Day 12 Hallaton to Foxton – 31 July 2013

Warning – this post contains frequent references to rain and nettles!

Wed, 2013 Jul 31 9:41 AM British Summer Time
With Marta. Hard work because of rain, wet crops in some fields and two or three places where nettles obstructed the path. One of those rainy days with dry intervals. 810 ft of ascent. Just over 12 miles. Excellent pub for lunch – The Bell at East Langton.

We start by walking past the large church along Churchgate, following it round to the little cemetery. Just after this we go through a kissing gate, taking the path close to the hedge on our left.  We cross the stream and make our way over fields, with the site of Hallaton motte and bailey to our right

The motte and bailey

We did wander from the path once or twice when we couldn’t see the waymark posts. The rain made it more difficult to keep consulting the map or guide book!  Too many raindrops to wipe off.   So two graceful curves instead of a straight line on the garmin trace around Horseclose Spinney.   After that point we managed to follow the route as far as Cranoe church for an earlier-than-planned stop for coffee in the church porch, watched by a couple of carved heads. Some one has been at them with the felt-tip, but this is clearer on the photos than in real life!

The lion on the outside of the porch has been left alone.

From Cranoe to Glooston involves road walking, but the road is very quiet and the surface a welcome respite from the wet fields.  The rain is not stopping, and we take sanctuary in Glooston church porch for our second rain-pause in just over a mile.

We didn’t set out with the intention of studying carved heads today, but here are another two.

We walked the route from Glooston to Hallaton quite recently, so find our way easily to Stonton Wyville. We become aware that water has seeped from wet crops down into our boots – squelch, squelch.  By the time we reach Stonton Wyville,  we’re too wet to care, so after a quick adjustment of boots we head for Langton Caudle. Its fine views are visible but rain-hazed.  We could still do with one extra LR marker up here, but we reach the trig point without problem, since we know the way!

We came, we saw, we conquered!

We follow the path from the trig point keeping close to the hedge on our right, and go downhill, through a long pasture to the ford. Here we turn left along the bridle path to Thorpe Langton. We cross the main road and take the street leading to the church. We turn right along the footpath. This church offers us no sanctuary from the rain – even the porch is locked.

So it’s over the fields to the farm road, turn left and at the end into a field and right through the gate in the hedge just after the shelter!  Onwards more or less east until we arrive at East Langton. We’ll make the small detour to the pub.

They are remarkably pleasant to us even though we resemble drowned rats, and are quite happy for us to remove boots and socks in a side room before we order some lunch. The barman does offer us the choice of “waterlogged sandwiches”, but we decide we prefer the ciabatta – served with salad and chips.  It’s excellent.  £6.95 for the meal + £2 for a drink.  I recommend The Bell.

The last three miles or so are flat and shouldn’t present much of a challenge – we think. And at first it’s just like that – through meadow/pasture land – a herd of Lincoln Red cattle, or choc cows and calves, who look but aren’t interested. Then there are sheep, and we go under the railway line. So far so good.

Two fields later we hit a small section of woodland.  The path goes through here, but it looks as though the vegetation has had a growing binge. Luckily I have my trekking pole on my back-pack.  I rarely use it, but it works as a substitute machete, and we force our way through along the marked path.

We’re going to head for the factory on the horizon. All goes well until we’re within 100 yards, and we have the same problem. This time it defeats us before we start. I know there’s another route. We go back, and just before we join the B6047, we face a similar problem. Tall wet nettles and umbellifers, and yes, LR waymarkers lead straight through this jungle.

We get there. Then we have a slightly hairy 200 yards or so to walk on the pavement next to the busy road, dodging cars and vegetation.  It’s a relief to reach the canal.  We’ve decided to make our own way to Foxton Locks. rather than tackle more soggy fields.

A short distance along the towpath, and a large willow tree has split and a bough has fallen on top of a narrowboat and is blocking the waterway. No one has been hurt, and they’re planning to get it cleared soon.  We can walk underneath it.

