Turn left down Belmont Hill and then turn right down De Tany Court. Follow
the road round until you see a garden square with a fenced section in the
middle of it. This is the site of Holy Well.
call this hill 'Holly' well Hill, but it should really be pronounced 'Holy'
Well because of the feature that you see in front of you.
It is thought
that it is called the Holy Well because Uther Pendragon (who may have
been the father of King Arthur) was cured of some vile illness in a spring
that used to be here.
on walking down De Tany Court and you will eventually come to a pathway
where you can walk down to the river bank.
the bank of the river and look across to the allotments, which is where
the river used to be.
the allotments flood on a regular basis because the river used to flow
straight across them and still wants to flow there when it gets full!
It was pushed to where it is now to use as a mill stream for the Cotton
Mill which used to be a few yards to the left of where you are standing.
house slow worms and grass snakes which both like long rough grassland.
Grass snakes are good swimmers and may be seen in the river around here.
of the Ver was also formalised by Lady Sarah Jennings, wife of the Duke
of Marlborough of Battle of Blenheim fame.
stood at the bottom of where Holywell Hill is now, where you will now
find a row of cottages and the Duke of Marlborough pub. What is now De
Tany Court was her formal gardens.
If you stand
with the river to your left, to your right you can see what looks like
just a hollow with nettles in, but it actually used to be a formal garden
pond in Lady Sarah's gardens. These led down from the house towards the
river, which was included in that ornamental garden in the late 18th and
early 19th century.
the river to your right, continue to walk along the river bank down to
Cottonmill Lane. Cross the road carefully and continue to walk along the
river bank, this time with the water on your left.
Here you are entering Sopwell Meadows which is a key urban wetland site
along the Ver corridor. It is a rich unimproved wet marshy grassland with
scattered scrub and supports variety marshy plants such as rushes and
sedges. You can also see mid-channel plants such as Water crowfoot whose
white flowers cover the water surface early in the year.
the sedges on the site are uncommon as is Purple Willow, the dominant
scrub species along the ditches.
been recorded from the site which is a rare plant of peaty marshes and
Water voles have also been seen along the river.
is also good for a range of invertebrates such as Dragonflies and Damselflies.
It is also
an important for birds including the rare Snipe which relies on wet marshy
you come out into an open area, turn right across the flat grassland and
go through a hole in the opposite hedge where you will find the ruins
of Sopwell House.
the ruins of an Elizabethan manor house, built by the military engineer
Sir Richard Lee in 1560 on the site of an earlier nunnery.
Nunnery was founded in 1140. Lee bought it from Henry VIII and soon pulled
If you are interested there are disused watercress beds further down the
river as the Ver valley used to be a national centre for growing it. The
constant temperature and high mineral content in the fast flowing river
made it ideal for this purpose.
provide an important habitat for species like water vole water shrew because
the beds usually have a constant flow of water through them so don't freeze
over in winter and mammals can get to the insects for food.
through the ruins back to the road (Cottonmill Lane). Turn right and cross
the road and go back along the river, back past the allotments and instead
of going back though De Tany Court, carry on along the river bank back
to Holywell Hill and the Duke of Marlborough pub and pick up the walk
again at stage 12.
nunnery turn left, walk along Cottonmill Lane for a little while before
turning right into Prospect Road back to Holywell Hill. Cross at the pedestrian
crossing and either go straight ahead back to the car park or turn right
and go back to the Duke of Marlborough pub and pick up the walk again
at stage 12.
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