At Avonlea we are proud to say that many guests return time and time again. As a result, they discover ‘hidden gems’ that are off the well-trodden tourist beat.

Two of our regular guests, Kate and Bob, have discovered that jumping on a train from Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa provides the perfect opportunity for a stunning 10 mile walk back to Avonlea….

Bob & Kate’s Leamington Spa to Hatton Locks Walk

Warwickshire B&BOne of our very favourite places to visit – and we try to visit two or three times a year – is Stratford-upon-Avon. And we always stay at Avonlea. We also love walking and this is one of our favourites to do.

So, first things first. A delicious breakfast – normally made by Rob and served with a smile by Clare who always keeps our coffee very well topped up. While everything offered is delicious, Rob takes great pride in his scrambled eggs. Top tip for you.

But I mentioned walking, didn’t I? As for kit, a waterproof coat never goes amiss and we’d certainly recommend walking boots as the towpath often has puddles along the way. We walk across town to Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station and buy our return tickets to Leamington Spa for the journey which takes around 35 minutes. The trains are relatively regular but do check Trainline or National Rail Enquiries first.

I won’t describe the full walk as you all have Google Maps, I’m sure. Walk along the river (westbound) through Victoria Park – which is a good place to see local fun runs and charity events. At the end of the park, there is a main road. Cross at the crossing and take a narrow pathway just to the righthand side. A few hundred yards along and you arrive at the canal. Turn right and this takes you towards Warwick and then to Hatton.

Then all you have to do is stay on the canal towpath enjoying the scenery. You skim the edge of Warwick and then head onwards towards the famous Hatton Locks – a series of 21 locks known as ‘The Stairway to Heaven’ and which rise over a steady mile. It’s a rather nice feeling – as a walker – being able to easily overtake motorised vehicles as they patiently wait for the locks to fill or empty. We always think to ourselves “We’ll be in the pub before you are” as we pass.

Stratford-upon-Avon Bed and BreakfastAt the very top, there is an excellent dragonfly sculpture created by Gideon Petersen in 1971. There’s also a large pub – The Hatton Arms. We’ve never called in but it looks nice. Our destination is always the nearby café – appropriately called Hatton Locks Café – which is just a short walk further up the canal. After 5.8 miles (which takes us around 1 hour 50 minutes), we need a rest and a cuppa. And, although we had our yummy breakfast, a freshly made cheese and ham toastie is just the treat. (There’s plenty of other things available on the menu, by the way, including sweet treats).

There’s seating outside and some seating inside which fills up when the weather is a bit British. They also have toilets. I know that bit of information is an important one.

Replenished, it’s just a case of getting our legs working again and retracing our steps back along the canal. The last few times we’ve done this walk, the return train time has been a bit too snug for us to get all the way back to Leamington. Hatton Station is only about a mile or so away so you can take a stroll to there. We prefer to walk back to Warwick. Once in Warwick, just after the hospital, we leave the canal and turn right along Coventry Road and then to the Station. This stretch is four miles and takes us around 1 hour 20 minutes.

It is a very picturesque walk and we have countless photos of narrowboats, heron and general seasonal prettiness. It also gives us the opportunity for a bit of exercise and to feel a little bit saintly before spending our evening enjoying a rewarding pint – or two – in The Stratford Ale House and eating in one of our favourite restaurants back in Stratford.

Turn a Stratford race day into a short break by staying at Avonlea. Stratford Racecourse is just a mile from Stratford-upon-Avon – meaning racegoers who stay with us can leave their car at Avonlea and walk to the course to enjoy the hospitality at one of the country’s leading small jump racecourses

Racing takes place regularly between March and October, with many top trainers and jockeys attending. The Summer Race Days attract families and groups who can picnic in the centre of the course.

The 2024 Calendar >

The RSC has plenty of treats in store in early 2024. Whether you prefer traditional Will, a new take on Shakespeare – or something a little more left field. From February to April, you can choose from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice 1936, First Encounters: Romeo and Juliet or Ben and Imo.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)

Let Shakespeare’s captivating comedy transport you from deepest midwinter to the most magical of midsummer nights.

On Midsummer’s Night, the real and fairy worlds collide.

