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.
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.
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.
So here we are bar the shouting. The sixth and final stage of the Grantham Canal Walk. The day’s walking began late as we waited upon the passing of a hugely stormy sky and torrential rain. We finally alighted from the car at The Dirty Duck at Woolsthorpe and set on our way to the final destination of Grantham. All good things come to an end as they say but we look forward to walking the Grantham Canal again one day…
The final stage…
It was with a little sadness that we contemplated the final stage of our Grantham Canal walk before we set out today. The walk has been so enjoyable and interesting and perhaps there was a small feeling that we didn’t want it to end. The five previous walks seem to have flashed past and yet the first day we set foot on the canal from near Lady Bay Bridge in Nottingham in the sunshine seems some time ago now.
Three walkers were present today, Barbara, Mel and Stu. The plan was to meet later than the customary morning rendezvous, at 4pm at Grantham Train Station, deposit a car and drive back to The Dirty Duck by Woolsthorpe. Upon arriving in Grantham town centre we were greeted by an inky black sky complete with lightning and heavy rain threatening.
The walk resumes today from The Peacock pub at Redmile and on to sleepy Woolsthorpe in the shadow of Belvoir Castle. the canal reveals another interesting historical story today about a horse-drawn tramway and manifests the waterway’s industrial past in the ‘Woolsthorpe Flight…
The Fifth Dimension.
Once again we had a quartet of canal walkers padding the towpath today. Barbara, Mel, Stu and Gino Dog. To re-trace our steps we met by The Chequers Inn in the dreamy village of Woolsthorpe, dominated by the imposing presence of Belvoir Castle standing high on Blackberry Hill, residence of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.
Leaving a car we drove back to The Peacock at Redmile, starting our walk at 11.40am. Our penultimate section today would be of six miles duration, leaving a similar distance for the finale into Grantham next week.