Such a beautiful morning as I drive past the Welland Lake on my way to Hallaton. I haven't seen the valley so flooded for a long time, but with the sun sparkling on the water, I could live with it.
The roads are clear of snow, but some glisten with hoar frost, especially the higher roads near Eyebrook reservoir, and through Horninghold towards Hallaton. I shall probably keep regretting that I didn't stop to take photographs.
I meet the gang in Hallaton, and we brave the cold wind and set off along the Horninghold Road. We turn left along a footpath which runs across fields, almost parallel to the road. When we reach Horninghold village we turn right and then left just before the Hall, which looks as though it has converted its stables into rather exclusive apartments.
The route takes us northeast as far as Muckelburgh Farm, where we turn to the left and head due north until we meet Allexton Lane, which is more like a mud-track. We discover a body behind a hedge - his legs are plastic pipes, and his body is just old clothes - a scarecrow taking five?
At the Hallaton road we turn right towards Allexton. Belton is clearly visible behind Allexton. Before reaching the village we take a bridleway to the left, due west, more or less parallel to the A47. It crosses the stream and arrives at the main road at a lay-by. We cross the road and find the footpath a little way to the left.
We take shelter behind a hedge and indulge in a snack break. We plod on and are faced with four yellow posts to show the way. A quick look at the map and we make our choice. All is well, apart from the mud-hopping we need to do each time we meet a gate.
When we reach a road into East Norton we walk down it - past this rather strange character in a window
|a novelty hatstand|
and an irresistible bench.
|Taking a breather at East Norton|
Decisions! Do we continue for two miles along the road, or do we turn east along a wide track which follows the ridge? We take the consensus, and the track wins. At this stage the wind is getting stronger and there's rain in the air. But we carry on boldly going. There's a junction - a surfaced road leads down to a farm, but our route goes ahead - across more mud. We arrive at a farm, labelled as Fearn Farm on the map. It has an obviously non-functional sign saying "Teas" and a sign declaring in German that it's a Zollgrenze or customs frontier. No one inspects our luggage or passports, so we carry on our merry muddy way.
We're following the route of the Leicestershire Round and the Macmillan Way here, but these fields are the muddiest yet, and sticky to boot. We have another snack break on the bridge over the dismantled railway, before tackling the last field, and joining the road near Hallaton Recreation Ground, walking past the duckpond and the Fox pub and we've done about 10 miles.
|They didn't leak when I walked through puddles hoping to clean them!|
Map and details of the route.