Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything has a start and an end

You didn't think you would get rid of us that easily did you?

Yes, rather like Twin Peaks, it is all happening again.  We are now doing a  a rather circuitous route round Rutland, including bits of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.  You can read all about our adventures in the blog Pippin Round Rutland.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Walk 13 Ashby Folville to Owston

Saturday 5th July

Yes indeed, lots of songs about home comings were being sung by the jolly crowd that piled into one car in Owston on Saturday.  Classics like "Driving home for Christmas" and "Green, Green Grass of Home" could be heard from the wide open windows as we headed for the very last leg of our walk around the environs of Leicestershire.

You will notice that this walk was being done on a Saturday so that we could get into the pub at Somerby and have a slap up lunch before staggering the last couple of miles home.  The best laid plans etc etc.

Here we (almost) all are, looking very happy with ourselves.  This is possibly because we parked very near to one of the contenders for the "pub of the Round award" [ed. see the next post for all the lucky winners], but it was only 11am, so despite my longing look backwards we set off.  Eight miles I am told, with a fort in the middle of the walk, so let's get cracking.


Ah, hopefully the picture being taken here will appear in someone's inbox over the next few days.  And here it is

Anyway, off we go, away from Ashby Folville happily singing "Take Me Home Country Paths" (I wonder how long they will keep the singing up for?).

Given the weather overnight (rain in case you missed it) it is amazing that almost everyone is wearing sun hats, indeed Rob has taken the Summer motif one step further and is in his shorts, let's see how he feels when he goes tramping into nettles to find the twelve caches that are en-route.  "Another summer day has come and gone away in Paris and Rome but I wanna go home mmmmmmm" (what do you mean you don't like Mr Bubble?).

Still, it was pretty warm and fairly dry as we set off for Thorpe Satchville, one time hero of a Mills & Boon romantic novel, but now on his uppers and lending his name out to any village that will have it.

Lots of flowering thistles on this part of the walk, and quite a few sheep too.  Fortunately there were very few stiles given the inability of some people in the group to get over them.

At last I am off the leash and "Hold On, We're Going Home"... well actually here I am going in the wrong direction, but by now you probably get the idea.

One of the mysteries of this walk has been the geocaching activities that have been going on.  I think it is illegal to photograph the search for a cache, so there have been very few pictorial representations of this dark art, but on this walk we met a mysterious stranger (twice) who was also geocaching.  Here I was thinking that Rob had made it all up and just enjoyed sitting on walls and grubbing around in hedges and bushes.

Looking back almost towards Bradgate Park from Thorpe Satchville, and it is hotting up nicely, time for a bit of a sit and reflection while we wait for the geocachers to catch us up - a dnf (dog not fed) I am told.

As predicted by Gillian (in a clairvoyant moment) we found a bench handily sited and sat and waited.  "Show me the way to go home..."

Soon enough we were on our way out of Thorpe Satchville and onwards towards Burrough Hill fort and within sniffing distance of home.

What would a walk be without the odd picture of cows - here's least we are not "waiting until the cows come home..."

With a little bit of rounding up, we are pushing along over Slater's Hill with fine views all around.  It was at this bit that we "lost" Rob for a while - we will meet up with him again at the local hostelry after his assignation with a mysterious stranger.

Across Melton Lane and we get our first view of the Iron Age hill fort at Burrough.

There is more on Burrough Hill Fort if you follow this link.  If you are still with us, hurry up we have a hill to climb.  

Here I am on patrol at the entrance to the fort from the car park.  Some great big holes around this weekend as the University of Leicester's Archaeology Service (ULAS) and the University of Leicester Excavation Initiative (cricky guys great names - our group now officially renamed the Leicestershire Round Walking, Talking, Caching, Moaning, Eating and Beer Drinking Initiative - that's LRWTCMEBDI for short) are having a peak under the surface to see what is there.  There is a huge amount it would appear, go and have a look before everything is back-filled.

There are also cows up here - no idea why, especially as this one is not even enjoying the view.  The least we can do is have a quick peak at where we have been.

Here is Old John and Gillian looking towards Bradgate (I'm watching a man with a model plane, much more interesting). 

"Spendin' too much time away
I can't stand another day
Maybe you think I've seen the world
But I'd rather see my girl
I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home

The answer to the question of where we have been is now laid out before us.  On the horizon (that's the bit where the earth meets the sky for those of us in the group who do not understand wordzs with "z" in them) is Old John.  For those with memory failure, here is Burrough from Old John in Bradgate Park.

