Days out in Warwickshire
Beyond the obvious ties to a certain playwright, Warwickshire is a real destination. Attracting millions of visitors each year, there’s plenty on offer to see and do. Significant towns include Warwick, Nuneaton, Rugby, Royal Leamington Spa, and Kenilworth, but perhaps the best known, and arguably most visited, is Stratford-upon-Avon.
With undoubtedly huge appeal, Stratford is usually number one on the list of places to visit. Although a beautiful Tudor town in its own right, with wood-framed buildings and rich history, it’s the Shakespeare connection that Stratford is best known for. Start with a visit to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, complete with original fixtures and fittings, for a glimpse into her and Shakespeare’s life together.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace is another highly recommended stop for background on his early life, and if you can get tickets, catch a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Also noteworthy is the Tudor World Museum where kids can get all the grizzly details on what life was really like in Tudor times, and the MAD (Mechanical, Art, & Design) Museum is a great family day out.
Elsewhere, the beautiful county town of Warwick is home to the famous medieval castle that dates back to 1068. Offering a history-fuelled family day out, there’s plenty to do and enjoy with a mix of shows, attractions, and special events. The Lord Leycester Hospital is an architecturally important Tudor building that still hosts events today.
Not far away in Royal Leamington Spa, the historic Royal Pump Rooms are host to Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum. Just outside the town, a visit to the famous Chesterton Windmill will give you fabulous views across the surrounding countryside.
In nearby Gaydon, the British Motor Museum features a fine display of classic cars, while in Nuneaton, the Bosworth Water Park is a family-friendly space covering over 50 acres with parkland, walks, and even beaches. Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens is a remarkable slice of history with plenty to discover for all the family.
The southern tip of Warwickshire has a share of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With nothing less than breathtaking scenery to enjoy all around, you can discover this beautiful part of the country with some of the many walking routes, cycle trails, and bridleways...a perfect way to explore.
Topography, geology, and climate
As a central England shire county, Warwickshire is naturally beautiful with plenty of rural countryside. It features some diverse land qualities and an interesting mix of soil types with a combination of textures and fertility levels.
The bulk of the county is largely made up of medium fertility and mildly acidic and base-rich loam and clay soils. In the southern half, there are also large areas of highly fertile lime-rich loam and clay soils. Through the centre of the county, running south-west to north-east and into the far north, there are patches of higher fertility, heavier loam and clay soils mixed with freer draining, mildly acidic loam soils with low fertility.
Warwickshire’s weather is of a temperate climate with no extreme weathers one way or the other. Typically warm summer temperatures can average with highs of around 22ºC (71ºF) while winter temperatures can fall to around 1.5ºC (34ºF) on average. Warwickshire’s rain can be fairly consistent over the year, but annual rainfall is around 615mm (24”).
Warwickshire’s parks and gardens
Together with its beautiful countryside, Warwickshire is fortunate to feature a range of country parks and notable gardens. Visiting any of these special places will provide the backdrop for a great family day out, as well as an inspiring and informative treat for gardeners and horticulturalists.
The site originates in the medieval period. Coughton Park, now a wood, lies 2 kilometres to the west. John Davenport undertook improvements in the late 18th century. The extensive grounds include two churches, a lake and a riverside walk. The gardens cover 10 hectares and were recreated in the 1990s to a period design. There is a formal courtyard garden, a walled garden and a bog garden.
The site has an 18th-century park and river landscape around a medieval castle. The grounds occupy about 280 hectares. The gardens were largely remodeled in the 19th and 20th centuries, and feature the Peacock topiary garden, a Victorian rose garden, and a glasshouse.
- North Warwickshire
With plenty of gardens featuring heavily in the south, North Warwickshire still has some surprises to offer that are perfect for family days out. Hartshill Hayes Country Park near Nuneaton is a great place for kids to discover and covers over 130-acres. With extensive woodland featuring many different species, there are plenty of walking trails and landscape views, as well as a kids playground.
Just south of Rugby, the Draycote Water Country Park, in Dunchurch is set around a huge reservoir and offers all sorts of activities. With the Woodland Walk and Dam Trail, you can walk, run, or cycle the 1.5 miles routes and take in wonderful views along the way - or try the Reservoir Loop, a full 5 mile route all the way around. There are also plenty of opportunities for bird watching, fishing and even getting out on the water with a range of watersports.
On the other side of Rugby, the Swift Valley Country Park is a nature reserve and a haven of peace and tranquillity. The nearly 60 acre site includes natural grassland, woodland, and wetlands and is a fantastic open space to explore. A menagerie of paths and trails allow for walking while you look out for grazing animals, butterflies, and plenty of birds – and birds of prey, including kestrels and sparrowhawks.
- South Warwickshire
Royal Leamington Spa enjoys a beautiful, award-winning park in the town. Jephson Gardens is a formal Victorian park in the town centre featuring over 100 species of trees, together with beautiful beds and borders offering fantastic seasonal colour. There are also insect-friendly plantings in the East Lodge Garden, a Sensory Garden, and the Glasshouse with exotic and tropical plants. Ideal for a relaxing walk or a family visit.
In Warwick, The Hill Close Gardens are a real slice of history. These 16 hedged, Victorian pleasure gardens have been fully restored and offer a diverse mix of plantings to enjoy throughout the year. With a wide mix of seasonal flowers, fruit trees, veg plots, and open grass areas to savour, the glasshouse is also home to many nursery plants plus several tropical plants. A real hidden gem and not to be missed.
The nearby Mill Garden is also a special treat. At just half an acre, this compact garden certainly offers a lot and enjoys a backdrop of Warwick Castle too. Delicate, winding paths lead you around a wide variety of colourful mixed borders, with plants that include begonia, verbena, and hydrangeas as well as carefully selected shrubs and trees. A beautiful space on the banks of the River Avon.
Near Stratford-upon-Avon, Charlecote Park is a magnificent National Trust-owned property on the banks of the River Avon. It offers an outstanding formal and colourful garden parterre overlooking the river and peaceful woodland garden, and it is perhaps the surrounding Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown-inspired parkland that Charlecote is famous for. Look out for the sheep, herd of fallow deer, and wonderful views as you explore the paths and trails along the way.