The Walking Group
Tuesday 7th December 2021. Christmas Walk led by Kevin
Our last walk of the year started a little differently with 24 of us gathering for pre-walk bacon baps and muffins at Kevin & Chris's house. Fortunately the weather stayed dry as we gathered outside for eating (if a little chilly!) and remained dry after we de-camped to Packington CP to start the walk. Unfortunately during our walk the wind picked up and the rain started! It was decided to offer a shorter walk for those who wanted to. However as the near-freezing rain and wind increased, we all opted for the short walk and got back to the pub for midday. Despite getting to the pub at opening time and an hour earlier than expected, they managed to feed and water us with no problems. The walk was measured at a rather short 3.2 miles
Tuesday 16th November 2021. Saddlington led by Bill Wilson
13 members met at the Queen's Head, Saddington. Lunch was preordered, the weather was grey and misty but dry. The walk took us round Fleckney through Kibworth and over Smeeton Hill which on a clear day affords lovely views. The path then took us past Saddington reservoir opened in 1797 to supply water to the Grand Union canal. Another mile took us back to the pub for lunch and a pint. 7 miles mainly over fields with mainly gates and a just few stiles.
Tuesday 2nd November 2021. Overseal led by Mike G
With a dry sunny day in prospect, an exceptional 19 enthusiasts turned up at the Robin Hood Inn, Overseal, to undertake the 7+ mile (precise measurements differed!) "Overseal’s Emerald Necklace" heritage walk, with a 20th joining us at the half-way stage. The route took us through Gunby Lea Wood, skirted the Grangewood Airfield, along Green Lane, through Wadlands Wood, and on to the site of Wadlands Wharf, the original northern terminus of the Ashby Canal. From here, we broadly followed the Hooghborough Brook, which marks the Derbyshire/ Leicestershire boundary, via Gorsey Leys and Short Heath, then past a 5GW solar park and Seal Wood, picking up the ancient Church Way towards Netherseal before heading back to Overseal via Dead Danes Bottom. At various points, walk leader Mike Gibson waffled about nearby heritage features, noting the contrasting effects of mining subsidence: the “overnight” disappearance of Barratt Pool in the 1950s, and the equally sudden appearance of Broomfields Lake in the 1980s. Back at the very hospitable Robin Hood, which had opened specially for us, we enjoyed a well-deserved drink with our packed lunches, plus some chips (supplied by the pub).
Tuesday 19th October 2021. Thornton led by Trev and Val
As the weather forecast was for heavy rain at 10am, it was a pleasant surprise to find we had an unusually warm and humid morning,
12 hardy members left the Bricklayers Arms in Thornton to circumnavigate the reservoir, before heading off into the countryside and an encounter with a freight train when crossing the railway line.
A drink stop was taken at the fishing ponds on Bagworth Heath before heading off into Royal Tigers Wood and on to Bagworth church ruins, continuing downhill passing under the railway line and back up to Thornton. After 6.5 miles we were back and we all enjoyed a drink and a meal at the pub.
Tuesday 5th October 2021. Bradgate Inn, Cropston and Bradgate park, led by Kevin and Chris
Twelve of us gathered on a rather grey, wet morning with a rather worse forecast. We managed the photograph during a brief blue sky interlude and set off walking across the dam of the Cropston Reservoir. After crossing the only stile of the walk we soon joined part of the National Forest Way footpath into Swithland Wood and onward passing some nice houses into Woodhouse Eaves. The next stage took us onto the Leicestershire Round footpath into Bradgate Park, past Old John Tower and back to our lunch with views over Cropston Reservoir. Despite the forecast we returned damp but not too wet.
Tuesday 21st September 2021. Boot Inn, Repton circular via Newton Solney and River Trent, led by Bill Wilson
After a little difficulty for some to find a parking spot in Repton, we pre-ordered our lunches at the Boot and set off along the back alleys and footpaths of Repton before coming across a farm full of different animals. Sheep, pigs, cows, ducks and geese are common but one large white bird appeared to be a Rhea. All the creatures were intermingled in several pens and fields. From there we walked over the hill to Dale Farm, through Newton Solney and down to the Trent where the River Dove joins it. A pleasant walk along the river bank brought us back to Repton School and the Boot Inn. Lovely food and drink rounded off the morning.
Tuesday 7th September 2021. Heather to Ibstock and Ellistown led by Trev and Val
On a clear,bright and sunny morning, 18 members set off from the Queens Head, Heather, for an 8 mile section of the 'Birthday Walk'. Initially, going out on paths and tracks, arriving near Ibstock Church. Then by lane and woodland via Ibstock Grange and on towards Ellistown. Because of the unexpected hot weather,regular stops were taken for drinks, on one of these we encountered some very inquisitive horses. Leaving Ellistown we proceeded to Donnington le Heath passing through Kelham Nature Reserve,then back to Heather via Sence Park. Back at the Queens Head we were all in need of some liquid refreshment followed by some excellent food
Tuesday 17th August 2021. Swannington
15 members of the walking group met on Tuesday 17th August at the Robin Hood pub in Swannington. We set off down the Main St and up Church Lane before crossing a field and joining the Swannington incline and walking up to the top. The incline dates back to the 1830's and was used to haul coal wagons up the steep slope. A stationary steam engine constructed by George Stephenson was built at the top of the incline to operate the winding gear which pulled the wagons up the hill. The walk then took us to the Whitwick fishing lake and along the track bed of the former railway linking Coalville and Loughborough. We followed the Ivanhoe Way towards Thringstone and then back along Hospital Lane and to Hough Mill. Returning to Swannington we had a well earned lunch at the Robin Hood.
