Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:
Welsh Lane

Welsh Lane, or Welsh Road, was a set of Medieval or earlier tracks that intersected with The Portway and Salt Way, connecting north-west towards Coventry and Kenilworth and south-east to Buckingham and Aylesbury. It was a ‘drove road’ that paralleled Watling Street, used to drive animals cross-country, connecting the Medieval towns of the South East to North Wales.

Summary for ‘Welsh Lane’:

Location: Medieval (or earlier) drove road; North Wales, Castle Bromwich, Kenilworth, Southam, Priors Hardwick, Thorpe Mandeville, Thenford, Newbottle/Charlton, Finmere, Buckingham/Aylesbury.

Type: ‘Ancient tracks & Lanes’.

Condition: Mostly minor (but busy) surfaced roads, but there are some good sections of off-road track in Banburyshire.

Access: Public roads and byways.

Further information: Local Drove Roads, part 1 & part 2;
and Wikipedia.

Walks posts for site: {none yet}

There is no one, definitive ‘Welsh Lane’ (or ‘Road’, though I call it ‘Lane’ as that’s what my Granddad called it). If you walk the lanes of Warwickshire, into Northamptonshire, and briefly into Oxfordshire and then Buckinghamshire, it’s pretty clear the likely routes that the drovers took.

Welsh Lane begins in the Welsh Borders, where the great drove roads of Wales enter England; such as the Kerry Ridgeway route into Shropshire. From there they funnel down towards Birmingham and Coventry.

Many Medieval drove routes went to Northampton, which used to be one of the biggest markets for driven cattle before the modern era of the railways eliminated this trade.

Some came to Banbury.

Other routes passed down a broad corridor of lanes parallel to Watling Street heading for London.

Welsh Lane passes into ‘my patch’ around Kenilworth and Cubbington, where it crosses the River Leam. From Offchurch it runs toward Southam, where it turns south towards Ladbroke.

Near Marston Doles it transforms into a recognisable drove road. Past Priors Hardwick, it runs in a broad way-leave along the flat plateau of the Ironstone slab, on past Boddington and Aston-le-Walls to Trafford Bridge.

At Trafford Bridge it crosses the River Cherwell and then goes off-road, on what are some of my favourite local lanes; across Danesmoor towards Thorpe Mandeville. Here, at the top of the high ridge at Thenford Hill, it crosses Banbury Lane.

Coming down the hill toward Thenford the route is again within a broad way-leave. That’s lost as it enters the village, but returns as it passes the next ancient hamlet of Purston.

Here things get complicated. Around Newbottle, Charlton, and across towards Brackley, the route tangles with The Portway and Salt Way. There are a number of possible broad lanes any one of which are likely to have been used to get into North Buckinghamshire, south of Brackley.

One ancient route goes past Buckingham, along the south side of the Great Ouse, crossing Thornborough Bridge, the oldest Medieval bridge in Buckinghamshire, on its way to intersect Watling Street for the road to London. Other possible routes go further south towards Bicester, and Launton, and on towards Aylesbury.

One final note. From Kenilworth down to Thorpe Mandeville the route of Welsh Lane gets tangled up with the HS2 railway. That’s a true shame as the route Welsh Lane takes around the periphery of Banburyshire is a relatively remote, tranquil area of countryside. That will be lost over the next few years should the project go ahead.

Welsh Lane is a truly lovely route to cycle over the undulating Warwickshire-Northamptonshire-Oxfordshire-Buckinghamshire border. Near Banbury though, with one of the few significant off-road sections of the route, it’s a wonderful way to get away from the tarmac and into some beautiful rolling hills and (for now) relatively tranquil countryside.