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Codsall, Gunstone and Bilbrook Butterfly

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Codsall, Gunstone and Bilbrook Butterfly
Author: djhampton, Published: 23 Sep 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Staffordshire,
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Codsall, Gunstone and Bilbrook Butterfly
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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I've called this walk the Codsall, Gunstone and Bilbrook 'Butterfly' as it is a figure of eight route the outline of which looks very much like a butterfly.

The circular nature of the walk means that it can be joined at any point and if followed completely will bring you back to the point at which you started. It is also suitable for those holidaying on the Shropshire Union Canal as it touches the canal. Additionally, it is easily cut short or completed in sections.

The route uses paths and bridleways along which there are many stiles and kissing gates. Some of the horse paddocks have electric fencing which you will need to unhook (via the insulated handles) to pass through. There are also some short stretches along country lanes, but these are either very quiet or have broad verges along which to walk. There are a lot of animals on the route including horses, sheep and a few cows. There are several signs asking walkers to keep dogs on a leash. Most paths are well trodden and signposted, but can be boggy in parts and overgrown in other places.

As a circular route the 'Butterfly' can be joined at any point, but I've started and finished the walk at St Nicholas Church, the parish church of Codsall. There is not much parking at St Nicholas, so I usually park on the free car park in the village centre near to the station and outside the Co-operative supermarket. The walk however, starts and finishes at St Nicholas. If you park at the Co-op, walk out of the car park and turn left. Walk past the shops and the Bull pub on your right and then the Crown on your left. Walk through the pedestrian lane with the Nationwide and Lloyds chemist on your right. As you reach the main road you should be able to see St Nicholas church at the top of Church Lane in front of you.

Codsall is easily accessible by road, bus and train; parking is free.

The post code for the vicarage, which is close to the church is WV81EH.

OS Explorer map 219
Start and finish point SO 866 041

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Walk Sections

Start to M54
Start to M54

Start point: 52.6337 lat, -2.1986 long
End point: 52.6434 lat, -2.1899 long

For convenience I have started this walk at the entrance to St Nicholas church at the top of the hill in Codsall. Approach the porch of the church and then walk round to the right until you come to another path in the church yard leading off right and out of the church yard. Having left the church yard turn left and after a few metres turn right and walk down Mill Lane past some very fine properties.

Where the lane turns left there is a footpath leading straight on and you should take this path following it through the remains of an old gate and over a stile then meandering down between fields with bushes and trees on either side of you. At the bottom of the hill the path turns left and there is a public footpath sign to guide you in that direction.

Continue along the path past fields of cows until it terminates in a stile which you should cross over. The path then crosses some very rough pasture heading diagonally for the far left corner of the field. (There is a lot of reed growing in the field and it can be very boggy underfoot, you could detour round the right-hand edge of the field if necessary). Eventually the path comes to a small footbridge at place known as the Leper's Well.

On the other side of the bridge is a field and the path leads us around the left-hand side of the field eventually emerging through the remains of a stile onto a country lane. Turning right and walking for ten metres or so will bring you to another stile through the hedge on your left.

Once over this stile you find yourself once again in a field, which at the time of writing was full of sheep. The path crosses directly across the field to another stile by an oak tree and then right across the next field to a gate. This stretch of the walk is very noisy indeed as it runs alongside the M54 for a few hundred metres, but this small inconvenience doesn't last too long.

Keeping to the left-hand side of the fields and hard up against the M54 continue over a concrete bridge and then through a kissing gate and up a flight of steps, turning right onto a country lane.

M54 to Crossroads
M54 to Crossroads

Start point: 52.6434 lat, -2.1899 long
End point: 52.6376 lat, -2.1831 long

This country lane is no longer accessible to anything other than farm vehicles and is in fact part of the Staffordshire Way and so is perfectly safe to walk along. The country lane runs left across the M54, but we want to walk right, passing Gunstone Farm and eventually emerging onto Whitehouse Lane at Gunstone Hall and the hamlet of Gunstone.