Tuesday 20th July 2021. From Hanbury around Fauld Crater.
On a very warm day 17 brave walkers gathered at 10 am outside the Cock Inn at Hanbury. Our common purpose was to circumnavigate the very infamous Fauld Crater without losing anybody to heatstroke. Our route took us through well nurtured farmland mainly put over to dairy herds and sheep. The course at times was hard going and unfortunately offered very little shade but we persevered taking plenty of water breaks to sustain us. By shortening the route by approximately half a mile we were able to make it back to the pub before two. Although the service was a little slow we all enjoyed some liquid refreshment and some interesting fare.
Tuesday 6th July 2021. Melbourne to Swarkestone and return.
Notwithstanding the inclement weather, 14 walkers started the walk from Melbourne. We headed off to King's Newton and walked via the Cloud Trail (disused railway line), the Trent and Mersey Canal and fields to Swarkestone. We saw the Swarkestone Pavilion now owned by the Landmark Trust, and having crossed Swarkestone Bridge we were able to view the Bridge from the adjacent fields side-on" and view its length. We continued and returned to Melbourne. No one was too wet at the end of the walk."
Tuesday 15th June 2021. Barton Marina and Needwood Forest
8 Walkers turned up for this walk in very warm and sunny conditions, all male members rather unfortunately.
The walk started from Barton Marina, which was opened in 2001. We headed off through the village of Barton-under-Needwood, the largest in Staffordshire, passing St. James Church, founded by Dr John Taylor, a local villager and chaplain to Henry VIII.
The walk progressed through the Needwood Forest (-under-Needwood being added to Barton in 1327 by Royal Charter).
Walking through lovely undulating countryside, we enjoyed views of Dunstall Church before arriving at the delightful village of Tatenhill. Here we had a liquid refreshment break, before setting off on a grassy, tree lined, path to join the National Forest Way.
The path then followed sand extraction works and a created lake, eventually leading to the Trent & Mersey Canal, along which we walked until reaching Bridge 36, leading back to Barton Marina, a total distance of 7.8 miles.
This walk is known as the Silver Circuit and was created in 2016 to commemorate 25 years of the first planting of the National Forest.
Tuesday 1st June 2021. Willesley Woods and Hicks Lodge
Eighteen of us gathered at Oakthorpe Colliery Picnic Site car park for the start for our second walk of 2021. The sun shone as we set off out of the rear of the car park towards Willesley Woods. After visiting the Royal British Legion memorial grove, we completed a circuit around Thortit Lake and emerged onto a lane. We continued along a footpath to Willesley church and scout camp site where we stopped for our drink break, sheltering from the heat of the sun! After crossing the golf course we followed a path and crossed the road into Hicks Lodge. Here we shared the uphill route with cycles on the Wood Farm and the Family Forest trails. On arrival at the cafe/cycle centre we had a brief comfort break before continuing along the cycle trail skirting the lake. The final part of our walk took us back to the entrance to the car park where eleven of us had lunch on picnic tables in the shade of the trees of Willesley wood.
Monday 21st May 2018. Ticknall
Sixteen of us gathered at Ticknall village hall car park for the start for our first walk of 2021 and since relaxation of Covid regulations. The sun shone as we set off out of the rear of the car park towards Hangmans stone and Foremark. Stopping for banana and coffee break at a lovely spot overlooking reservoir we were joined by Jackie McKay. After walking along the edge of the reservoir we climbed up a short hill to be greeted by a grassy bank and a few benches where we stopped for lunch. The final part of our walk took us past Scaddows Farm and on to the Lime kiln trail back to Ticknall. A few of us then paid a visit to the Staff of Life on the way home.
Thursday 17th September 2020. Bosworth Batlefield Centre
Eleven of us gathered on a lovely sunny day at the Bosworth Battleground car park for the first walk since March 17th. Despite the new rule of 6 as long as we adhere to the Ramblers Guidelines we are allowed to walk in groups of more than 6. After a brief Health and SafetyCovid 19 talk we set off following the application of hand sanitiser. We completed the social distanced photograph before heading down hill to cross the line at Shenton battlefield railway station and then to pass though Shenton village. Several fields later we arrived briefly at Ashby de la Zouch canal tow path before heading up into Dadlington for lunch in glorious sunshine on the village green. After being suitable refreshed we left Dadlington along a quiet lane to re-join the canal for a short period passing several lovely decorated narrow boats. Next stop was for ice creams at Sutton Cheney canal wharf before final half mile back to car park.
Tuesday 21st April 2020. Not Stathern and the Vale of Belvoir
We didn't get to do our group walk again, and this time we didn't get to walk around the Vale of Belvoir. However Steve and I pre-walked the route in early March just before lockdown so this is what we didn't get to do. We didn't start from the Plough Inn and walk through the village and around the churchyard to pick up the footpath towards Harby. We didn't have to cross the abandoned railway nor walk up the Green Lane into Harby. We wouldn't have missed a turn and walked up someone driveway before finding the backlane though the village. We wouldn't have noticed that the fields were getting softer underfoot as we walked down to the canal and along the towpath. At Stathern Bridge we wouldn't have crossed back over the canal and walked half a mile up the road before realizing we had gone the wrong way! At the next bridge we wouldn't have entered a wood along a muddy, slippery track nor slithered through a farm paddock full of sheep. From Plungar we hopefully wouldn't have found 3 or 4 fields that resembled the Somme where the mud was ankle deep for the next two or three miles and we wouldn't have had to divert onto a busy road instead. We wouldn't have returned to Stathern at 2.15 to find the pub about to close as it would now be closed anyway. We wouldn't have walked 7.5 miles. Today was a lovely day and the views would have been lovely too. Hopefully it wouldn't have been as muddy as early March. Maybe we will have a chance to enjoy it properly before too long.
