Burbage – Cotesbach 14 miles (22.5km)
For this section it was bus all the way, being easiest from Leicester to take the bus to Hinckley and walk to Burbage (or bus if you prefer), then the Rugby bus back to Leicester at the end. This does require a bit of faith that a one bus an hour service will arrive, although there is a tea room at The Stable Yard should you have to wait.
The Leicestershire Round only skirts Burbage and I did the same but on reflection I should have made a slight detour to the village centre. The M69 forces a departure along the B578, fortunately there is a pavement for much of the way. Once over the motorway the walk returns, at last, to open countryside, a little neglected considering how close we are to the conurbation but at least the dreaded piles of dog mess are absent.
Smockington appears to consist of just four farms. Without knowing it I’d passed through the settlement by car on many occasions, so I felt no guilt that I was missing out this boundary hamlet on the walk. Folk from Leicester will be familiar with Wigston which together with Oadby makes up a sprawling suburb of south Leicester. How many residents of that Borough will be aware of the tiny settlement, at the end of a road, Wigston Parva?
I’m still not sure what the crumbling monument at High Cross records but after a short quiet road walk I arrive at the crossing point of two Roman roads, Watling Street which has been the boundary with Warwickshire from Witherley and the Fosse Way which serves as a boundary between Hinckley & Boswotrth and Harborough.
Having taken the route of the Leicestershire Round from High Cross I arrived at Claybrooke Parva and for the first time strayed from the diamond marked path to see other parts of the village on my way to Ullesthorpe. It was another hot day during the summer of 2014 and taking an adequate supply of water was an issue. Last time I had been fortunate to find a good supply of taps along the way but today the churchyards and cemeteries were full of plastic flowers and I could understand why.
Ullesthorpe was another first time visit, as far as I could remember. A pleasant village with a brick windmill tower and a well stocked village shop which I used to replenish liquid intake. The path from here follows the old rail line and as I approached the A5 there was the option to use a permissive path using the embankment across the valley avoiding the fall and climb taken by the footpath.
I had to take care that I made the right choice on the final approach to the A5 because only the footpath offered a safe crossing point. I was having to make another loop around a former airfield, now better known as the huge industrial area of Magna Park. Crossing the road I again enter Warwickshire and find the Sarah Mansfield Inn at Wiley which I recall had been used by LFA for a midweek walk so the paths here should be good.
Had I been in Leicestershire I would have made made an effort to visit Churchover but being out of bounds I took the shortest route back onto home ground crossing the River Swift which I had seen signed when travelling along the M1 near Lutterworth.
A mix of arable and pasture fields are crossed as I approach walks end. A view over to the north shows that I have achieved my objective of avoiding the massive sheds of Magna Park. After a short wait the bus arrives, spot on time and provides a tour of the villages on its return to Leicester.