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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Welford - Canal - Hemplow Hills - Welford

Led by Barry, with Maureen, Gordon and me. Fine - dry underfoot. Just over 6 miles.

Covered some of yesterday's route as well. 

We parked in Welford opposite this cottage.  We took a path to the west north west and walked along a path in a field behind houses.  This soon turned south west towards Hall Lane, which we crossed and turned right, along a path which diverged from the lane, slightly more to the west. 
The path crossed several fields before reaching the Grand Union Canal - a quiet stretch here. At first the canal was on our right, then we crossed to take the towpath with the canal on our left as we headed more or less south-west.

We followed the canal round a fairly large loop for a good two and half miles as far as Bridge 31.
 The Old Union Canals Society plants living milestones along the Leicester Line of the Grand Union. You know the ones, the trees with black painted steel plaques next to them. Thank you to jakepithf and his blog 

The path goes uphill through a field of growing crops, then into the woods of Hemplow Hills.
A snack-stop with a great view - Wood Cottage in the background.
Another 'permissive path'

Through the woods, - after the steep climb!
The tower-adorned gatehouses of West Hill Farm.
From Hemplow Hills we walk past West Hill Farm, and along Hemplow Drive. At the crossroads, straight on into West End and back to Welford.

We saw terns diving into the canal, a heron, and a hare in the field going up to Hemplow Hills.

Map and details

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jurassic Way 5 - Winwick to Sibbertoft

Winwick - Elkington - Welford - Sibbertoft
11 miles.  With Marta. Fine, sunny, very warm. Dry conditions.
Winwick church - photograph taken at end of the walk! See time.

From the pond at Winwick we walked past the gateway to Winwick Hall, then turned left, through a field gate to the bridleway.
The gates and Winwick Hall.
The route was clearly marked until we had to turn off to the left towards Honey Hill. This sign was a little harder to find:
Hunt the way markers
The path to Honey Hill skirts the hillsides to begin with, through some fields - at one point there is a way marker near a wooden bridge - don't even bother trying to cross the bridge, the path continues round the field and on, alongside a golf course, which you eventually cross over.
The climb starts here and after crossing a field or two, you join a wide surfaced track past Honey Hill Farm and a field with horses - lovely views if you look back.
The third horse was just relaxing - above Honey Hill Farm.
The road flattens out, and you pass another large house before reaching the road between Welford and Cold Ashby. Turn left for a very short stretch, and the footpath leads off to the left, taking you down Honey Hill towards Elkington.
From the path down Honey Hill
The path was opened here in 1994
In Elkington, you turn right along the road, and follow it to the junction.  On the noticeboard, this notice caught my eye - memories of times past, not I hope portents of times to come:

Keep to the left hand road (signposted to Yelverton) and after a short distance,  you cross a canal bridge. Turn right here and follow the canal for about a mile, along and under the A14. Continue to bridge 31.

I haven't yet worked out what these 'living milestones' are for
At bridge 31 you leave the canal, cross the bridge and take the footpath on the left. At this time of year, the sign is half hidden in the hedge, but the path is clear.
Uphill to Hemplow Hills. On the following walk we saw a hare ahead of us on this path.
Part of West Hill Farm
The path through the woods is clear - a bit steep at the start. Once you emerge, go along beside a field where young trees are growing, and along a track past West Hill Farm, and these lodge buildings. Then it's over a stile by a remote controlled gate and along Hemplow Drive, past Hemplow Lodge Farm and childcare nursery. Continue along the drive until you reach the crossroads. Cross over and West End is the road leading into Welford village.
At this point we went to the pub at the Wharf, rather than following the official JW path, rejoining it on the Naseby Road, just past the fishermen's car park.
We walked along the path next to the reservoir, then across the causeway.
A less daunting causeway in summer time!
the path cuts across fields, through the bumps and hollows of the deserted mediaeval village of Old Sulby, through a field of cows, past some farms to a track where we turned right and followed the path through several fields - it is well marked. 
Soon we arrived at Sibbertoft, where we followed the route round to the churchyard before returning to the car.
Sibbertoft church, photo taken before driving to Winwick - see time on clock!

Map and details

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pitsford Reservoir anticlockwise

Just under 7 miles. Led by Mel, with Norma, Ian, Carol, Kate, Maureen, Eddie, Gordon, Barry and me.
Very warm and sunny.  Coots, swans, geese, pied wagtails, yellowhammers.