Tuesday 7th April 2020. Carsington Reservoir Non-walk
Today is the first day we have missed a walk since we started the walking group nearly 10 years ago.
The plan was to walk around Carsington Reservoir in Derbyshire.
We didn't walk from Sheepwash carpark thru Carsington and Hopton, along the lane, before crossing the Ashbourne to Wirksworth road to join the track around the east side of the reservoir. We didn't have a coffee break. Eventually we didn't come to the dam. We didn't walk over it to the Visitor Centre which was closed, before notwalking up the west side of the reservoir back to the cars. It was a beautiful spring day, and we didn't walk nearly 8miles. Here are some pics of the reservior, which weren't taken today, to show what we missed!
Tuesday 17th March 2020. Hartshorne and Repton shrubs and Repton Common
There were 21 walkers today. We walked about 7miles on this spring morning. Sadly we could not lunch togethor because the Bulls Head was closed due to the restrictions imposed by the Government in response to the Corona Virus Crisis. Since then restrictions have been tightened which prevents us driving anywhere to start a walk or to walk in groups. So until restrictions are lifted there will be no more walks.
Tuesday 3rd March 2020. Dadlington, Leics
A dry but cool winter's morning saw 17 of us assemble at the Dog and Hedgehog, Dadlington. We walked down the lane a bit before heading off over the muddy fields, crossing the Ashby Canal, through the Bosworth Battlefield Centre and eventually stopping for coffee whilst using the seats at Shenton Railway station. We contiued through Shenton village before heading off over fields again back to Dadlington. We then had a lovely lunch in the Dog and Hedgehog pub. Walk distance was about 7miles.
Monday 17th February 2020. Hoby and Frisby on the Wreake
Despite the very wet weather of the previous few days nine good friends, Ashby U3A members, set off from the Bluebell Inn, Hoby at 10 o'clock sharp. The party headed south following the course of the Midshires Way in a cool breeze with some weak sunshine. On reaching Gaddesby we briefly travelled east and then north on the Leicestershire Round. Unsurprisingly the going was always muddy and occasionally very slippery accounting for the walk leader sliding gracefully into some mud twice. No harm done just damaged pride! The evidence of earlier flooding around Frisby on the Wreake was very clear but we were still able to make our path travelling west back to Hoby. The approximately 8 mile walk was achieved in relatively good weather and excellent time so we could enjoy the fare and company at The Bluebell Inn.
Tuesday 4th February 2020. Conkers
Seventeen walkers set off from the Lakeside Lodge, Shortheath, near Moira, for walk through the National Forest, on a cool, breezy and overcast day. We walked a footpath leading to Spring Cottage and then onto a track around a flooded clay pit known as Albert Village lake. From here we crossed the road and followed a gravel track to Conkers Discovery Centre where we stopped for a drink and snacks. This is also a former industrial site now planted with thousands of trees as part of the National Forest. Then under a railway bridge and into Conkers Waterside, around Sarahs Wood and onto a bridge over the Ashby Canal, a section not connected to the main canal network. Following the canal towpath we came to Moira Furnace, and viewed the well preserved Blast Furnace dating back to the early 19 century, and several lime kilns of similar age. Leaving the canal we crossed to the main trail, a disused railway track now used for the Conkers Parkrun and down steps onto a minor road. After covering a distance of 8 miles we were ready for lunch and a drink back at the Lakeside Lodge
Tuesday 21st January 2020. Swadlincote and Bretby Park
17 walkers met at the Railway Inn, Swadlincote. After pre/ordering lunch we set off onto a footpath by the grade 2 listed flour mill, after a short detour (we took a wrong turn) we continued through Sandholes parkland to the A511, which we crossed. It was then through the fields towards Hartshorne to the Reston Burn (brook) where we viewed the remains of Hudsons mill, a corn mill last worked in 1916 but closed due to lack of workers. We then passed through Hoofis farm to the edge of Hoofis wood. After a coffee stop with lovely sunshine (Judith please note) we continued up the bray / hill then on between the lakes of Bretby Hall. We passed the Hall walking along the drive back to the A511 which we again crossed and walked through footpaths and roads back to Ureka Park. We walked through the park to the Railway Inn for a nice lunch and refreshments. We walked about 6miles.
Tuesday 7th January 2020. Around Derby
This weeks walk was inspired by the desire to avoid mud, which has been a feature of the last 4 or 5 walks. It was an urban walk in Derby. We set off northwards, from our meeting place at Alvaston Park, and followed the River Derwent on paths and roads along or near to the river bank. We passed around Pride Park and after a mile or so crossed by footbridge to the east side of the river for a little way before crossing back at Exeter Bridge. Sadly the river bank path between Exeter Bridge passing the Silk Mill, the worlds oldest factory, is not currently in use because of the building work creating new flood defences, so a diversion via Full St was necessary. We did pause for a while at the Silk Mill, while our leader, Judith, called in the Old Silk Mill pub to order our lunches. From here we continued to, and crossed Handyside Bridge, built for the Northern Railway, to Chester Green and walked again on the east side of the river through Darley Fields to Darley Mills where we crossed back over the river. This was the furthest point of our walk so we now headed south through Darley Park and back to the pub for beer for some, and lunch. After lunch we walked into the City, down Iron Gate to the Market Place, we passed the Council House and into the River Gardens and back to the River Bank and the walk back to Alvaston Park. Although we did not have mud we did have rain. There were 18 of us and we walked nearly 7 miles.
