This is a route I regularly take my dog on.
From anywhere in Leicestershire head for the Reservoir Car Park of Bradgate Park. Drive past it, past Horseshoe Farm until you see the entrance to Swithland Woods.
Start of the walk. £1.00 in the honesty box if you please!. At the entrance to the parking spaces there is a bridle path on the right, or you can walk down a diagonal path to join it. Walk up the path until you reach the quarry, go left and follow the path around the quarry until you can see the seat left of the corner of the pool. (Look through the fence and, if it's not been raining too much, you can see the wall painting about the Rotary Club Acquisition of the wood), This gets a little tricky here, walk down to the bridle path but do not turn right, do slightly diagonally left, till you can see the path that joins the end of Donnas Lane by Swithland Camp. If it is dry, use the paths through the woods, but keep the wall in sight. When you can hear the traffic on the road you know you have to bear right to the bottom car park, this can be muddy even at the best of times.
Walk straight through the car park and head for the railings of the Brand minor quarry, follow the fence until you reach the bridleway, turn right until you reach a left turn to a path into Swithland Village itself. Follow this and put your dog on the lead until you reach Mole End Cottage, just past the bus stop on the other side of the road. Follow the path opposite through several fields until you reach a, usually, very muddy bit through the spinney and walk diagonally right through the field, bear left through the paddocks until you reach the lane. You may need to put your dog on a lead if the horses are in the fields. Turn right and follow the lane until you reach a dip in the road that leads up to Rabbits Bridge, (if you are a steam train spotter you can watch the trains come through all year round, this is the Great Central Railway, the only dual tracked Independent Railway Trust in the UK), before you reach Rabbits Bridge, however, turn right through the hedge and down a steep, stepped, embankment; it can be very slippery, follow the stream until you cross through the hedge right. The farmer leaves a really broad headland for walkers. Route is fairly obvious from here, follow the hedge until you see the , usually, muddy right turn, however, walk past that one to the next turn and take that, it's still muddy. walk the obvious path, turn left and walk down the track to the gate, There are sometimes cows in this field and so you must make a decision about the lead. When you reach Swithland Village again, opposite number 140, put you dog on a lead and walk through the village. You can pass the Griffin Inn but they do welcome walkers, and it's a useful break; otherwise, continue on the opposite side of the road to maintain footpath until you see the pump-house; Cross with care.The traffic tends to be a little fast here. Cows can be in the field behind but once through, your dog can be free until you reach the road opposite Cropstone Leys. Attach your dog, their are horses and sheep in these fields and your dog, unless he is exceptionally obedient, is able to get to them!
You can see the entrance to Cropstone Leys across the road to the right, follow it straight up and ignore the footpath signs to the left. You now re-enter Swithland Woods and you have a choice to turn left, if it is dry, or go straight up and re-join the track where you turned left at the quarry. Follow the bridleway back to the path and where you parked your car. If you do decide to turn left be warned, this is never completely dry and you will need to wash your dog(s). Just follow your nose, it is an obvious path, and when you come to the stream turn right until you reach the bridleway. Continue back to where you parked.
You can make this a short walk of three miles by omitting the bit from Mole End Cottage, walk through through the village until you come to the pump house. I do this when it's particularly muddy.
This is a typical Charnwood walk, but an easy one. It is 5.5 miles and can be continued to Swithland Reservoir and back and add another mile and a bit. Swithland Reservoir has serious bird watching opportunities.
- Paid Parking
- Off Lead Areas
- On Lead Areas
- Animals On Route
- Refreshments Available
North of Leicester at the Cropstone end of the reservoir near Bradgate Park.Unnamed Road, Loughborough LE12 8JL, UK
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