Burrough Hill is on the horizon, honest, I am reliably informed that bang in the middle of the photo is Burrough Hill Fort.  Of course, I was not on that walk and have no idea where Bradgate is, so you can be sceptical if you wish.  

Back to today's walk however...

The photographer tells me "that's a sheep and a half Pip m'lad".  He took a better one later on but for some reason he insisted on this one being published, probably to force me to tell that awful joke.

Anyway Somerby is exactly 1.25 miles from where this picture was taken, so in about 20 minutes we will be able to put our feet up and have a drink and some of that that promised food.  The sun is shining and everything is right with the world.

Mais non, sacre blu etc.  Somerby is 1 mile SE down the road from this photo, but the signs say we must go North, flippin' heck, John will be putting on his flat'at soon.  

So with heavy paws we step onwards heading towards the well-named Rise Hill and away from a pint of whatever you fancy.  Ah well..."The Long And Winding Road".  It was here that we met the mysterious stranger again who told us Rob had gone off in front of us as he was worried he had missed us.  It was getting like some awful time-travel novel, so we set off in pursuit worried that he would drink the pub dry before we got there.

Trying to look on the bright side I decided that it is good underpaw, there is no mud and we still have no idea where Rob is.  

"I'm coming home, this time I'm gonna stay
I'm coming home and I ain't never goin' away
My feet are itching to get back home"

Not only are we going North instead of South we are also going down, which can only mean one thing...

Then it got muddy too. Now Stanley liked mud (see below), but I have smaller

legs and all in all mud does not really do it for me, unlike Stanley who, I am told, took to it like a brick to water.

It was only 0.6 miles, but it felt much longer as we slipped and slid around in knee deep gloop.  

"Slip sliding away, slip sliding away, you know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away"

Ah well not far to the pub now folks!

Nobody had the heart to tell me the pub was another 1.3 miles away.  So doing some quick maths here: 1 mile down the road from Burrough Hill car park or about 2.5 miles via the Leicester Round.  Moral of the story, detour to Grant's in Burrough-On-The-Hill if you are peckish and it is around 1pm.  Never mind we are well on our way towards chips and beer now...

Our worse fears were realised when we got to the pub and found that Rob had been there for about twenty minutes, a quick check inside showed that there were still a few pints left.

"Yeah" cried the party, and then "oh no". Geoff is standing in the car park, he should be cooking, but it is after 2pm so no food for the happy wanderers - that will put them in a good mood. Me I'm always happy.

Well almost always. Here I am after being told that I was a Springer, not what I thought I was, and certainly not what my Mother told me I was.  So what am I now?  Confused, tell me does that face look like a Springer? [Anyone who says yes leave now...]

Don't ask! I knew she was carrying those shopping bags around for some reason but...

With no chips and heavy limbs we all (including Rob who we DID find at the pub) depart for Owston and home, but not without a quick sit down to take in the view one last time.

Then it was across a few fields to the sign that planted the germ of an idea in Steve's mind all those years ago.

"Hmm I wonder where that footpath actually goes, what it would be like to walk it, and what idiots can I find to join me on the Great Adventure?"  

Well it took two dogs, 860 days several of which were spent in hospitals around the country, two Bob's, one of whom vanished to an island in the Med, and a whole heap of chips and beer, but eventually Owston came into view just.

It was really nice to see that the village had turned out to welcome us back.

But there is one final problem, no one has tied a Yellow Ribbon around the ole oak tree, so I am not sure if ya still want me [that's the last one, honest, would I lie to you?].

Still someone was pleased to see us - possibly

This is Hester and she was the official welcoming home party, having decided that she could not be bothered to do the walk with us.

And that, as they say, is that. One final photo for the album and then it is time to do something else

Right, who fancies a game of chase?

"And now the end is near ... and so I'll say it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain... I travelled each and every highway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way."  In a few hours time, I will be in bed asleep, but the party will go on until the wee small hours (at least 10:30pm) as the, by now very hungry wanderers, celebrate finishing a little walk.  I will have to leave it here now as I was not invited to the post-walk party.  Steve reports on events as they unfolded.

But first, the scores on the doors for this walk.

Overall four muddy paws out of five, with one paw knocked off for the Burrough to Somerby leg.

The GPS shows that we walked 9.6 miles, so a final walked distance of 111.12 miles in total. 

Nine out of a possible twelve caches with one to come.

Next time: there is no next time, it is done, finished, we have closure.  So it is likely that next time we will be Pippin' Round Rutland and Northamptonshire, but who knows.

That dogs knowledge of popular song is amazing!  Finally he has gone to bed, possibly with the cat, but we will draw a veil over that and move onto the party.