Thursday 1st January 1970.
Tuesday 17th December 2019. Ashby to Swannington
This was the last walk of 2019, the 23rd of the year. We set off on a linear walk from Featherbed Lane in Ashby on a cold, dull, slightly misty but dry morning, We crossed the A42 at Flagstaff Island and joined the bridleway through Rough Park, down to Lount Nature Reserve where we paused for coffee etc. We continued crossing the main road at Gelsmoor into Coleorton and turning right through the Christmas tree farm to Aqueduct Road, through the Woolrooms onto Stoney Lane and then up Bakewells Lane, all the while avoiding potentially flooded and water logged paths. Off Bakewells we took a shortcut path up to the A511, a mistake as this one was overgrown! A short walk along the main road then before turning up Mill Lane to Hough Mill, with its new sails. It was then down the hill over Swannington Common into Swannington village and the Robin Hood to meet 4 non-walking members for a lovely lunch. There were 11 walkers and we walked about 6 miles in 3 hours. Some of the group were able to scrounge lifts back to Ashby in the cars of the non-walkers, others used their bus passes on the 29 bus.
Tuesday 3rd December 2019. Newtown Linford, Woodhouse Eaves and Bradgate Park
Ten smiling even happy ramblers set off from the Bradgate pub, in Newtown Linford at approximate 10:00, all of us enjoying the clear skies and bright sunshine which stayed with us all of the way. The going was fair to good with plenty of sticky mud in parts, but considering the weather of recently weeks we could have expected much worse. Our clockwise route took us north from Newtown Linford through open countryside with good clear views of Old John and the surrounding countryside. At Woodhouse Eaves we headed south through the splendid Swithland Woods that looked truly magnificent with a low winter sun and blue skies. We then walked through Bradgate Park, passing the information centre back to Newtown Linford. Our efforts were rewarded at the Bradgate with splendid fare and even better ale! Walk distance 8 miles.
Tuesday 19th November 2019. Around Heather
A cool winters day but with no rain but lots of mud. The walk started from Heather, down Pisca Lane turning south past the sewage works and then west passing Heather Hall. Then it was past Cattows Farm before going through Sence Valley Forrest Park back to Heather for a very good, inexpensive lunch at the Queens Head. Walk distance was about 6miles with 17 walkers.
Tuesday 5th November 2019. Mapperley and Shipley Park, Derbyshire
Thirteen walkers gathered in the car park of the Old Black Horse pub on a cool and cloudy morning. Prior to setting off we heard how Shipley Country Park was created from land subject to 250 years of intensive coal mining. The Park now has over a million trees, covers about 700 acres and, best of all, 3 cafes and a Visitor Centre! We walked north alongside Mapperley Reservoir then turned south through woods and across a very water-logged field and two wooden bridges. Passing the first of the cafes we walked uphill through more woodland with a view of Shipley Lake on our right with the site of the former theme park, American Adventure on the far side. Now on a tarmac path we passed Nottingham Lodge and the second cafe at the top of the hill. The various carvings of animals and posters near the path showed the Parks association with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. At the highest point of the walk we had our coffee stop at the Visitor Centre where there was a canopy that provided shelter from a brief rain shower. Following the shore of another lake we saw several Mallards, Canada Geese and a beautiful solitary Mandarin Duck. Walking downhill mostly on good paths we arrived back at the pub earlier than usual and even enjoyed some sunshine in the final mile. The distance was 6.2 miles and the pace 2.7 mph, one of the fastest U3A walks I have recorded, possibly due to the good paths and the absence of stiles. We then lunched at the Old Black Horse pub.
Tuesday 15th October 2019. Ashford in the Water, Derbys
Following a very wet Early October we picked on a dry day for this mornings walk. Eleven of us met at the Ashford Arms at Ashford in the Water near Bakewell. Instead of the usual group picture outside the pub we gathered at what is known as the sheep dip bridge. After leaving the village we climbed a short hill before turning onto a well sign-posted path to Monsal Head where we stopped for banana and coffee, admiring the view of the river, the valley and the viaduct. The second part of the journey took us down a steep path to the viaduct and entrance to the old railway tunnel and Monsal Trail before a further and muddy climb down to the river Wye below. We now followed a path along the river before crossing a small fast running stream climbing out of the valley and across the A6 and a return for lunch.
Tuesday 1st October 2019. Ticknall and Calke Park
Following a very wet night and morning deluge ten brave walkers met in the dry at the Staff of Life Ticknall. Despite the dryish interlude we all came prepared in full weather gear including umbrellas. Due to the forecast and very wet conditions we abandoned our planned walk and kept to the lime kilns track. We set off in the dry though the Lime Kilns and tunnel under the main drive of Calke Abbey. We arrived for our coffee and banana stop to sit in the dry on the new benches under cover in the barns at the rear of Calke House. While we sat there the heavy rain started again so we shortened our walk but still managed six miles arriving at the Staff of Life very wet for our well deserved lunch.
Tuesday 17th September 2019. Hartshill, Atherston
Twelve members of the walking group met at the Anchor Inn Hartshil on a very warm and sunny day. Having pre ordered food for our return at 1.30 pm we set off along the Coventry Canal following its twists and turns until we reached Bridge No 38. Here we left the canal and followed a track leading up towards a very pleasant golf club. The yellow way markers took us past the club house and alongside the edge of the fairway until we reached the road to Ridge Lane. We walked along the road for 200 yards before picking up the track to Mancetter Farm where we stopped for a short break. Then, having crossed the fields and lanes to Oldbury village we stopped to admire the views from Hartshill Ridge before walking through Hartshill Hayes Country Park and back to lunch at the Anchor Inn.
