The Cross Britain Way is a new long distance walk launched in August 2014 with the publication of a guide. It starts at Boston Lincolnshire and ends at Barmouth on the Welsh coast. Why Boston, why Lincolnshire? These were my immediate questions and the answer is simple, this is part of the growing Macmillan stable of walks and links with their original route from the south coast.
The Macmillan Ways
The 280 mile route uses and links with a number of recreational paths and flirts with Leicestershire but does not meet up with the Leicestershire Round. It does link with the Jubilee Way near Belvoir and the Ivanhoe Way around Ashby so there is potential to make a north Leicestershire round by linking these to our own Round.
The guide at 144 pages has descriptive text of the route, separated from background information for places of interest along the way. There are also hand drawn maps which on the whole were easy to translate onto Ordnance Survey. Flicking through the book with it’s abundant small photographs it soon had me wanting to pull on my boots and make a start.
A Google search will take you to the Macmillan Way Association (opens a new page) but all it says here (November 2014) is that the book will be available shortly. I’d had a lead that you need to click on publications and down this page you will find the guide available at £11.99 + £1.50 postage.
So lets look at the route in more detail and especially the Leicestershire section. What is the purpose of these long distance walks? Well the authors say “to devise a new coast to coast footpath and raise funds for Macmillan.” This perhaps explains the inconvenient start point but I’m pleased to see that a new route has been found to exit Boston rather than taking the easy option of following the Macmillan Way. They do meet where the Welland enters the Wash then the CBW strikes off west. Inevitably in Lincolnshire there is a lot of river bank or road walking and a number of warnings that the cross field path was blocked by a crop.
The walk joins the towpath of the Grantham canal to the west of the town and enters Leicestershire by crossing over the River Devon at Woolsthorpe by Belvoir then follows the Jubilee Way before dropping down into Stathern. I’m a bit concerned about the course chosen across to Hose, it uses a section of narrow twisting road when safe off road routes are available.
At Hose it again joins the canal towpath which before Hickling passes over the border into Nottinghamshire. Back in county LFA members will be familiar with the route though Wymeswold then along the King’s Brook to Stanford on Soar. Hathern is the next point of entry and a visit to the church at Breedon was a good choice before the delightful pool side path at Melbourne and a visit to Calke both in Derbyshire but well used by our walking groups. The guide states that the pool side path is permissive, I wonder why? It’s shown on the OS as definitive. There were also a few revelations where the route used paths I had not know to be public.
Most of the Leicestershire section is in the North West. It was disappointing but not a surprise to see a warning that there may be no path cut through the crop between Diseworth and Tonge an issue I have recently reported to LCC myself. From Heath End the CBW follows the Ivanhoe Way for 8 miles through Ashby to Moira. From here it’s just a short step back into Derbyshire and onward to Wales. Taking a snapshot of the area I know, the route takes in suitable landmarks and places of interest if this is a feature of the whole walk then it should offer an appealing while challenging walk.
The guide includes an accommodation list, some on route, some just off but already I note some services in Leicestershire have changed. Perhaps they will use the website to keep the accommodation list current.
West of Leicestershire highlights along the route include, Shugborough Hall, Cannock Chase, Ironbridge, Wenlock Edge, Church Stretton and Long Mynd. Into Wales there is Welshpool, Lake Vyrnwy, Bala Lake and Dolgellau then finally across the impressive estuary viaduct to enter Barmouth.