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. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Great Oakley, Newton, Little Oakley

Thursday 23 April

With Maureen. A fine sunny day after early cloud. In all about 8 miles.

We walked down to the Spread Eagle - around a mile before starting the walk proper as described in Mel Jarvis's "Around Corby" book. 

From the pub you walk through the tunnel under the road. When this reaches another road, turn right over Harper's Brook, and then left on the other side of the road. The path goes behind some houses and emerges onto a small road. Today the flowers were lovely in the first garden. We turned right along this lane and right at the end, taking a small path on the opposite side of the road we reached.  After around 100 yards we reached Woodlands Lane, and turned  left. We walked to the end of this, ignoring two footpath signs on the way.
After a turn to the right, there is a path through a metal gate, and over a bridge. There is a paved path going up to the top left corner of the field, leading to the road with the old station building, slightly to the left.

Old station building and the footpath we didn't take
At this point we walked along the road, turning left at the first road, then under the railway bridge and onto the bridge over the new Geddington bypass. After the road bridge we turned left and followed the footpath parallel to the new road until it turned right, along the old route. It crossed a stream and then went uphill with the hedge on our right. After the first field, the path headed diagonally to the left. At the highest point near an electricity pylon it crossed another path. We paused for a snack before taking the path continuing our line of travel. This was clear on the ground.  The path led us to the road between Newton and Geddington. Today we chose neither, but turned very sharply left along the nearby footpath leading back towards Little Oakley. The two paths form a V shape in the field.

We followed the instructions in Mel's book, across the first field, through the hedge, across the second field and through another hedge.  There is a hedge on the right. We walked alongside this through a short section of a field, then through another hedge. 
Up here we here the whistling call of the peewit (lapwing), and see a few flying around. We misread the instructions at this point and ended up in a corner near a pylon, with no way through. A short retracing of our steps to a track we should have taken to the left, slightly uphill brought us back to where we should be. We followed this until we could see Little Oakley ahead of us - see picture below.

The track joins a road into Little Oakley just before the stream. Just afterwards the path turns left into a field. Slightly awkward gate. Then it follows the stream before heading towards the new bypass once more. There's a slightly dodgy very small stream crossing.  This time we see the viaduct on the other side, and cross over using the underpass.

Looking back
We go under the viaduct and follow the path past a private road to Oakley Hall and into the parkland near the church area. We walk through and back out into Great Oakley, turning right and taking Levin Road back up to the  mini roundabout, and then left to the main Corby to Kettering road at the big roundabout.

Map and details

Wildlife noted - lapwings, and the first male orange tip butterflies I've noticed this year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Welland - Crowland to Cowbit

Tuesday 21 April 2015

With Marta. Along Welland then road, return via bridleway and minor roads. Sunny and quite warm! Alas, no pub in Cowbit. More like 10.5 miles, I think, according to the map and my internal mile counter.

Crowland greeted us with thatched animals - a(nother) cat . . .

a large bird - possibly a cormorant

and then not quite an animal but a cup and saucer on the roof of the Old Copper Kettle tea shop.  This tempted us to start the day with a coffee and toasted teacake in comfort. 

We took the car just out of the town so that we could start our walk along the Brown Fen Waterway trail along the right bank of the Welland.
Just before we joined the path was this notice giving information about the enormous floods caused when the snow melted after the severe winter of 1947.
Walking occupied most of my attention, as the path was quite uneven underfoot, and the wind was against us. A couple of miles of this proved quite demanding, though we saw great crested grebes, mallards, swans, not to mention a couple of deer which had trapped themselves on the wrong side of the fence near the river. One leapt over, and we can only hope the other joined it.  Just as we left the river bank we saw swallows flying around a small sluice gate. We followed a path to the right, crossed a drain via a footbridge and reached a small quiet road halfway between Cloot House Farm and Brotherhouse (Toll) Bar. 
At the junction with a busier road is St Guthlac's Cross, an old boundary marker for the estate of Crowland Abbey. We couldn't decipher the inscription, but according to Wikipedia it said "Hanc Petra Guthlac" - This is Guthlac's stone.  It dates from around 1200.  the plinth is modern, as the stone has been moved from its original position.

We took the road to the right, scorning the bridleways marked on the map, thinking they could be tricky walking. The road wasn't too bad - just a tad too busy to be pleasant.
It took us to a few houses with the  unlikely name of Peak Hill, before finally reaching Cowbit  - pronounced Cubbit, according to the village website.

Unfortunately for us the village pub was demolished some time ago, so we feasted on cereal bars and our flasks of coffee. It felt like the back of beyond, but is only four miles from Spalding, and is on the bus route from Spalding to Peterborough, via Crowland. Were we tempted? Not seriously, since the weather was so fine, and now we knew we were shortening the distance left with every step.
Cowbit Church - St Mary's.
For the return leg we took the bridleway parallel to the road, over Cowbit Wash, as far as Brotherhouse Bar, then we walked along the quiet road, with a few school run cars at this time. We caught sight of a small muntjac peering out from a field of rape.  The road turned left at a right angle at Cloot House, carried on past Little Lodge Farm, twisting to the right then the left and eventually brought us into Crowland, not far from the Abbey. 

