt about these amazing birds you can visit the wildlife in the secret garden such as roe deer, muntjac, foxes, badgers, rabbits and weasels. Even catch a glimpse of a snake or lizard. See crested newts in the streams and Green woodpeckers in the trees. Pro Falconer is only open to pre booked guests; you can purchase your experience online.

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Woodland path, Photograph: ©Shutterstock

GARDENS AND NATURE RESERVES

1. Train and Trek in Lapworth on this seven mile circular walk starting at the train station. You can stop off at National Trust properties such as Packwood House with its stunning gardens and Baddesley Clinton with its links to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Taking you through Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden and two canal junctions here is plenty to see on this walk.

2. Hill Close Gardens were once used as leisure gardens by the townsfolk of Warwick as a means to escape the bustle of the town. These Victorian gardens were once found on the outskirts of many towns but Hill Close has the only surviving Victorian plots with public access. With 16 individual hedged gardens restored to the glory of their original owners it appeals to all.

3. Managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary of Ufton Fields Nature Reserve allows easy access in all weathers to diverse habitats. Close to Leamington Spa, set on an old limestone quarry, the reserve is known best for its abundance of butterflies, dragonflies, birds and rare orchids.

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Butterfly on a flower, Photograph: ©Shutterstock

ATTRACTIONS

1. Warwick Castle is ideal for the whole family with its brilliant architecture and grand interiors. Surrounded by superb grounds and gardens you can take a stroll outside and visualise the impact the castle would have had on intruders. Experience the struggles of young Merlin in the Dragon Tower or become a princess for the day and even kiss a frog! Appealing to all the senses, this day out will be one to remember. It even has a rainy day guarantee!

2. The UK’s largest tropical butterfly paradise takes you to an exotic rainforest in Stratford city centre. With a huge range of colourful butterflies from around the world you can experience them flying and feeding around you. Stratford Butterfly Farm houses far more than beautiful butterflies and caterpillars. See iguanas, birds, the busy ants in Insect City and the spiders in Arachnoland if you dare!

3. Plantasia has the largest collection of permanent mazes in the country which are all created out of raw materials that you could replicate in your garden. It has over 6,000 plants and great places for children to explore and the chance to meet deer and other animals. Walk on the clouds on the treetop trail and picnic in the orchards at this family attraction.

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford. Photograph: ©Shutterstock


TOWNS AND VILLAGES


1. Stratford-On-Avon was once home to William Shakespeare. You can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace that will take you back in history for glimpse into his lifestyle and inspiration. Why stop there, take a pleasant stroll out of Stratford to explore Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in its award winning grounds and gardens. Step back in time at Mary Arden’s Farm, a working Tudor farm where you can see rare breed animals, explore the nature trails and have the option to take part in the authentic chores. There are a total of five properties to enjoy in and around the town hosting exhibitions, archaeological digs, actors and performances (with the chance to join in). Stratford-upon-Avon is a historical place that can be enjoyed all weekend.

2.  Rugby is the second largest town in the country and known mostly for being the birthplace of the Rugby sport. William Web Ellis invented the game through breaking the rules of a football match at the school. Rugby was also where the Jet engine prototypes were first invented and was the setting for Charles Dickens’s story ‘Mugby Junction’ at the once famous railway station. It now offers museums, a large number of pubs and St. Maries church with the tallest spire in Warwickshire. Caldecott Park in the town centre has been featured in Britain in Bloom with many more gardens, reserves and houses to visit outside of the town. Guy Fawkes House is located in the neighbouring village of Dunchurch.

3. Royal Leamington Spa underwent one of the most rapid growths in size in England due to the popularity of its waters medicinal qualities in the late 18th Century. As given away by the name, Leamington was once a popular spa resort. You can visit the Royal Pump Rooms to taste the history and the spa water if you wish! At the nearby award winning Jephson Gardens you can go on boat rides, relax in the tearooms and enjoy the garden or go on a Leamington walking tour.

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