Castle Donington – Ashby-de-la-Zouch 13 miles (21 km)
A pleasant surprise in North West Leicestershire once the industrial centre of the county with coal mining and quarries. This walk offers three delights connected by well used and well maintained paths. 9 out of 10.
This section conveniently starts at the Bus Station where Skylink services operate from Nottingham, Derby, Loughborough and Leicester. Bus station is perhaps a grand title for a lay-by with two shelters but then the railways use this term for St Pancras or an isolated country halt served by one train a day.
Inevitably, with a larger settlement, there is initially some urban walking and the characteristic fringe Council Estate but our route soon enters fields through a play ground with swing frames, but no swings!
Two potential sounds can disturb the peace here, aircraft taking off from East Midlands airport and Castle Donington race circuit. You might do well to avoid this walk on race days.
I had walked this path just a few months previously and reported an overgrown section. I was pleased to find that on this visit I was able to use the Definitive line, a unique experience as a parallel path is well used by the locals. I suspect the correct path will soon be impassable again.
The path continues to be well used, albeit not strictly on line and I suspect by those attempting to find free viewing of events on the race track rather than the rambler. Some enterprising person has even constructed a bench high in a tree which allows a view over the ten foot high concrete fence that we follow on our left.
The path offers a brief view, to our right, of Donington Hall and eventually emerges at a large car park. I was intrigued by cars driving slowing around a twisting circuit. The cars had frames attached making them look like those child bikes with stabilisers. The cars moved slowly because if they went too fast, as happened while I watched, they slithered around as if driving on ice.
Skid experiance at Donington Park
The Route now enters Derbyshire where a track leads down to the road. The footpath continues but ends before Melbourne and requires a 600 metres walk along the bending road before we can escape onto the safety of the Cloud Trail. An opportunity to use the track would make a safer route linking to Forty Foot Lane, which marks the county boundary, this requires walking along only a short section of straight road.
Wilson – Best Kept Village
The Bulls Head in Wilson could offer a stop and the golf club suggests visitors may be welcome at the clubhouse. I could continue along the lane again the county boundary but that would miss out the delight of Breedon Hill on which stands Breedon Priory church. I had never been inside the church before so on this occasion I entered and was not disappointed. I recommend you take advantage of the local team that manage to open the church each day.
I was intrigued by the pump which supplies water for tending the graves, does it come from a rain water cistern or from the bowels of the earth I wondered? A recently installed tap now offers drinking water and is a prelude to loos and a kitchen being installed. It’s worth taking an overgrown path to the west from the church door which leads to open access land and views across Melbourne and beyond to Derby. To the east, in theory, I could also see across to Belvoir Castle on the north east tip of Leicestershire viewed close up on section 15 of this walk.
Breedon on the Hill Priory church
Dropping down into the village the Hollybush Inn offers another opportunity for refreshment. Take care not to miss the next path, it leaves the road immediately after the Priory Garden Centre entrance but then runs parallel to the road so this doesn’t show well on the GPS track.
Looking back to Breedon church
Crossing the fields we meet the Ivanhoe Way a 36 mile circular walk around the north western area of Leicestershire. This could now be followed to Ashby but while a permissive path is available I recommend it to view Staunton Harold Hall and perhaps visit the Ferrers Craft Centre or the garden centre which both have tea rooms to quench your thirst.
Approaching Staunton Harold Hall from the permissive path
The walk from here to Ashby is mainly through pasture and was on the sunny May day of my walk most enjoyable. Approaching Ashby it’s best to keep eyes right as the path perversely splits town expansion and open fields until just yards from the end the parish church can be seen through a gap between buildings of a builders yard.
So ends this section. There is a bus back to Castle Donington or services to other destination so it should be possible to have a days linear walk on the bus from your home.
Go to the next part of the walk Part 5 click here