Leicestershire Border Walk – part 3

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Zouch – Castle Donington  14.5 miles (23 km)

WARNING After a wet few weeks I just managed to get through on this walk, there are sections that would be impassable in flood conditions. For me this section was the final part of the border walk. Having taken it in stages during 2014 there was no sigh of relieve that it was over and now I could take a well earned rest, just a small feeling of pride and achievement that I had devised and walked a two hundred circuit around Leicestershire, but what next?

The new Long Horse Bridge over the Trent

The new Long Horse Bridge over the Trent

Today I left the car at Zouch, I needed a prompt start having arranged company for the last ten miles. There are regular buses linking start middle and end, so this is an easy linear walk of 14 or even 10 miles.

Zouch lock and the warning board showing 'Red'

Zouch lock and the warning board showing ‘Red’

As the last section ended, this one begins, walking in Nottinghamshire alongside the Soar but within yards of the boundary which runs down the centre of the river. The warning to boaters not to navigate when the river is in flood offers us some guidance and today it was red, but perhaps only just. Initially there is the opportunity to walk on the high ground of the flood bank but later our path is the wrong side of the squat concrete wall which protects the village of Sutton Bonington to our right.

An information board reminds us that the University of Nottingham has a presence here having taken over the Midland Agricultural and Dairy College in 1948. The college must have owned land which the university has used to create the 60 acre Diamond Wood. New seats have been installed to look over the site, lets hope they are better used than the lichen covered picnic benches behind the flood bank.

I do like the setting of an unnamed house on the edge of Kegworth, it looks very old but perhaps appearances were part of the design, a pleasant mix of stone and brick with an intriguing narrow door offering the suggestion of an ancient water gate. The church spire as a backdrop shows we are near the village. The roar of flood water over the weir briefly drowns out the roar of traffic that has been present all the way from Zouch.

Kegworth New or Deep lock

Kegworth New or Deep lock

Another information board explains the presence of two locks although the disused chamber may be hidden in undergrowth during the summer. Enough of walking out of county but the river here is too wide for a simple foot bridge so we must make a long detour to the stone road bridge taking us back into Leicestershire beside the Anchor Inn.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has been identified The Anchor as having a heritage pub interior, from a rebuild of 1934. It was closed when I passed at 10am so I didn’t have an opportunity to take a look before bearing left along the Bridge Fields footpath where a mix of houses front onto the path giving them views across the meadow.

St Andrew's church at the centre of old Kegworth

St Andrew’s church at the centre of old Kegworth

The spire of St Andrew’s is now straight ahead and this time we are allowed an unimpeded approach. The village has much to offer including a small museum which might tell you about the thirteen pubs at one time available, perhaps because Wells Brewery was located here before being swallowed by Worthington’s of Burton. The Cap and Stocking should merit listing as an heritage interior but the quaint 1/- (5p) three play jukebox and beer in a jug direct from the cellar created a cult following which the brewery exploited and spoilt the place.

There had been no need for this loop into the village centre except the short cut along Station Road would have been of far less interest. Our path leaves the village by passing underneath number 65 Station Road an unusual but welcome accommodation of the footpath. The path soon returns to the river side but now in Leicestershire with moored boats on the Nottingham side at the ever expanding Redhill Marina.

Redhill Marina and Ratcliffe on Soar power station.

Redhill Marina and Ratcliffe on Soar power station.
Cooling towers or turbines?

The objective is finally reached and depending on conditions you may be able to stand close to the meeting of three shires where the Soar meets the Trent, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire also converge but you would need a boat to visit the precise spot.

Riverside homes set at the foot of Redhill

Riverside homes set at the foot of Redhill

So close to activity at the ‘honeypot’ of Trent Lock but so inaccessible from south of the river. Close inspection of older maps shows a footpath crossing the river, the path has disappeared from recent maps but the FB (Footbridge) symbol remains although I know of no evidence to suggest a bridge ever spanned the river at this point, but why should public paths head here without a crossing?

Trent Lock and the Erewash canal a popular destination for leisure

Trent Lock and the Erewash canal a popular destination for leisure

Lucky I had company today because the next bit could be a drag without the distraction of conversation. The final twist around the perimeter of Sawley Bridge Marina does at least lead to the ‘Plank and Leggit’ and an offer of lunch.

An aqueduct taking drinking water to Leicester

An aqueduct taking drinking water to Leicester

Back on the final leg we pass under the steel aqueduct which carries piped water from the Derwent dams of Howden, Derwent and Ladybower to Leicester. The River Derwent joins the Trent soon after at a cross roads created by a junction with the Trent and Mersey canal. Here the Trent needed to be crossed by the horses towing the barges to Shardlow but the concrete bridge became unsafe and was demolished leaving for many years a break in the Midshires Way. The gap has now been filled but that would take us into Derbyshire so we can give it a miss today.

The hidden and tiny settlement of Cavendish Bridge

The hidden and tiny settlement of Cavendish Bridge

0312-signThere is often a weak link in a walk or a black spot and approaching Castle Donington might well get worse but there is little alternative. Scrubby fields always suggest to me, a site awaiting development, for now the walk stays green but only just. The final approach to the village is a short but steep climb so stop and turn around near the top to take in a view right across the Trent valley to the Nottingham Derby link road at Risley.

So the task has been completed and I look for a new challenge, a theme on which to base a series of walks interspersed with other walks in random locations. I inspected the Nottinghamshire border but it looks dire in the north of the county. I dismissed Lincolnshire as walker unfriendly then I heard that the High Sheriff of Derbyshire had beat the bounds of his county and that’s where I’m now investigating. If that walk comes to fruition I’ll be back in this area but next time looking into Leicestershire from north of the Trent.

Go to the next part of the walk Part 4 click here

Go to the Leicestershire Border Walk home page

 

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