Out of county – A trip to Lakeland

November 24, 2014 by
Striding Edge - Helvellyn - Catstye Cam

Striding Edge – Helvellyn – Catstye Cam

Read more about a trip to Lakeland in September 2014
(opens a new page)

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 12

November 21, 2014 by

Bringhurst – East Norton 11 miles (18 km)

East Norton todays destination

East Norton todays destination

Initially taking the road south from Bringhurst we soon enter a field on the left by the first of two possible paths and briefly join the Jurassic Way. The walk over to Great Easton is pleasant and uneventful. On my last visit a notice on the village Post Office and shop read that Diane and Mark Howson would be taking over the shop from 1st September 2014. It was nice to see the door open today and the place looking prosperous. Stock up here for today’s walk because there is little else in the way of community and facilities on this ten mile trek.

The road into Great Easton

The road into Great Easton

I had been tempted to take the road along the west side of Eyebrook Reservoir and take in yet another settlement, Stockerston but the fields of pasture convinced me this was the better walk although it did get a bit rough towards the end. There is a short bit of fairly busy road but keep to the right and traffic should see you on the outside of the slow bend.

I’d not realised how high I’d climbed until taking the minor road towards Blaston. I didn’t see the village name sign for Blaston so can’t count this as on the route. What goes down, must go up and another climb to the next road where the map shows an OS Trig pillar at 158M and from the next track we get the benefit of the height.

Sheep on the road to Blaston

Sheep on the road to Blaston

At the bend our route takes us onto a green county road and as the sign advises, it’s unsuitable for motor vehicles, which of course means they are allowed. Fortunately there was little sign that the mud worshippers use this track and it was good walking across mostly pasture. Not having to watch where each foot was placed allowed time to take in the view which included Eyebrook Reservoir through the centre of which passes our boundary and its now Rutland on the other side.

Finally meeting a metalled road we drop down into Allexton and on the way can see the larger village of Belton in Rutland (there is also a Belton in Leicestershire) across the valley of the Eye Brook. At Allexton I took the path passing the redundant St Peter’s church but you could continue down the road to the county boundary at the bridge.

Allexton another redundant church

Allexton another redundant church

Emerging from the churchyard we meet the Leicestershire Round yet again and join it briefly up Allexton Main Street which quickly fades into a footpath. This was once very muddy but a few road planings laid by the County Council has made a much improved path.

The Round goes off south to Hallaton but our route continues westward along the bridleway getting ever closer to the Eye Brook until an oxbow laps the track just before we meet and cross the A47. Just north of the road the boundary leaves the brook and heads north along field boundaries but we are going to bag another village before heading north and East Norton is a good place to break the walk and take the 747 bus back to Leicester.

Looking into Rutland across the Eye Brook

Looking into Rutland across the Eye Brook

 

You can view and download the walk route using Bing Maps click here (opens a new page).

You can also use Bing to download a .gpx file of the walk follow these instructs. When the walk route appears on the map click on the line or button and a black box appears, click on ‘save to your places’ and another box will appear. Next click on ‘Actions’ and then ‘Export’ you can select either KLM or GPX another box will appear inviting you to open or save the file. Give it a go.

Cross Britain Way – a review

November 18, 2014 by

The Cross Britain Way is a new long distance walk launched in August 2014 with the publication of a guide. It starts at Boston Lincolnshire and ends at Barmouth on the Welsh coast. Why Boston, why Lincolnshire? These were my immediate questions and the answer is simple, this is part of the growing Macmillan stable of walks and links with their original route from the south coast.

The Macmillan Ways

The Macmillan Ways

The 280 mile route uses and links with a number of recreational paths and flirts with Leicestershire but does not meet up with the Leicestershire Round. It does link with the Jubilee Way near Belvoir and the Ivanhoe Way around Ashby so there is potential to make a north Leicestershire round by linking these to our own Round.

The guide at 144 pages has descriptive text of the route, separated from background information for places of interest along the way. There are also hand drawn maps which on the whole were easy to translate onto Ordnance Survey. Flicking through the book with it’s abundant small photographs it soon had me wanting to pull on my boots and make a start.

