Leicestershire Border Walk – part 6

September 28, 2014 by

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.

Feature or real? On a pond in Sheepy Magna

Feature or real? On a pond in Sheepy Magna

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.

Stretton en le Field church interior

Stretton en le Field church interior

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.

Excellent cross field reinstatement on the footpath to Chilcote

Excellent cross field reinstatement on the footpath to Chilcote

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.

Chilcote Village Hall

Chilcote Village Hall

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.

Tunnel path through strawberries

Tunnel path through strawberries

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.

Old and new faces at Dingle Nook

Old and new faces at Dingle Nook

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.

Sir John Moor School and Foundation at Appleby Magna

Sir John Moor School and Foundation at Appleby Magna

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.

 

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 5

September 20, 2014 by

Ashby de la Zouch – Oakthorpe 8 miles (13 km)

It was fairly recently that I discovered the castle at Ashby. Unlike many which dominate the town on an impressive outcrop of granite the castle at Ashby hides away, perhaps it’s the defensive strategy? If it was, it failed and now the few stones that remain are in the care of English Heritage, so a detailed look will cost you but it’s worth a free look over the fence.

Ashby castle for free

Ashby castle for free

Ashby still has much to show from the days when it served as a staging post for horse drawn coaches adding to the bustle of a market day. The road we take to the west has some imposing buildings until eventually we turn off right close to an interesting 1930 house. Take care along the estate roads, often leaving a village or town can be the greatest navigational challenge. Once on the footpath our waymarker is the spire of Blackfordby church over a mile away.

Leaving Ashby

Leaving Ashby

The well used path has some overgrown stiles and footbridges but the adjacent gap in the hedge make them redundant. The Black Lion looks inviting but is closed as I pass, a later start would allow lunch here. The clock on the church is the war memorial for the men lost from Blackfordby, the plaque looks a recent addition perhaps to explain the absence of any other memorial.

Black Lion at Blackfordby

Black Lion at Blackfordby

I liked the living roof on the very modern school extension, sadly hidden away behind an otherwise bland Victorian building. Take care along the next piece of path, on the day of my visit and for a long time I suspect, there has been remains of metal fencing sticking up out of the path surface. I hadn’t identified Boothorpe as a settlement but here it is with a cottage that reminds me of Rainbow and D.H. Lawrence and an amazing line of lollipop trees.

Blackfordby school's living roof

Blackfordby school’s living roof

Crossing a new road we come to the fringe of Woodville, Derbyshire and for a few metres walk along the county boundary. At Booththorpe we meet again the National Forest Way (NFW), having briefly shared the route as we approached Blackfordby. This walk launched in 2014 twists and turns for 75 miles around the National Forest from The National Arboretum at Alrewas to Beacon Hill.

As the bridleway drops to the road at Hanging Hill I note two settlement homes on the right and one new house, I guess the other ‘sheds’ will soon be replaced. The NFW approaches Moira along the road but I offer a better alternative which is not on the map but easy to follow on the ground.

Walking down the approach to Conkers it appears that the entrance was once secure except the footpath gate had disappeared, was this theft or design? I ask a chap slowing climbing the slope on his bike, he assures me there is a way through, which I hope you agree is better than a road side trek.

End of the Ashby canal, it never reached the town of its name

End of the Ashby canal, it never reached the town of its name

It was a surprise to me to emerge by the end basin of the Ashby canal which we now follow for the full extent of the restored / recreated section. It was nice to see this section of canal ready and waiting, with mooring rings and bollards for the boats to use when the middle section is put back in water. On the way we pass a lock and then a honey pot of North West Leicestershire, Moira Furnace. There is a tea shop, craft workshops and essentially a loo, so it might be worth a pause.

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

The office planning suggested using the cycle track along the former railway line but on the ground the waterside walk is more appealing. A crumbling chimney and faded information board explains the challenge to improve this former colliery site, without that or local knowledge it might be difficult to appreciate the damaging industrial history of the area.

Another reminder of the challenge to the canal reinstatement are the new houses as we enter Oakthorpe along Canal Street. The section ends here where you can take a bus ride back to Ashby using Midland Classic service 19. While you wait or if you plan to continue another refreshment stop is available at the attractive village inn.

Start of Winter Walks Programme

September 15, 2014 by
Waiting in the shadows

Waiting in the shadows

Members should soon see the winter walks programme drop through their letter boxes. If you don’t receive one it might mean you are not a member, so join / renew your subs now. If there is a problem please contact the Treasurer who should be able to sort things out. The programme is also available here on the website at Walks Programme (opens a new window)

Don’t forget to check here for any late changes to walks. Click on ‘Follow’ at the bottom right of the page to receive an email alert for the latest postings on our website.

