The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Back to the Vale of Belvoir

IT WAS BACK to the Vale of Belvoir, the Beautiful View’ to run on the towpath of the Grantham Canal this Saturday, for the first time in a few years actually and I had forgotten just how striking it is in that scenic area that sits astride the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.

My leisurely mid-morning drive took me over the River Trent via stately Gunthorpe Bridge, passing through the attractive market town of Bingham and on to pretty Redmile. Soon, the impressive sight of Belvoir Castle came into view standing over a hazy hinterland, gently bathed in hazy early September sunshine.

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From Harlaxton Drift Bridge, the Grantham Canal

The Vale of Belvoir has always been a popular choice for a some out-of-town relaxation for me, being only a modest forty-five minute drive from my Nottinghamshire home. I love it because it is under-populated by visitors and all the more peaceful for it. I have to say some do not know what they are missing as it is an impressive slice of countryside, all the better for having the atmospheric Grantham Canal running through it, a thirty-three mile ribbon beginning in Nottingham and ending in the Lincolnshire town it was named after.

Meeting my friend outside the Rutland Arms, better known as ‘The Dirty Duck’, near Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir. I parked up canal side and noted how much the reeds had colonised the water since I had last visited. There were few people around at the adjacent camp site providing a peaceful and serene scene.

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The Rutland Arms on the Grantham Canal

A seven-mile run took us alongside the old waterway, punctuated only by the odd walker, cyclist or angler on it’s quiet banks. The run took us down to Harlaxton Drift Bridge and a return to The Rutland Arms passing locks and ancient turning circles for the canal barges.

Afterwards, it was time for lunch and with the Rutland Arms’ doors firmly closed it was a mile drive down the quiet road to the village and the welcome of the superb Chequers Inn at Woolsthorpe. It’s hard to imagine a much more impressive pub-restaurant environment than this beautiful and historic 17th-century inn with it’s stone fireplaces, bar and rabbit warren of attractive and well-appointed rooms. A restaurant/banqueting suite had evidently been extended on to the old building earlier this year adjacent to the attractive garden where we had our lunch in the sunshine, accompanied by the pub’s friendly resident rooster which patrolled the garden.

The Chequers Inn, Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, Lincolnshire

All good things come to an end so they say and my regular Saturday runs at Woodborough in Nottinghamshire are no longer, at least for now. After a moderate and pleasant drive through the neighbouring counties though, back to The Vale of Belvoir offers an outstanding replacement.

September 9, 2015 - Posted by | On The Road | , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. Slap on the legs, Stuart. I’m now a resident of Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir (although you may find my comments elsewhere since my childhood was in Bestwood Village) . Unless he was in hiding and known by another name, Isaac Newton actually lived not in Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir but in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, some distance down the A1. I occasionally get visitors asking for Isaacs birthplace-Woolsthorpe Manor so you aren’t alone.
    The Duck is indeed closed now although caravans still use the field at the side. Rumour is rife as to what will happen to it. The carpenters workshop at the back of the Duck is used by the Grantham Canal Society which along with other charitable concerns is in the process of renovating 2 of the locks in the Woolsthorpe flight (work on lock 15 started in August) with the aid of a lottery grant. The Society are holding their annual ‘Discovery Day’ this coming Sunday.

    Comment by Tom Reviewer | October 9, 2015

  2. Hi Tom, thanks for the correction, appreciated. I’m happy to hear of the locks being repaired, that’s good news. I’m aware of the workshop as I walked the whole canal in sections a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed reading up and recording it’s history along the way.

    It’s a shame regarding the Duck, always a favourite place for me to begin and end a walk or run and have a pint by the canal. I’ll be interested to hear of its fate but it seems a fairly forlorn one regarding it continuing as a pub, perhaps.

    Comment by Stuart | October 9, 2015

  3. I will try to keep you posted re the Duck when things become clearer.
    Incidentally we appear to have a number of locations in common. My journey from Bestwood to Woolsthorpe over the years has, amongst other addresses, included living in Arnold, Lowdham and Woodborough. I would estimate that I have walked 40 to 45 thousand miles with my dogs over the last 30 years or so along the Trent Valley and latterly alongside the Grantham Canal. Although I have covered the same stretches hundreds of times I never tire of the scenery, the wild life and the changing of the seasons.

    Comment by Tom Reviewer | October 9, 2015

  4. Thanks Tom, I’d really appreciate that.

    We certainly do have places in common. Redhill resident and spend a lot of time around the likes of Woodborough where I have family, Lambley, Epperstone and Lowdham etc. I’ve spent many an hour running and walking in the Trent Valley, actually around Hoveringham pastures for a stroll last weekend. The paths are, like in the Vale, generally underpopulated I find and that’s the way it suits me.

    Enjoy your walking, Tom and thanks again for dropping by.

    Comment by Stuart | October 9, 2015

  5. Well Stuart, after some months of speculation and not a few red herrings I am told the ‘Duck’ is set to re-open as a pub sometime in the near future. Apart from internal and external renovation over the first part of the year and that the business is to be helmed by a local couple, further details are a bit sketchy. No doubt, further details of the re-opening will appear in due course.

    Comment by Tom Reviewer | May 11, 2016

  6. Thanks a lot, Tom, I’m so pleased to hear that as I imagined the pub was dead and buried. I ran from there a couple of weeks back alongside the canal and noted a little activity around the site and one or two subtle changes. Wasn’t sure what to make of that.

    I’m sure the local people will be pleased to hear that the pub is going to return, pleased for them. I’d be pleased also if you’d keep me further informed of any info. Thanks again.

    Comment by Stuart | May 11, 2016

  7. Recent news is that the ‘Duck’ is re-opening as a pub shortly with a local couple at the helm. The interior and outside have been renovated during the last few months and presumably we shall be hearing about the opening by in due course.

    Comment by Tom Reviewer | May 11, 2016

  8. Hot(ish) off the press. The Duck is now open, officially as the Dirty Duck (not as a soubriquet for the Rutland Arms as previously). Only serving drinks as yet since the kitchen is incomplete. The opening, on Friday, was very much a whimper, rather than a bang, as there seems to have been very little local advertising and was mostly by word of mouth. The whole interior and much of the exterior has been revamped.
    With 3/4 pubs a day closing in the UK, depending on which source you consult I wish the new business all the best.

    Comment by Tom Reviewer | July 17, 2016

  9. HI and many thanks for the update, it’s appreciated. I came down to run from there maybe three weeks ago and noted that it was on the way back with the car park much changed etc. I’m glad that you have a local pub back to use, in a great position and happy that I’ll be able to use it again as I once did.

    Comment by Stuart | July 18, 2016


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