Tuesday 3rd September 2019. Monyash and Lathkill Dale
Today 16 of us met in Monyash after a 52 mile drive. It was a warm sunny morning contrary to the forecast which was for it to be cool and cloudy. After a short delay trying to find public toilets in Monyash, there are none, and finding and using some in the unlocked village hall, much to the concern of the caretaker who had forgotten to lock the door, we set off on the walk. We walked passing the church and joined the Limestone Way. We passed through One Ash Grange Farm and down the steep path into Cales Dale and then Lathkill Dale. It was here that the leader had a mental block, and took us the wrong way! The situation was recovered after a stop for coffee and bananas etc by climbing steeply out of Lathkill Dale and up Ricklow Dale, and after a short walk down the road, up Bagshaw Dale and back into Monyash from the North. By this time the skies had clouded and for the last few hundred meters we had light drizzle but it was not wetting enough to cause or to put our waterproofs on. We walked about 6 miles which was a little less than planned.
Tuesday 20th August 2019. Trent Lock and Attenborough Nature Reserve led by Paul McKay
Fifteen walkers assembled on a warm and sunny morning for this walk that must be one of the flattest done by the group. After walking to the footpath alongside the River Trent we stopped for a short orientation briefing on the waterways at this busy junction, noting the Erewash canal, the River Soar and Cranfleet Cut, a short canal that bypassed a weir on the Trent. We followed the Trent downstream for about 2 miles before turning left over a bridge and into the Nature Reserve. By 11.30 we had reached the Visitors Centre with picnic tables, cafe and toilets for the obligatory coffee stop. On the return leg we took the countryside, skirted around a childrens playground and negotiated a short steep slope to bring us back to Cranfleet Cut. Here we were treated to a demonstration of the workings of the lock gates, with some our group helping to pull open a lock gate, as two narrow boats entered to lock...all very entertaining and educational! After a short distance along the river path we climbed a stile (highest point of the walk, maybe?), through a tunnel under the railway and arrived back at Trent Lock.
Tuesday 6th August 2019. Branston and Vale of Belvoir led by Tony
On Tuesday 6th August last, 16 members of the walking group met at the Wheel Inn Branston for a walk in the Vale of Belvoir. Branston is an attractive Iron Stone village that was built above the River Devon to avoid flooding. We set off down the hill out of the village and followed the course of a small stream before crossing the stream and climbing up to the road. After a short walk along the road we entered the forested area and had great views over the Vale of Belvoir. On the ridge we stopped to look at the stone beacon which was one of 6 errected in 1588 to give warning of the impending Spanish Armada. Following the Jubilee Way we descended the hill and followed it around the hill until it joined Toft's Lane. The lane led up to Sherricliffe Farm and then led on to a track across fields and back to the Wheel Inn. There we were joined for lunch by 2 other members of the group who had not been able to do the walk.
Tuesday 16th July 2019. Abbots Bromley linear walk led by Mike and Joan
With a hot, sunny and dry day in prospect, 10 stalwarts arrived in Abbots Bromley for a repeat of the 6.8 mile inaugural 'linear walk' tackled in October 2016. After sorting out the lunch arrangements at the Crown Inn, we caught the 9.48 Midland Classic 403 bus to Balance Hill on the outskirts of Uttoxeter. Heading down Timber Lane, we joined the Staffordshire Way and followed it southwards, through Bagot's Park and back to our starting point. Heavy going in places, with thick and/or tall grass and a few overgrown stretches, it was noted that we traversed a total of 32 stiles (and were able to bypass another 5), equalling the record set in November 2015 (on another walk near Abbots Bromley!). An excellent lunch and a well-deserved drink at the very hospitable Crown Inn rounded off the day.
Tuesday 2nd July 2019. 3 country parks, led by Jane Barnett
17 walkers set off from Staunton Harold on a sunny but slightly cooler and cloudier day than the weekend. The walk took in 3 old country parks; Staunton Harold, Melbourne and Calke Abbey and finished up walking through a nature reserve. After leaving the grounds of Staunton Harold we criss-crossed and traversed several footpaths to arrive in time for a welcome refreshment stop by Melbourne Pool. On leaving Melbourne we skirted the fine Norman church and Tithe Barn and headed towards Staunton Harold reservoir where we had our picnic lunch stop at the handily placed picnic benches. Interestingly, the reservoir was 84% full according to an information board. Our final old country park was Calke Abbey and then it was up the driveway and past the church into Dimminsdale Nature Reserve to finally exit onto the driveway up to Staunton Harold and our starting point. A total of 8.64 miles walked. It was noticeable how lush and green everywhere looked with wheat ripening in the fields. An added bonus was that the boots did not need mud scrapping off them on our return to the car park. A very enjoyable walk.
Tuesday 18th June 2019. Tideswell, led by Trev and Val
13 keen walkers left the George Inn in Tideswell on sunny and humid day, heading down the high street to the Wye river via the lovely Tideswell Dale to meet the river near to Cressbrook Dale and then follow the river to our drink stop under the rock cliff at Water-cum-Jolly Dale. After refreshments the walk took an uphill turn and then a steep downhill into Cressbrook Dale where we could see the remains of a dried up river bed, we then continued up the dale and turned left into Tansley Dale which was the final uphill part or the walk. On reaching the top it was a relatively easy walk via a number of fields with various stepping styles set in the dry stone walls before reaching a road near Litton for our return to Tideswell for a very nice meal and to sample the local beer.
