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Showing posts from January, 2024

National Forest Way: Final Thoughts

As you may have gathered from my blog posts, I've really enjoyed walking the National Forest Way. I found myself eagerly anticipating each walk, and happily inking the route on the map when I'd done it. The National Forest Way is an ideal starter long-distance walk. There are no enormous mountains or exposed cliff edges. The route is never too far from a village, a car park, or a cafe. But there are some lovely views over sunny fields, some beautiful patches of woodland, and some industrial history along the way. I very rarely found it boring.   An advantage that I didn't appreciate when I started is that the Way forms a giant zigzag. This means it fits 75 miles of path into a relatively compact space, making it easy to reach all of it. From my home in south Derbyshire, every section was within a 40 minute drive. The distance between Beacon Hill and the National Memorial Arboretum is only about 25 miles. The countryside is lovely, and generally overlooked in favour of the P

National Forest Way: The End!

The National Forest Way finishes at Beacon Hill, Leicestershire, with beautiful wide-ranging views in all directions. I'd been hoping for a sunny day, and this one certainly fit the bill. The frosty earth lay under a glorious canopy of shining blue sky. I parked at Swithland Wood, close to where we finished the previous walk. Finding the waymarker on the first gate was bittersweet - this was the last time I would be following these familiar circles.   Swithland Wood had been acquired by the Rotary Club in 1931, and later passed on to Bradgate Park Trust. The lumpy terrain was due to slate quarrying. I skirted a couple of fenced-off pits. As I left the wood, I passed a lake which I assumed was another flooded quarry, but with an odd little tower next to the water. I followed a road up a steady hill towards Woodhouse Eaves. Many of the houses were surrounded by walls of the local slate. Woodhouse Eaves was a prosperous-looking village with some nice old buildings. Crossing the wide

National Forest Way: Bradgate Park

I'd been anxiously scanning the weather forecast, and the morning of New Year's Day was due to be sunny. "Right," I said, "Family trip to Bradgate Park. You can drop me off at Groby Pool." Groby Pool So far, so good. Groby Pool was very pretty in the morning sunlight. I headed south to cross the A50. Fortunately there was very little traffic, as there wasn't a proper crossing at this point, and it would normally be a busy dual carriageway. I worked my way through an estate of neat bungalows in Groby. One had a garden full of frogs! At the end of Woodland Lane I found the path from Martinshaw Wood, and I was back on the National Forest Way. This took me back down to the A50 (there was a pedestrian crossing here, but I didn't need it). joining the NFW A track took me into the pleasant Lady Hay Wood. There was still a lot of water around. At this rate I feel like I'm going to be walking in wellies until June! We have had so much rain this winter. Ap