A Google search will take you to the Macmillan Way Association (opens a new page) but all it says here (November 2014) is that the book will be available shortly. I’d had a lead that you need to click on publications and down this page you will find the guide available at £11.99 + £1.50 postage.

CBW-book

So lets look at the route in more detail and especially the Leicestershire section. What is the purpose of these long distance walks? Well the authors say “to devise a new coast to coast footpath and raise funds for Macmillan.”  This perhaps explains the inconvenient start point but I’m pleased to see that a new route has been found to exit Boston rather than taking the easy option of following the Macmillan Way. They do meet where the Welland enters the Wash then the CBW strikes off west. Inevitably in Lincolnshire there is a lot of river bank or road walking and a number of warnings that the cross field path was blocked by a crop.

The walk joins the towpath of the Grantham canal to the west of the town and enters Leicestershire by crossing over the River Devon at Woolsthorpe by Belvoir then follows the Jubilee Way before dropping down into Stathern. I’m a bit concerned about the course chosen across to Hose, it uses a section of narrow twisting road when safe off road routes are available.

cross-britain-way-plus

At Hose it again joins the canal towpath which before Hickling passes over the border into Nottinghamshire. Back in county LFA members will be familiar with the route though Wymeswold then along the King’s Brook to Stanford on Soar. Hathern is the next point of entry and a visit to the church at Breedon was a good choice before the delightful pool side path at Melbourne and a visit to Calke both in Derbyshire but well used by our walking groups. The guide states that the pool side path is permissive, I wonder why? It’s shown on the OS as definitive. There were also a few revelations where the route used paths I had not know to be public.

Most of the Leicestershire section is in the North West. It was disappointing but not a surprise to see a warning that there may be no path cut through the crop between Diseworth and Tonge an issue I have recently reported to LCC myself. From Heath End the CBW follows the Ivanhoe Way for 8 miles through Ashby to Moira. From here it’s just a short step back into Derbyshire and onward to Wales. Taking a snapshot of the area I know, the route takes in suitable landmarks and places of interest if this is a feature of the whole walk then it should offer an appealing while challenging walk.

The guide includes an accommodation list, some on route, some just off but already I note some services in Leicestershire have changed. Perhaps they will use the website to keep the accommodation list current.

West of Leicestershire highlights along the route include, Shugborough Hall, Cannock Chase, Ironbridge, Wenlock Edge, Church Stretton and Long Mynd. Into Wales there is Welshpool, Lake Vyrnwy, Bala Lake and Dolgellau then finally across the impressive estuary viaduct to enter Barmouth.

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 11

November 14, 2014 by

Lubenham – Bringhurst 12 miles (19 km)

I had extended section 10 to finish on Leicester Road (B6047) so it was easy this time to do total bus yet again today. The X3 from Leicester to Market Harborough dropped me at the hospital stop where I could use footpath A24 and its bridge to access the canal.

Nevill Holt Hall from footpath B65a

Nevill Holt Hall from footpath B65a

But I must start this description from Lubenham. We leave opposite a striking black and white building constructed in 1876 as a Hunting Box with stabling for twelve hunters. Gore Lodge known also as The House that Jack Built, now offers B&B.

The plateau site north of the village was ideal for an airfield built in 1941-2. It was used by the R.A.F. until 1946. Traces can still be seen as our path crosses the site.

Great Bowden Hall flats from the canal

Great Bowden Hall flats from the canal

It turned out to be a fairly easy walk starting along the well used level and stone surfaced towpath then a short cross field section to Great Bowden. It was also the return of more attractive and interesting terrain. A bit early in the walk but Great Bowden offers a shop, tea room and inns which may be more tempting if you have walked from Lubenham.

Rectory House Great Bowden

Rectory House Great Bowden

The next stretch is along Welham Road but there can be no through traffic as you will discover when crossing the Langton Brook by a narrow bridge. Easy it is but tiresome it becomes so I was pleased to cut the corner along a footpath across pleasant pasture. We are walking parallel to the boundary here, just a couple of fields over to the right.