The analysis of the summer programme showed that we offered close on 160 walks and the winter programme will provide over 100 so plenty to choose from.

Seasoned walkers will know that winter can offer some excellent walking weather, a different view of Leicestershire and as always with LFA walks hospitality. New members are always welcome and you can try a few walks for free before parting with the annual fee of just £5.00

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 4

September 12, 2014 by

NOTE – Parts 1-3 will follow later

Castle Donington – Ashby-de-la-Zouch 13 miles (21 km)

A pleasant surprise in North West Leicestershire once the industrial centre of the county with coal mining and quarries. This walk offers three delights connected by well used and well maintained paths. 9 out of 10.

This section conveniently starts at the Bus Station where Skylink services operate from Nottingham, Derby, Loughborough and Leicester. Bus station is perhaps a grand title for a lay-by with two shelters but then the railways use this term for St Pancras or an isolated country halt served by one train a day.

Inevitably, with a larger settlement, there is initially some urban walking and the characteristic fringe Council Estate but our route soon enters fields through a play ground with swing frames, but no swings!

Two potential sounds can disturb the peace here, aircraft taking off from East Midlands airport and Castle Donington race circuit. You might do well to avoid this walk on race days.

A01-aircraft

I had walked this path just a few months previously and reported an overgrown section. I was pleased to find that on this visit I was able to use the Definitive line, a unique experience as a parallel path is well used by the locals. I suspect the correct path will soon be impassable again.

The path continues to be well used, albeit not strictly on line and I suspect by those attempting to find free viewing of events on the race track rather than the rambler. Some enterprising person has even constructed a bench high in a tree which allows a view over the ten foot high concrete fence that we follow on our left.

The path offers a brief view, to our right, of Donington Hall and eventually emerges at a large car park. I was intrigued by cars driving slowing around a twisting circuit. The cars had frames attached making them look like those child bikes with stabilisers. The cars moved slowly because if they went too fast, as happened while I watched, they slithered around as if driving on ice.

Skid experiance at Donington Park

Skid experiance at Donington Park

The Route now enters Derbyshire where a track leads down to the road. The footpath continues but ends before Melbourne and requires a 600 metres walk along the bending road before we can escape onto the safety of the Cloud Trail. An opportunity to use the track would make a safer route linking to Forty Foot Lane, which marks the county boundary, this requires walking along only a short section of straight road.

Wilson - Best Kept Village

Wilson – Best Kept Village

The Bulls Head in Wilson could offer a stop and the golf club suggests visitors may be welcome at the clubhouse. I could continue along the lane again the county boundary but that would miss out the delight of Breedon Hill on which stands Breedon Priory church. I had never been inside the church before so on this occasion I entered and was not disappointed. I recommend you take advantage of the local team that manage to open the church each day.

I was intrigued by the pump which supplies water for tending the graves, does it come from a rain water cistern or from the bowels of the earth I wondered? A recently installed tap now offers drinking water and is a prelude to loos and a kitchen being installed. It’s worth taking an overgrown path to the west from the church door which leads to open access land and views across Melbourne and beyond to Derby. To the east, in theory, I could also see across to Belvoir Castle on the north east tip of Leicestershire viewed close up on section 15 of this walk.

Breedon on the Hill Priory church

Breedon on the Hill Priory church

Dropping down into the village the Hollybush Inn offers another opportunity for refreshment. Take care not to miss the next path, it leaves the road immediately after the Priory Garden Centre entrance but then runs parallel to the road so this doesn’t show well on the GPS track.

Looking back to Breedon church

Looking back to Breedon church

Crossing the fields we meet the Ivanhoe Way a 36 mile circular walk around the north western area of Leicestershire. This could now be followed to Ashby but while a permissive path is available I recommend it to view Staunton Harold Hall and perhaps visit the Ferrers Craft Centre or the garden centre which both have tea rooms to quench your thirst.

Approaching Staunton Harold Hall from the permissive path

Approaching Staunton Harold Hall from the permissive path

The walk from here to Ashby is mainly through pasture and was on the sunny May day of my walk most enjoyable. Approaching Ashby it’s best to keep eyes right as the path perversely splits town expansion and open fields until just yards from the end the parish church can be seen through a gap between buildings of a builders yard.

So ends this section. There is a bus back to Castle Donington or services to other destination so it should be possible to have a days linear walk on the bus from your home.

