We spent five days spanning the early May bank holiday at Hawkesbury junction and enjoyed the glorious weather that went with it. After arriving on the Thursday, we made a couple of trips to the Arena retail park, took a bus into Coventry and of course had lunch in The Greyhound on Saturday afternoon.
Lunch was superb, as usual. The whole experience can’t be faulted but that’s really down to the fact that there are always plenty of attentive staff, no matter how busy the place is. On a sunny Bank Holiday like the one that we experienced, I’m sure that the staff would have really been under a lot of pressure but they know what they are doing at The Greyhound. We enjoyed our stay at the junction although we didn’t do anything there that we hadn’t done before and with the weather as it was, we had a few lazy afternoons sitting on the front deck.
Hawkesbury Junction is a popular stop for boaters but in reality, with the exception of The Greyhound, there isn’t really much there. There’s nothing wrong with going to the pub every day, if that’s your thing but for anyone who wants a bit more, here are a few helpful hints.
Blackhorse Convenience store is just a few minutes walk from the canal and seems to carry a wide range of everyday provisions. A sign outside advertises that there is a free to use ATM inside but we haven’t had a need to use it so I can’t confirm that the facility exists. Cross the Coventry canal using the ladder bridge and make your way into the housing estate. Walk along Heritage Drive and then turn left on to Sephton Drive at the end. Turn first right and then left at the mini roundabout. The shop is a little way along on the left hand side. There is a post box opposite the store. Out of interest, if you had turned right at the mini roundabout and gone the other way on Blackhorse road, there is another pub – The Boat Inn.
Situated near the Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry City FC and Wasps RFC, the retail park has a Tesco Extra and M&S along with other fashion retailers. There are restaurants and coffee shops on the site so it’s worth the walk if you fancy a bit of retail therapy. In between the retail park and the stadium is a railway station on the Coventry to Nuneaton line. The simplest way to get to Arena Park is to walk along the towpath until bridge 8 (New Inn Bridge). It is also possible to leave the towpath earlier at bridge 9 (Judds Lane Bridge), cross the canal and then turn left. It’s not the prettiest towpath route and depending on the weather is susceptible to muddy patches, it’s still worth doing at least once because there are information boards along the way. The best way that we have found is to walk past the Greyhound and on to the main road before turning left, away from the canal, along Grange Road. The road passes under the M6 and eventually becomes Oakmoor road, at this point and just beyond Hawkesbury Lodge, there is an entrance to Longford Park. The path through the park crosses the river Sowe and emerges on to Longford road. Turning left and walking a short distance brings the walker to New Inn Bridge over the canal and then it is simply a matter of taking the next right turn into the retail park. This route isn’t muddy and is almost half a mile shorter than the towpath which is why we prefer walking this way. A three mile round trip walk is well within our capabilities but it is worth knowing that if the weather turns nasty or there’s a lot of shopping to carry, that there is a Taxi rank at the bus interchange next to Tesco. I’ve no idea how much the fare back to The Greyhound is but at a mile and a half, I would expect it to be between £5 and £7.
Coventry City Centre
There are a number of ways to get into the City Centre, the canal towpath being one of them but it’s a long way and in places, not very nice. Trains run from the Arena but the City station is a bit of a walk from the centre so the best public transport option is the number 6 (or 6A) which runs every twenty minutes from Anderton Road. The City bus station is within sight of the Transport Museum and just a five minute walk from the main shopping areas. We paid £4 each for a day ticket so it represents reasonable value for the trip. It’s a ten minute walk from the Greyhound, turn left on to Grange Road, pass under the M6 and take the first left, the bus stop is on the right in the layby.