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, December 4, 2017

Lyddington-Seaton-Bisbrooke-Uppingham-Lyddington

The same route as last Thursday. Seven miles and a whisker. With Maureen, Norma, Marion and Eddie.  The morning began frosty and misty, but was clearing as we left Lyddington



Little wind today, so we warmed up in spite of the lingering mist as we climbed to Seaton and on to the fields beyond.
Coming through the mist


 The mist was burning off by the time we were almost at Bisbrooke church.
 I nipped through the graveyard to catch the church's sunny side.
 A small disappointment at Uppingham, when the Coppergate Cafe was unexpectedly closed, but we bought takeaway drinks or drank our own. Uppingham has a few benches.

Down through the churchyard with its steep steps, then along the road to pick up the footapth.
Not an inviting seat!
The black pigs were not sunbathing today - indeed we saw just one. The goats and donkeys and the hairy pigs were out, and then a horse and a pig who seemed to be very happy together, and very happy to have their heads scratched or stroked.

 Up to the school playing fields where some teenage girls were practising football - and enjoying it! Then down the hill and back to Lyddington.  The route was a little muddier today - the price of the temperature being higher.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lyddington-Seaton-Bisbrooke-Uppingham-Lyddington

A fine frosty morning, crisp ground underfoot, sun shining, clothing well layered. Seven miles with Maureen. The same route as on several previous occasions, the last one around eighteen months ago. 

Across the village green, church away to the right, we head north past the ancient fishponds of Lyddington Bede House. Is that a ghostly monk? Maybe not.

We turn and skirt the wooded hill, through a gate and onto a path which used to be a mudbath, but has been surfaced - bliss! Uphill to open fields. The path is clear and well-marked, under a line of pylons, and soon turns left slightly and over a stream to Seaton Grange. From here a road climbs up into the village.
We turn right and walk until we find the footpath sign and steep steps up to our left. We've reached the plateau and the wind is blowing.
The signs are very good, the fields are clear, the path goes north as far as the dismantled railway, then turns to the northwest.   We can see Bisbrooke church with its tower away to our left before we go downhill then across a new footbridge. A lot of the stiles have been replaced by gates. That makes life easier!  The path goes between hedges and brings us out close to Bisbrooke church.
Someone has put windfall apples in a basket with an invitation to "Help yourself", but we don't want to carry extra weight.
We cross the Glaston Road and take a track (labelled Inmans Road at the start). This track heads directly west into Uppingham. It comes out on another Glaston Road and takes us into the town centre, past the cricket ground. 
We have a luxurious warm indoor cup of coffee at the Coppergate cafe, before taking our own sandwiches outside to a sunny bench, sheltered from the wind.

Then it's the footpath beside the cemetery, up a short steep hill, with a great view of the town behind us.
After a flat section, we reach a wider track where we turn left then right to go downhill again. Here be sleeping pigs warming themselves in the sun, looking like heaps of rich black soil near the fence.
And here be goats, an almost invisible donkey - and another sleeping pig, we think! 
Of course what goes down comes up again - another short steep climb before we cross the school playing field, and then descend an agricultural field to the Uppingham to Lyddington Road.
We meet horses who come to say hello, but are not interested when they realise we are foodless.
 We take the footpath across the road which takes us into Lyddington the back way, past a couple of large ponds and fields with more horses.
This route can be muddy, but today the ground is still frozen.




Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Exton, Fort Henry, Greetham circular

Monday 27 November 2017. With Maureen and Marion. 7.3 miles. A dull day, but dry.
The walk covers some of the same ground as the walk on November 02 '17 and the walk on Nov 06 '17, but it is shorter.

We set off from The Green near the Fox and Hounds pub in Exton, and walked along Stamford Road, following it as it turns right, then crossing over and taking New Field Road when it goes off to the left. This road goes over a cattle grid and becomes a track, heading east. It bends slightly to the left and comes to a junction. We took the track which goes slightly to the left and it took us round the side of Lower Lake. We turned left round the lake and met the wide track from where you can see Fort Henry and its lake.