The clock at Welham church was stopped but I’m assured that it will soon be repaired. The Old Red Lion could offer lunch but I’m on a tight schedule so pass by. The next path takes the walk along side the small river Welland which marks the boundary with Northamptonshire.

The Old Red Lion at Welham

The Old Red Lion at Welham

This walks gets better by the mile. Medbourne is a secret gem of a village with much to attract the eye including the Nevill Arms, a walk beside the Medbourne Brook then over the ancient bridge. The interior of the church is also worth exploring and a village shop offers an alternative to the Inn.

Entering Nevill Holt

Entering Nevill Holt

Just a mile up the road we pass through the ever open grand gates to enter Nevill Holt and we are close to the highlight of this walk, Nevill Holt Hall owned by The Cunard shipping family from 1876 to 1912. In 1919 the hall became a preparatory school but this closed in 1998. In 2000, it was bought and restored by Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross and we get a grand view as the footpath almost crosses his front lawn. (Navigational note. The Definitive footpath used here was badly overgrown at the time of my visit. Although the area appears to be well waymarked the footpath was difficult to follow.)

It’s down hill from here but still gems to be discovered at Drayton. The church of St. James is the smallest consecrated church in Leicestershire, externally a rather uninteresting former chapel of ease which appears to have an assured if perhaps under used future. Close by stands the village hall, well it did when I passed in 2014. From a distance I managed to read the sign on the door “Do Not Enter – Dangerous Structure”.

Drayton village hall

Drayton village hall

Yet again I had ignored contour lines and hence it came as a surprise that the next settlement stood atop a small but perfectly formed rise. Clustered around the church the iron stone houses made a congenial setting at the extremity of this Leicestershire peninsula, close to Corby.

The sections ends here but I’d just missed the hourly bus to Oakham so decided to press on to Great Easton but more about that in stage 12.

Bringhurst walk's end

Bringhurst walk’s end

You can view and download the walk route using Bing Maps click here (opens a new page).

You can also use Bing to download a .gpx file of the walk follow these instructs. When the walk route appears on the map click on the line or button and a black box appears, click on ‘save to your places’ and another box will appear. Next click on ‘Actions’ and then ‘Export’ you can select either KLM or GPX another box will appear inviting you to open or save the file. Give it a go.

Go to the next part of the walk Part 12 click here

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 10

November 7, 2014 by

North Kilworth – Lubenham 10 miles (16km) Total bus again today, the X3 from Leicester to Market Harborough then 58B to Lutterworth dropped me at North Kilworth. I extended the walk to the old A6 near the Airfield Industrial Estate and hopped back on the X3 from there. This made the day’s walk twelve miles.

Boat horse in bronze at Foxton

Boat horse in bronze at Foxton

North Kilworth is not the best served village for footpaths so field options were zero and I was forced to take the pavement alongside the main road towards Husbands Bosworth, as far as the canal. Although not a public right of way at this point the towpath is available and offered respite from the traffic. The canal banks soon started to rise leaving the water and me in a deepening cutting until the mouth of Husbands Bosworth tunnel came into view. This proved to be an interesting route because it also uses a part of the horse path over the tunnel but then another section of roadside footway to the village. My first impressions were not good but looking a little closer I found some character in a village intersected by two busy roads.

Husbands Bosworth

Husbands Bosworth

Here again only one path to the south and debatable if it leads anywhere and one out to the north which I took to cross the canal just east of the tunnel portal. Much of this section could, from here follow the canal towpath and initially much of it did. It’s easy walking but doesn’t really connect with the countryside so I decide to add a half mile and take in Mowsley and Laughton which will also provide a walk up the flight of staircase locks at Foxton. It’s an easy bridleway along a track for much of the way but take care after about a mile and follow the left fork which soon becomes a footpath. The climb into Mowsley may come as a shock after so much low level walking and a glance back offers a view over the Avon/Welland watershed.

No excuse to get lost in Mowsley

No excuse to get lost in Mowsley

The other benefit of this late route change is the addition of two more villages. Mowsley could offer refreshment at The Staff of Life and the main street and church are attractive, but I was struck by the road sign. Not wanting to offend neighbours it lists five destinations on a traditional finger post. The cross field walk to Laughton came out by the small church where a thatched capped cob wall encloses the churchyard.

