Tuesday, 31 August 2010

From the Archive. This day in 2005.

Horse-chestnut leaves. Anybody for a game of conkers?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Leicestershire Round part 6. Hallaton to Gumley.

Walk 6 of the Leicestershire Round would take us steadily downhill towards the river Welland. Offering us views into Northamptonshire. We set off from Hallaton.
In front of us as we left the village was the impressive earthwork of Hallaton Castle. This 12th Century motte and bailey castle, built during the reign of King Stephen is thought to have been built as a display of wealth rather than a serious defensive stronghold. The earth works are clearly visible ahead as you pass the cemetery.
The path climbs up over a north bluff of the River Welland until at its top you begin to get a view forwards towards the rest of the days walk. From this spot we got our first view of Langton Caudle. This 147m hill stands alone and offers fantastic views over this part of Leicestershire, which I will talk about in a minute.
Before you get to Langton Caudle you cross the route of the roman road known as the Gartree Road. This ancient road linked Leicester to Cambridge. In the field itself there really isn't any sign of it, though you can make out its course on Google Earth.
The path climbs up the Caudle on its north side. The view opens out at the summit.
From the top of the Caudle my attention was drawn in the first instance towards the north. The distinctive domed reservoir atop of Whatborough Hill just visible above a foreground ridge.
To the east we could see the dramatic sweeping side of the Welland Valley as it curves north eastwards. The River Welland marks the boundary between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. The far bank of the Welland Valley is therefore across the boarder.
A close up of the Welland Valley shows Cottingham Church spire on the right and Rockingham Castle on the left.
Further around to the south Market Harborough can be seen quite clearly.
In the near-ground the church at Thorpe Langton sits resplendent in the valley.
Towards the south the green tree covered hill left of centre in this picture is Sibbertoft Wood, in Northamptonshire.
Further west of that the ridge gains a set of distinctive spinneys. This is Hothorpe Hills in Northamptonshire. The white building in front of that is a prison on Gallow Field Road. How apt.
To the west the Church at Church Langton is clearly visible. Behind it Smeeton Hill. On the next walk we will be walking over Smeeton Hill.
After peering at distant hill for a while we then began the descent towards Thorpe Langton. This part of Leicestershire is pasture and we encountered several bulls on our travels.
From Thorpe Langton the Langton Caudle looks nothing more than a slight hill to the north.
Thorpe Langton cows.
After leaving Thorpe Langton and passing through East Langton we ended up in the Welland flood plain. We crossed several streams that drain into the Welland and they were all swollen with the recent rain we have enjoyed. A quick look over to the west reveals Gumley, our destination on this walk.
Also visible is the church at Foxton. The famous locks of Foxton are not visible from this angle.
The path then led under the railway and across the A6. Another daring road crossing required!
The season is really mature now and the crops in all the fields are ready for harvest. This Oil Seed Rape was being harvested whilst we were there.
Upon getting to Foxton we then followed the canal. The late afternoon sunshine made this last bit really tranquil.
The Locks at Foxton are worth seeing. We rested here in the pub on the left. Both pubs are nice, but I prefer the local Langton Ales that the other pub has on tap.
The locks are always busy with boat people and tourists.
A short way down the canal we crossed over this bridge into a few more paddocks.
At the end of a long days walking finding the car and sitting down with a flask of tea was a luxury!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Leicestershire Round part 5. Launde to Hallaton

Our walk started from Launde Abbey and headed east past these nosey cows!
The path passed Launde Park Wood to the north. The early morning sunshine and due covered spider webs made this part quite magical.
The path then abruptly turned south and headed uphill. From here on the far eastern horizon you can see Rutland Water (above).
From the other side of the hill Eyebrook Reservoir can be seen in the South East.
The path joins a very quiet road and down to Belton-in Rutland. We stopped here for some sandwiches.
From here a daring crossing of the A47 has to be attempted before entering the village of Allexton (above).
From Alexton you then begin to climb again. From the hill looking over Allexton Hall you get a good view back to Belton and Owston Woods beyond.
The corn in the fields was ripe for harvesting. In some fields they were actually harvesting it.
Flax growing in the path. In the open soil of the footpath flax seeds from a previous crop have grown into a purple carpet. Pretty but a little prickly for the short wearer.
One last look north gives a last glimpse of Whatborough Hill. I don't think we will see the hills of east Leicester again for a while.
Then to the south Hallaton appears. Slawston Hill stands just beyond.
Again we cross the dismantled train line.
The pub at Hallaton.

Grain Moon

Yesterdays full moon was a cracker. I wonder why you notice the moon more in Autumn? Maybe because you are out late because of the warmth. Also the drawing out of the nights make it dark earlier and thus makes the moon conspicuous. This August full moon is called a grain moon here in the UK. Each moon in the year was traditionally given a name that reflected what what happening during that part of the year. This is obviously the part of the year when grain is harvested. The other moons in the year have the following names.

January - Old Moon
February - Wolf Moon
March - Lenten Moon
April - Egg Moon
May - Milk Moon
June - Flower Moon
July - Hay Moon
August - Grain Moon
September - Corn Moon
October - Harvest Moon
November - Hunter's Moon
December - Oak Moon

Of course every two years or so you end up with a month with two full moons in it. The third moon in that season of four moons is then called a blue moon. I find it interesting that there is no Honey Moon.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The hedgerow at Cossington Meadows

The hedgerows are full of the bounty of the season. In the picture above shows Hop (Humulus lupulus) flower cones.
Crab Apples (Malus sylvestris) always look like they are good enough to eat but I've never plucked up courage. Close up the surface of a crabapple looks very similar to any apple you could buy in the supermarket. A little research has revealed that they are nasty to eat, that is until the first frost has been on them and as if by magic they sweeten. Might have to give it a go!

These berries belong to the Bird Cherry (Prunus padus). Apparently so long as you spit out the seed in the middle of them, you can eat them raw.

Anybody fancy a blackberry?
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is also edible according to this website. I have never tried them and normally avoid all red berries.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) produces sloe berries at this time of year. I did try one of these but found them so astringent that I ended up spitting it out and foaming at the mouth for about half an hour.

There is a sign at Cossington Meadows asking you not to pick the fruit. It makes sense really since this fruit is needed by much of the wildlife over winter. Picking the odd one though wouldn't make too much difference.