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National Forest Way: Bagworth and Thornton Reservoir

I'd hoped to be further along with my walking by now, but a combination of illness, bad weather, and inset days meant that I couldn't get out for a few weeks. At the first sign of a break in the clouds, I was ready to go.

It had rained heavily the day before, and there was still a watery feel to the air. I parked at Thornton Reservoir and donned waterproof trousers and wellies, then started by following a footpath along the back of some houses in Thornton. The village is perched on a ridge, which slopes down to the reservoir on one side, and Bagworth Heath woods on the other.

view to Bagworth Heath woods

I picked up the Leicestershire Round opposite the village school, and followed it past an old mill, across a railway line, and through the woods. One section of the path was particularly squelchy.

At the end of the woods, the footpath sign pointed right, which I assumed meant I should follow the road. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised I could have crossed over and taken a footpath on the other side. The road took me past a little building which apparently housed a funeral bier, for the use of the inhabitants of the village. I couldn't see inside, but presumably it looked something like this.

The Bier House

About this time I realised I'd left my phone on the satnav holder inside my car. I spent the rest of the walk in that weird Schrodinger's cat state, where you are equally convinced that it will be perfectly safe, and that someone will have smashed the car window and stolen it. No way to tell until I got back. I kept walking.

long straight road

Bagworth has a long straight road which I had traversed on my previous trek. I was glad to reach the turn-off for the National Forest Way. A short lane took me to a bridge over the railway, and then along beside it. This line is the Leicestershire and Swannington Railway, one of the earliest railways in England. The section at Bagworth originally had an inclined plane, where the loaded wagons, going down, pulled the empty wagons up the slope on a rope. Once locomotives became more powerful, the inclined plane was bypassed. The path on which I walked followed its route, but there's not much to see apart from the steady downhill gradient. The railway would have once been very busy with coal from the collieries. Today I didn't see a single train.

site of the inclined plane

Veering away from the railway, I passed Bagworth Park (with strict Private signs), squelched and slid across a few fields, and came out on the road through Thornton again. This time when I got to the school, I turned the other way. Suddenly a beautiful view opened up in front of me. The green grass sloped down from my feet, and on the opposite hillside the sun lit up russet trees and golden fields.

Thornton Reservoir

I walked down the hill and followed the path around Thornton Reservoir back to the car park. Phew. The car was unharmed and my phone was still safely inside it.

Relieved, I perched on a bench to have a sandwich and take a selfie. It was too cold to sit for long, so I ate my apple while walking up the lane for the second half of my hike. 

The NFW took me down a field to Rothley Brook. This is the outflow from the reservoir. It was flowing at a tremendous rate, and a small tree had been jammed against the footbridge, knocking the planks sideways. Even if I had crossed it, I could see that there was a stream of racing water blocking the path on the other side. Definitely not worth the risk.

maybe not....

So I cut across the field and made my way down to the next footbridge. Fortunately that one was in good order. On the other side I was met by sedate swans, curious llamas, and noisy guinea fowl!

this looks better!

llamas looking at me

guinea fowl and geese

I rejoined the NFW and followed it for a short distance to my end point. From there, it was a quick and easy return to the car via the road across the reservoir dam.


11.75 km / 7.25 miles

Previous sections:

Ellistown, Bagworth, Nailstone

Normanton le Heath - Ellistown

Ashby - Normanton le Heath

Calke Abbey - Ashby de la Zouch

Hartshorne, Foremark, Calke Abbey

Overseal - Hartshorne

Rosliston - Overseal

Rangemore - Rosliston

National Memorial Arboretum - Rangemore


Cascita said…
Hi Martha, we love your National Forest Way blog - please could you get in touch with us at the Forest as we'd like to share it and also send you a little token to celebrate completing it! I'm Carolyn, the Forest press officer and you can email me on

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