Four young lovers, faced with the prospect of unhappy marriage or worse, flee the court of Athens and stumble into an enchanted forest. Nearby, a group of amateur actors rehearse a play to celebrate an upcoming royal wedding.

As these mere mortals cross paths with a warring fairy King and Queen, chaos reigns in the natural world. The lines between reality and illusion start to blur and no-one but mischievous Puck knows what is true and what is magic.

FIND OUT MORE >

The Merchant of Venice 1936 (Swan Theatre)

London, 1936 the threat of fascism grows day by day.

Shylock (Tracy-Ann Oberman – Eastenders, Doctor Who, Friday Night Dinner) a widow, single mother and survivor of attacks on Jewish people in Russia, runs a small business from her home in Cable Street.

Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists plan a march through the Jewish East End and a fragile peace is shattered.

Into Shylock’s world enters antisemitic Antonio in need of a loan, a dangerous deal is made. Will Shylock take her revenge?

A powerful reminder of a key moment in British history.

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First Encounters: Romeo and Juliet (Swan Theatre)

When Romeo meets Juliet, the worlds around them melts away. But then reality kicks in; their families are enemies, and they will never be allowed to stay together.

With the world against them, they hatch a plan to escape the lives they were born into. But fate has other ideas.

Following the success of last year’s sell out Twelfth Night, the latest in the RSC’s series of “First Encounters” productions makes Shakespeare’s star cross’d lovers relevant for a new generation of theatregoers.

This 90-minute version of Romeo and Juliet, edited by Robin Belfield and directed by Philip J Morris, uses original language to create the perfect introduction for young people aged 7-13 and their families.

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Ben and Imo (Swan Theatre)

The 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II is fast approaching.

To mark the occasion, Benjamin Britten has just nine months to write a new opera about her predecessor Elizabeth I.

Into the world of the disheartened composer enters the exuberant and passionate Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav and an accomplished musician in her own right. Her candid and can-do attitude proves to be the perfect foil for the capricious and often maddening Britten, and what begins as an arrangement of practical support turns into a bond that not only sees Gloriana to its premiere but endures throughout the rest of their lives.

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With over 100 stalls lining the charming streets of Bridge Street and Henley Street, The Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival promises an unforgettable experience. As you stroll through the market stalls, you’ll be greeted by an array of aromas and and quality produce.

Additionally, the festival offers free demonstrations, providing the perfect opportunity to learn from seasoned chefs and pick up some culinary tips and tricks to take back home.

You could also pair this trip with a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon’s No.1 Fringe Theatre The Attic to see Dracula by Bram Stoker (click here to book your ticket).

Whether you choose to visit Stratford-upon-Avon by train or car taking advantage of our free parking, once you arrive at Avonlea you can explore everything that the area has to offer without needing to sit behind a steering wheel.

Just 1½ miles from the railway station and with its own off-street parking, Avonlea lets you make the most of Stratford and the Cotswolds without the need for a car.

We can even recommend organised walking tours of Stratford-upon-Avon or The Cotswolds.

Avonlea is a mere half mile easy ten-minute walk from the RSC and a town that is crammed with history: You can visit the theatre, eat in a multitude of restaurants and discover the delights of Stratford without the need of any transport other than Shanks’s pony.

If you want an entertaining and informative walking tour then let Stratford Town Walk’s team of professional, dedicated tour guides lead the way.

The Town Walk is available every day (even Christmas Day).

Enjoy a stroll around the ancient streets to discover Stratford’s history and fascinating relationship with William Shakespeare. ‘It’s like walking through the pages of history”, “a must do”, “best money spent in England”.

The Ghost Walk (Saturdays and Halloween) is entertainment with a difference, exploring Stratford’s darker history.  Good old-fashioned storytelling. The guides are professional entertainers and deliver the Ghost Walk in their own unique style. “Great entertainment”.

There’s even a non-Shakespeare walk ‘Walking Without Will’ (no mention of William Shakespeare).

If you want to go a little further afield, there still no need to turn the ignition! Go Cotswolds is an award-winning family run guided tour company that provide fun friendly guided tours of the largest area of outstanding Natural Beauty in England.

Choose a private tour or join an exclusive small group tour of famous Cotswold towns, villages and views. Ideal for first-time visitors to the Cotswolds or if you only have one day to spare.

