Monday, January 15, 2007

Grace Dieu Priory

  • Walked: 14th Jan 2007.
  • Distance: 8.5m
  • Walking time 5 hrs
  • Terrain: flattish, muddy!
  • Summary: From Swannington (north of Coalville), walk the 'inclined plane' dismantled railway, Osgathorpe, Belton and back via cycle path.
  • map: Explorer 245

This is what remains of a 'rope-hauled inclined plane' railway, built by Robert Stephenson. This little bit of track has been left, with a few information boards standing around it.

You can walk along the path of the dismantled railway, down the 1 in 17 incline, and then pick up the Ivanhoe Way. We decided that this was an old pumping station:

There are a number of tumbledown houses along this path, which give the feeling that you've gone to sleep like Rip Van Winkle and woken up in some post-apocolyptic world.

Osgathorpe is a great name, and sounds like the name of a bold Viking. This is Osgathorpe church, which is absolutely delightful. (I'm sure Dive can fill in some architectural details). I particularly liked the traditional weathercock on top of the tower.

We'd had a lot of rain this week. I didn't realise just how much rain until we found ourselves almost knee-deep in mud, the paths between Osgathorpe and Belton were the worst.

We had planned to take footpaths out of Belton, but after experiencing the seriously boggy conditions, we decided that the cycle route would be a better idea. This shot shows just how wet some of the fields were.

After crossing the A512, the Grace Dieu Priory comes into view:

The cycle path follows another old railway line, although the tarmac path goes alongside the old railway. We found our way up to the dismantled line itself which was far more pretty.

We eventually meet the inclined plane once more, and follow it back to the car. This time it's uphill, of course, and I have to admit that 1 in 17 is steeper than it sounds!


The route and distance statistics above were generated using Meander.

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.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Start as you mean to go on (Leicestershire 3 Peaks second offensive) (updated)

  • Walked: 1st Jan 2007. Previously 19th November 2006
  • Distance: 12m
  • Walking time 5.5 hrs
  • Terrain: The clue's in the title
  • Summary: From the A511 between Coalville and Leicester, walk to Bardon Hill, then Beacon Hill, before returning via Billa Barra.
  • map: Explorer 245
  • Note to self: Write to Leics council about the footpath at SK471131. Create a 4-Peaks walk

Start as you mean to go on. Yes, it's true, we were up at the crack of dawn on New Year's day. The last time we tried this walk, we didn't quite make the last peak due to bad light stopping play. [Edit - though I now have a decent torch and am planning a moonlight walk sometime]. That's the reason I was jumping out of bed on New Year's Day before it was light. We were walking by 8.30 and arrived back at the car at 2pm.

There's a really useful lay-by at SK458120, on the A511 between Bardon and the M1. You have to walk back towards Bardon for a couple of hundred metres to find the footpath.

This time I've made a point of taking pictures of the peaks themselves. This is another view from the top of Bardon hill, just by the trig point, looking towards (and into) the adjacent quarry:

Last time we were baffled by the fact that a new and a slightly older OS map shows the public right of way at SK471131 taking slightly different routes. Today we took the route shown on the up-to-date OS map, which is a straight line (see the map below - just by the 'F' of Forest). We had to conclude that this is simply wrong. The path wasn't marked at all (Leicestershire are usually brilliant at maintaining stiles, arrow discs and yellow posts), it wasn't easily passable and having reached the road, we had to climb over barbed wire to get onto the road, and looked back at a sign saying 'no public access'. Hmmm. The alternative, marked on the older OS map and following the powerlines, is clearly marked with stiles and good fingerposts.

[Edit - I've now had a reply from Leicestershire County Council: "You should follow the waymarked route for the time being. This is a temporary diversion for mineral planning reasons. The order is due to end in November 2008, unless an extension is sought. The route will then return to the track past Kellams Farm." I'm still confused about why the 'diversion' (following the powerlines) is shown on the older map but not the newer one, and I also feel that the temporary path should be more clearly marked at the farmhouse end, with a brief explanation.]

This is the trig point at the top of Beacon Hill. As mentioned before, there's a car park quite close to the top. I can't help feeling a little miffed that having earned the fantastic view by making the long walk up, you're sharing the same view with young families and dog walkers who've walked about a hundred yards to get there:

Just over the top, we think this is the Beacon that the hill is named after:

Having made it to Billa Barra this time, we find this sculpture by David Nash. It rings of stonehenge etc, as it has a thin slit which means that its shadow has a thin line of light in the middle at "true noon" each day.

[Edit - There are six of these Noon Columns in the National Forest. David Nash says "It is a wonderful fact of nature and geometry that the sum is always due south at Noon, each day higher approaching Summer, each day lower approaching Winter." Sophie Churchill of the National Forest Company says "These columns speak to us of the changelessness of the sun and the amazing properties of old wood. They also speak to me of how humans have worked the landscape". Additional funding for the columns came from the Arts Council England and private sponsor Viv Astling. Hurray for everyone concerned.]

There's no trig point at the top of Billa Barra, but this is the 'crown' of trees that identifies this hill. The view is quite excellent. A great spot to eat left-over Christmas cake and drink remaining coffee. This is just a short walk via a beautiful path back to the car.

I notice having tried this '3 Peaks' walk for the second time, that the map shows another peak fairly close by at Markfield, which is also marked as a 360-degree viewpoint. When we have longer days [or a torch with me], I think I'll try a '4-peaks' walk!


The route and distance statistics above were generated using Meander.

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.