Approximately 1 hour and 2.5 miles
Whilst not necessarily my absolute favourite walk, this one hour walk is good for a regular walk particularly in May when the bluebells are out. A word of warning – a lot of the walk is along bridlepaths which can be muddy in wet weather. The timings are for a fairly brisk walking pace.
Starting from the Unicorn, proceed along Colmore Lane for 10 minutes and turn right into the first bridlepath at the ‘blue house’ (although it is anyone’s guess how much longer it will be there). Take the right fork – there have generally been fewer horses along this route. Proceed keeping right (ignoring a left fork that includes an arrow on the tree).
Halfway down the slope bluebells will come into sight and you will get a waft of scent. Once in the valley bottom, the fragrance can be almost overwhelming. There is what looks like a large complicated junction: it isn’t. Turn right and keep right. There are parallel paths all heading in the same direction and the right hand one seems to be the best one for walkers. Finally, the paths lead to one narrow path between two fields – this path can be extremely muddy making it almost impassable. I have, before now, walked along the edge of the adjacent field to avoid the mud.
At the end of this short path pick your way across the muddiest bit between the two gates and continue into the wood. Take the left path and then left again onto a narrower path. It was along this narrow path that I once watched two fox cubs playing tug-of-war with a rabbit carcass in the nearby field. If there are no fox cubs, you can at least admire the horses usually grazing there.
You will have walked for about 40 minutes when you reach the end of the path and completed over 1.5 miles. If you are a bit of a slacker or have a good excuse (rain will do) you can turn right and leap up Colliers Lane directly back to the Unicorn. If you really want to earn your stopover at the Unicorn, then cross over the lane going slightly left and take the footpath. Continue straight along this path, ignoring all minor paths, until you come to a large clearing with the ‘ski slope’ to your right. (There is a path to the left that will take you up to the Top Common and, of course, the Red Lion).
However, for this walk turn right and go up the ‘ski slope’ trying to get at least half way up before you stop for breath. At the top take the left fork and go perhaps 25 metres to reach a large clearing in front of you. Turn right and head for a gap in the trees that leads on to the cricket ground. Turn right again, keeping to the edge of the cricket ground, then turn left along the lane leading to Stoke Row Road.
That’s your hour’s walk done – 2.5 miles. Now you can relax, turn right and amble at a leisurely pace for three minutes along to the Unicorn.