Leicestershire Border Walk – part 14

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Burton Lazars – Buckminster 14 miles (22.5 km)

The easy option for this section was to take the car to Buckminster then the bus to Melton. The driver kindly dropped me at Lag Lane from where I was able to walk directly to the start but adding a mile and a half to the already long day.

Sewstern

Sewstern

Burton Lazars has little of visible interest for the visitor. You could make a detour and explore the field humps which are all that remain of St Mary and St Lazarus Hospital. It’s surprising that such a posh village should wish to retain a name derived from it being a former leper hospital.

At the time of my visit (2014) the listed grade two starred monument in the churchyard was being repaired by specialist masons. This striking monument commemorates William Squire, a weaver, who died in 1781. His fortune of £600 was to be used for the monument and to provide education for the poor of the parish. However, so the story goes, by the time the monument was completed there was no money left for any other purpose!

The walk begins by crossing the upper valley of the Wreake which starts life as the River Eye, a valley also appropriated by the railway but only after a fight. The tiny settlements of Brentingby and Wyfordby are our preliminary destinations but blink and we’ll miss them.

Brentingby church house

Brentingby church house

First the railway. When the Midland Railway proposed a line from Leicester to Peterborough, Lord Harborough of Stapleford Park strongly opposed its construction, in fact he set his staff into battle against the surveyors. The line was eventually built, no doubt with the company paying significant compensation. Was this passed by his Lordship to his gamekeeper foot soldiers I wonder? The Railway also obliterated the earlier, and unsuccessful, Oakham canal. isolated remains of which still appear on maps of today.

The tower of Brentingby church acts as a waymark for our route but as we get closer the parish church is not what it once was having been converted into a house in 1977. Less obvious but more attractive, hidden among encroaching trees and bushes is Manor Farmhouse, another Listed building.

The 'road?' to Brentingby

The ‘road?’ to Brentingby

143-wyfordbyStatus of the route over the level crossing of the railway appears in dispute. Plans are in hand to increase speed and volume of traffic along this line. These so called improvements could be detrimental to walkers because they include proposals to abolish many of the level crossings. So it’s a bit of a worry that Network Rail state on the site notice “Highway Act 1980 – Network Rail hereby give notice that this way is not dedicated to the public save as a footpath” While the county council highways people have erected two 30mph restriction signs a few yards further along the the same route hey ho!

Freeby is on a spur of the road, unless you have a liking for off roading, so it doesn’t get many visitors which might explain the demise of yet another church, this time with significant structural problems. Investigation has been undertaken and a repair grant was awarded for a range of repairs but the place still looks sadly neglected with no sign of it being in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust as planned.

Looking back to Freeby

Looking back to Freeby

We leave Freeby alongside the chapel founded in 1665 and still in use – just. For the first day of November I was enjoying wonderful weather. The sun was still warm and the breeze had dried the ground, after some heavy showers of previous days, so that earth didn’t stick to my boots. Crossing a track close to a farm a boot disappeared into some green slime. Foolishly I put the next foot down hoping to extract the former promptly, bad decision. The second boot also vanished. It was so close to over topping and coating my foot in foul slurry.

It’s turning out to be a walk of churches. “Saxby Church built in 1789, a Grade II* listed building designed by church architect George Richardson. It includes some original Hawkes stained-glass windows and a rood screen originating from Westminster Abbey.” So says the sales blurb when it was recently on the market at £300,000, having been sold by the diocese in 2011 for around £60,000 for conversion into a domestic dwelling.

Wymondham main street

Wymondham main street

Approaching Wymondham we cross a disused railway, built at the end of the 19th century. Here footpath crossings were made safely by bridge unlike the early lines which crossed road and footpaths on the level. It is unfortunate that the earlier railway lines make up the network of today. Network Rail only now, nearly one hundred years too late are concerned about safety and wish to close footpaths that still cross on the level.

The walk through Wymondham was for me the highlight of the day, but don’t get too excited, it was the excellent weather that took the trophy today. I was hoping for refreshment at the Berkeley Arms but poking my head around the door the bar looked far too posh for a man in muddy boots and shorts.

Living on the road at Wymondham

Living on the road at Wymondham

Taking the path to Edmondthorpe I was reminded of the days when many green lanes were taken over by new age travellers, many left piles of rubbish after they were moved on and most have now disappeared. The old village pump at Edmondthorpe is rightly the centre piece of the village. Installed in 1856 by WAP, but who was WAP?

Edmondthorpe pump and social club

Edmondthorpe pump and social club

The next path we take heads directly for Market Overton but as it crosses into Rutland a path follows the boundary and is perfect to use for this border walk. I was confused, now I’m intrigued. The Leicestershire Definitive Map includes the paths which follow the boundary so I had expected to be walking on the north side of a hedge which I had assumed would mark the boundary. Wrong. The path was on the Rutland side of the hedge, so had I misread the map? Returning home I investigate and find that in fact the boundary is not at the hedge it is a few yards to the south. So the field headland and path is in Leicestershire while the ploughed part of the same field is in Rutland.

A seat for Thomas on the Rutland Round

A seat for Thomas on the Rutland Round

This path is also used by the Rutland Round which I thought parochially stayed within county, wrong again. Large sheds to our right are now an industrial estate but until the 1960s were a centre of the ironstone quarry operations that had been active here since the late 19th century feeding Holwell and later Scunthorpe and Corby steel works.

After a short section of road we meet the long distance trail from the Humber Bridge to Oakham, The Viking Way. The planners for that path took the easy option of green lanes but where possible I intend using the footpaths to Sewstern and eventually walk’s end, Buckminster. This is all part of the Buckminster Estate home to the Tollemache family a name that crops up across vast swathes of England. While many of the paths have been moved, officially, onto field headlands it was disappointing to find that those that remain as cross field were not apparent on the ground. This made navigation difficult where the yellow topped marker posts were also hidden by overgrown hedges.

Buckminster

Buckminster

The late style of a model village is clear as we enter Buckminster. With the sale of so much social housing from the large planned urban estates it’s appealing to see the symmetry that has been retained here at The Crescent.

Go to the next part of the walk Part 15 click here

Go to the Leicestershire Border Walk home page

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