Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dimminsdale Sloe Walk

  • Walked: 21 October 2007
  • Distance: 7.3m
  • Terrain: 90m ascent over 3 miles and the same descent
  • Summary: Park at the Severn Trent car park at the south end of Staunton Harold reservoir, through Dimminsdale, through South Wood, along Ashby by-pass, back to start along Ivanhoe Way
  • Time: 2-3 hours start to finish

This is another regular walk. I walked this route just a week or two ago, and spotted an abundance of ripe sloes on the Ivanhoe Way. This time I added Dimminsdale nature reserve, adding a couple of miles to the route.

Before setting off, I harvested the sloes that have grown on my own hedge. This photograph is simply to record the number of sloes that my 10ft long by 18" high hedge has grown in this, its third year (and the first year that it's produced berries). I planted a blackthorn (relative of the more well-known hawthorn) for two reasons - it's very spiky and child-unfriendly (like me), and because I like sloe gin. People have been sceptical that it would produce sloes, so I'm especially proud!

Dimminsdale nature reserve is at map reference SK 376219. (To find the car park I used today, Take the B587 north from the A42 Ashby junction. Follow the road for 2km past Staunton Harold Hall, take the first left towards Calke and park in the picnic area car park, which is on the left just before reaching the reservoir. The entrance to Dimminsdale is on the roadside about 50m before bridge over the reservoir.)

We set off at about 9:30 in a thick mist. This is the 'view' over the reservoir.

It was chilly, but as the sun started to burn through, things looked very pretty. There's still a light touch of frost on the ground. This picture was taken just after leaving the nature reserve and just before reaching the craft centre's long driveway. You'll see from the map that there are two options here. We walked towards the craft centre car park and picked up the footpath from there. Later, on the way back, we followed the signs for the Ivanhoe Way which take you via the road back to this point.

As noted once before, you can follow the public right of way easily because of Leicestershire's bright yellow wayposts and some clanky industrial-style gates. This walk leaves the Ivanhoe way where two rights of way cross, and goes through South Wood. After leaving the wood, the route passes Pisternhill Farm. We follow the contour of the land, keeping the farm buildings to our right. The route has been uphill so far - climbing 90m over a few miles.

Just past the farm, the ground levels out and gives some wonderful views. The solitary 'cloud' is actually vapour from Ratcliffe power station. Just to the left in this picture, you can see the silhouette of Breedon church.

We arrive at the Ashby Bypass. We're on the public right of way just north of the road itself. Unlike the pavement beside the road, which goes down into the cuttings, this footpath stays up above the road. The trees that have been planted here are getting taller, and when mature will help to screen off the road. As I've noted before, the traffic noise is a small price to pay for the wonderful views here.

The path peels away from the road, and just past a horse dressage ring, we can take a left and pick up the Ivanhoe Way. I love this part of the IW - it's all downhill now, and it seems particularly green.

This is where I had previously spotted the sloes, and I wasn't the only one who had, because we weren't alone picking some this morning. Putting them straight into the Kilner jars meant that we knew when we had exactly the right number!

As you can see from the map, we picked a different path back to Dimminsdale and also picked a different path through the reserve. The sun was beautiful by now, and everything was looking lovely in its autumn foliage.

This is the view over the reservoir just before getting back to the car park. Compare this picture with the earlier one taken from the same spot!

The route above was generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Packington and Normanton (once more)

  • Walked: 18 October 2007
  • Distance: 5.5m
  • Terrain: flattish
  • Summary: Park in packington, cross fields to Sprng Lane and continue straight along track. Take the muddy bridleway to Normanton le Heath, and take paths which run parallel to the road back to Packington.
  • Time: 2 hrs

Today was such a gorgeous day that it would have been a sin not to get some miles in. This route is becoming a regular one, it's a very easy walk; nice and flat and no difficult terrain.

Unfortunately I only managed to take this one picture before the camera batteries died. I've mentioned before how nice it is to spot deer, but it's not quite the same when they're fenced into an open area.