Pip would be pleased to know that there was one final cache for Rob to find, and a whole cow to be eaten before we could lie sleepily down and rest our weary feet.

First off there was the certificate to be awarded - here is Pip's electronic award

and then there were the "best of and worst of" awards to be discussed (more in the next and final post).  

Food and wine (or was it wine and food?) needed to be cooked and eaten/drank. Finally the cherry on the top of the walk, the piece de resistance, was the cake! 

"It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - ooh oh
It finally happened - I'm slightly mad
Oh dear!"

 Jane had gone slightly mad and made a "Leicestershire Round" cake.

So from left to right - Jane and Pip, in the middle is Rob (with his newly dyed black hair - nice) searching for a cache, and in red is Ev trying to get over a stile.  Naturally there is an actual cache on the cake - well what did you expect?

It did not take Rob too long to find this one thank goodness.

Here is Ev again, and more lambs.  The "pub free chips" sign refers to The Sharnford Arms in Sharnford who had no food but gave away chips with each drink.

Gillian and A N Other wrestling over a kissing gate, and lurking in the field of rape

is John doing his best "Where's Wally" impression.

All good things have to come to an end and this is where we stop. So if you are doing the Leicestershire Round and you happen through Owston you might just hear the sound of clinking glasses and laughter as we relive the mud baths you are heading for either in Owston Woods or Rise Hills Spinneys....cheers!

Coming soon to a blog near you: The Leicestershire Round Awards, including 

: best pub
: most welcoming village
: the "get lost walkers" award for the least hospitable pub or village
: best dressed walker
: most talkative walker

and much, much more.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Walk 12 Hoby to Ashby Folville

Monday 26th May

Wet...wet...wet.  Three words that best sum up our little stroll on the Bank Holiday through to Ashby Folville.  Add to those three words: cows; horses; beer and chips and you pretty much have the walk in a nutshell.

Initial start at Hoby was dry if pretty dark.

Even at this stage it would be best not to ask what Rob is holding in his hand, all might be revealed later.

Off to a brisk start towards our first meeting with cows, but first a shed in Hoby...

The weather and the cows were already beginning to close in as we staggered onwards while Rob searched for the first of eight caches.

The cows around Hoby were certainly pleased to see us, crowding in to examine what goodies we had.

Eventually we managed to shake them off and were able to set off for Frisby On The Wreake, but not before, for the very last time, crossing the Melton-Leicester railway line

and then into buttercup filled meadows.  Here I am still in the "dry" stage of the walk taking a bit of a breather,

before staggering onwards to Frisby under a glowering sky.

still heading towards Frisby and the first pub of the walk (possibly).  But first, do I smell 'orses in the air? Well you cannot beat a refined nose for spotting things, and it seems at least one horse had designs on our sandwiches as well.

Once through Frisby (and without stopping at the pub) the path turns South taking us up out of the valley and away from Melton Mowbray.  As that happened we began to get the first real spots of rain (or drizzle) that would be our companion for the rest of the walk, and it got darker still.

Passing by something that was well past its' use-by date, we came to the A607 that needed crossing, and then we were off into more, and much muddier, fields with corn "as high as an elephant's eye"

before another game of "Where's Wally".

Now, if you have been paying attention you might just remember this photo of Stanley on the third part of the walk outside Hallaton:

Here is my contribution to the "wet as a dog" photos:


Still, a damp coat can always be dried with a quick race around a field (possibly).

The stick in Rob's hand is now seen to be a "dog cam". Here it is in operation just outside Gaddesby.

By now it was beginning to get a little damp and muddy with boots and paws clogging up with sticky clay.

Still the crew decided, heroically, to not stop at the pub in Gaddesby (some muttering about not sitting in a bleeping beer garden in the bleeping rain with a wet bleeping dog).  Instead we pressed on to our end point at Ashby Folville, although there was still time to play one more game of Where's The (Other) Wally.

And really (at least in terms of images) that was it.  By then it had got wet, slippery and muddy and the human contingent were not looking at their best:

And that was that...straight into the The Carrington Arms [nine chips out of ten for the pub, I am told] for the humans, and into a nice dry place for me.  

So, a difficult walk to rate.  In the dry probably a five muddy paws, but today I'll give it three

And now the technical bit:

With the walk cut short, the GPS track shows that we wandered for a mere 6.45 miles, that makes 101.52 miles walked so far. 

 Next time: An iron age hill fort, two pubs and with Owston in sight we will quite amazingly come to The End!  Here's hoping the weather is better when we complete in July.

c. Pip The Dog 2014