and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out, and you always have a signal. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Illston on the Hill circular

Mon, 2013 Apr 15 9:35 AM Western European Time 
Led by me, with Barry. Weather much warmer today - even the wind wasn't cold. Underfoot mostly dry, except for a few gateways - one in particular near Burton Overy. Quite rolling terrain. Distance 10 miles. Total climbing 643 feet.

This walk was adapted from one in Heather MacDermid's book "Foxton Locks to Rutland Water"

We drive out to Illston on the Hill on a fine morning with a smidgen of sun in the air, and warm - a tropical 55F, or around 12C. Not quite shirt-sleeve weather, but comfortable.
We set off from the Village Hall, walking past Oak Farm, and The Acorns to a T-junction. Across the road is the path, clearly marked as it crosses fields of sheep and lambs.
This ewe has three lambs - I missed the opportunity when they were all in a line!
There's a footbridge and then the path makes its way uphill and north east to Barn Farm. It carries on in the same direction past a big house called The Farm, where it joins the road (B6047).
Here we turn right and after 100 yards or so we turn left into Rolleston Park, where there is a cattle grid and then a long drive lined with horse chestnuts - not yet in leaf this year. We walk along the drive, past the gates to the Hall, and take a step back in time as a trap and four (?) approach us.

A great way to take the dogs for a walk
We pass the stables and the dairy - now rather fine houses, before taking the signposted track to Billesdon on the left, and then the marked footpath to the left which leads past the Cranhill Farm development.

We walk up the drive to the main road (B6047) again and after about 50 yards we turn left along  the "gated road to Illston". Very pleasant walking, trees to our left, views to our right, and hardly any traffic.  There's a space between gateposts, but no gate. Just before this our path turns off to the right and follows the hedge a short distance before going behind the splendid Ashlands, a mansion built in 1867 in Tudor style.  It's surrounded by manicured lawns and trees and has views over towards Frisby and Billesdon.

We walk downhill and to a grassy track with a small wood on our right. We walk along two sides of the wood and then keep the hedge on our right through three fields, swinging left at the end to join the lane which goes to thr right and up the hill into Gaulby.

We walked along the road to the church, and took a break on a bench nearby - sheltered and sunny today.

counting the hours while minutes run free - a clock with one hand
Until about 500 years ago no clocks had minute hands and you had to judge approximately how far to the next hour you were from the position of the hour hand - a bit like a sundial, I suppose.
Gaulby church with its four pinnacles and weathervanes.

Daffs at last!
Then we took the road to Kings Norton, passing some fine houses - one called Dovecot House . . .
. . . and there's the dovecot.
Kings Norton Church (St John the Baptist) is a very imposing building for such a small village.
Kings Norton Church
Shortly after the church, along the road towards Illston, there is a footpath off to the right.  We decided to take this route - across a field and past a small hollow - where sheep were taking advantage of some water. It didn't look very appetising.

We kept to the higher ground passing some small wooded areas on our left.  In the fourth field the path swung round to the left and downhill to meet a track which follows the Roman road, Gartree Road.

Decision time again - Burton Overy or not?  We have plenty of time, and the weather's good. Ten miles sounds like a decent walk, so we head along the path which follows the stream for a few fields. Just before Burton Overy we meet our muddiest obstacle - a gateway of course. I go ankle deep, but the boots are up to this, and my feet stay dry.

We walk along the main street past the large church and some interesting houses.
Timbered house in Burton Overy
At the pub (the Bell) we turn left along Carlton Lane, and follow this up the hill as far as Chestnut Farm, ignoring a footpath off to the left. At the farm we go through a gate and then beside a barn and into a field. Here we keep to the left hand side and walk downhill to a footbridge over the stream. From here we can see the small tower of Carlton Curlieu church, and make for this, following the path until it meets the road. We pause to persuade an errant lamb back into the field - another one that looks like a small quarried dip.

We walk past the old rectory and the church and turn left for 100 yards or so, then left along the bridle road to Illston.  This runs clearly between two hedges as far as the road (Gartree Road is a real road here) t Carlton Curlieu Manor House farm. It's still signed clearly as the bridle road to Illston, but isn't as superb as the last section.
In fact it's easy to follow, although the last field is a bit of a chore. We can see Illston church from the path.  We walk back to the village hall through the village with its church and pub.
Thoroughly enjoyable.

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