Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hallaton, Goadby Goolston and Cranoe

Date: 27 March 2011
Area: Leicestershire. West of Uppingham
Distance: 11.4Miles 18.3 k
Start Location: Hallaton
OS Sheet: Explorer 233
Grid Ref: SP 7878 9654

These notes are provided only to enable the walk to be plotted on a 1 : 25,000 map.
From the Village Green head downhill to the Church, turn right into Hunts Lane go to the top, cross on to bridleway to Moor Hill Spinneys, Hallaton Spinneys and Keythorpe Hall Farm. Turn south along the Midshires Way, past Keythorpe Lodge Farm to footpath on right to Goadby or take the track a bit further south. Pass through the village and down the hill, turn left along road, passing the entrance gates to Noseley Hall to take the footpath through Old Park, follow down to cross the stream and uphill into Glooston. Follow the road to Cranoe, by the church take the footpath to Othorpe House and on into Hallaton

This walk starts in what I think is one of the best villages in England. Hallaton was home to my great grandparents, my grandparents, my mother and all their families. Indeed a cousin still lives in the village and I understand there are a few more distant relations around. However, Hallaton has two far more significant claims to fame than my ancestry.

The best known is Bottle Kicking held annually on Easter Monday. In its simplest terms it is a sport, a game, a competition between two villages. In reality it is the re-enactment of an ancient battle, a rights of passage for the young men and women of the villages. To gain an impression of this battle, have a look on YouTube. As a starter I recommend Bottle Kicking.

The second claim was the discovery in 2000 of a large hoard of Iron Age and early Roman coins and artefacts including five thousand silver and gold coins, the remains of an ornately decorated Roman parade helmet and some mysterious silver items. For more information on this stunning and highly significant find visit Hallaton Hoard.

The landscape in this part of north east Leicestershire and into Rutland is very much of the Wolds, an intricate weave of rolling hills, long ridges, steep sided valleys, streams, rivers, woodland and small villages. The land is extensively farmed with fields of sheep, cattle, horses and arable alongside each other. This walk certainly has all of the above plus a stately home.

The way is well marked with yellow topped posts. The walk north from Hallaton to Keythorpe Lodge Farm is a long steady climb to Moor Hill Spinney then a drop down into a small dished valley where we sat and watched several pairs of Hares running and playing (but not Mad). As you climb out of the valley look out for the marker posts taking you across the field to the right, away from the farm track. On picking up the Midshires Way the track climbs to a long gently desending ridge with views both east and west, on a good day these view can be stunning.

Watch out for the footpath to Goadby, we missed it, talking about a previous walk along here, so we walked down the less attractive stony track and back along Horse Hill Road to the village. Going down the hill out of Goadby you can limit the road walking a little by talking either of the footpaths on the left, both come out by the stream on Palmers Lane. Noseley Hall has apparently fallen on hard times and is for sale, if you have £14 million to spare. If you are interested, the sales particulars can be seen here Noseley Hall

After crossing through the Old Park, across a couple of fields of crops and a section of woodland we crossed a stream and found the perfect lunch spot, out the wind, in the sun, on gently sloping grass. Later walking over the fields to Glooston we were serenaded by Skylarks, for me one of the most evocative of sounds in the countryside.

From Glooston it’s a kilometre of road walking, with terrific view over the Welland Valley, to Cranoe don’t go down into the village but turn left by the Church and follow the footpath to the right back to Hallaton savouring the views.

Although the day was dull with a slight chill wind and a cloudy sky that took all the brightness and life out of the photographs we both really enjoyed this walk, it had a bit of everything and we will do it again Mrs G said in the summer, I thought it might make a good walk in the snow. We shall see.

Post walk refreshments, coffee and cream scones, were had at the Bewicke Tea Room. Next to the pub?.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Hope to Gridleford via Abney

Date: 19 March 2011 
Area: Peak District
Distance: 10.3 Miles 16.6.k
Start Location: Grindleford Station and train to Hope
OS Sheet: OL1 & OL24
Grid Ref: 2503 7869


From Hope Station head south to the A6187 turn east, at the junction in Brough turn right crossing the bridge over the River Noe, turn left into Brough Lane.

Follow the lane southwards, as it turns to the east, go south taking the footpath across Abney Moor. At the road, go on down to Abney Grange, taking the path down to the bottom of the valley, cross the stream and bear left along the valley side.

There are no public paths here so keep well above the Brook and work your way westwards to pick up the footpaths leading down to Stoke Ford. Head east, passing Brook Wood, Tor Farm and Hazelford Hall. At the B6001 turn left, cross over the River Derwent and turn right along the path following the river bank. In Coppice Wood take the track bearing left uphill, and then cross 3 fields to the bridge over the railway line, turn right to Grindleford Station.


Saturdays walk was the real first proper walk of the year, the Foremark Repton walk xx weeks ago was a proper walk but fairly tame and gentle and we took a two hour stop for a roast beef dinner halfway round. Saturdays was a 10mile point to point walk through the heart of the Peaks a more serious proposition. Here lunch was beef and horseradish sandwich and a brew sitting on a grassy bank, we know how to rough it!

The day started at 6:30 an unheard of time for Mrs G to be awake on a Saturday morning. We eventually got out the house at far too many minutes past 8. A sprint up the M1 to pick Andy up then back to the M1 and through to Chesterfield, getting in to Grindleford with 15 minutes to spare, mainly due to the roads being quiet, which won’t last for long!

The 09:29 Sheffield to Manchester train was a two carriage Pacer and it was packed, so we had to stand, which was fine as it’s only a 10 minute journey. But it made me wonder how come there are so many crappy trains on our railways and why do so many have so few carriages.

