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!

Friday, November 17, 2017

From Market Harborough Union Wharf to Foxton Locks

With Harry and Maureen. 11 and a half miles. Beautiful weather - just walk along the canal towpath.

A blue bright morning
golden leaves in the sun
the canal is mirror smooth
with perfect reflections

painted narrowboats
houses, trees, the sky
in replica below.

Across the cut huge houses with gardens
tables and chairs by the waterside
two canoes sleeping on the water.

The nearside is home to smaller dwellings
fenced off from the towpath
gates locked against the world.

Boats cruise by, the boaters waving
one hand on the tiller 
and the other on a cup of tea.
Dogs and their people take their daily walk.

Bridges and reflections form near circles 
yellow leaves blanket the water
reeds and weeds with seeds dance in the wind
fieldfares are in the hedges 
- the first this year 
flying from Scandinavian cold

By the lockside pub 
we sit with coffee and a sandwich.
Hopeful swans and ducks swim near
 - they're disappointed -
one swears at a too-nosey dog.

Boats wait their turn to use the stair of locks
there's comradeship in lock life.

With bellies filled we set off back
the sun has gone 
a mini-shower sprinkles the canal.
we have the wind behind us
and walk at quite a pace
with plenty of breath to talk.
Cue for a rendition of "Bill and Ben"

Goats with mouths of steel eating hawthorn twigs

Tame as you like.

Harry walks a little way ahead
suddenly he stops  -" shh - a kingfisher”
sitting on a willow branch, 
all blue and orange brown
it flashes like a blue arrow above the water
a bird that always makes the day sublime.

Even if you can't get a photo!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gretton to Harringworth Lodge

Monday 13 November. Five of us today - Eddie, Marion, Maureen, Norma and me. We walked almost six miles in all, as far as the lake by Harringworth Lodge, and back by the Jurassic Way.
When we set off there was ice on the puddles. Grand views over the Welland valley to Seaton and the viaduct.  Ploughed fields were muddy, but we managed to avoid them. 

This walk sits right on the edge of the two maps mentioned.
A civilised bunch

then I have to play the fool when the first photos didn't work!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tilton, South Croxton, Lowesby, Tilton

Thursday 09 November 2017.  With Maureen.  11.5 miles and around 630 feet of climbing. A little more strenuous than our recent expeditions. Almost the same route as this walk from six years ago though we didn't touch Cold Newton this time. The weather was rather less sunny too. 

The path starts from one of the parts of Digby Close at right angles to the main road, and leads through a field and down through a small shrubby area before coming out into the open countryside again. As usual for lovely Leicestershire we are able to follow the yellow wooden posts. 

 The path runs along the hillside to Springfield Hall and down towards the old Lowesby station. There's a track running round to the right here, but our path goes straight ahead and crosses the old railway route.

 Once we've crossed this and reached the next field we spot the old signal box over to our left. It looks a bit dilapidated.
 The yellow posts lead us uphill and on towards Lowesby, with its church surrounded by trees.
 We walk round the churchyard - too early for a break, so we pick up the path round the northern side of Lowesby Hall, with its fine buildings and grounds surrounded by a ha-ha.
 The beech trees are still in autumn dress.
 We turn slightly to the left of the main road to the hall and follow the route of the path keeping the woodland well to our left and aiming for the point where we cross Park Road. the path continues in the same direction after crossing this road, and we keep the field edge on our left for some time. 

After a few fields, the way marker points slightly to the right , so we aimed roughly in that direction and climbed the hill to the fence where we saw these horses in the field. It turned out we had gone a little too far to the right, but by following the Midshires Way along the hedge and downhill to our left, we rejoined the route. We should have gone just far enough to the right to skirt Carr Bridge Spinney.

 We continued following the footpath northwest past Hall Spinney, and Baggrave Hall, though this was hidden behind the trees. We crossed a minor road and continued on the right hand side of Queniborough Brook. The church spire of South Croxton was visible slightly on our right and ahead. 
We arrived at this large pond, with wildfowl and water lilies and followed the path through some woodland and onto a samll road. We turned left into South Croxton, passing the Golden Fleece pub, and a garden with a small astro observatory, almost hidden behind the hedge.
 A little way along the road, just after a bridge over the brook we found the bench we used six years ago. Not so sunny today - the rain came down a little heavier just as we paused for a break.
 It wasn't heavy enough to make us move. Break over, we took the footpath on the other side of the road from the bench. It led across fields to the left.  The direction was now almost south. We crossed a bridleway and shortly afterwards took a path along a track to the left, now heading south east. We avoided Waterloo Lodge Farm, and carried on past Watson's Spinney towards South Lodge, where we turned left along a small unfenced road - an avenue of trees looking quite wintry now.
 At the bend in the road we turned right along a bridleway which took us past Inkerman Lodge and across its drive, then into woodland. the old railway carriage shed is still there.
 After the woodland we crossed Park Road near White's Barn and followed the bridleway,  climbing gently north of Cold Newton. We had a slight diversion here, partly because the signs weren't clear, but were soon back on track.  We continued, crossing Skeg Hill road, where the bridleway becomes a wider track.
Tree and sky-scape
The track crosses the disused railway and Hammer's Lodge Farm. At this point it climbs quite steeply, though not for long.  We followed the Midshires Way until we met a footpath, between two fences - signage not as obvious just here. 
 The footpath took us to the B6047, just before a layby. We crossed the road to the pavement on the other side, and walked the short distance back into Tilton.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sywell Reservoir and Country Park

Tuesday 07 November 2017.
With Marta, 3 miles. 
I had to finish a Scrabble game, so we didn't meet until 10 am! The weather promised rain later, and I was happy to do a short stroll after yesterday. 
Sywell Country Park is near Sywell and Mears Ashby. 