Tuesday 4th June 2019. Chatsworth, led by Kevin & Chris
The day started with a wet journey up the M1 and though Chesterfield. Sixteen of us arrived at the Wheatsheaf pub to find not sunny, but drier conditions. After the normal photograph we set off and entered the Chatsworth estate though an unusual cage like kissing gate. (see photo) Following the estate path we could see the huge water feature jet and magnificent house with newly cleaned stonework and gold leaf. Approaching the bridge in front of the house to cross the river, we were confronted by the annual RHS flower show being set up, so we had to make a small diversion before re-joining the path along side the river. After the usual banana and coffee stop, we continued on up the only climb of the day to be rewarded with lovely views from the hunting lodge. This was followed by a tricky decent down the hillside to re-join the estate path back to Baslow and lunch.
Tuesday 21st May 2019. Mam Tor and Losehill Pike, led by John D
On a glorious sunny morning eleven intrepid walkers assembled on the dot of 10 am in Castleton Car Park. After a bout of juggling coins for the coins-only meters we set off.
Crossing south of the main road we walked past the access to the Peak Cavern, up the quaintly named Goose Hill and out of town. The path led quickly onto the hillside and curved round westward past Speedwell Cavern. Steeply uphill to the Visitors' Centre for Treak Cavern we began to climb again. As we contoured around past the Blue John Cavern we lost sight of Mam Tor which had dominated our view thus far.
All the time a fresh breeze was keeping us cool. A short pause at a gate at the crest of this section helped restore us, then we topped a short rise to see the alternative routes up Mam Tor itself. We opted for the longer but easier way up. This took us northwards up to Mam Nick which is where the road passes over into Edale. Here we stopped for a coffee break, before attacking the summit by the now direct route. Beside the path, inset into the slabs, were small brass plaques with motifs noting the Bronze and Iron Age history of the site.
Here, at the highest point at 517 metres (1696 feet) we had stunning views of all the countryside around and the undulating ridge ahead. It was pretty breezy on top so jackets came out, but we strode on down-slope, now eastwards with the wind at our backs, to Hollins Cross where the main walkers' way crosses to Castleton from Edale. On went the party, eventually coming to a halt at the base of Back Tor, a precipitous staircase climb to test legs already feeling the distance. We had the choice of taking the low road and bypassing this and Losehill Pike tops completely, but the team would have none of it. So, up we went.
This obstacle overtopped, the final objective hove into view: Losehill Pike on a section of National Trust land called Ward's Piece. The last stretch to the summit pillar at 476 metres (1562 feet) was relatively easy and having taken photos and scrutinised the very useful brass plate on the pillar showing distances and directions to all the main features, we settled down out of the wind on the south flank with magnificent views over the valley, and to the horizon southwards, to take lunch. So comfy were we that some stretched out and had to be persuaded to rise for the descent.
This was a steady descent through fields and along leafy lanes back directly to the Car Park, where, with 7 miles completed and after coffee and cakes at the car park cafe, we returned home, all safely back by 5 pm. A truly Grand Day Out.
Tuesday 7th May 2019. Old Dalby. Led by Tony
The walking group met at The Crown Inn Old Dalby and set off across the village using a series of alley ways that led directly from the pub garden. We passed across the village green and took the lane by the church and then a footpath across fields towards Old Dalby woods.We climbed the hill giving us a good view of the former Nottingham to Melton Mowbray railway line now used as a test track for testing London underground trains amongst others. Walking through Mariotts Spinney and Cromptons Plantation we crossed Old Dalby lane and headed for Nether Broughton where we stopped for tea or coffee. We then circled back to Old Dalby via Upper Broughton taking the tunnel which goes under the railway line mentioned above. The route was just under 7 miles long and having set off at 10am we were back at the pub by 1.30pm for a well earned lunch.
Tuesday 16th April 2019. Middleton by Wirksworth
Starting at the Rising Sun Inn in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, 19 walkers set forth on a cool but dry morning. After a short way along the main road we entered the car park for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, and walked along a narrow gauge railway. This was a restored remnant of the many quarry railways in the area. We climbed up steps to the site of very old lead mine workings and spoil heaps, The Gang Mine Nature Reserve. From here, we had a panoramic view of a huge working quarry. Retracing our steps, we followed a footpath and crossed a road to Black Rocks. After a steady climb to the flat top of the rocks, we enjoyed a glorious (but misty) view of the Derwent valley with Riber Castle on the horizon. After a meander through the woods above the rocks, we descended to the High Peak Trail for a short coffee break. Then it was the challenge of the Middleton Incline, with artefacts of the mechanism that lowered wagons full of limestone and raised empty wagons between the railway levels. Thankfully, at Middleton Top, there was seating for a short recovery period and time to take in the information on the very old steam engine that powered The Incline. Westward, to a footpath past a derelict farm and a short road section before entering a footpath on a disused quarry road. This lead us upward through a wood which cleared to give us better views of the valley to the north and of Black Rocks. Descending steep steps we arrived back on the main road through Middleton with the pub only a short level walk away. Overall, a walk of varied terrain and quite challenging at times. 6.4 miles.
Tuesday 2nd April 2019. Wysall, Notts. Led by James Bloor.
19 members of the Long Walks Group took heed of the weather forecast and dressed accordingly for a 7.5 mile stroll through rolling Nottinghamshire countryside. From Wysall we walked north-east to the outskirts of Keyworth, where we turned south-east uphill on Wolds Lane before heading south to North Lodge Farm. Here a thick hedge offered shelter from the wind and rain for our coffee stop. We continued through the delightful village of Widmerpool before enjoying extensive views over fields and woods to the south. Our route now took us westwards, through fields and small woods back to the lovely village of Wysall for a well-deserved lunch at The Plough Inn. We had an interesting encounter with a dozen young and inquisitive bullocks and walked through a couple of fields holding horses.
