My long distance walk would follow, as close as possible the Leicestershire boundary, taking in seventy four settlements along the way. Much of the boundary follows water courses, large and small so a lot of walk would be along river valleys and fairly flat countryside. Two significant sections of the border are marked by highway. One with Warwickshire along the Roman Watling Street, now the A5 not suitable for walking. The border with Lincolnshire was much more interesting being an old drove road, Sewstern Lane or The Drift, used by the Viking Way.
Longhorse Bridge over the River Trent the boundary between Leicestershire and Derbyshire
Close to home detailed planning was easy and the walk started to take shape. When things got tough and the paths were few I had to choose. Try and stay in county or move over into foreign parts. It has not always been possible to stay close to the border and within county. I strayed into all the adjoining counties except Staffordshire which shares a border for just over a mile near Chilcote. The walk takes me into Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire.
As mentioned earlier Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray caused a headache. In the end I decided to stay in county but was forced some two miles from my preferred line for a long stretch.
A distinctive stile on permissive paths around Staunton Harold
There were sections over the west side that initially looked daunting but once I started walking I discovered permissive paths and routes, especially in the National Forest. These I found useful and they often added interest to the walk such as at Staunton Harold.
While I am happy to share my walk I need to point out that these permissive routes may not always be available, I leave it to your ingenuity to find an alternative in the event of their closure. In the longer term paths may be diverted by the onward march of progress with new roads and development spoiling the path network.
At the time of writing (2014) there is major remodelling of junction 19 on the M1 which has resulted in some paths being extinguished plus temporary closures during the work. The route uses paths that I understand will be retained. Crossing of the A5 is difficult in places, especially where a continuous crash barrier runs along the central reservation. I have selected crossing where there is no obstruction, at present.
A railway level footpath crossing not safe to use say Network Rail
There are ten different locations where the path crosses a rail line, some are by bridge. Others are on the level and at least one of these has been proposed for closure as part of Network Rail’s safety campaign.
Finally I have a route of two hundred miles and need to set the stages suitable for my own walk. I opt for an average of 15 miles but settle for fifteen stages from 8 to 17 miles, more compromise. There was little point in starting or ending in the middle of nowhere and I wanted to make the individual linear walks accessible. With some careful planning I could get from the end to the start by bus or even better access the whole walk by bus from Leicester.
Thin red line is the border, thick blue line the walk
Planning done the exploration starts. Read reports of the walks here