Edge Hill's Civil War battleground

Climb a spectacular wooded escarpment and enjoy fine views over a Civil War battleground

NEAREST LOCATION

Edge Hill

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

3.5 miles (5.7kms)

ASCENT
560ft (170m)
TIME
1hr 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
SP370481

About the walk

The scene may look peaceful now but just over 360 years ago the fields below the tree-lined escarpment known as Edge Hill were anything but quiet. This tranquil corner of south Warwickshire was the setting for the first major battle of the Civil War in 1642.The Battle of Edge HillOn the morning of Sunday 23 October Charles I's army departed from Cropredy Bridge, a few miles away in neighbouring Oxfordshire, arriving at Edge Hill, which was already occupied by Prince Rupert's army, at noon. A staggering 14,000 Royalist troops spread out across the entire hillside, from the Knowle to Sunrising Hill, and as many as 10,000 Parliamentarians, under the command of the Earl of Essex, were massed in the fields below. Led by Prince Rupert, the cavalry of the King's right flank charged and routed the enemy, pursuing the men beyond the village of Kineton, several miles to the north-west. They began to celebrate.Driven backElsewhere, the Royalists were not doing so well. Commanding the left flank, the Commissary-General attacked the enemy's right. At first, his efforts proved successful but on reaching a line of hedgerows and ditches near Little Kineton, he was driven back. At the same time the King advanced his centre, also with success, until he, too, was forced to halt – his way blocked by trees and hedges. The Royalist army suffered many casualties. Open to attack on both sides, the centre gave way and the Royal standard-bearer, Sir Edmund Verney, was killed. The standard was subsequently taken, though later recovered. Prince Rupert re-emerged from Kineton and relieved the King's centre, thus avoiding defeat. The battle still raged as darkness descended over the escarpment and the Earl of Essex and his forces withdrew to Kineton for the night. The King slept in a nearby barn and then breakfasted in Radway the following morning. Neither side seemed keen to continue the battle and the King resumed his march to London unopposed while Essex withdrew to Warwick. Inconclusive though it was, the battle claimed the lives of over 4,000 men that day; 1,200 of them were buried by the vicar of Kineton.There were occasions during the Civil War when it looked as if Charles might win. But two factors ruined his chances: One was the military genius of Oliver Cromwell, whose successes at Marston Moor (1644) and Naseby (1645) confirmed him as the foremost cavalry leader, and the other was the intervention of the Scots. The Civil War finally ended in 1646.

Walk directions

Walk through the village of Radway towards the church. Veer left here into Westend road and pass alongside the grounds of Radway Grange on your left. Curve left by a pond and some thatched cottages. The 19th-century Methodist chapel can be seen here. Follow the lane as it becomes a stony track and go through two kissing gates into a field. Walk ahead to a third gate and continue ahead across the sloping field towards Radway Tower, now a pub called the Castle at Edgehill. Look for an inspection cover near the left-hand field boundary and maintain the same direction, climbing steeply towards the wooded escarpment.

Make for a gate and enter the wood. Continue straight over the junction and follow the markers for the Macmillan Way up the slope to the road. With the pub on your right, turn left for several paces to take a right-hand path running between Cavalier Cottage and Rupert House. Turn left at the road and walk along to Ratley. At the T-junction turn right and follow the High Street down and round to the left. Pass the church and keep left at the triangular junction.

With the Rose & Crown over to your right, follow Chapel Lane and, when it bends left, go straight ahead up some steps to a stile, then a kissing gate. Keep the fence on the left initially before striking out across the field to a kissing gate then stile at the far side. Turn right and cross the field to a line of trees. Swing left and now skirt the field down to a galvanised kissing gate in the bottom corner of the field, cut across the field to a footbridge and then head up the slope to reach a gap in the field boundary.

Turn left and follow the road on the pavement past some bungalows. Pass Battle Lodge and make for the junction. Cross over the road and join a woodland path running along the top of the escarpment. On reaching some steps on the left, turn right and descend steeply via a staircase known as Jacobs Ladder. Drop down to a gate and then follow the path straight down the field to a kissing gate at the bottom. Go through a second kissing gate beyond it and then pass alongside a private garden to reach a drive. Follow it to the road and turn left for the centre of Radway.

Additional information

Field and woodland paths, country roads, several stiles

Edge Hill escarpment

On lead in Radway and Ratley, under close control on Centenary Way and on road sections

OS Explorer 206 Edge Hill & Fenny Compton

Radway village

None on route

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About the area

Discover Warwickshire

The sparkle of sunlight on a gentle river as it meanders through beautiful countryside; the reflections of sailing boats on a lake; relaxing with a pint in the garden of an old English pub in a picturesque village; brightly coloured narrow boats making their way through a flight of lock gates; the imposing silhouette of an historic castle. These are the scenes that make Warwickshire a delight. 

There may be few seriously high hills in this fertile plain, but it is an area full of attractive walking in rolling countryside, blessed with a fascinating history and wonderful places and buildings to visit. This is Shakespeare’s county, and the footprint of the famous Bard appears almost everywhere. He was born and brought up around the beautiful Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and many of his plays draw upon his own experiences in the area.

Warwickshire has a history that embraces the Civil War, castles and large country houses are scattered over the county. Warwick Castle is the home of the Earl of Warwick, Kenilworth Castle was a stronghold for lords and kings of England in the 11th and 12th centuries, and so the list goes on.