Tuesday 19th March 2019. Hatton Locks, Warks. Led by Kevin and Chris Green.
On a dull March morning 14 of us gathered at the Hatton Car park at the top of a flight of 21 locks. After the traditional photo outside the nearby cafe we ordered lunch and set off along the canal. Soon we crossed a bridge and continued across several fields arriving at Haseley Parish church for coffee and banana stop. Setting off again we passed by the old Hatton Hall asylum to re-join the canal at the bottom of the 21 locks an impressive sight. After a steady climb and 8.5 miles later, we arrived back for an outdoor lunch the first of the year.
Tuesday 5th March 2019. Over Haddon, Derbys led by Bob Baxendale
Today we did the 200th walk in the nine and a half years since the Walking Group, and Ashby U3A, were formed. The first walk was on the 10th August 2010 and we did about 5 miles from Staunton Harold around Calke Abbey with a stop at the tea room. It was warm & sunny, and there were 10 of us.
This time the walk set off from Over Haddon, Nr Bakewell, after driving an hour from Ashby. There were 24 of us today and we set off, after the obligatory start of walk group photo outside of the Lathkil Hotel, on the footpath downhill to Conksbury Bridge, with views back up Lathkill Dale. After crossing the bridge we continued down Lathkill Dale to Alport, where the Bradford River joins the Lathkill River. We then walked up Bradford Dale almost to its end before climbing out passing Lomberdale Hall, and the end of Long Rake, over the top to Meadow Place Grange. We passed through the farm yard here before dropping back down into Lathkill Dale, and out the other side up the steep climb to Over Haddon and a buffet lunch at the Lathkil Hotel. (And yes they spell it with just one l).
It was a lovely cool, sunny but windy winter's day which resulted in great visibility and fabulous views. We walked about 6 miles.
After lunch Bob was somewhat surprised to be presented with a framed map of the walk we had just completed. Steve Jennings gave a humorous speech thanking Bob for organising the Walking Group from the very beginning, and for all the 200 walks. Steve had arranged for the map frame to be demountable so that all those present could sign it. It will be taken to the next couple of walks so that as many people as possible can sign it.
Tuesday 19th February 2019. Swarkestone, Stanton and Kings Newton led by Paul
Twenty three walkers set off from the Crewe and Harpur pub in Swarkestone, on a bright and fresh morning, for a 7 mile walk around the south side of the Trent Valley. After pre-ordering lunch, we set off in single file over a narrow footpath on Swarkestone Bridge and turned off onto the Ingleby road. Once over a stile onto the floodplain of the Trent we had a good view of the bridge structure. The various modifications and strengthening work since the original build in the 13th century were evident. Paul gave a short history of the bridge and its current Grade 1 Listed and Scheduled Ancient Monument status. Then we walked up a slope into Stanton by Bridge with a view over the Trent valley to the north. After crossing the busy A514 we followed Wards Lane, the route of the original road to Kings Newton, and stopped at Holy Well, an ancient watering hole, for mid-walk refreshments. We then entered the picturesque hamlet of Kings Newton going through the cemetery and a footpath to get back to the road. We followed a footpath alongside Kings Newton Hall down to the Cloud Trail, the route of a disused railway on a high embankment. At Sarson's Bridge we went west along the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath before following a footpath back to Swarkestone. We stopped at Swarkestone Pavilion to gather up the group and hear a brief history of this Grade 1 Listed building. It was then only a short stroll over fields back to the Crewe and Harpur for a well-earned meal and a drink. 6.9miles.
Tuesday 5th February 2019. Snarestone, Measham and the Ashby Canal led by Jill & Judith
Thirty walkers (yes, thirty) set off today from The Globe at Snarestone for a circular walk along the original line of the Ashby Canal and back via the Heritage trail and Ivanhoe Way. We walked along the tow path of the navigable part initially at Snarestone and walked on past the old pumping station and then followed lost stretches of the Canal where possible. These were obvious in places e.g. by the Gilwiskaw brook where there was once an aqueduct and beyond. At Measham we lost the canal because it had been built on in the town, but we met up with it at High Street, walking down to the canal bed by the disused Empire Cinema (1932) where we had coffee. The tunnels had been filled in, sadly and the bed was tarmac now, so it was more industrial heritage than scenic. We continued along the canal route following the hedgerow, passing more modern houses and gardens along the canal bed. We returned via the heritage trail, formerly the Ashby/Nuneaton railway line, past Measham station which is now a museum, then on to the Ivanhoe Way back to Snarestone, via the playing fields, to The Globe for a very enjoyable lunch.
Tuesday 15th January 2019. Ashby, Heath End and Smisby led by Tony Smith
A record large group of 28 members (including 6 new ones) all met at the group leader's home in Featherbed Lane Ashby on a clear and sunny morning to pick up the Ivanhoe Way out of Ashby towards Staunton. The path runs behind the biscuit factory and under the Ashby bypass towards Old Parks Farm and then runs to the North of Alistairs Wood. We stopped for a coffee break just short of Heath End and then we entered South Wood going uphill towards the open fields. The path then took us via Wickets Nook Cottage and Pistern Hill farm before we crossed the main road and had lunch at the Smisby Arms. The group returned to Ashby via various paths running parallel with Smisby Rd and Nottingham Rd. We walked about 8 miles total.