The route above was 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.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Derbyshire / Staffordshire Church Walk

  • Walked: 14th October 2007
  • Distance: 11.5m
  • Terrain: fairly flat - high points are just 20m higher than low spots
  • Summary: Coton-in-the-Elms, Edingale, Harlaston, Cliffton Campville, Lullington
  • Time: around 5 hours start to finish

Today was a real comedy of errors. I didn't manage to jump a ditch very successfully and my hand landed in stinging nettles, we got a bit lost and I ate a mushroom which wasn't as edible as it looked. (All it did was to briefly touch my tongue, which was then stinging and burning for half of this walk.)

There is a private track after a short stretch of road out of Coton, but it is marked 'here be dragons' in big letters (or something similar) so Raddle Farm Wood makes a pleasant National Forest walk towards Edingale. I commented a week ago about the beautiful colours to be seen at this time of the year. It's also good to see how tall some of the National Forest is becoming.

There's a little bit of road to Edingale, but it's quiet enough. I didn't realise until writing up this walk just how many churches are concentrated in this small area.

This boundary stone by the church marks the old boundary between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Today's boundary is about a mile from here.

Just through Edingale, this is the very attractive river Mease, which gives Measham its name. After crossing the river and a road, I have to confess that we found it difficult to follow the path and match up the ground with the map, and got a bit lost. When the path becomes a bit uncertain or has been diverted a bit, there is a danger of spotting a stile and assuming that it's the right way. Once you're heading in the wrong direction, then you quickly get a very long way away from where you think you are. Watching the compass more carefully would have prevented the problems today, I think.

This is Harlaston Church, a very interesting and beautiful church, decorated with corn for the harvest festival and a gorgeous spot for coffee.

I'm reliably informed that this is a listed building!

I enjoyd the walk between Harlaston and Clifton Campville. As with the rest of the walk today, there was a real mixture of standing crops, ploughed fields and freshly-planted fields. All surfaces were fine, the weather hasn't been too wet.

I'm amazed that there are so many ripe blackberries around. There seemed to be some ripe ones very early in the year and in places there are still some edible ones. These were delicious!

Not quite the last church, but Cliffton Campville is certainly the most visible. This tall spire is on a high spot, and so you see it as you leave Harlaston.

We'd got well behind schedule and we had to walk the last part (though woods) as it was getting dark. By the time we arrived back at the car, it was completely dark. It's a reminder that a torch in the rucksack is always a very wise precaution.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ashby by-pass

  • Walked: 6th October 2007
  • Distance: 5.6m
  • Terrain: 90m ascent over 3 miles and the same descent
  • Summary: Park at the Ferrers craft Centre, through South Wood, along Ashby by-pass, back to start along Ivanhoe Way
  • Time: around 2 hours start to finish

I didn't want to do anything too strenuous today, so this short walk fitted the bill. It's close to home with some nice views.

Someone's been busy replacing stiles with these horrible industrial-style gates. Are we still in the countryside? What next? Hand-rails up Tryfan? A railway up Snowdon? ... Oh.

This is the type of stile I like - they take a bit of effort to get over, they're often nice and rickety and pose a health and safety risk, and you have to take care not to get stung if your ankles are showing.

The highlight of the morning was seeing this chap (or chapess) casually walking away as I approached. (Click the picture to see him better).

There are some lovely long views on this walk. Unfortunately, they never photograph well (or I don't know how to photograph long views well). The view compensates for the climb - it's quite a long uphill.

I do find the autumn foliage a little bit depressing because it heralds a long dark, cold few months. There's no denying that the trees and hedges become more beautiful in their reds and golds.

This path goes alongside the Ashby by-pass. The down-side is the traffic, but the upside is that the path has some of the best views around. Again, the picture doesn't do the view justice. I could see the ancient and modern landmarks of Ratcliffe power station and Breedon church, but neither are really visible on the photo.

It's easy to pick up the Ivanhoe Way which takes us (downhill) back to the starting point. On the way I saw this wonderful display of sloes. Not nice to eat, but mmmmm... sloe gin....

The route above was generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.