Laughton Village Hall

Laughton Village Hall

Leaving Laughton by the diminutive village hall there is now a good two miles with little sign of habitation. I especially liked the sloping pasture to the south of Oak Spinney, the sky was bright blue and I could hear buzzards calling and watched as they swooped trying to avoid the attacks from a crow.

Crossing the bottom lock at Foxton

Crossing the bottom lock at Foxton

After crossing Foxton Road on the edge of Gumley the top cottage and old engine house of Foxton locks and incline come into view. Our path crosses over the bottom lock where there is a choice of refreshment venues and just off our route a loo. Walking in summer you would be very unlucky not to see a boat passing through the locks but you will have to share this short section of path with other gongoozlers (people who enjoy watching activity on the canals).

Tower House Lubenham

Tower House Lubenham

The paths to Lubenham return tranquillity to the walk and arrival in the village offers another encounter with the boundary if you continue beyond the church and stand on the bridge over the Welland, before returning to the main road and perhaps celebrating the walks end in The Coach and Horses.

You can view and download the walk route using Bing Maps click here (opens a new page).

You can also use Bing to download a .gpx file of the walk follow these instructs. When the walk route appears on the map click on the line or button and a black box appears, click on ‘save to your places’ and another box will appear. Next click on ‘Actions’ and then ‘Export’ you can select either KLM or GPX another box will appear inviting you to open or save the file. Give it a go.

Go to the next part of the walk Part 11 click here

Change of venue Wed. 12th Nov. – long walk

November 4, 2014 by
Due to the Carington Arms, Ashby Folville  recently closing down, the start of the long walk on Wednesday 12th November, will now be from The Blackboy, Hungarton. I led a walk from The Blackboy in July this year but this will be a different route.
I wasn’t aware of the Carington Arms having shut until David S let me know. I’d heard nothing from the licensee and only went by it on my bike a few days prior to it shutting. Yesterday I went to confirm the information and there is a notice to the effect that it will be shut for the foreseeable future.
David W

Thursday 6th November

November 3, 2014 by

Message from Judy Phythian-Adams (walk leader)

The Oadby Owl/Hungry Horse, will not be open in time for us to use the toilets before we set off at 10.00 am.  Therefore, I suggest that those who may wish to use the toilets at Sainsburys across the road, arrive a little earlier than normal.  They can then join us for the start of the walk at the traffic lights on the Sainsbury side of the road.

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 9

October 30, 2014 by

Cotesbach – North Kilworth 14 miles (23km)

I parked in the pleasant back lanes of North Kilworth on a road named ‘Along the Bottoms’ although the sign read Bottom because the ‘s’ had been painted out. An interesting name but not one recognised by either Google Maps or the Royal Mail postcode finder. They are enthusiastic sign erectors here with attractive cast signs offering directions to the church, millennium green, bogs (not a public loo) and the bowls club. All are worth inspecting in a village that is proud of its heritage.

09-09-bottom

I used the bus to Lutterworth and arrived in time to get a connection for the Rugby bus to Cotesbach but had planned to walk the mile south so had a look around the town before departing.

The route from Cotesbach to Shawell is an easy but uninteresting walk. The path has been diverted around a sand quarry and is often confined between fences although it had been mown throughout. It would appear that part of the quarry is now landfill and a whiff of methane pervaded the air.

The path runs alongside and then crosses the former Great Central Railway, did it ever live up to its name? Conceived to link Manchester via Leicester to the continent through a channel tunnel – a plan of the late 19th century that stalled at Dover. Part of the old trackbed further south will be used by High Speed 2 (HS2).

Shawell, another first time visit and a pleasing village set on a quiet back lane. The Swan Inn looks a bit posh so I made a short detour up to the church and found a welcoming bench in the sun for a lunch stop.

The Swan at Shawell

The Swan at Shawell

Having decided that a boundary walk should visit villages along the way, Catthorpe was a must being the most southerly settlement in Leicestershire. The map suggests the area is dominated by motorways but on the ground space is more evident showing the failure of maps to show the true scale of some features.