A walk which seemed longer than it was took us through the town and out along the Gravel Causeway to the car. Further than we've walked for a while - probably a whisker over ten miles.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Murmuration week

A few of the photos Harry too of the murmurations of starlings at Barnsdale, Rutland Water during the week of March 19- 23. Every evening was different, all were fascinating to watch, one or two verging on the spectacular.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Eclipse of 20 March 2015

I have still not walked as much as usual, but we did see the solar eclipse under clear skies on Friday 20 March
The light dimmed noticeably, and it felt cooler for a few minutes. Not the drama of a total eclipse, but worth watching, through eclipse glasses, or projected on to card.
I shall scrounge a couple of photos. Photos by Harry!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rutland Water -a good standby

A distinct lack of action recently. Mea culpa - recovering from a broken wrist after falling while ice-skating  in Leeds, around three weeks ago.  Ouch.

This week the sunny weather tempted me out - walk from Normanton to the Manton wildlife centre and back and another from Sykes Lane to Barnsdale and back. A pair of great crested grebes looked as though they were about to perform the weed dance, but then fizzled.

The third walk was the five or so miles around the Hambleton peninsula - another glorious early spring day. It's more than good to get out there again, even with my right wrist in a cast. And, of course, I'm right handed. That makes photos tricky. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hardwick, Sywell, Mears Ashby circular

I decided on this walk, as we hadn't done it since 2013, when Barry led it for us. It's at least 8 miles, but felt longer because of sticky, muddy, recently planted fields. OK, maybe nearly 9 including occasional rerouting around fields. Beautiful weather, and very little wind today.

We set off from Hardwick church
Take the road opposite the church, and when it bends to the right, take the footpath going off to the left. This heads away from the track and alongside the hedge. In the next field, keep walking in the same direction until you reach a footbridge over a stream. We walked uphill with the hedge on our right, and when we reached the next field boundary turned left, keeping the hedge on our left.
 When we reached the end of the hedge our true path was directly across the recently ploughed field, to a marker near a small ruined brick building . Horses and people had gone before us around the field edge, so we decided to follow - the going was not easy, but easier.

We've already diverted round the edge of a large field to avoid mud! Onward toward Hardwick Lodge.
 We met the path at the point in the photo above, marked by some rusting machinery. We followed the route over the field and round a small copse with a pool, and came out at the road and a junction of paths near Hardwick Lodge, which sells eggs, and is well protected by dogs, who barked until we clearly showed that our intentions were honourable. The footpath has been routed round the edge of the properties. 
Now the path goes towards Hardwick Wood, turns left and makes for the corner of Hardwick Short Wood. We follow the edge of the wood, as it becomes Sywell Wood and then continues behind Wood Lodge Farm to meet the road into Sywell.
A left turn and a short section of road walking with no verge takes us past the Aviation Museum and some industrial buildings. Just before Sywell Hall our footpath turns off on the left - the sign was obscured from our direction, so involved a few yards of retraced steps.
The path soon comes out on a small road. Turn left here and before long left again to pick up the footpath to Mears Ashby. It goes uphill to a bench, before heading diagonally and downhill over a field towards Sywell Bottom. It may be possible to go further to the right and pick the path up. We went through the trees - see picture below!
Time to practise our limbo dancing? Near Sywell Bottom.
 Next we turned right for a short distance, then left to climb gently towards the village of Mears Ashby. Here we followed the road past the school, and through to Highfield Road.
Mears Ashby dog - the quietest one we met today.
 The path goes to the left from Highfield Road, just where the road bends to the right. The next big fields were pretty sticky - we ended up with extra boots, made of mud. Heavy workouts for the legs. Even after crossing the Sywell to Hardwick road, the going was - soft?  At one point we wandered slightly from the official footpath, by following the hedge. Luckily the magic machine showed us what we needed to do, and we were soon back on track and heading back to Hardwick. 
Very large snowdrops - or a vey small tractor? I think the leaves are a giveaway.

Another crocodilian

Still smiling after all I've led them through today!
Map and details

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gretton to Rockingham and back

We followed the Jurassic Way from Gretton all the way to Rockingham. An easy six-mile walk on frosty fields, we thought. We must remember it is not so easy when the ground is wet, a couple of fields are sticky with mud, and one of the gates is surrounded by a foul-smelling pond. To be fair the path has been clearly made good by the farmer.
We found some snow on the path across to West Hill - one of my favourite vantage points near Gretton.
West Hill itself was pleasant to walk down, firm underfoot. But at the bottom, through the gate near the railway we had a taste of mud to come. For the most part the walk across was good, apart from the gate mentioned above, but we negotiated it without too much trouble. We were very warm, and there was little wind. We soon reached the beginnings of Rockingham, and could see traffic crawling up Rockingham Hill.
When we reached the road we turned right, and walked down to the teashop. 
The return journey was not so pleasant, as sleety rain was falling. The gate with its attendant water proved trickier this time, and in the muddy fields our boots grew heavy.
The way was clear but the ground was sticky
Such elegance!
We chose the low level route back into Gretton, rather than climbing up the steep side of West Hill. In spite of the unexpected obstacles, we enjoyed our walk. However, in future we'll choose snow, frost or dry weather for this walk.