- Walked: 16th March 2007.
- Distance: 14.1m
- Total time 5 hrs hrs
- Terrain: some shallow inclines
- Summary: Ashby to Moira, Snarestone, Normanton and Packington.
- map: Explorer 245
I felt smug walking part of the route I'd normally take to work, and on a normal work day too! The day wasn't particularly nice, though. Someone I bumped into on the way commented "nice day for it". I said that I didn't think it was, as it was threatening to rain. (This obsession with the weather is very English, but it's relevant when you're walking and miles from home, I reckon). He said that you have to "think positive". If I could control the weather with the power of thought, then I'd be a lot wealthier than I am.
This troubled me for the rest of the walk. If I had "thought positive" and it had rained (which it didn't), then I'd have felt worse than if I'd been expecting it. If I'd thought happy weather thoughts and the sun had come out, then there might be a danger that I'd have associated the two somehow. This is very dangerous ground, I reckon - religions start this way.
Anyhow. The really great news is that I spotted leaves coming out in the hedgerows today. It's been a little strange over the last week or two, with snowdrops and daffodils flowering away, but the hedges and trees still bare.
We start by walking through a part of the National Forest which affords some nice views back over Ashby de la Zouch and the surrounding area.
This is Ashby Canal and Moira Furnace - now a tourist attraction with a really great story. The furnace (the tapered bit with the arched 'windows') only ran for a couple of years before 'melting down'. After that, the imposing building was used to accommodate mine workers and as a worksop to cast iron. Note that it now has its own visitor centre with a coffee shop which sells ice cream!
After passing the furnace, we join the Ivanhoe Way, which is the reason for doing this particular walk today. Last year I had planned to walk the entire Ivanhoe Way in a single day (36m) but wasn't ready before the longest day, and lost heart. I'm going to try again this year, and have decided to walk parts of it while training because familiarity with the route is important for a challenge like this.
This part of the Ivanhoe Way follows national cycle route 63. I love walking cycle paths and canal towpaths because they're so easy to follow, flat and good underfoot.
The cycle route takes us to Measham. Even with map in hand I found it difficult to follow the Ivanhoe through Measham, so for the record, you emerge from the cycle path into a car park, cross the road and carry on into the side street by the convenience store. You could walk through the housing etsate as per the map, but I took a slightly nicer route through the park area and climbed the embankment to cross the old railway bridge. Once across the top of that bridge there are fingerposts and yellow waymarkers visible.
There's a short walk along a road to Snareston, which is a very pretty village, and then we cross fields to Swepstone.
In the distance is the church at Swepstone, looking majestic on top of its hill.
Leicestershire County Council, please take note - this situation isn't unusual, and it's really annoying! Which side of the hedge am I supposed to walk?? I can tell you from experience, that sods law says that you'll pick the wrong side, and then find yourself down a 'blind alley'. In this case, the sign seems to suggest (if anything) that you should go to the left (as we're looking at it). The map seems to suggest that it's the right, and for the record, the map's right this time.
This is the church at Swepston. It doesn't disappoint. There are several churches on this route, but this one is particularly nice.
We're now on something called the Parish Walk (Note to self - find out more). It's a very nice path indeed - good underfoot, easy to follow and some nice views.
Crossing the A42 takes us back to Ashby.
Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Map image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.