Belvoir Witches Challenge Walk, Sat. 21st August 2010
Bottesford was the first stop on our ringing trip this year. We had done a little research about the locality and when this threw up the Witches Walk it seemed like a good way of getting to know the area in more detail.
The walk is one the many devised by John Merrill and a guide book was duly ordered from him. The only disappointment in the route was the omission of a visit to Bottesford beacon, but that would be easily remedied by a slight adjustment to the route!
A party of eight travelled down to Bottesford to start at 8-45.
A stroll past the church - the highest spire in Leicestershire- over the level crossing and up the bridle way some brought us to the beacon and the first trig point. The beacon is not very high, only 200 feet, but with good views of the Belvoir valley and the village.
The chosen route now took a direct line across a corn field to intercept another bridle way. This was a sticky traverse! Soon we were clear of the mud and on what we thought was the Viking Way. In fact we had turned south a little too soon, but that brought us to the pleasant village of Muston where we found a café. It was too good an opportunity to miss.
They even had lemon drizzle cake.
Eventually we got on our way again and very quickly joined the Grantham Canal - now on the official route. Very pleasant easy walking by the disused canal and broken locks. At Woolsthorpe locks the canal becomes navigable again. It has been restored by the canal association. This section is quite popular and was about the only time we actually met someone else.
The official route follows the canal to Harlaxton Bridge, but we cut this short to make up for the added section on the beacon. We left the canal on the Viking Way and headed south direct to Brewers Grave and a field path into Woolsthorpe by Belvoir. Here we stopped for a sandwich or two on a picnic table in the cricket field with good views of the castle on the hill in front. It was here we had the first of many short rain showers.
This section now follows the Jubilee way across the river Devon through a field into Belvoir village. All this is part of the Belvoir estate. There was some event taking place - possibly a wedding - so one of the staff operated the gates to allow us to get out onto the road. A notice informed us that there was to be a firework competition that evening, but we wouldn’t be around to watch.
We were heading now for the main car park for visitors to the castle and had hoped we would be able to use their facilities and get William the ice cream he had been wanting for some time! We were disappointed. The car park was closed. The castle is only open from Sunday to Thursday so William had to wait a little longer.
The route follows a minor road for about a mile until heading west along the Terrace Hills. All this section from the canal is in very pleasant rolling countryside along the edge of the Belvoir valley. We passed an orchard of what looked like elderberries with blackberries growing around them, I suppose this could be part of the Belvoir estate which is well know for production of fruit drinks.
Time now to leave the ‘hills’ and head back to the canal. Turning north and heading into the valley along the straight road leading to Barkestone-in-Vale. Still no where to buy ice cream. The church yard was a handy place to stop for a little more to eat and for John to inspect the blisters on his feet.
We rejoined the canal just after the church and had a good walk along the tow path, the only incident being a less than friendly wasp which took a fancy to Alex’s leg. Then, past Redmile and onto the road bridge and road leading back into Bottesford.
We had completed 18 miles at an average speed of 3 mph. That’s six hours of walking out of a total time of 7 hrs 35 mins. We had completed our walk in front of schedule. That was good enough to deserve a drink in the Red Lion - the same pub that supplied our coffee during our ringing trip. And we were able to get an ice cream for William.