 

Public Consultation: – CLOSURE OF BRIDLEWAY CROSSING I20 at Barrow on Soar

September 5, 2014 by

This railway crossing has been closed from August 2008 to the present time due to safety concerns.  Network rail have applied to close the bridleway over the main line and objections have been lodged by user groups and others.

Network Rail have arranged a further public consultation (The first being on the 15th December 2008) to take place on TUESDAY, 7TH OCTOBER, 2014 from 3.00pm to 9.00pm. As part of this consultation event, a presentation and public meeting will be held at 7.30pm at The Methodist Church Hall, on North Street, Barrow-on-Soar, LE12 8QA

Your Association objected to the closure of the bridleway on the 6th September, 2013 in the following terms:-

This right of way was a very well used route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.  It was used as a circular route from Barrow on Soar and used by residents.  More importantly this route provides access from East to West and vice versa, in particular allowing walkers to access the banks of river Soar having crossed the railway from the East. There is a need for this route to be open and the closure so far is hard to accept.  It is quite clear no short term resolution will be found to the problem here.  It is therefore urged upon the County Council not to grant any further temporary closure orders and insist on the route being opened once more. It is expected many objections will be made to this extinguishment application and it is unacceptable to wait for what will be many years before a determination of the application is made.

A recent inspection by KB in July indicated steel fencing had been erected, looking as though the crossing had been permanently closed.  Barrow upon Soar I 20 crossing There were no notices indicating only a temporary closure order was in force.  This was reported to the County Council who replied indicating public notices were displayed in a prominent position advising members of the public of the temporary closure.  LCC promised to inspect the route and have new notices put up.

May I urge members to attend the public consultation and meeting so that an indication of the strength of feeling against this closure can be demonstrated.

 

 

 

Long Distance Walk – part 3

September 4, 2014 by

My long distance walk would follow, as close as possible the Leicestershire boundary, taking in seventy four settlements along the way. Much of the boundary follows water courses, large and small so a lot of walk would be along river valleys and fairly flat countryside. Two significant sections of the border are marked by highway. One with Warwickshire along the Roman Watling Street, now the A5 not suitable for walking. The border with Lincolnshire was much more interesting being an old drove road, Sewstern Lane or The Drift, used by the Viking Way.

Longhorse Bridge over the River Trent the boundary between Leicestershire and Derbyshire

Longhorse Bridge over the River Trent the boundary between Leicestershire and Derbyshire

Close to home detailed planning was easy and the walk started to take shape. When things got tough and the paths were few I had to choose. Try and stay in county or move over into foreign parts. It has not always been possible to stay close to the border and within county. I strayed into all the adjoining counties except Staffordshire which shares a border for just over a mile near Chilcote. The walk takes me into Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire.

As mentioned earlier Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray caused a headache. In the end I decided to stay in county but was forced some two miles from my preferred line for a long stretch.

A distinctive stile on permissive paths around Staunton Harold

A distinctive stile on permissive paths around Staunton Harold

There were sections over the west side that initially looked daunting but once I started walking I discovered permissive paths and routes, especially in the National Forest. These I found useful and they often added interest to the walk such as at Staunton Harold.

While I am happy to share my walk I need to point out that these permissive routes may not always be available, I leave it to your ingenuity to find an alternative in the event of their closure. In the longer term paths may be diverted by the onward march of progress with new roads and development spoiling the path network.

At the time of writing (2014) there is major remodelling of junction 19 on the M1 which has resulted in some paths being extinguished plus temporary closures during the work. The route uses paths that I understand will be retained. Crossing of the A5 is difficult in places, especially where a continuous crash barrier runs along the central reservation. I have selected crossing where there is no obstruction, at present.

 

A railway level footpath crossing not safe to use say Network Rail

A railway level footpath crossing not safe to use say Network Rail

There are ten different locations where the path crosses a rail line, some are by bridge. Others are on the level and at least one of these has been proposed for closure as part of Network Rail’s safety campaign.

Finally I have a route of two hundred miles and need to set the stages suitable for my own walk. I opt for an average of 15 miles but settle for fifteen stages from 8 to 17 miles, more compromise. There was little point in starting or ending in the middle of nowhere and I wanted to make the individual linear walks accessible. With some careful planning I could get from the end to the start by bus or even better access the whole walk by bus from Leicester.

border-walk

Planning done the exploration starts, which might result in a change of plan.

 

Long Distance walk -part 2

August 29, 2014 by

I now had a map with a line showing the preferred route and a series of dots offering points of interest on the line or close by. It had already become apparent that only in a very few places could I strictly follow the chosen course.