Now things are looking smooth – the rain has stopped, we’re beginning to dry out, and the prospect of a coffee at Foxton Locks is inviting.  A good path, water alongside, no nettles to fight. Life is sweet.

Of course, just before we arrive at the Bridge 61 pub near the Locks, the rain begins in earnest, and we get soaked again.  We stay inside until there’s another break on the rain, and walk up past the flight of locks to complete the circle of the Leicestershire Round.

Map and details

Day 11 – Launde Abbey to Hallaton

Wed, 2013 Jul 10 9:36 AM  British Summer Time
With Marta. Fine, cloudy, pleasant. Dry underfoot. A couple of dry ploughed fields – hard work. Rolling. 663 ft of climbing. just over 8 miles.

We walk briefly along the Withcote Road from Launde Abbey, before taking the signposted footpath off to the right, behind the chapel and the gardens.  It leads uphill, through fields with sheep, to the corner of Launde Park Wood.  Here the path should cut downhill diagonally across a field, but the way is impassable, so we stick to the field edges.

Some rapeseed or similar is still blooming here – at least it brightens the grey day

When we reach the far corner we find a gate whose fastening is impossible to open, and have to climb over it.

The path continues east,  crossing the river Chater, and turning into a wider track, and heads south to a ridge with a fine view.

We are overtaken by a horse-rider up here. The map shows a trig point just off to our right (west), but we can’t find it. Instead we take an early break and admire the view over to Eyebrook reservoir in the distance.

We follow the hedge for a while then the path goes towards the bottom left corner of the field. We keep the hedge on our left until we reach the road near Brickle Farm.  A lot of free range hens are in a field nearby.  The road takes us into Belton.

We walk through the village and down to the A47, which we cross to reach the Allexton Road.  We cross the bridge over the Eye Brook, and follow the Main Street, past the church, which is now redundant and looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.

It’s open and worth looking inside.

We carry on along the No Through Road, to the footpath past Manor Farm. This leads behind Allexton Hall, which lies to our right.  we can’t easily follow the line of the path here, and again walk up beside a hedge until we meet the waymarker. The fields here have been ploughed, and are very dry. It’s almost like walking on concrete chunks.

Not my favourite walking surface.

Then it’s alongside a small wood, and turn left to go past Alexton Lodge.  Here we turn right once more and along a field edge.  We’re at the edge of the ridge here, and there’s a memorial seat looking southwest towards Fearn Farm.  Beautifully placed.
We walk down then up to Fearn Farm with its Zollgrenze sign – Leics-Rutland border??

We turn left to pass the farm, and then right on to the footpath

– it’s marked clearly from here to the dismantled railway – we cross by the overgown bridge and then follow the good clear path through the fields. We come out at the junction of Allexton Road and East Norton Road and walk into Hallaton past the Fox pub and duck pond.

We can’t persuade the ducks to finish the walk with us . . .

. . . as the pond is far more attractive.

Day 10 – Burrough Hill to Launde Abbey

Wednesday 9 July 2013
 9:36 AM British Summer Time
With Marta. Fine day, cloudy and warm – muggy even. Muddy in little Dalby Wood, muddier in Owston Wood. Quite up and down – 528 ft of climbing. 8 miles and a bit.

Marta picks me up at Launde Abbey, and drives to the Burrough Hill Car Park – the pay machine is working again now!  After a couple of hundred yards along the farm road we take the first path signed to the right, heading north  across a couple of fields where a farmer on a quad bike was herding sheep – with the help of a dog as well.
I’m familiar with the route from a previous walk, so we walk along the edge of the second field, then downhill to the Dalby Woods Path, which goes east – fairly muddy as usual, and I realise I’ve left my trekking pole in the car.

We avoid turning right or south at the gap ion the trees, and continue successfully along the Leicestershire Round path, uphill and climbing the two sets of steps to the ridge.