Tuesday 3rd April 2018. Thornton
16 started from Thornton on a fine morning. Heading down the valley to cross the railway, past some fishing ponds and through Royal Tigers wood to Bagworth, returning to Thornton village to then walk a circuit of the reservoir. Due to several days of heavy rain, the going was heavy to say the least! One pathway was obstructed by a newly formed stream whilst later we made a detour through the hedgerow to skirt around the edge of a large flood in a dip in a field. We returned in the rain to the Bricklayers Arms in Thornton for lunch.
Tuesday 20th March 2018. Coleorton
16 members of the walking group assembled at The Angel Inn on Coleorton Moor on 20th March. THe walk took us across fields towards Farm Town and then on towards Flagstaff Island. The path crossed under the A512 and then struck off towards New Lount Woods and then Peggs Green. En route we passed the restored communal bakehouse on Coleorton Moor and the Windmill off St George's Hill before returning to The Angel Inn for lunch.
Tuesday 6th March 2018. Hartshorne
20 happy strollers set off from The Bulls Head in Hartshorne at 10 o'clock proceeding down the hill past the Admiral Rodney pub and turning left at the Mill Wheel. Yes a lot of our walking group navigation is done by public houses! Despite the rapid thawing of several inches of snow and a lot of rain the previous night the going wasn't as difficult as we had all expected. Our route took us past Carver rocks and through many small woods and plenty of open country with some good views which were enjoyed by all. Most of the walking was done on footpaths between The A514 and a B5006. The weather had been particularly kind to us, in fact we enjoyed some sunshine for the second half of the 6 1/2 mile walk and returned early to the pub where we all enjoyed good fare, good ale, if little cold for my preference, and as always great company.
Tuesday 20th February 2018. Worthington
Thirteen members and one visitor gathered outside The Malt Shovel, Worthington on a fine, sunny morning. We set off through the village to pick up the Ivanhoe Way for a short distance. We then crossed over our first golf course of the day to arrive at Breedon having encountered the inevitable mud on the way, and set off on the steep climb to the church which contains some of the finest examples of Saxon sculptures in Great Britain. After a refreshing coffee/banana/chocolate biscuit stop admiring the far reaching views it was down the hill (shades of the Grand old Duke of York here). Before reaching the village of Wilson we went over our second golf course of the day. After passing through the village we got into the Cloud trail and had a gentle, flat and easy walk back to the pub for lunch. The Malt Shovel does not normally do food on Tuesdays but did so for us and made us welcome.
The 8.5 miles walk was done at a cracking pace today and we arrived back at the pub just over 3 hours 15 minutes later. According to people's gadgets we averaged 2.68 miles per hour. Don't quite know how we managed that but having no stiles to negotiate probably helped. Throughout the walk there were encouraging signs of spring with many clusters of snowdrops and Catkin laden trees.
Tuesday 6th February 2018. Snarestone, Newton Burgoland and Shackerstone
Twenty-one of us gathered at The Globe, Snarestone on a cold but otherwise bright morning. After a short walk up the Main street and Quarry Lane we turned right up footpath to be watched by some fluffy brown and white Alpacas running around in the adjacent field. We continued over several muddy stiles and through a new plantation of the National Forest and on to the outskirts of Swepstone. Crossing a further field, a flock of sheep blocked our path before all running away as we headed for the next finger post across the field. After several more stiles and considerably more mud we passed though Newton Burgoland and onto Shackerstone to join the canal towpath with even more mud back to The Globe for a pleasant lunch.
Tuesday 16th January 2018. Burton on Trent, Tatenhill and the Trent Valley
Twenty walkers gathered at The Albion public house in Burton upon Trent for the walk in sunny and mild weather. After a short walk along Shobnall Road we turned onto the footpath and over two stiles that led to a climb up to the ancient Sinai Park House. The next 2 miles were very wet underfoot with a couple of difficult stiles because of the amount of water and mud around them. On the plus side, the strong winds did not materialise and we enjoyed good views...when you could look up from concentrating on avoiding the next mud patch! Onward into Tatenhill village we turned at the Three Horsehoes public house towards Branston Water Park. Here we had a well-earned coffee break with the luxury of picnic tables and pleasant views over the water. It was then relatively easy going along the Trent and Mersey canal towpath, over a bridge and into Shobnall playing fields. One last challenge awaited; a hundred steps up a steep bank in Oaks Wood and then it was a short descent back to The Albion for food and drink.
Tuesday 2nd January 2018. Swannington
Fourteen of us set off from The Robin Hood pub in Swannington on what the forecasters had predicted would be a wet day. As we ascended the hill towards Limby Hall Lane a light drizzle descended but soon turned into more persistent rain. We took the path to the left of the Smock Mill emerging onto Moor Lane. To avoid as many wet fields as possible we followed Moor Lane to the very top and then took Pitt Lane to the path which led down to Coleorton School and St John's Chapel on the old Ashby Rd (the road in use until the current A512 by pass was built in 1992/1993). St John's chapel was built in the 19th century for the workers of the Coleorton Estate and for villagers who were unable to climb up the hill to St Mary's Church which is next to Coleorton Hall. We took the lanes down into Coleorton and out via Aqueduct Rd over which the tramway from the Swannington Incline crossed. We could still see the stone abutments. We then walked along the route of the tramway towards Peggs Green. From there the tramway went into a long tunnel long since filled in and of which very little evidence survives. Crossing the A512 we followed Mill Lane to the Smock Mill (otherwise called Hough Mill) which is restored inside and which opens to visitors on Sunday afternoons in the Summer months. We also saw the Iron Sculptures depicting the area's mining heritage. By this time we were all very wet so we cut short the walk to return to Swannington and a welcome lunch in the pub