John Dunn

John Dunn original writing
Book sales
Thought Pieces
Oxford to Cambridge
Something said


Next Entry

Rugby and Hinkley Turnpike 14.10.20

Monday, 26 October 2020 at 20:57

White Lion on Dr John Dunn. The White Lion, Pailton

I rode to the Triumph Motorcycle factory in Hinkley a couple of weeks back and decided to take in a stretch of the old Rugby and Hinkley Turnpike (1812) by heading to Rugby on the way back.

For the record, I joined the turnpike at the crossroads of the M69 and the A5 Watling Steet, by following the B1049 to Wolvey. The main route between Coventry and Leicester passed through here until the coming of the M69. This main route was originally the Coventry and Stoney Stanton Turnpike (1831), which travellers on the Rugby and Hinkley route used briefly whilst passing through Wolvey.

I rejoined the Rugby and Hinkley Turnpike proper (now the B4112) just south of Wolvey on the way to Withybrook.

Whilst the turnpiked road passed through Withybrook, the road itself is much older and part of it is a deep and ancient hollow-way.

The next village on the route was Pailton. Here the Rugby and Hinkley Turnpike was preceded by the construction of the Market Harborough to Coventry turnpike in 1754, after which Pailton began to prosper and many new businesses were established to cater for the increased traffic and numbers of travellers. The White Lion and Plough Inns both date to this period, and a forge was founded at the east end of Lutterworth Road. As at Wolvey, travellers on the Rugby and Hinkley Turnpike used a connecting strip of the older turnpike to pass through Pailton.

At Harborough Magna, the turnpike left the village in a loop to one side, a feature that is still recognisable today.

I rode through Newbold on Avon, after which I crossed the River Avon and into the town of Rugby and the turnpike’s end.

© John Dunn.

Analogue error

Sunday, 4 October 2020 at 19:57

A glorious view of a Cotswold lane sent by John Dunn to the internet website of Dr John Dunn. A view from Salter's Hill in Winter, looking over the privately built cattle grid that bypasses the gate on Salter's Lane.
© Copyright Robin Webster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Winchcombe to Guiting Power 29th September, 2020

The analogue traveller has the joy of stumbling across places by accident. Maps allow the simple pleasure of getting lost.

That’s my excuse anyway. Upon motorcycling out of the golden Cotswold town of Winchcombe, searching for the lane to Guiting Power, I found myself trundling along in the wrong direction, north-east on the way to Broadway rather than south-westwardly.

A few moments peace (engine switched off) with my tank top mounted OS map resulted in a plan to restore the right path.

I would turn right at the next lane towards Hailes Abbey, but instead of later turning left to see that medieval marvel I would carry straight onto climb up the little gated single track lane of Salter’s Hill. It was Salter’s Hill for a reason, for I was to join the old salt way at the top before turning down Campden Lane, all the way to Guiting Power.

And the happy accident? Well this was some of the most glorious motorcycling country I have yet travelled. Admittedly the fine ambience was aided by early Autumn sunshine and blue skies, but the curving oolitic countryside, pasture and woodland, more than played its part.

The climb up Salter’s Hill was given added piquancy by the field gate ‘by-passes’ of cattle grids and short gravel tracks.

The joy of pottering along Campden Lane, however, was something not easily surpassed. The dappled light and shade from the occasional green canopy above served as a curtain raiser each time the long vistas of rolling countryside opened up to view. All this combined with the lazy phud, phud of my single cylinder engine to lull me into another golden world of sunshine and Cotswold stone.

The relatively long lane fell gently down through Guiting Wood, to finally bend around the contours into Guiting Power. Oh happy analogue episode on this mild and pleasant Cotswold crossing.

© John Dunn.

Motorcycling the Gloucestershire turnpikes

Friday, 2 October 2020 at 21:11

Toll house at Tewkesbury on Dr John Dunn. Toll house at Tewkesbury

Motorcycling the Gloucestershire turnpikes

28th September, 2020

All roads drop from Stow-on-the-Wold and my chosen route was no different. The Stow to Stumps Cross Turnpike dropped down through the leafy canopy of Abbotswood to Upper Swell and the very narrow bridge over the River Dikler, before travelling westwards along the modern B4077 across the rising back of the Cotswoldsto the steep escarpment ahead.

Milepost, Upper Swell

Stumps Cross, where a toll house still stands proud to this day, is at the top of the steep drop down the western face of the Cotswolds and marks the point at which the auspices of the Stow to Stumps Cross Turnpike Trust ended and the responsibilities of the Tewkesbury Trust began.

Surviving former toll house (was Stumps Cross gate) on the B4077

Before reaching the edge land however, a tributary of the Windrush has to be crossed at Ford. In medieval times there was a mill here on the river Windrush which rises a mile or so to the north. In earlier times Ford must have been much bigger and there are records of a chapel of ease. The Plough Inn is very old and was there in the days of the chapel and must have been a welcome sight to travellers over the bleak and windy wolds. A splendid turnpike milestone still stands in Ford.

Turnpike milepost at Ford

Then it was over the edge at the Coscombes and down the best gradient the road builders could find hereabouts. The descent in fact is a delight, a curving winding way through wooded glades and a leafy canopy that once provided thankful shade to the hard working horses pulling coaches up the other way.

At the bottom, the road bends sharp left and I was soon upon the cross roads at Stanway where there is a war memorial withlettering by Eric Gill, at what is locally known as The Cockpit.

The Toddington roundabout that followed once marked the end of the B4077 and the start of the A438. Now the B4077 continues until it meets the A46 at the Teddington Hands roundabout, well on the way to Tewkesbury.

After passing an interesting finger post at the Toddington turning, I soon came to the cutting where in 1860 the road was improved by straightening it. A footbridge was provided to cross the cutting, but was dismantled in the 1960s. The nearby brook or small River Isbourne was more adequately bridged at the time of the road improvements, but this eventually proved too narrow for modern traffic and was widened in 1980.