Turning left we must walk for about five hundred metres along Whitehouse Lane until we meet the main Codsall to Brewood road. On the way we leave the Staffordshire Way which turns right across a field, but it's not the last we'll see of this 92 mile National Trail that runs from Mow Cop in the north to Kinver Edge in the south, as we join it again later on.

At the end of Whitehouse Lane there is a crossroads with Pendeford Hall Lane opposite, Port Lane to the left taking travellers to Brewood and Watery Lane to the right going back into Codsall.

Crossroads to Shropshire Canal
Crossroads to Shropshire Canal

Start point: 52.6376 lat, -2.1831 long
End point: 52.6412 lat, -2.1627 long

Standing at the crossroads turn left along Port Lane towards Brewood. Although this is a very fast road there is a good broad verge on the right hand side which it is advisable to walk along. After about one hundred metres there is a muddy pull in place beneath an oak on the right hand side of the road and a gap in the hedge takes you to the path.

As you walk along this path on the left hand side of the field the walker is afforded excellent views of Wolverhampton off to the right, Bushbury Hill straight ahead and the beautiful South Staffordshire countryside all around. As with many similar walks in this area, there is a profusion of bird life with this countryside being particularly suitable for Buzzards, which soar on the rising thermals.

Eventually the path is met by another coming in from the right and our path turns left through a kissing gate and then along a well worn path over a field. Ahead of us is a small wood where Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzards and Jackdaws are easily seen. The path crosses the field diagonally and then across twin stiles into another field. One of these stiles has a huge step down from it so be warned.

The path crosses the field to the top left hand corner and over another stile continuing down the hill keeping to the left hand side and crossing more stiles. Eventually we come a small glade with a significant depression in it, perhaps a collapsed mine or an old iron age settlement.

Emerging from the wood we continue along the left hand side of the field to another stile. These fields are full of horses and from the quizzical way they examined me, are unused to walkers, so just take that extra bit of care.

The path eventually meets a footbridge across the M54 by way of two stiles, but we don't cross, instead keeping to the left hand side of the field continue to walk down the hill until we meet the Shropshire Union canal.

Shropshire Canal to Moat Brook, Bilbrook
Shropshire Canal to Moat Brook, Bilbrook

Start point: 52.6412 lat, -2.1627 long
End point: 52.6315 lat, -2.1781 long

This next section of the walk is short and straight forward with well-marked and well-trodden paths.

Stand with your back to the Shropshire Union Canal and over to your left you will see a white house on the horizon, towards which you need to make your way. Although the path is indistinct the stile towards which you are heading is quite clear.

As you cross over the stile into the next field there are some farm buildings ahead and to the right. The path continues in a pretty straight line to reach the left-hand edge of the buildings. NOTE: This field is likely to contain several horse paddocks separated by electric fencing, so you will need to unhook the fences (using the insulated handles) to reach the far side.

The path emerges onto a farm track. Turn left down the track to reach a junction with the quiet road. Turn right and follow the road until you come to a green barn on the right. At this point, take the footpath signed on the left.

Follow the path until the hedge to your left falls away and over to your left you can see the local sewage works. The path then goes straight across the field to reach Moat Brook.

Moat Brook, Bilbrook to Staffordshire Way
Moat Brook, Bilbrook to Staffordshire Way

Start point: 52.6315 lat, -2.1781 long
End point: 52.6372 lat, -2.1902 long

Cross the footbridge over Moat Brook and turn right. The local council and local parish council have recently upgraded this area of Bilbrook and turned it from a muddy track into a pleasant stream side walk with excellent underfoot conditions.

Follow the red cinder track for about five hundred metres until it passes an access point to the road, just past where one hundred or so small trees have been planted. Stepping onto the road you should turn right and walk along the broad verge for about fifty metres until you see the stile on your left. Cross the stile into the field. NOTE: There are a lot of horses in this field. Walk diagonally right to reach a stile and metal gate on the top boundary. Cross the stile to reach Whitehouse Lane, where we walked earlier.