Looking back from the top of the steps

The route ahead has been made good, and it’s probably the first time I’ve followed its line according to the map – a couple of times it’s been much easier to use the edge of the field.

A clear path ahead

The route is clearly marked and clear on the ground all the way into Somerby.

Guard dog in Somerby

We walk through a narrow ginnel into the village, and just opposite is Manor Lane – no LR sign, but this is the way.  The first sign is when we arrive at the end of the road.

The view towards Owston

We walk up a narrow track between two fields, all clear and easy walking – but it’s time for our break as we top the next small ridge.

We carry on down hill through three fields, keeping the hedge on our left.  We cross the stream using a footbridge. We turn right along the stream to the corner of the field, then walk uphill. We follow the waymarkers – there’s a memorial bench in the corner of one field. Our path is clearly marked until we reach the road, at a bend.  We turn left here to walk into Owston.
I’m rather taken with some curved brick walls and a kitchen garden.

We glimpse the church through the houses.

We ignore the road to Lowesby, and then the Knossington Road,  and carry on along Main Street as far as the Tilton Road. We pass an old pump and then a well in a field.

We turn right along the road to Tilton, then left along a path to Withcote after about 100 yards.  This is well marked, though you could be confused by other marked paths.  We follow flattened grass paths which take us through fields and eventually to the way into Owston Woods.  The path through the woods is straight and clear, but, as usual, very muddy.

Walking in the footsteps of giants?

We try leaving the path, but it is not much of an idea!  Still, my feet stay dry, though the boots are muddier than for some time.  Last time I walked this was after snow.

When we come out of the wood we think of having another break, but in this muggy weather there are too many flies around – we give that idea up and head downhill towards Withcote.  Last time I was here there were horses everywhere – no longer.  We decide to go and investigate the chapel, which is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.

Withcote Chapel

As we pass the Hall, we ask the owner, who’s outside gardening,  if it’s ok to go and have a look.  She assures us that it is “But be careful – you could get roped in to help”.
Two volunteers are giving the place a bit of a spring-clean, as there will be a service there in the near future – something that happens no more than once a year or so. They’re very helpful and informative, ply us with leaflets, and even offer us a cup of tea, though we need to get moving by then.

We go back to the LR footpath, through the farmyard, then divert briefly to have a peep at the lake, where there is a swan family and other water birds.

Then it’s through the gate, aim for the top of the hill, down the other side, over the footbridge, up slightly and down towards Launde Abbey.  Once again, I recommend their baguettes with salad and coleslaw, and the coffee or tea – £1.50 for a pot – three cups at least.

Map and details

Day 9 – Rearsby to Burrough Hill

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leics Round 9 – Rearsby to Burrough Hill

Wed, 2013 Jun 5 10:19 AM Western European Time 
I think the garmin went a bit nuts in Gaddesby church – so I’ll say somewhere over 14 miles. With Marta. Quite hilly. 989 ascent. The forecast sun didn’t appear!

We meet at Burrough Hill, and drive to Rearsby to start the walk.  We cross the pack horse bridge into Church Lane.

The path winds round to the right of the church past a slightly dodgy-looking wall.

We come out on to Church Leys Avenue, and turn left between two houses after number 22.  The path is clearly marked as it crosses grassland and comes out behind the convent.

We walk past splendid flowering horse chestnut trees in grassland.  Then we cross the road, and turn left at no. 7 Wreake Drive.  There’s a double stile, and we cross the ridged and furrowed field to the railway crossing.  We carry on in the same direction towards the old mill.

Part of the old mill house – a lot of work being done.

We follow the waymarkers, turning right from the drive to the mill, and making for Lodge Farm and Hoby church spire.

These trees may belong to Brooksby Agricultural College.
We walk through this bumpy field – and I know there’s a bench ideal for a break here.
We wander through Hoby churchyard, with its stump cross and sundial on top.
a little the worse for wear with bird droppings.