Paused for ice-cream break at the causeway car park.  Lunch at Willow Café. Unfortunately Outdoor shop closed now.
View across Pitsford Water to the cupola in memory of local businessman Lynn Anthony Wilson, who died 2008.  We walked past that on August 8 2011.

Map and details

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arthingworth fig of 8, with Oxendon tunnel

Led by Barry. With Maureen, Gordon, Eddie and me. 8 miles. Misty, then very warm. 

Too much, too yellow, too smelly, too high . . .

In Arthingworth, take Oxenden Rd and follow to the end, where it is possible to park.  Take footpath on right hand side,  next to houses and follow field boundaries - two shortish fields with a very big one in the middle. The path goes from the left hand side of the hedge to the right. Just after the boundary in the fourth field, he path crosses diagonally to the right and up hill past Round Spinney, then at the next boundary turns slightly to the right, and cuts across a field to the road. There is a trig point (146 m) just to our left.

Cross the road (following the Midshires Way) . This is soon joined by the Jurassic and Macmillan Ways. The path leads towards Braybrooke, whose church is clearly visible. 
We leave the Jurassic etc Ways, when they turn to the right. We turn off to the left. The footpath is clearly marked. 

 At his point we walked for a considerable distance through the yellow lurgy rapeseed flowers. Finally we arrived, with some relief, at the Brampton Valley Way, where we turned right and followed the route almost into Market Harborough. 

A left turn along the main road took us to a convenient bench for a snack, then we turned left again onto a footpath which brought us via a field with a couple of horses, back to the point where we joined the BVW.  (This is part of the figure of eight).

On the border - between Northants and Leics.
Turn right along the Brampton Valley Way, through the Oxenden Tunnel - really a torch is not a bad idea as the surface is a bit muddy and uneven.  Continue along the BVW until you reach the turning to Arthingworth - to the left. Follow the track/road back to the start of the walk.

Map and details

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jurassic Way 4 - Braunston to Winwick

With Marta. 11 miles. Very hot. It felt like hard work. Dry underfoot apart from under the M1.

We started from the Admiral Nelson, crossing the canal to the towpath, and following it as far as Braunston Bottom Lock.
Here we crossed the bridge and made our way uphill - there are a couple of footpaths, and more by luck than judgment we ended up, as we should, going through Jetty Field Pocket Park, past the allotments and into the village, at a road junction.  Just by the Wheatsheaf Inn, take Ashby Road to the right,  follow it until it bends to the right. At this point the old road is now a track leading straight ahead - towards Ashby St Ledgers.

Looking back towards Braunston
The track narrows to a path, and climbs up to a minor road. Here we turned right and walked a short distance before turning left, in the same direction as previously.  The path goes downhill to the A361, which we crossed, then followed the main street of Ashby St Ledgers through the village, until it bent left just before the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Leodegarius.
As well as some very attractive thatched cottages, the village has a Manor House, which was worked on by Lutyens, in the first third of the twentieth century.

 Its gatehouse was a meeting place for the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, including Robert Catesby.
Timber-framed gatehouse - Catesby rode 80 miles from London to bring news that the Gunpowder Plot had been discovered 5th November 1605. He was caught up with, refused to surrender and was shot dead three days later.
The Jurassic Way continues straight ahead from the bend in the road, by the church.
We were in need of a break and a snack, but first we crossed several open fields before finding a suitable shady tree.  After this we headed across more fields slightly downhill towards the M1 and the mainline railway of Watford Gap.
There's a bridge under the railway, but you have to cross the A5 - fortunately it is not too busy.

The path took us over the canal and up the towpath past the flight of locks and marina. A lovely oasis, spoiled by the noise of M1 traffic.

We crossed a field making for the tunnel under the M1. It smelled and felt rather as though cows had sheltered there - the wettest place for miles.