Turn left along Whitehouse Lane for about 200 metres to reach a stile on the left, just before some oak trees. Cross the stile and follow the fence line on the right. Cross another stile and continue along the right-hand boundary with a small lake visible on the right. This path is part of the Staffordshire Way.

Staffordshire Way to End
Staffordshire Way to End

Start point: 52.6372 lat, -2.1902 long
End point: 52.6337 lat, -2.1986 long

We are now on the Staffordshire Way and on the last leg of our journey. Follow the path across a stile and over a small footbridge at the field's corner.

We now walk across a series of fields, passing through several kissing gates along the way, on a well-trodden path until we emerge to a track adjacent to some farm buildings. Turn left along the track and walk past New House Farm on the left. The track emerges onto a lane, turn right and walk up the hill to reach St Nicholas Church. Your journey is complete.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author djhampton and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "Codsall, Gunstone and Bilbrook Butterfly"

Walked this today, further to the above comment, the second field to the farm track has been made into a number of paddocks with electric fences with no clear path across, I got across with a little difficulty to the farm track, was convinced I had got lost, knew roughly were I was as I walked the canal a number of times so left the walk here, on getting home and checking I was on the right path just some obstacles put in the way. I will re-walk next week and keep you posted.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Many thanks for this. After you have re-walked the route please do let us know how you get on. If you have suggestions of updates to the directions wording we will make those changes to help future walkers. Really appreciate your help.

By dlindop on 2015-09-18 14:57:22

I have recently walked this route and feel some amendments would be helpful. On the first section to the M54 the field described as being 'boggy' is an understatement. I found that rather than trying the diagonal route across the field, if you keep to the right hand side there is a less treacherous route to the bridge.
On the section, shropshire canal to Bilbrook, after crossing the two fields to the farm track, the right turn to find the gap for the next section only reveals that the owner has filled the gap with large amounts of hard core and rubble making it impossible to access the field. To rejoin the walk you need to turn left down the track to the road. Turn right and follow the road until you come to a green barn on the right, the footpath is signed on the left to continue to Bilbrook.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thanks for taking the time to let us know about these suggested amendments. We have updated the directions so that future walkers will have the latest facts.

By Ecoone on 2015-03-20 10:43:23

Re-walked today, no issues early on, got the paddock field after the canal, got across much easier this week, if you go to corners of the electric fences, there are insulated handles you unhook and re-hook for pedestrian access across, didn't notice them last week so much easier crossing. Over the style into the track, were I met the land owner, we had a pleasant chat, the field was always used for crops, but he gets a better return on the horse paddocks, you can't argue with that, he advised the next section you need mountaineering equipment to get over the rubble, so I went down the farm track to the lane, turned right in the lane, walked to the Green Barn on the right and rejoined the route as signposted on the left. This leads to Moat Brook, across the foot bridge, turn right, there's about 250 metre's which is pretty overgrown but there a narrow path through till you reach the red cinder path. Get the end of the cinder path, turn right onto the roadway, be careful this busy road, about 50 to 60 metre's down on the left hand side over the stile into the horse field, diagonally across to the right to a stile and metal gate, unfortunately this field has be made into horse paddocks with electric fences, horse must be more profitable that crop. To cut a long story short, I returned to stile with the metal gate, over the stile into Whitehouse Lane walked about 200 metre's to a stile on left just before some Oak tree's, followed the fence line, over another stile, again following the fence line on the right down into the corner of the field, small fishing lake on the right, into the corner, over a stile, over the foot bridge, and over the fields, lots of new kissing gates here, so just look out for them, they mark to route to farm track, follow the track till you hit the lane, got right and a couple of hundred later you are back at the start.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you so much for taking the time to provide this detailed update for the route. We have edited the GPS route map and the walking directions so that all future walkers have the latest info. We really appreciate your help.

By dlindop on 2015-09-25 16:17:15

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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