If you prefer to walk, then Go Cotswolds also offers the opportunity to explore the Cotswolds on foot! Their small-group tour of stunning Cotswolds locations includes beautiful countryside walks, with plenty of free time to explore Broadway and Burford. www.gocotswolds.co.uk

Whether its our great bedrooms, fantastic location or free onsite parking (we’re too modest to mention the hospitable hosts!!) more and more guests are booking Avonlea to meet up with friends and family.

If booking Avonlea for exclusive use we have discovered the perfect way for friends and family to start their time together – with a bespoke wine tasting in our dining room.

For as little as £27.50 per person (for a minimum of 6 people) Tomelier (who call themselves wine pilots) will host a down to earth wine tasting with the emphasis on fun – so you enjoy being educated whilst also being entertained. Since they don’t sell the wines that you’ll taste you can relax and enjoy the 90-minute tasting without it turning in to a sales event.

Tomelier will theme the event to suit you there’s an introduction to wine, they organise a cheese and wine pairing, or choose from a quiz theme or even a games night – a bit of fun, tasting six wines interspersed with semi wine related quiz games.

As a couple who have been known to drink the occasional glass of wine we think it’s the perfect way to start your stay.

For more information visit: tomelier.co.uk

Stratford Racecourse is just a mile from Stratford-upon-Avon – meaning racegoers who stay with us can leave their car at Avonlea and walk to the course to enjoy the hospitality at one of the country’s leading small jump racecourses

Racing takes place regularly between March and October, with many top trainers and jockeys attending. The Summer race days attract families and groups who can picnic in the centre of the course.

Combine your stay at Avonlea with a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Stratford Races this Summer or Autumn and you’ll be enjoying the Sport of Kings as well as seeing King Duncan in Macbeth – one of the King of Playwrights most famous plays.

We can’t promise that you’ll manage to pick a horse with wings (to quote Imogen in Cymbeline), but if you do fancy a flutter, here’s the dates to look out for:

Swan Theatre re-opening season continues with four extraordinary human dramas which offer new perspectives on familiar narratives:

Tanika Gupta’s The Empress; a new production directed by Pooja Ghai opening in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon with a transfer to the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Falkland Sound; a new play by Brad Birch directed by Aaron Parsons telling the story of a rural community turned upside down through an international crisis.

The Merchant of Venice 1936; Watford Palace Theatre’s ground-breaking production of Shakespeare’s classic relocated to London’s East End. Directed by Brigid Larmour and featuring Tracy-Ann Oberman as Shylock.

Cowbois; a rollicking queer cowboy show from the writer of I, Joan and Bitch Boxer; Charlie Josephine, co-directed by Charlie Josephine and Sean Holmes.

Live at the RSC also returns, in association with Underbelly and Orchestra of the Swan featuring a mixed bill of live comedy, music and discussion including Fern Brady, Nina Conti, Ivo Graham, Jessica Fostekew, Sarah Keyworth and improv comedy troupe; Austentatious.

Charlecote Park is one of our favourite places – and here’s two very different reasons to discover why.

Easter Egg Hunt: 1 – 16 April 2023

Make your way along the trail and find nature-inspired activities for the whole family – a great way to explore the beautiful parkland of Charlecote.

Bat Walks: Choose from several dates between May – September

Stroll around the grounds with a member of the Warwickshire Bat Group to find out a little more about the different species of bat that live at Charlecote. You might even be lucky enough to spot a few! Detecting equipment will be provided for the walk.

All you have to take is a good torch!

To find the scheduled dates for Charlecote’s bat walks, click here.

As our extended stay offers were so successful last year we have decided you run them this year, too. They are available on most dates throughout the year so just click book now and enter your dates and the promotion will be automatically added if available or just give us a call.

Book 7 nights at Avonlea and enjoy a discount of up to £100*

Or

Extend your weekend stay at Avonlea – stay 3 nights including a Sunday and receive 50% off the Sunday night

Why limit Valentine’s Day to the 14th February?

Avonlea’s Valentine offer runs throughout the whole of February.

Book three consecutive nights in February using the code VAL22 and we’ll give you a complimentary copy of The Complete Sonnets and Poems of William Shakespeare (arguably the most romantic work in the English language) and another surprise treat.

Please just give us 3 days’ notice to make sure we have your gifts ready for you.

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