Part of the plan for this walk was to find a number of Geocaches along the way, with first just along the road from Hope Station. So after a 5 minute faff sorting what tops to wear, switching on GPS’s, getting the relevant information on mobile phones and testing new sunglasses we got started and 75m later we located the first cunningly hidden GC (I’m not going to keep typing geocache). This was a film canister it was Andy’s first ever GC and the first micro cache Mrs G and I had found. In the next 4K we found 4 more GC’s all cunningly hidden, but almost in clear view, in fact Andy was heard to mutter ’when we’ve been round this way before, I’m sure I stopped and had a pee on that stone’. So be warned if you ever go out geocaching be sure to take hand wipes etc. with you. You never know…..

As we reached the top of Brough Lane there were a bunch of people unloading para gliding kit from their cars while two gliders floated over us, along with several para gliders. As we looked back, Lose Hill, Win Hill and Shatton Edge were clear but looking across Abney Moor the early sunshine was being pushed eastwards by a bank of clouds and a chilly wind. Away towards Shatton Lane areas of heather or, bracken were being burnt off.

Dropping down into the valley below Abney Grange is always a pleasure it’s an area of calmness and tranquillity, a tonic. You meander peacefully through its scaled down hills and valleys never quite knowing if you’re going in the right direction or where you’ll end up. It is very beautiful and quiet, I’ve promised myself that one day I will park close by and spend a warm sunny day here just wandering around and sitting in the sun

‘I’ve searched the internet looking for information about the land slip, such as when it occurred but found very little, other than bits about walks and photos plus a short sentence in a Peak Parks document saying “Locally the failure of the interbedded shales has given rise to characteristic landslip landscapes, for example in Bretton Clough.” If you find or know any more please let me know.

Stoke Ford is one of the major cross roads in the area. It’s a natural meeting place, a pleasant spot to take a break, even have lunch, let kids or dogs play in the brook but with walkers moving in five different directions it can become a bit busy.

Several years ago the very busyness of the place brought on one of my rare episodes of “ramblers rage”. We reached the ford as two groups of walkers each of about 20 people arrived on opposite sides of the bridge. Both groups seemed to know each other, but were going off in different directions. As they passed each other, they exchanged greetings, found they were going the wrong way, turned back, spoke to someone else, shouted to a person on the far side of the crowd that they were going the wrong way, only have them shout back, the groups lost cohesion! As a result the bridge and the east bank was mêlée and any movement in any direction was near impossible.

I watched and waited for several minutes then seeing red shouting “scuse me, coming through” (in best S‘arnt Major voice) I pushed and bullied my way through the throng, dragging an reluctant Mrs G with me, past men in golfing jackets and ladies in cashmere twin sets and cheap fleeces, many brandishing walking poles like drunken conductors (band not bus). As we crossed the bridge a florid gentleman in green corduroy trousers tucked into red socks, wearing a beige waistcoat with many pockets, stopped us saying “shouldn’t you be going the other way with Clive”. Growling something about f f f friendly ramblers, we stormed off towards the path to Oaks Farm and peace. I'm not proud on my behavior here but it still makes me laugh.

The path east from Stoke Ford to Hazelford is pleasantly undulating with woodland and open paddocks. The path alongside the Derwent is a steady track and parkland walk with the river and the woodland to please the ear and eye.

Although there were signs of spring and the afternoon sun was pleasant it did feel as if spring in this part of Derbyshire was some two to three weeks behind us in Leicestershire. In a few weeks I’m sure everything will be blooming, we can’t wait to get back.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Outdoors Show NEC

I’ve been trying to write this and get it posted all week but things just keep getting in the way, so this has been written after three four attempts.

On Saturday 26 March,  the Missus, Andy, his mate Steve and I went down to the NEC to visit the Outdoor Leisure Show with Caravans, Campervans, and Boats. Having made numerous visits to the old Outdoors show at the NEC, now at Excel in London, this one was a pleasant change it was spread over 5 halls and as a result it was far less of a scrum, the good wide walkways between the stands provided the space and the freedom to move around, to see things, to talk to guys and girls on the stands and to other punters.

We spent a fair chunk of time looking at the caravans, mainly two berth as I am getting close to retirement and we want to get a touring caravan at some time before then. We were mainly looking at layouts and standard equipment, all of which were far better than I remember from our last four berth one over twenty years ago.

We also looked at the camper vans (Motor Homes) which although very impressive our plan remains to go with a caravan. It will probably be a 13 or 15 foot van with an end toilet/shower, a hob,cooker, fridge, microwave and heating.

We both bought some kit Mrs G got herself a Paramo Velez Adventure Light for £60 below list, while I got a Paramo Explorer shirt about £20 below list which was pretty good. Keela also had a stand and I  got a pair of Keela Peru trousers for £30. I have worn their Peru and Paraguay trousers for about eight years now, they are very hard wearing and comfortable being quite stretchy, these new ones are a different material but look and feel just as good. Also saw their new Scuffer HW trousers which looked like good winter trousers, well for here in the Midlands anyway, up north you’ll have to make you own minds up. However, I will continue to use my Montane terra pants through the warmer months, those side zips are super for cooling.

I also bought some fancy British wool (merino?) socks, but I lost the wrapper I haven't a bloody clue what they were made from or how to get some more. They are nice and warm and cushioning, a bit like my Smartwool ones but a little coarser.!

Although we did a little local walk today, 6 miles, we are hoping to get out for a proper walk next weekend but as Forest is at home again that does seem a bit unlikely, we’ll see.

In the meantime heres some pictures Andy and I took on the Westmoreland Way in 2009.