Walks in Sutton Park
Longmoor Valley Walk
This walk, marked in BLUE on the maps above, covers the open heath area of the Longmoor Valley, where the panoramic views from Rowton Bank can give a full appreciation of the sheer scale of Sutton Park. Please note that at one point, where the walk crosses Longmoor Stream, it can be very muddy in wet weather. The marked route is approximately 3.5 km or 2.2 miles.
If coming by car, enter by Banner's Gate and park where marked on the map above.
1 From Banner's Gate car park take the track heading diagonally across the open heath (towards Rowton's Well). The dominant vegetation of this area consists mainly of heathland grasses and sedges with stands of heather. Can you see any of the Hare's-tail or Common Cotton-grass? They are both sedges and during the summer, they have fluffy cotton wool-like flowering heads. There are many flowering plants in this area including Lady's Smock, Ragged Robin and marsh orchids. The spread of birch trees constantly threatens the character of the open heath.
As you continue walking towards the stream look out for Skylarks. They can often be heard, but are generally difficult to locate as they fly very high. The butterflies that frequent this type of habitat are the orange-brown coloured Small Heath and its larger relation the Meadow Brown. The caterpillars of these feed on the heathland grasses. Always be on the lookout for Kestrels. They are commonly seen hunting over the Longmoor Valley, hovering in the sky, waiting to pounce on a small mammal, lizard or beetle. The valley is a particularly good area for birdwatching, and a large number of ground nesting birds make their homes here.
As you walk along, look into the distance to the right of you. You will see Queen's Coppice, a plantation which commemorates the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It is circular in shape.
2 If you approach the stream quietly, you may be lucky enough to see a Kingfisher dart away. The steam itself, which feeds Longmoor Pool, consists mainly of spring water, and because of its purity is extremely rich in aquatic life. Whilst at the stream, watch out for the large hawker dragonflies. They are fond of patrolling up and down the stream, catching and feeding on many of the small flying insects which are about. If you see a small dragonfly-like insect, this will be a damselfly, which is closely related to the larger dragonflies.
3 After crossing the stream, follow the path to Rowton's Well. Actually a spring rather than a well, it was once renowned for its medicinal qualities, the water being often used as a lotion for eye diseases. Freshwater Shrimp will be seen if you watch quietly. Evidence seems to suggest that the site goes back to Roman times.
From Rowton's Well, follow the climbing path to the plantation at the top of Rowton's Bank.
4 This is probably the best viewing point in the park, the entire Longmoor Valley being laid out in front of you. Now take the main track left towards Royal Oak Gate, again crossing the stream. On the right, set within a further plantation, you will pass the old targets. These shooting bins were used by soldiers in Victorian times.
As you continue along the path, which is called Lord Donegal's Ride, look across to your right, into the the Upper Longmoor Valley. This area is returning to its former vegetation, following the removal of invasive birch scrub that had resulted from the fires of 1976.
5 Lord Donegal's Ride crosses over the line of Ryknild Street, which is said to be one of the best surviving examples of a Roman road to be found in this country.
After viewing the site of the Roman road, go back a little and take the parallel path, which sets off across a more open area.
In very wet weather, this path can be muddy where it crosses a drainage ditch. If this seems likely, retrace your steps and take the path marked with dashes on the second map above.
6 On reaching Westwood Coppice take the central path. This is one of the best areas of woodland in Sutton Park for a variety of species, including Oak, Holly, Sweet Chestnut, Rowan, Scots Pine, etc. Fungi are a feature of the wood in the autumn; the Common Earthball was particularly frequent in 2005.
The walk finishes at Banner's Gate car park.
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|Based on original web sites designed by Lynn Pearson and Brett Horton.|
|Content last updated: 6 May 2013|