Walk 6 – Anstey - Sheet Hedges - Groby Pool
This circular walk takes you to Bradgate Park via the ancient woodland of Sheet Hedges Wood - a haven for wildlife and returns via a delightful valley and the largest natural water body in Leicestershire. There is a Bus Stop for the 74 service from Leicester on the Anstey Upper Green, which is the start and finish point for this walk. This walk will take about 2 hours plus whatever time you may devote to visiting Bradgate Park, Sheet Hedges Wood or Groby Pool.
Walk to the Upper Green on Bradgate Rd and exit the Green into the field in the far corner. Follow the path up the hill to the left and exit the field after about 150 metres. Avoid the left turn into the recreation ground after 40 metres and then follow the path to the right at the fork after 50 metres keeping the hedge on your right side. Follow this path as it crosses over the fields for a kilometre until you reach the substantial block of Sheet Hedges
After about 20 metres take the stile into the wood and bear right at the fork after 15 metres. When the path reaches a neck of land on the edge of the wood, take the exit into an open field that leads on in the direction you have been broadly following.
The path crosses this field diagonally and is usually well marked on the ground, except when it has been ploughed, when you have to follow the waymarks. On the far side of the field the path continues along the headland and then does a chicane into the next field headland before again crossing diagonally, passing close by the telegraph pole in the field. This brings you to a confined length of path with 2 stiles and 2 gates that lead you down into Newtown Linford near the Bradgate Park Car Park exit.
If you wish to explore Bradgate Park then walk down the exit road and into the Park. There is a range of cafes, pubs and restaurants in the village and a delightful cricket ground. There is extensive evidence of the characteristic Charnwood Building materials - granite in walls and Swithland slate on the roofs.
To continue the circular walk find the path alongside the Post Office cafe, after 100 metres this opens out into a pleasant pasture field which gives good views into Bradgate Park if you look back. The path exits into Groby Lane which you cross bearing slightly to the right and then, passing through a kissing gate next to a field gate, you walk along a track with a hedge on your left and open views across a field to your right. Follow this path as it goes through a further kissing gate and then wanders downhill through a delightful hidden and quiet valley. Stay on the path through a further gate when the path becomes more restricted and full of Bluebells in the Spring.
Eventually, you will see Groby Pool on your right and the path exits on to Groby Lane.
Turn right along the road along a combination of road, verge and footway past Groby Pool and then continue on the footway. When the slip road on to the A50 comes into view you turn left across Groby Lane and via a stile follow the track pictured below, that goes more or less parallel to the A50, albeit at a distance
Just before you think you will have to ford a stream in front of you, the path goes left to a plank bridge over the stream and then over the field to a hedgerow. Take the path straight up the hill, bear right at the top and via 4 fields back to your starting point at the Anstey Upper Green.
Sheet Hedges Wood is an ancient woodland which is known to have existed as far back at 1086 when it was recorded in the Domesday Book. This area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its high ecological value. It comprises a rich mix of native trees including oak, ash, wild cherry and hazel. In spring the woodland floor is carpeted in the colourful flowers of bluebell, wood anemone, yellow archangel and red campion. The name has generated many theories from a washer women hanging sheets out on hedges to dry to the hawthorns being so well flowered that they look like sheets. The reality is rather less romantic! Sheethedges is a very old name derived from 'scite' or 'scēat' meaning dung and 'hecg' meaning enclosure, giving us some clue to how the area was being used in the Middle Ages!
Groby Pool is held, by some, to be the largest natural lake in the county. While there is some debate about how natural it actually is it is a SSSI and used by many wintering wildfowl. The marginal vegetation is diverse, and there is also wet woodland and meadows which have grasses such as common bent, sweet vernal grass and crested dog's-tail. Heron and Cormorant breed on the small island in the lake, Reed and Sedge Warblers breed in the fringe reed beds and Mandarin Ducks can often be seen.