COUNTRY walks, a shopping expedition full of rustic charm and lunch at a waterside inn alongside the famous Hatton flight of canal locks is the package of treats in store for stay-at-home Britons looking for an inexpensive day out on their doorstep.
Set amongst breathtaking countryside, the historic Hatton Estate near Solihull, owned by a descendant of the founding father of the Industrial Revolution, is opening up walks across its 700 acres to offer visitors the chance to recapture their rural heritage.
Johnnie Arkwright, whose ancestor Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) developed the spinning jenny which helped power the Industrial Revolution, has spent almost 30 years transforming parts of the estate into a rural escape for families, with the shopping village and farm park at Hatton Country World being the second most visited attractions in the county after Warwick Castle
Now Johnnie is turning his attention to day trippers.
“It’s no secret that the economic situation is forcing many people to abandon plans for a holiday abroad,” he said.
“And there are plenty of wonders to be found on the doorstep.”
The biggest draw for visitors is the shopping at Hatton Country World, where traditional craftsmen ply their trade alongside fashion, gifts and furniture.
Founded upon the craft movement almost 30 years ago, the shopping village - originally known as Hatton Craft Centre (then the largest craft centre in the country) - has 25 shops nestled in the estate’s old Victorian farm buildings.
It is a place where friendly welcomes and old-fashioned courtesies prevail in an atmosphere of rural tranquillity that is such a contrast to the stresses of everyday life.
A mid-morning pastry can be enjoyed in Café Lavender Blue or a coffee in the Farmhouse Restaurant, before setting off along one of the walks, exploring the countryside around Hatton and surrounding villages.
The estate has produced its own walks leaflet, which includes routes from 1.5 miles to 5.5 miles, taking in fields, churches, wildlife and views over Warwick.
One of these takes walkers alongside the Grand Union Canal, where the Arkwrights have also restored an 18th Century coaching inn – The Waterman – a traditional English country pub.
The inn’s gardens overlook the stunning ‘Stairway to Heaven’ flight of 21 canal locks, set against a backdrop of some of Warwickshire’s loveliest rolling countryside.
A stroll along the waterside and a meander back across fields, peppered with wild flowers, brings the visitor back to Hatton Shopping Village for afternoon tea and a final browse before setting off home and a day to remember in rural England.
Not unimportantly, in these difficult times, there are no admission charges for either the walks or the shopping village.