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National Forest Way: Hartshorne, Foremark, Calke Abbey

At Blackfordby the National Forest Way is barely two miles from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, but it then takes a big loop northwards to take in the area around Ticknall village. This is somewhat unnecessary for me, since Foremark Reservoir and Calke Abbey are my local territory. That's where we go when we just want a quick family outing. It's a pretty part of the world though - rolling fields and occasional sweeping views. Always worth another visit.

view near Ticknall

Walk 1

I parked in Hartshorne with a big black cloud lurking ominously in the west. Sure enough, just as I reached an open field, the rain came hammering down. This was my first proper soaking of the entire Way. I squelched through the woods in Carvers Rocks nature reserve, which are still nice even in the rain, and followed the path next to Foremark Reservoir. Just as I reached the car park and cafe, the sun came out.  Sailing dinghies went merrily to and fro on the lake. All was right with the world.

wet woods

Carvers Rocks

sailing on Foremark reservoir

Swinging my sodden jacket, I skipped (well, almost) back down the long straight bridlepath to the southern end of the reservoir. From there I returned along the same path I'd come up on. There was a very enjoyable view as I dropped back down the hill into Hartshorne. 

view north

view south

Walk 2

According to both the website and the sign at the entrance, Foremark Reservoir opens at 8am. I arrived at ten past eight to be on the safe side. The gate was still shut. I drove on to Ticknall and parked in the village hall car park, which left me in the peculiar position of leaving the car halfway along my walk. So I started by walking back to Foremark.

sunny footpath

When I arrived at ten to nine, the gate was still shut. This time, I smugly squeezed past the waiting cars and carried on up the drive. I had the place to myself; it was great. A green woodpecker flew across the road in front of me and settled in a pine tree. I reached the car park and took a selfie. Seconds later, the first cars disturbed the peace.

Foremark reservoir to myself

There wasn't any kind of alternative route back to Ticknall, so I retraced my steps along the NFW. When I started my walks earlier in the year, the first bluebells were just appearing; now the blackberries are starting to ripen. I like the feeling of walking through the seasons.

Crossing the main road in Ticknall, I was soon in the Calke estate, following a well-surfaced cycle path. The sheep were so used to people that they didn't bother to get up even when I was practically treading on their hooves. 

Calke has some awesome trees. Some would take six people to reach around them; others could have three people standing inside them. Many have fallen over and been left where they lie, to be climbed on by generations of small children. Calke Abbey is now run by the National Trust, who provide plenty of other activities for children to do, too. I passed some kind of treasure hunt marked out by purple butterflies. Then I stumbled over a giant xylophone in the cafe courtyard.

hollow tree

giant xylophone

I'd half-promised myself a drink at the cafe, but time was getting short, so I thought I'd better head home. There'd be another opportunity at the start of the next walk. 


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