09-02-works

At the time of my visit there were major works in progress to improve the interconnection of the M1, M6 and A14 at junction 19. Improvements for the motorist that is, because footpaths and bridleways get diverted onto switchback journeys alongside the noisy roads to allow a safe crossing point. In addition to the published closures I find others which make this part of the walk a navigational challenge. It should improve once the work costing £191 million is finished in 2017.

Cherry Tree Inn at Catthorpe

Cherry Tree Inn at Catthorpe

The river Avon now marks the boundary with Northamptonshire until the village of Welford where reservoirs to feed the canal store much of the river’s flow. I’m told by a local that the footbridge to the south of Swinford is being replaced and a half mile of new fencing will segregate the upgraded footpath X6 which becomes a bridleway to compensate for others lost by the road works.

New fencing for a bridleway near Swinford

New fencing for a bridleway near Swinford

Swinford is another discovery for me, sleepy on this mid week visit but the Chequers Inn calls for a weekend visit with the website stating “The Chequers is also an ideal location for walking and is used by many walking groups exploring the local area with its maze of public footpaths.” and it serves beer from Dow Bridge Brewery.

You could easily miss the brief view of Stanford Hall but back in Northamptonshire you won’t miss the information board about Percy Sinclair Pilcher Learn more at this website (opens a new window) who may have beaten the Wright brothers to powered flight had he not been fatally injured here.

Percy Pilcher memorial

Percy Pilcher memorial

The final part of this section meets the Leicester summit of the Grand Union canal. It has a reputation among boaters for being a remote stretch of canal and the next few miles of the walk mirror that isolation. From the site of Downton medieval village there is a choice, take the canal towpath or the bridleway. I initially took the shortest route but then climbed twenty metres to take in the views back down the valley towards Rugby.

North Kilworth Green and memorial

North Kilworth Green and memorial

 

You can view and download the walk route using Bing Maps click here (opens a new page).

You can also use Bing to download a .gpx file of the walk follow these instructs. When the walk route appears on the map click on the line or button and a black box appears, click on ‘save to your places’ and another box will appear. Next click on ‘Actions’ and then ‘Export’ you can select either KLM or GPX another box will appear inviting you to open or save the file. Give it a go.

Go to the next part of the walk Part 10 click here

Shackerstone Tuesday 28th October

October 29, 2014 by

A summer day in October set the stage for our walk. We made use of the recently provided diversion to get round the long running Shackerstone railway footbridge saga. Thanks to the Crown Estates and L.C.C..

IMG_3903

Diversion round station footbridge

The route took us to Carlton, Barton-in-the Beans and Odstone Hall . We took a break  just beyond Carlton and the photo shows the summer clothing and the long shadows just before mid-day.Apparently it was 19C

IMG_3905

Cooling Off

 

A reported obstruction on footpath S89, which is hopefully to be dealt with,  caused us to trespass by climbing over the fence and back again 20 yards further on.

Shackerston footbridge diversion

Can You See It?

This is just 50 yards off Barton main Street and others have obviously been hopping over the fence for some time. My observation is that, in general, footpaths between fences rapidly become overgrown.

It was a much enjoyed walk by all,including the leader and The Rising Sun had some good value meals.

 

 

 

 

 

Leicestershire Border Walk – part 8

October 20, 2014 by

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.

08-09-cotesbach

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?

Wigston Parva

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.

High Cross

High Cross

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.

Claybrooke Parva church

Claybrooke Parva church

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.

Ullesthorpe village and mill tower

Ullesthorpe village and mill tower

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.

Wiley - The Sarah Mansfield Inn

Wiley – The Sarah Mansfield Inn

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.

Cotesbach church - just off route

Cotesbach church – just off route

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.

You can view and download the walk route using Bing Maps click here (opens a new page).

You can also use Bing to download a .gpx file of the walk follow these instructs. When the walk route appears on the map click on the line or button and a black box appears, click on ‘save to your places’ and another box will appear. Next click on ‘Actions’ and then ‘Export’ you can select either KLM or GPX another box will appear inviting you to open or save the file. Give it a go.

Go to the next part of the walk part 9 click here


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