Almost opposite the church we turn down Back Lane, and  the left behind a row of cottages. The path we want turns right and downhill through trees.  We cross various small bridges, where a mill used to be, and a long footbridge over the Wreake.

We head towards Rotherby and cross the railway line again.  Just before we reach the village, we turn left to the north east, and walk through three fields, then come to a T junction on the minor road. We walk parallel to the road to Frisby on the Wreake for a little distance, then move slightly left, past a bumpy pasture with horses.
We can see Frisby’s church spire, and the waymarkers are clear. We emerge between houses close to the market cross.
 The Bell Inn is opposite,  and we’re beginning to think it could be lunchtime.  Ah ha!
Unfortunately the pub’s just changed hands, and won’t be open until July.  Maybe they should hide the blackboard better.  We drop into the post office, but they haven’t got much in the way of food. On to Gaddesby it is – another two and a half miles.  Well, it’s only 12.30 now.

A lot of houses in Frisby are pretty old and being restored.

. . . or repaired.  We head out and turn left just past these houses. The path in the fields climbs quite steeply.  We decide we’ll have a banana to keep us going, but we’ll get to the top first.    When the land flattens out we reach the Leicester to Melton Road and another stump cross.

so little colour in the sky !
We cross the road and walk through the clear paths in the fields,  some pasture, some arable.
Some sheep are nosy
Distant blue mountains of Charnwood
The local tribe must favour spring fires
The way ahead is clear – not this way anyhow
We turn into the village for a well-earned lunch at the Cheney Arms in Gaddesby – baguette, salad and crisps and a J2O for £7.50.  It’s filling too.
The church caught our eyes as we arrived, so we take a little time to look around and inside.

There seem to be two or three different styles on the outside
The archway leads to Gaddesby Hall next door – a huge building with beautiful gardens
This is a statue of Colonel Cheney who fought at Waterloo. Four horses died under him, and he rode away on a fifth.  The statue was moved to the church from Gaddesby Hall when it was sold in 1917, and is claimed to be the only equestrian statue in an English church.

We return to the Leics Round route, turning left as we come out of the churchyard. When we reach the blocked gate we turn right and cross a field down to a stream, then cross the Midshires Way, and see Mill farm with its disused windmill – no sails – on our right.  We have no problems with map or waymarkers and pass Pool House. We cross the road and leave Ashby Folville on our right, though the church is visible through the trees.

A mile or so later we go under the bridge where the dismantled railway ran, and turn uphill to Thorpe Satchville, behind the Hall, with its low haha wall.  The church, with its bench,  offers another convenient coffee stop. Not far to go now.  We’ve done about 12 miles. (Note – my garmin says 13, but it went a bit wild in Gaddesby church. It doesn’t like the thick walls.)
If it looks so weathered after 13 years, I wonder what state it will be in after a thousand.  The South Pole is 9845 miles away, and the North Pole a mere 2585.
From here the way is very straight forward, about three quarters of a mile along a small road called Bakers Lane. When we reach a crossing of four ways we take the right hand path and follow it downhill to Melton Lane. Burrough Hill is in sight.
Iron Age hill fort, with the toposcope just visible.
We continue in the same direction climbing gently on this very rutted track, then more steeply through gorse bushes to the top with its great views.

Almost there

The view’s a bit hazy, and the sun hasn’t emerged. It keeps half-appearing, but it’s almost 5pm when we arrive.  The toposcope is 690 feet high.   We have to bag the trig point at 210 m as well.  An online converter tells me this is 689 feet.

A satisfying end to one of our longer days!  Now it’s downhill to the car.

Day 8 – Woodhouse Eaves to Rearsby

Fri, 2013 May 3 10:24 AM Western European Time

With Marta. An interesting walk undulating, not hilly -reservoir, towns, villages. Fine weather not too hot. Almost 12.5 miles. 429 ft of ascent.
The drive from Rearsby was very pleasant, through Ratcliffe on the Wreake, and over to Cossington via Humble Hill. There are fine views from here.  Then on through some picturesque villages over Swithland Reservoir and on to Woodhouse Eaves, where we began our walk.

