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A Sporting Break in Warwickshire

Warwickshire has a fantastic sporting history, and excellent modern sports facilities, so a break to explore both those aspects of the county could fill a week of anyone’s time.
If you doubt the area’s historic claims, then consider the following facts: the Football League was founded thanks to Aston Villa director William McGregor; Rugby , so legend has it, was born in the school and town of that name in 1823; Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society is the oldest tennis club in the world; Birmingham and District Cricket League is another world’s oldest; and The Woodmen of Arden is one of the oldest archery clubs in Britain, and surely the most exclusive.
A sporting break in Warwickshire is a year-round possibility, and that’s not just because the football season – the county being home to Aston Villa , Birmingham , and Coventry football clubs – never seems to end these days.
When there is some footie respite you are likely to find a cricket match in progress at Edgbaston . The ground, the second largest in the UK, is a regular test and ODI venue, so with careful planning you could see an international touring side here; otherwise a county game in the Championship, or one of the limited overs formats would be a pleasant way to spend a few idle hours, with beer never very far away either.
If the egg-shaped ball is more to your liking, a trip to Warwickshire is a bit of a pilgrimage, William Webb-Ellis credited (though not it has to be said universally) with picking up the ball and running with it in a football game at his school in 1823. The school’s Barby Road museum includes material on the game of course, and can be visited at certain times (please check); opposite the school there is the Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum , with all sorts of memorabilia linked to the game, and at times demonstrations of hand-sewing of the traditional ball.
Four-legged sporting events are well represented in the county too, with two racecourses and a famous hunt. Warwick racecourse has 25 meetings a year, both on the flat and of the jump variety; and the rather smaller Stratford holds races between March and the end of October. Warwick has been in the game since the 18th century, and is a particularly pleasingly located course, close to the famous castle and only a stroll from the centre of the equally picturesque town. As for Stratford , you could watch the gee-gees during the day and the luvvies in the evening with a bit of foresight – potential for some intra-family bargaining there.
Whether hunting counts as a sport depends on viewpoint, but for the sake of completeness we include a mention of the Warwick Hunt here, formed at the end of the 18th century, whose Boxing Day and New Year’s Day events are especially well known.
From four legs to four wheels – or two. The Midlands were for many decades the heart of the British motor industry, and that position is reflected in two great collections which will be of interest to motor racing fans. The Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Motor Centre near Gaydon has Monte Carlo winning Minis on display, along with other rally vehicles and a Formula One car. The National Motorcycle Museum at Bickenhill near Solihull has plenty of models that will bring a smile to the face of two-wheel race aficionados.
For golfers Warwickshire is something of a playground, with dozens of courses dotting the land- and cityscape, the most famous of them thanks to its Ryder Cup links The Belfry in Wishaw.
Should you need to drain the kids of energy before taking them to a test match say, the Leam Boat Centre in Leamington Spa has motorboats, rowing boats, kayaks and canoes aplenty: with some planning again you could potentially arrange for coaching sessions to build a bit of formality into the proceedings, and hopefully leave with a skill and a new hobby.
One thing you should definitely check before setting your itinerary is what’s on at the National Indoor Arena. The NIA has hosted all sorts of sporting events over the years from Davis Cup tennis matches to bowls events, and world championships in netball, judo, athletics, and badminton to name but four. And it puts on some other pretty esoteric sort of sporty gigs – Gladiators anyone?
For a certain MP Birmingham may have been “too far away” to merit consideration for the National Stadium, but for the rest of Britain it is pretty much central and easy to get to. Information Britain has accommodation throughout the county: hotels , B&Bs , guest houses, and a wealth of self-catering options – we’re sure you will find something to suit your style and pocket and make the ideal base for your sporting break.

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