Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Rutland: Belton to Braunston – approx 9.00 miles

Saturday 1st July 2010

Rutland: Belton to Braunston – approx 9.00 miles


OS Explorer 234 Rutland Water, Stamford & Oakham

Starting Grid Ref:



Belton – Leighfield Way – Leigh Lodge – Prior’s Coppice – Wood Lane – Braunston in Rutland – Church – South Lodge Farm – Bridle Way – Bluestones Farm - Belton


Pubs: Belton and Braunston
Cafés & Kiosks: None
Shops: Belton
Transport: Belton and Braunston


A beautiful, bright morning, with blue sky and a little fluffy white cloud, becoming increasingly warm as the day developed.

We arrived in Belton-in-Rutland nice and promptly to take advantage of the cooler weather of the early morning. It was already quite warm with the prospect of temperatures up into the high 20º’s Celsius; in full sun it would be 30º plus, plenty warm enough for walking. So this easy circuit of around 9 miles would be ideal given that we had other obligations for later in the day.

We left Belton, passing the church and the war memorial, and heading north along the Leighfield Way, a short, marked route, linking Belton with Oakham some 7 miles distant. Branching right at the road fork we followed the lane signposted to Lambley Lodge. There are dozens of such lanes in Rutland, gradually petering out into the countryside. Soon lane would became track, track would cede to bridle way, and bridle way to path; a couple of fields later and the process is reversed as the next village reached.

The lane rose gently over the first mile or so. Soon tarmac became bridle way with softer going underfoot, steadily climbing until, cresting the brow of the first ridge, a wide vista opened up in front of us, a vale ringed by low hills. Rutland County Council adopted the Latin motto “Multum in parvo” – literally “Much in Little” – and this is certainly true of the landscape in these parts, a perfect example of rolling English countryside.

Between hedges high and thick with foliage, we dropped down along a cinder track to cross the infant River Chater by the impressive farmstead of Leigh Lodge. Although slow-moving, the river here teemed with fish - heron heaven I would imagine. After climbing diagonally northwest across a field we took a brief drink stop and carried on across the fields past Prior’s Coppice and down towards Braunston, a pretty village straddling the River Gwash dating back to at least mediaeval times and steeped in history and home to the Braunston Goddess – a curious carved stone effigy with similarities to the Sheela-na-gig or Divine Hag of Celtic religion that may have been to ward off evil.

A convenient bench by the church provided an excellent spot for a snack. Our route continued through the churchyard past the unusual church with its low, square tower and oddly-mounted clock. Several fields were crossed; some with ripening crops, some scruffy with grass and nettles, and we spotted several Peewit and a Green Woodpecker. After passing behind South Lodge Farm the path rose again to the ridge and we briefly joined a bridle way heading east, stopping for lunch by a gate offering a view back over the vale, with Braunston lying in the bottom.

While we were resting, a small band of horse-trekkers jogged by, reminding us that, once again, we had been largely untroubled by other people. This seems slightly odd as although the high proportion of tracks, lanes and bridle ways in these parts might not be to everyone’s taste, there is no doubting the charm of the scenery, so typical of Middle England and in many ways the rival of the Cotswolds.

We carried on in a generally southerly direction, soon joining the Leicestershire Round (a route devised to mark the centenary of the Leicestershire Footpath Association) and re-crossed the River Chater. A short pull past Launde Park Wood brought us to the top of the hill where we paused to catch our breath in the warm sunshine.

With Belton’s attractive houses hunkered round the small rise ahead of us, our path then dropped to meet the lane at Bluestones Farm, from where it was an easy stroll back into the village. All in all, it had proved a good walk – perhaps with a little too much on lane and track to be ideal, but with plenty in the way of views and interest to offset that – ideal for a good long morning or, split either side of a leisurely lunch in Braunston, an easy day.

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