We had a coffee before starting, then walked along the reservoir path anti-clockwise. There is a lot of conservation work, and cutting back of vegetation in progress just now. The text below talks about how beavers used to maintain wetland - "Sadly the Rangers and volunteers won't be able to chew through trees ..." But they're doing their best in other ways.

Plenty of wildfowl

This is a butterfly and insect garden

On the way round we chatted to a man aged 90, who was out for his daily walk. An example to us all.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Empingham, Fort Henry, Exton, Whitwell

Monday 06 November, 9.30 am.  With Maureen and Eddie.  Beautiful weather today., after the early frost had melted.  10.78 miles.
Same route as last Thursday.

Along Exton Road, opposite Church Street.  Take second footpath on the right, by a bench.
Keep the woodland on your left, then cut across the field to a stile, and diagonally across the next field. Continue in the same direction and go downhill towards Horn Spinney. There's a stile with a gap beside it, then walk through the spinney and over a real stile.

 The path climbs the shoulder of the hill then down and over a ladder-style stile to the road opposite Horn Mill. Turn left and walk up to the next footpath which goes off to the right.  As we pass the trout hatchery we see the trees of Pug's Park Spinney to the right.
The autumn leaves are still holding on.

A bit of extra exercise
 Follow the path, and climb the stile, head for the bridge over North Brook, walk with Pug's Park Spinney on your right, the gradually downhill toward Lower Lake and Fort Henry Lake.
The sheep on the right is wearing a crow as a hat

Fort Henry
 Take the path to the right of this lake and follow it through woodland and alongside arable land until you reach a flight of steps.
A flight of steps before we turn left
Turn left along an estate road. When the road bends to the left, your path continues straight ahead. After about a mile it meets the Viking Way at a T-junction. Turn left and head south west (with a few dog-legs) , following the Viking Way alongside Tunneley Wood, past the private RC Cemetery and into Exton village.

This may be the Old Pump House. The building in the background is the old school. 
Today we took the road on the left which goes past the present school (Exton and Greetham), then turns into a footpath which takes a slightly roundabout route to the junction with the road to Empingham.

Cross the road on to the well-marked footpath to Whitwell. This comes out in the car park behind the Noel Arms. Cross the A606 and take the footpath up past cottages and the church, then follow the road to Whitwell car park on Rutland Water.
A  better day for photos!

Whitwell church in the sun!
View from the cafe
Worth a coffee stop!  Then we followed the waterside path round to Sykes Lane, pausing to admire The Great Tower, which I always want to call Symphony in C, probably because of the words on the plaque! Hmm.
 The great tower
by Alexander 1980

Mankind is capable of an awareness 
that is outside the range of everyday life.
My monumental sculptures are created 
to communicate with that awareness
in a way similar to classical music
just as most symphonies are not intended
to be descriptive so these works do not 
represent figures or objects

It's big - 31 feet high.
We had a look at the beach - not very sandy, or very tempting in the cold weather though.
Then we followed the footpath from the near end of the dam alongside the fence, across a field and through the wood back into the village of Empingham.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Empingham, Fort Henry, Exton, Whitwell

Thursday 02 November 2017. With Maureen, as a recce for next week.  Just under 11 miles. Grey, but dry, and not cold for walking.

From Empingham, we took Exton Road, across the main road from Church Street. 
Ignore the first footpath sign to the right and continue up the gentle hill to the second footpath, also on the right, where there is a bench.  A well marked footpath heads slightly east of north with a wooded area on the left. At the end of the woodland the path cuts across the next field, through the hedge and diagonally over another field. Look for the stiles and waymarkers here - if the field has been ploughed you could go round the field edge. The path continues in the same direction and soon goes gently downhill towards Horn Mill Spinney. A short walk through the spinney, and the path climbs the shoulder of a small hill before going down to Horn Mill itself. The trout hatchery here attracts visiting ospreys in spring and summer, and I think it's possible for a fee to take photographs of them fishing.

At the road turn left and walk uphill for a short distance, then take the first footpath to the right and follow it over a bridge across North Brook, then alongside a wooded area called Pug's Park Spinney. the path leads you to Lower Lake and over an estate road to Fort Henry Lake.
Swans, coots, and noisy Canada geese

We continued along the footpath beside the lake (heading to Greetham), but turned left at an estate road just after a flight of steps.
Trees are still dressed in autumn colours
We followed this path for around a mile, to a T-junction where it meets the Viking Way. We turned left here, and spotted a suitable tree to lean our backs against while we had a break and devoured a couple of sandwiches.
Silly photograph time.

Then it was a question of following the Viking Way into Exton, via the estate yard.

We went through the village to the junction with the road to Empingham, crossed this road to the Viking Way footpath just opposite the junction and followed the footpath south, then round the edge of the field ( a right turn to the west) before heading south to Whitwell. The path emerges in the car park of the Noel Arms.

We crossed the A606 and made our way past the church towards Whitwell car park, where we had a coffee in the Crafty Fox cafe, before following the waterside track to Sykes Lane and then the Rutland Round track over the fields and through the woodland and into Empingham.