We park on Maplewell Road, and walk downhill, across the main road to Meadow Road. The grass track takes us past the primary school. We turn right diagonallly across a field, then follow its hedge until we meet a road.

We cross over and walk along the field edge. The path goes in this direction over five fields, heading towards the Great Central Railway line. A steam train passes by, right on cue.

We walk alongside the railway for a short distance, then cross the bridge and walk along a quiet road, along the Swithland reservoir dam.

Looking back to the Charnwood hills
the overflow channel and a serious hunk of granite

Kinchley Lane takes us past some pretty cottages

Hawthorn topiary?

At the T-junction we turn left, and soon right – there’s a bench here, but – the cheek – two people are already sitting there. We’ll have to walk a little further before our break today.

Another few hundred yards of road – a man emerges from the footpath on our left, and asks us where “the round” is – he’s not impressed that it’s along the road! He’s walking at a fair lick, so we let him dash on with a cheery wave.

Shortly after a railway bridge there’s a turn to the right along a farm track. He’s missed it, and we’re not entirely sure, until we check our book and map. The sign’s not there. By the time we’ve decided he’s well out of earshot.

The track skirts an old quarry and brings us out at Castle Hill in Mountsorrel. No castle now, alas, but there’s a beacon and a war memorial. A severe notice warns that sitting and hanging around isn’t allowed – it would show disrespect to those young soldiers, who would probably have indulged in canoodling, given half a chance and a longer life.

A handy bench – coffee up!
Beacon on Castle Hill
Sobering to see how many names from one family are remembered here.

We walk down Watling Street into Mountsorrel, which has several interesting buildings:

The Buttercross
Temperance Hall, now a private house
All I could make out on this was the name Inglesant
Old coaching inn dated 1713
Parish Rooms – ex infant school and Mechanics Institute

We walk through the small town and across the recreation ground. We make a small accidental detour here, but we’re soon back on track. The next big obstacle is the A6.  The original route takes you straight across, though the path looks impassable.  Just as well. A much better alternative is to follow the path for a quarter of a mile or so to the underpass.

In this tree is a bird, with a longish tail and pale yellowish underside. Not a tit. could it be a grey wagtail? Very close to the A6.

After this noisy section of the walk we cross fields and bridges to Sileby Mill Boatyard on the river Soar.  The shop sells snacks and cold drinks, and lots of boating gear, maps and charts. I decide against buying the sailing captain peaked cap – I’d look silly, really.

So it’s on along the riverside path past gravel pits towards Cossington.  Another picturesque village, but we’re on a mission for lunch. The Royal Oak does a good sandwich, salad and chips.

We decide we should have a wander round the village – there’s a moat on the map and we haven’t seen it.  When in doubt ask a local dog-walker.  He shows us the moat – round an island belonging to the Hall – or perhaps the old rectory.  Oh yes, we see the walker who dashed past along the road some time ago, as well.

Trees planted for royal occasions from 1902 onwards.
The moat and hall
Cossington church

From here it’s another couple of miles, along Bennetts Road and Blackberry Hill, past Ratcliffe College – a Catholic boarding school, high on the hill, and down – across the A46.  At least it’s dual carriageway with a central reservation.  More fields and a minor road. Left here than a footpath on the right – there are two and it doesn’t matter which we take as they join at Rearsby Mill – now a beautifully situated house.
We have to cross the main railway line and it’s a short distance to Rearsby.

At the corner of Mill Road and Brookside  “It is said that in1753  John Wesley stood on this stone to preach to the villagers of Rearsby. The world is my pulpit.”

Map and details

Day 7 – Bagworth to Woodhouse Eaves and Beacon Hill

Fri, 2013 Apr 19 10:05 AM Western European Time 

With Marta. Fine with the odd shower and occasional sun. We saved the hills for the end of the walk. Garmin off for about a mile. Total around 12 miles. 1,129 feet of climbing.

