Walk 15 - QUORN WOODHOUSE CIRCULAR, SKIRTING THE FOREST PARK
This is part paved and part paths which can be muddy in places in poor weather. The walk should take about 2 hours.
We are taking Quorn Cross as our starting point and we set off along Meeting Street and Chaveney Road.
This first half mile is of historic interest. Meeting Street once part of the ancient salt road that linked the Midlands with the east coast.
Two typical architectural features to look out for as you walk around the older parts of the village are walls built of granite, from the nearby quarry (Buddon Wood Quarry opened in 1821) and roofs with diminishing courses of Swithland slates (smaller slates higher up the roof).
On the left, No.12 was the old blacksmith's, one of three in the village whose customers included, of course, the Quorn Hunt and the stagecoach operators (before the railways, up to 32 scheduled stagecoaches a day passed through Quorn running day and night and the White Horse, was one of at least three coaching inns in the village and included stabling for 15 horses). This was the main route (A6) between London and Manchester.
The detached house set back a little after the Blacksmith's Arms used to be the Three Crowns inn, whose licence was transferred to a pub on Woodhouse Road in 1899 to serve the new Great Central Railway.
Just beyond Sanders Road, notice that the award winning 1990s houses (Nos 43- 47) reflect the design of the old blacksmiths. At this point, the sound of running water would have been even louder in the past as Poultney Brook, which now flows under No.49, used to flow freely over the street itself to join Buddon Brook. Hidden by the tall trees of Kaye's Plantation to the left lies Quorn House, built in 1820 by the village's hereditary 'squires', the Farnhams, on the site of the family's 14th century house: and was the headquarters for the Rosemary Conley diet and fitness business until purchased in 2015 for office use by Tarmac.
We now pass two former churches on the right. No.83 is a former Primitive Methodist Church and a little past Spinney Drive, the Meeting House, a building dating from the 15th century, was where Baptist services were held from 1776 before the Baptist Chapel opposite was built and which included Thomas Cook amongst its preachers.
Until the 20th century, the last building on the way out of the village was Chaveney House (opposite Elms Drive), originally owned by the Chaveney family and dating in parts from 1415, though largely rebuilt in the 1600 and 1700s. Its proximity to the road is explained by the fact that the side we see was originally the rear of the building. No.33 Chaveney Road, further along on the right, was frequently visited by D. H. Lawrence as his girlfriend Louise Burrows lived there.
Where Chaveney Road takes a sharp right we carry straight on along Buddon Lane following the public right of way / bridleway sign. The plantation of tall trees on the left means that in spring this walk is accompanied by a chorus of bird song and offers a good chance to see woodland birds
At the end of the paved road, go forward across a field into the rather eerie cutting with tall thorn bushes, choosing the lower or upper paths depending on the conditions. After passing under the Great Central Railway bridge the path turns sharp right and offers a view across the field to Quorn & Woodhouse Station.
This was the last London-bound mainline to be constructed opening in 1889. The closure of the station in 1963 theoretically broke the original GCR contract with the local Farnham family, who granted the company permission to build on the condition that this station would stay open 'forever'! Nowadays, this forms the longest stretch of double tracked preserved mainline in the country.
Follow the path along the field hedge and at the end of the field, turn left. In the distance you can see the village of Woodhouse Eaves (at the edge of Charnwood Forest, 'eaves' meaning 'edge of'). Just before the Thatched Cottage, turn right into Woodhouse, older than Woodhouse Eaves but many of whose original houses on the main road were replaced in the mid-1800s by the carefully designed cottages of local stone and slate we see today.
Turning right at the main road pass first an old spring on the left, where the water used to emerge from the Bulls Head, and which was erected in 1859 by the Herrick family, long time owners of Beaumanor Hall. The last old house on the right is clearly older than most, evidenced by the rise in the carriageway since it was built.
The Beaumanor estate, created in the 13th century, was once Charnwood's largest manor, incorporating Beacon Hill and reputedly including Richard II amongst those who hunted in its park.
It was bought by the Herricks around 1600 but the present building dates from 1847.
During the second world war Beaumanor was used by an important signals unit that intercepted German transmissions before passing them to Bletchley Park
After the entrance to Beaumanor, take the public right of way path signposted to the left at the 'chevrons' and after crossing Poultney
Brook into the second field, skirt round the field to your left.
In the next field, aim towards the far right-hand corner until the yellow way marker becomes visible. In the last field, the target is just to the left of the tall university tower building. The lane onto which we turn right has plenty of wildlife interest.
On the route through Woodthorpe itself look out for the old Quorndon/Woodthorpe parish boundary marker. The boundary in question is actually several hundred metres to the South.
Our path back to Quorn takes us across the fields to the right at the public right of way signpost and back over the Great Central Railway bridge. Following the path we pass 'One Ash' on our left, a small country house and grounds (built in 1894).
Where Poultney Brook joins us again, keep to the path ahead rather than the track to the left which was once part of the old Woodthorpe Road. Between the brook and the Woodhouse Road ahead, lies a small wildlife-rich meadow.
Diagonally across to the right we can follow the public right of way towards Caves Field and then left across the Tom Longs water meadow a site leased by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. A display board provides information about the wildlife that can be seen here.
Alternatively in wet weather turn left and then right at the traffic lights and follow the main road.