The Centenary Way is a long-distance hike that commemorates a millennium of Warwickshire's rich heritage. As it winds through peaceful and wildlife-rich countryside, the Way visits countless sites that have played a key role in the history of Britain.
Starting in Kingsbury Water Park, the 100-mile (160 km) trail heads along the Tame Valley, through Nuneaton’s green belt, around the east of Coventry to Kenilworth and onto Warwick and Leamington Spa. From here, it heads south to the Burton Dassett Hills before voyaging west along the edge of the Cotswolds to finish in Upper Quinton.
Variety is the essence of this hike. Farmland footpaths, canal towpaths, woodland trails, and quiet lanes lead through patchwork countryside, over breathtaking hilltops, through vibrant towns and sleepy villages, into nature reserves and on through ancient forests.
Along the Way, you pass some wonderfully historic places, including: Kenilworth Castle, a 12th-century fortress hailed as one of the greatest historical sites in the UK; Warwick Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066; Hidcote Manor, one of the most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in the world; Edge Hill, which gazes over the location of the first battle of the English Civil War, the Battle of Edgehill; plus countless listed churches, many examples of industrial heritage, and plenty of other historic sites.
Wildlife hotspots are abundant en route, too. Once a gravel pit, the lakes at Kingsbury Water Park are now an important habitat for many species. Wyken Slough is a large grassland and wetland that is home to lots of birdlife. Leam Valley is a haven for kingfishers, otters, grass snakes and dragonflies. Much of the route explores countryside teeming with wildlife.
Other highlights include: Hartshill Hayes Country Park, which affords far-reaching views over Warwickshire and beyond; Coombe Abbey Park, which boasts beautiful gardens, woodland and birdlife-rich lakeside; Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, where breathtaking panoramic views abound from its rolling hills; and Ebrington Hill, the highest point in Warwickshire.
In this Collection, I have split the route into seven stages, ranging from 12.1 miles (19.5 km) to 16.4 miles (26.4 km). As stages 3 and 7 are more challenging than the other hikes, I have given advice on how you can split/shorten the stages. I have planned the walk from north to south, as per the traditional itinerary. There is nothing stopping you hiking it in the opposite direction.
Whilst there are a few hills to climb, especially during the last two stages, there is nothing too strenuous on this trail. Paths, for the most part, traverse gently-undulating or level terrain. As such, it is a good choice for all abilities.
Civilisation is never far away either. Pub stops and places to resupply are plentiful. Places to stay can be a little patchy right beside the route but options are never far too away. On stages that finish where accommodation is not abundant, I have given advice on how to reach the nearest option. Advance booking and forward-planning are essential.
The Centenary Way is a good walk for all seasons. Some of the farmland sections can, of course, get boggy in the wetter winter months. However, with well-maintained paths throughout and no exposed sections to contend with, even the darkest winter days should afford a decent walk. Sturdy footwear is recommended, as are waterproofs and sunscreen, depending on conditions.
To get to the start of the trail by public transport, your best bet is to catch a train to Tamworth and then the 15 bus to Kingsbury Water Park. At the end of the trail, you can catch the 3 bus to Stratford-upon-Avon, which has excellent public transport links.
Stage 1 explores countryside dotted with pretty lakes and culminates with breathtaking views over Warwickshire.
The hike begins in Kingsbury Water Park, which was once gravel pits, and snakes through …
This stage winds through Nuneaton’s wildlife-rich green belt before following the historic Coventry Canal to one of the largest areas of grassland and wetland in the region.
From Ansley Common, …
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This easygoing hike takes you through the patchwork of farmland and woodland that surrounds Coventry to the quaint village of Bubbenhall.
To begin, the trail heads east alongside the Oxford …
Expect breathtaking ruins, enchanting history, and gentle countryside on this stage, which brings you to Warwick via the magnificent Kenilworth Castle.
From Bubbenhall, hike through farmland to the edge of …
Nature reserves, riverside walking, quirky history and another mighty fortress all combine on this stage.
From the town centre, head south to the magnificent Warwick Castle, which was built by …
Glorious views of Warwickshire await on the penultimate stage, which climbs over the Burton Dassett Hills and rises above where the first battle of the English Civil War was fought. …
The final stage takes you to the highest point in Warwickshire and makes a whistle-stop at one of the most influential Arts and Crafts-inspired gardens in the world.
Ending on …