Oakthorpe – Sheepy Magna 13 miles (21km)
On this section I parked the car at Sheepy Magna and took the interesting and meandering bus ride on the two hourly service 7 which links Nuneaton with Ashby de la Zouch serving most of the villages in a wide swathe along the way.
Although a lot of these paths were new territory for me a few around Measham were familiar and the start of this section had less than pleasant memories. Today the cross field path was blocked by oil seed rape but a track offers an alternative. Last time the area was under water but today no such problems only nettles to sting bare legs on this hot day.
The church in the tiny settlement of Stretton en le Field is no longer used for worship and is maintained by the ‘Redundant Churches Fund’. It was possible to enter as the door lock appeared to be controlled electrically.
Emerging from the cul de sac which serves Stretton onto the busy A444 I was relieved to see the footpath opposite clearly defined across the next large field. This had also been a sea of oil seed on my last visit, the improvement was impressive and most welcome.
Chilcote didn’t have a lot to offer except for a seat at the village hall play site so I took this opportunity to take an early lunch. Tucked into a corner of the county and close to the boundary it did tick all the other boxes for a boundary walk. I had been tempted to cross over into Derbyshire and Netherseal the resting place of Sir Nigel Greasley, an essential homage for train buffs.
From here to No Man’s Heath the paths lived up to the name of the destination. Although some had been sprayed out, the crop of oil seed had flopped and made the going tough plus two very overgrown sections on these paths that showed little sign of use by other walkers. Not a walk for mid July, I recommend you wait until after harvest.
On my map the boundary makes a clear cut box to keep the whole of No Man’s Heath in Warwickshire but the paths I used had both been signed by Leicestershire, a bit of neighbourly co-operation.
Crossing some welcome pasture I approach Dingle Farm where the west facade offers a modern image while around the corner the style is 1920’s. The going remains easy as I pass another Parva and Magna, this time Appleby. Sadly we don’t see much of Magna except for the splendid Sir John Moor School and Foundation where time stands still, until they get the clock repaired.
No refreshments in Norton juxta Twycross, the Moors Arms, so reports say, has been closed and awaiting a new landlord since early 2013. On my last visit, some years back, it must have been feeding time at the zoo because the animal calls and screams were horrendous, today it’s silent, except for the joyful shouts of children in the adventure playground. I couldn’t work out the purpose of the large gates for the footpath to enter and leave the zoo grounds. There was no risk of animal escape as the path only crosses the public car park.
Dropping down the next path offers a view of Mount Judd some eight miles distant, more about it in the next section. Another forest of rape slows my progress and this time no sign of earlier reinstatement, just a week later and it might have been cleared which would have made all the difference.
Orton on the Hill another border village new to me and I suspect, other walking groups. There is a pub and a decent network of paths to the south west but not much evidence they get used.
The final miles to Sheepy Magna remain a blur at the end of this challenging 14 mile section. I was relieved that the car awaited me rather than having to start a long journey home by bus.