We followed the footpath into Watford, where we turned left along the main road, uphill as far as Church Street. Another left turn took us to a junction where we turned left, then right just past a barn, where wagtails alighted on the roof and swallows were flying around.
The path goes across some parkland, and makes towards Henley's railway bridge, which the then owner of Watford Court built so that the railway would be at a distance from his house. Watford Court was built in Elizabethan times, and demolished in the 1970s.
Henley's railway bridge
The path is generally well marked, but we did need to consult the map a couple of times - for reassurance at least.  Most of the time it's a case of following the paths. There are a few places where a way mark would come in handy, for example when the path (clearly restored through a field of crops goes diagonally across a field, then zig-zags round field boundaries. This is marked on the map as near Flavell's Lodge, though we couldn't identify any building.
You come to a cross paths (crossroads for paths) where you take the right hand path past Silsworth Lodge - this can be identified.  The path goes round the buildings, turning north briefly before going east towards West Haddon, and entering the village near the primary school. The path goes along a short street named The Green.
Turn right, go to the mini-roundabout, and turn left up High Street. Take the next left, Crown Lane, or walk through the churchyard.  At the top of Crown Lane the path for Winwick leaves.
We bought lunch in the local shop, though there are a couple of pubs as well. Faced with the choice of sitting on a bench in the sun, or grass in the shade, the shade won, easily.

The final section was pretty straightforward, following the signed path north through fields and under the West Haddon bypass (A428).
The path arrives at a surfaced track near Glebe Farm. Follow this and turn right on the gated road which leads all the way to Winwick.  We turned right at the crossroads in the tiny village and walked uphill past the Hall to the seat by the pond where we'd left the car.

Thanks to Northants CC leaflet - available only online as a PDF, alas.

Map and details

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Welland Wildlife boost - BBC article

Welland river Wildlife habitats boost

People are being encouraged to help improve the river Welland in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.
The Welland Rivers Trust said it wanted views on a draft plan which had identified areas of concern.
Peter Barham, of the trust, said: "We would love to hear from anyone who would like to help to improve the river for wildlife and communities."
Major projects are already under way on various stretches of the Welland.
These are being worked on by the trust, the Environment Agency, Anglian Water and the National Farmers' Union and include restoring the Stamford Millstream in Lincolnshire.
In Northamptonshire, work began in March to refurbish a weir and create a wildlife habitat at Duddington, and the impact of farming has been reduced in Drayton.
Bids have also been submitted for funding to carry out projects in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, the Environment Agency said.

Just for info.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ketton Circular

Barry led this walk, and Gordon, Eddie and I followed.  Just over 8 miles, fine weather, apart from a few spots of the wet stuff,  and relatively dry underfoot for a change. 

We set off from Ketton, parking near the phone box, in a lay-by beside the A6121.

We turned left, following the Macmillan Way, past Hibbins House, once the home of a family of stone and memorial masons.  The house has several carved decorations.
We walked along the Green, turned right at Manor Green and on past the Coach House to where the path led along a grassy lane and eventually on to a quarry track with a wide bridge above the moonscape of the quarry - used for extracting limestone which is used in the local cement.

The track is pretty clear, and we followed the joint MacMillan Way/Hereward Way northwest for a couple of miles, across various arable fields. There's a lot of rapeseed at the moment.  We turned to the north near a minor road, and followed the path across the A606 and downhill.  Empingham church can be seen to the left.

Towards the bottom of the slope a path crosses the main route, and we took a right turn, up to a stile in the hedge and then across a couple of fields.  There was a horse near Shacklewell Cottage, and we found a reasonable spot for our snack break.
Barry and friend

The path took us back up to the A6121. We walked alongside this on a wide verge for about a third of a mile, before crossing over and taking the footpath to the right.  When we emerged on to another wider track we turned right, and then left, at Shacklewell Spinney.  The path took us back to the Macmillan/Hereward Way, where we turned left and retraced our steps for a mile or so into Ketton.

Map and details

Ketton Quarry Wildlife Reserve

For future reference a wander through the Wildlife Reserve could be added on to future walks from Ketton.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hambleton Peninsula circuit

5 miles. With Terry, Eddie, Barry, Gordon, Carol, Ian, Kate and Jill.  From the end of the road round the cycle track anticlockwise.  Drizzly at first, then clear and fine - coolish wind.  Lunch at Don Paddy's.

Hambleton Old Hall

We paused for a break at the two benches overlooking Hambleton Old Hall.  Fishing boats floated on the water.  The bluebells were delightful. We saw lots of swifts hunting insects, and Carol assured me the loud birds we we heard were blackcaps.

Map and details