We followed the path (to Greetham)  with the lake on our left as far as the steps.This time we crossed the roadway and went down the steps on the other side. It's been two or three years since I've been here and it has changed a bit - the first thing we noticed was a well-constructed bird hide with feeders. 

A not very good video of the woodpecker! Visible if you can view it full screen size.

An ideal spot for coffee, but we were happily distracted by a great spotted woodpecker or two and lots of blue tits, great tits and coal tits. There are pictures of treecreepers and nuthatches, but we didn't see those.  

This is part of Greetham Valley Golf Resort, and according to an info sheet, they have erected 8 owl and 8 kestrel boxes. At least one barn owl chick was raised on site last year.
They have left certain areas in  more natural condition and turned some into meadow-flower to support pollinating insects.
 Checking out the accommodation.

The golf course greens staff have built the Bug Hotel and built woodpiles to attract insects and native snakes.
The view from the Lake Hide - a heron flew up just after we arrived.

There are two bird hides, one in the woods and one by the lake, for the use of the general public - the public footpath runs by these.
They plan more nesting boxes and feeding sites, and habitat for the resident kingfishers.

The path is easier to follow than I remember, and the resort now boasts a hotel and self-catering cabins, a restaurant and bar and the sign Walkers are welcome.

The path goes on to Greetham, passing some strange structures - Rutland Glamping, and a footpath there for residents only.


At Greetham we turn sharply left just ouside the village and head south. The path should go diagonally across the field, and along field edges to join the bridleway where we turned right, and then the Viking Way, where we turned left, and followed the footpath signs.   To arrive back in Exton, we took the footpath off to the left across two fields and down Old Dairy Yard into the village.


Primrose Hill and the Regent's Park

Thursday 23 November.

A gloriously sunny winter day.




View from Primrose Hill

Regent's Canal

Mowgli and Bagheera

Monet-style bridge

View from the cafe

Look closely - there's a heron up there.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gretton- Caldecott - Rockingham circular

With Norma and Maureen. Monday 20 November 2017.   9.5 miles. Around 350 feet of ascent/descent. Lunch at Lydia's coffee shop.

This morning we are three
a fine drizzle fades to nothing
at first our path goes past the church
through the damp grassy field
no cows or sheep today

across the railway line
look and listen
the next field's ploughed
the path just visible
sticky after last night's rain
downhill and on

to the road
we cross the Welland
and take the path
by the weir and fish ladder
over a stile and
past kingfisher fence
no bird here today . . .

ahead
we see a heron rise and glide 
stretch-legged and slow-winged 
low over the next field
to a new fishing spot

above
a red kite navigates
seeking carrion

we walk the wide valley floor
note where during the War 
a Lancaster Avro
clipped an ancient oak
then crashed 20 miles further on
near Northampton


Caldecott . . .
another road 
duck eggs for sale

and now a stretch of minor road
about a mile
before the turn to a plantation
and footbridges over the river course
as it chooses its route

the wind still chills
so we seek shelter
among the sycamores
whose yellow leaves carpet the ground

I choose a tree to be my back rest
coffee and scones
my walking esentials

then on to cross another road, 
head up into Rockingham



whose tea-shop doesn't do Mondays

we climb the steep roadside pavement
pass flowerpot men,
 a Bill and a Ben
- all together now  . . .

Turn at the forge 
past the cars and
down the meadow,
views over the valley to our left
Caldecott, Seaton, Lyddington churches
clustered houses, lines of trees

before the railway bridge we turn
it seems the farmer has blocked
the unofficial path - 
the one that cuts out West Hill
we take the longer flatter way.
 
When we arrive in Gretton
the cafe is filled to the brim
there's a funeral ahead.

We enter, muddy boots in hand
(not on our feet)
ah, there's a table free.

The volunteer servers are under pressure
but food is good, though coffee
could be stronger!

The funeral guests depart
and we expand into the space available.

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!