 

We start with a short diversion to the Bier House, to look at something I’d seen last time, when I walked around Bagworth.

 

Up past the church and through the churchyard, for a sobering start to today’s walk.
Then through the recently planted (1996/97) Bagworth Heath Woods, which are part of the National Forest. It seems an excellent way to heal the scars of the mining industry. Desford Pit had seams running under most of this land. Today it’s pleasant walking and we get quite warm in the sheltered parts of the path.  
We cross the road and continue – the way ahead is clear, and takes us over the Leicester to Swannington single track of railway line.

We cross a stream and a small field with a couple of donkeys.  the stream was the old mill race for Thornton Mill. The mill was built in 1847 and functioned until the 1930s. The daughter of the last miller still lives in the mill house, and the house next to it was converted from the mill itself.  

 

There’s a man sitting in the sunshine mending a table.  
“So, this used to be a mill?”
“Oh yes – if you go up here you’ll see where the pond used to be. Come and have a look.”
We walk past a table and seat made from an old millstone and up to the wall where a tiny trickle of a stream now runs.

“There was a big stone at the top to stop more water coming in. Maureen’s dad used to keep a boat tied up here and he’d  go to the top end by boat instead of walking there.”

Then he showed us a brick dated 1847 on the side of his house There’s a wooden beams with words carved “Christian built this mill in 1847”  The beam used to be in the mill, now it’s above an outbuilding.

We thank him and wave to the women in the mill house garden.  He says it’s a shame so many walkers just keep their heads down and don’t stop to look more often. Guilty as charged on occasions.

 

 

The footpath here is very well marked and we arrive at a modern housing estate on the edge of Thornton. We wander up a couple of dead ends before finding our way to the main street.

The path goes alongside the school and downhill over a ridged and furrowed field. We can see Thornton reservoir glittering in the bottom of the valley.

We walk past the end of the water and a field of shetland ponies and some sheep and along the side of Browns Wood.  There are wide views in both directions here.   The noise of the heavy traffic on the embankment of the M1 makes conversation difficult.  With some relief we take the path underneath the motorway, and ignore the footpath on the left almost immediately afterwards.  Instead we carry on for a short distance to a path which goes through three fields. We walk past some  houses,  and along Croft Way and turn right along  Forest Road, then soon left into Main Street, Markfield.

It’s a conservation area, but there is still evidence of post-industrial decline.

At this point we are in heads-down-and-can-we-stop-for-coffee-soon mode, so miss out the church and the Altar Stones picnic site and Nature Reserve, which has good views over Charnwood Forest. One for another walk?
We leave Markfield and go underneath the A50 by a subway. Then we take a path alongside, screened to some extent by the trees. They don’t have many leaves yet.  Coffee is by now essential, so we use this dilapidated and overgrown picnic table.

Inviting, no?
We follow the Round waymarks with no problem as far as the village of Newtown Linford.
Then it’s through to Bradgate Park, a sandwich at the café.
Striking trees
Atmospheric ruins
We walk by the river, past the mighty trees, and the ruins of Bradgate House, up the hill to the War Memorial and Old John.

Marta clambering on the rocks

Grand wide views, if a little misty.  We leave the park and take the path along Benscliffe Road, through the edge of Rough Wood, and over Lindale Golf Course to Woodhouse Eaves.

We turn left along Mill Road, walk uphill past the windmill, and the car park for Broombriggs.

We cross the road, and walk up (again) to the top of Beacon Hill. I really feel these hills at the end of today’s walking.  About 12 miles.

They are filming something – time travel perhaps with medieval peasants and modern army types with automatic weapons?  Beacon Hill’s a great place for it.
 
We saw one swallow, heard an insistent cuckoo in Bradgate Park – Marta saw a woodpecker – we both heard one drumming earlier. We saw a jay fairly close by as well.

 Map and details