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National Forest Way: Calke Abbey to Ashby de la Zouch

All the best walking blogs have maps on. I finally figured out how to add a route map to mine. If I get time, I'll add them to the previous posts as well, so you can see where I went. So, here are the two walks which made up the next stretch of the NFW.

Walk 1

 I started from the National Trust property and walked along by the lake, up the hill by the deer park, and down to Staunton Harold reservoir - all very familiar. Calke village postbox featured a highland cow on top.

Lake at Calke Abbey

Herd of deer

A short stretch on the road took me to Dimminsdale, which was new to me. There are records of mining at the site from the 13th century until the end of the 19th century. It's incredible to think that people worked there for so many hundreds of years. Now it is a secluded landscape of still pools and shaggy trees.


I crossed a small section of the Staunton Harold estate, then went up a private lane with some rather nice houses. My turning point was where the National Forest Way left the lane to head across fields. Going back to the main road, I picked up a footpath across the Calke estate, which eventually led me to the main drive and back to the car park.

Calke Abbey with sheep


Walk 2

At this point the summer holidays intervened, so I didn't get out for nearly a month. On the first Monday the kids were back at school, I was ready to go! 

I parked up at Staunton Harold Hall. My first task was to cross a field of cows, but fortunately they paid me no attention. A few more fields took me to the private lane which I'd got to on the previous walk. At this point the trail managed to be the National Forest Way, the Ivanhoe Way, and the Cross Britain Way, all at the same time. 

There was a long, fairly straight section across fields to start with. I worried it would be boring but it was actually quite pleasant. I disturbed several pheasants and passed flocks of placid sheep.

Then I passed through Park Pale Wood, with a footbridge over a mini ravine. A sign explained that the park pale was the boundary of a 12th century deer park - pale being the old word for a fence (think of palings). I spotted a beautiful rose-shaped fungus that was as big as my foot.

Just as I was thinking that I had never got lost on the NFW, I did. Slightly. The instructions told me to bear right by the waypost, but the waypost had disappeared. I knew I was heading between Eastern Old Parks Farm and Western Old Parks Farm, though, so I followed the field boundary which looked most likely, and it turned out to be right.

This is where I had intended to turn left and circle back. But it had taken less time than I expected; I'd only been walking for an hour and still had plenty of time. I decided to press on to Ashby de la Zouch.

Biscuit truck!

We'd actually walked this section as a family, a few months ago. After a nice bit between a hedge and a wood, the path goes under the A511 and is sandwiched between a building site (not quite being built on yet) and a McVities factory. Further along, the path was closed because they were actually building houses, and I had to follow the road. But I made it to the information board in Ashby. There was a small area with a bench, some bright flowers, and a tree with rather cute birds in it.

Turning back, there was no good alternative to the McVities path. I couldn't believe I'd walked this very unscenic section of the NFW three times. Soon, though, I was cutting across another small woodland, and on to the road into Lount. This was less pleasant than I'd hoped for the first half a mile, as I trudged along an unmown verge. Once I got closer to the village there was a pavement.

I hopped over a stile next to the Ferrars Arms; hesitated a moment; then climbed back over and went into the pub to order a lemonade. I sat in the beer garden to drink it and eat my packed lunch. After that it was easy walking along a track. A painted gate signalled the entrance to the Staunton Harold estate, and I was soon back at the car.

church and hall at Staunton Harold


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