We set off from Castle Bytham, taking the footpath which goes past the Castle pub, then the church and the cemetery, which has the sign 'Welcome to Castle Bytham Cemetery'!
The path skirts the graveyard and then comes to open country. There was a pretty cold, though southerly, wind.
The fields were a bit muddy, but the path was fairly straightforward, though we did deviate slightly before reaching the Clipsham Road. On the other side the path led past School Farm - though it looked as though it had been neither for a very long time.
|We could see the remains of a small triangular opening in one wall - but I clearly didn't put it in the pic|
The path continued as a bridleway leading gently uphill towards Pickworth Great Wood.
Looking back towards Holywell quarry
From here to Pickworth the path was clearly marked - through the wood and over the fields to emerge beside Manor Farm. We turned left to have a look at the arch, which is all that remains of a church from the 12th, 13th or 14th century. The present owner came out and chatted to us about it.
The present church is very plain and was built in 1821.
We walked straight past the limekiln this time! It was only when I read the Pickworth link that I realised it claims to be where the poet John Clare worked for a while.
|Here's one I took earlier (18 Nov)|
Once again the path was clear, heading slightly north of west, and just after crossing a narrow band of trees we decided to stop for a break - there was a convenient fallen tree.
It was just after this that I went off track (in spite of warnings that the track has been diverted!). When I look at the garmin trace on the map link below, it's obvious that I went too far to the west (left) of the wood. Much better to have stuck closer to the edge. Another excuse - we were a little distracted by one of the less welcome sights of this part of the world - the hunt were out as well.
An extra half-mile or more added on to the walk, but with the aid of Barry's grid refs and compass bearing, we found our way through Clipsham Quarry, which is marked as 'old' on the map, but is in use.
From here to Clipsham things went smoothly again, but as we were behind schedule - we're such timetable-dependent people especially when we're hoping to reach the pub in time for lunch - we decided to give the Yew Tree Avenue a miss this time.
We reached Clipsham just opposite the Olive Branch pub, and turned right, walked round the bend to the left and turned left - after a little while we turned right and followed the route I had already walked on Nov 18th. The route is clearly marked from near Clipsham Court, and goes behind Clipsham House, then crosses fields in a north-westerly direction and reaches Addah Wood. It runs alongside then turns right into the wood, and after a while left (north) through Lady Wood. The path runs fairly close to Stocken Prison perimeter.
We came out of the wood, and once again my map-reading proved less than perfect. Now I can see that the contours mean the path runs along the bottom of the dip!
|A slightly slippery footbridge - at least if your boots are muddy.|
If there was a waymarker, we missed it, and added another half-mile and at least 50 feet of climbing to the route. However, it was not difficult to find our way back to the track, which then goes under the disused railway to the Castle Bytham Road. A short uphill walk and we were in the village - just too late for a pub lunch, but fortunately the tea room in the village hall is open until 3 on a Thursday. Very much appreciated by all of us.