Dots show the selected points of interest on my route. Do you recognise the shape?

Dots show the selected points of interest on my route. Do you recognise the shape?

Features such as rivers, with their limited crossing points would influence the route. Also I didn’t want to be walking through miles of built up areas and major roads had to be avoided so detours would be required. The Rights of Way “network” does not stand alone but forms part of a highway network including roads so I needed to find paths that linked with other paths rather than using any that end on a busy road.

There are also some footpath deserts that blight my route where I would have no choice but to circumnavigate the area. Locally the old parkland at Stapleford to the east of Melton Mowbray has long been jealously guarded by the Lords of Harborough. One successfully kept the Midland Railway at bay so it’s hardly surprising that no footpaths cross this estate.

The Germans also have much to answer for. We built numerous airfields in the Second World War. Footpaths were cut and when peace returned no one thought to reconnect them so ancient paths that once offered direct links to other settlements north of Higham on the Hill now end at the perimeter fence of the Motor Industry Research Association’s ‘Proving Ground’. Initially such obstacles looked insurmountable, or at the very least would severely distort the route.

Even though we walk for pleasure I find no enjoyment following a twisting route that, like a James Brindley canal, is within sight of the same church tower all day.

Did you work out the route from my series of dots? Here are the dots with line.

The route will take the walk around the Leicestershire border

The route will take the walk around the Leicestershire border

 

The walk would follow around the boundary of Leicestershire. The next step is a detailed look at the map.

Thursday 28th August walk.

August 26, 2014 by

The walk on Thursday 28th August will start at the church in Hambledon. Pam Grayson (01536 772565) is leading.

The Long Distance Walk

August 22, 2014 by

 

GEW-mapDuring 2010 and 2011 I completed a six hundred mile walk along a published but little known trail. That walk was created by Margaret and Brian Nightingale and walked by them in 1996/7 to write the two books that describe the route. This walk starts from Chepstow, the Welsh border town on the Severn estuary, and ends at Berwick upon Tweed a town on the east coast of England north of the Tweed, a river, which for many miles forms the boundary with Scotland. They called it ‘The Great English Walk’.

It was the most memorable walk I have ever done taking in some remarkable locations many off the beaten track for both tourists and other walkers. The introduction to the guides explained that the only decent map available at that time was the Ordnance Survey ‘Pathfinder’ which predated the much improved ‘Explorer’ series of the same 1:25,000 scale and detail but smaller sheets. To purchase all those required for the whole route would have been very expensive so I admired and wondered how Margaret and Brian had created such a wonderful walk.

I have spent many hours pouring over maps searching for points of interest to devise day walks but only used routes planned by others when tackling longer walks. I wanted to create my own long distance walk and with computerised mapping I could now do this from the comfort of home and convenience of not taking over the dining table.

Creating a long walk immediately results in questions and compromise. How long should it be? Where does the walk start and where does it end? What is the purpose of the walk? To answer the last question first I replace purpose with theme because purpose is perhaps personal and varied for the designer as well as those who follow. A walk needs a theme in order to promote it and perhaps encourage others to use it.

The first step is to draw a line on the map between the start and finish which may be miles apart or at the same location, if the walk is circular. Next I needed to locate other points of interest along the way which I should try to include and then areas that I might want to avoid.

To enhance the theme and add interest I decided to include villages closest to the line and I have managed to include seventy four settlements. These were marked up on the map. All this information can be saved in layers and displayed over base maps of different scales, allowing either an overall view or close scrutiny at the click of the mouse.

Next the real works begins when I look for paths to create the walk.

Tuesday 19th August

August 20, 2014 by
Ascending TheLangton Caudle

Ascending TheLangton Caudle

26 walkers set out on Tuesday morning from the Langton Arms at Church Langton for one of our favourite walks. The weather forecast meant we all had rain gear but we were blessed again with a rain free day and a lot of sun. We headed out towards Stonton Wyville where we turned sharp right and up the Langton Caudle.

A Golden scene towards Crossburrow Hill

A Golden scene towards Crossburrow Hill

The 360 degree view from the top was just the place for the coffee stop. The descent to Thorpe Langton was dry but the ground was churned up on the lower half as usual and the culprits(bullocks) accompanied us all the way to the ford.  The path then took us behind the church and parallel to the road into East Langton. From there into Church Langton we took a recently diverted footpath around a new house? into the Langton Arms. Here we rejoined  our 5 happy short walkers.

Thanks to John & Pat T who had booked with the previous tenants ( it happens a lot) and had closely monitored the situation, we were treated to excellent meals at a special price by the new tenant.

 


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