Route: Melbourne – Donington Park - Castle Donington – Isley Walton – Langley Priory - Tonge – Wilson – Melbourne
Start: Castle St by the White Swan PH – Parking spaces here.
Refreshments: Castle Donington and Wilson.
Distance: 17 km. Moderate – mostly flat but a long walk including some pavement work.
Walk along Castle St to the Washpit, turn right down Station Road.
Pass by the new housing estate and Paddock Hotel (formerly The Railway Inn). Cross over the railway bridge and walk on the grass verge past Station Farm. There are two concrete remnants of the Melbourne Military Railway (1939-1945) in a field on your left. Cross the “New” Bridge and walk uphill. Watch out for traffic.
Melbourne Military Railway
At Ramsley House on your left take the signed path by the side of a yew hedge. Follow the path by the side of the house until you enter a large field. Walk along the field edge until you reach your first substantial tree/shrub and turn 90 degrees right. If you have reached a pylon you have gone too far. There is a good panorama of Melbourne and Kings Newton at this spot.
Vista of Melbourne and Kings Newton
Walk towards a large solitary tree the remains of a hedge can be seen at ground level. There should be a gap in the hedge in front of you but this is sometimes overgrown. You need to find a way into this field so that you have the hedge on your left, the field on your right and the road further to your right. Having managed this soon you will see Melbourne View Hotel on your right on the main Melbourne to Isley Walton road. There is also a nice view of Breedon Church to your right.
The path goes through several fields with the hedge still on your left. You will cross a small footbridge (with a marker upon it) and squeeze through a gap in a hedge. Ramsley Wood appears on your left along with a barn building in the middle distance left at Newtons Corner. After you cross a track, walk alongside a row of telephone poles. In the corner of a thicket, ahead of you partly to the left, you’ll spot a Leicestershire yellow footpath marker. The path winds its way through a small scruffy thicket until it reaches a tarmac area. Follow the clearly marked path uphill between a wire fence and crush barrier. Turn left at the top where the rest of the route is obvious taking you round a large parking space used for the Sunday Market.
In the far corner of the car park the path begins to pass between a fence and the concrete security wall of Donington Park. This section can be a bit muddy. Where the path descends there are good views left of Donington Hall. The path begins to climb and leaves the concrete wall as it turns to the left. It enters a large pleasant grassy field which must have been landscaped by the Donington Estate. Keep the small wood to your right and follow the way around to Gate 6 of the Race Course where there is a good view of the track.
Climb a curious metal stile and turn immediately left along a wide rutted track. The countryside starts to open out. You cross a another track and can see the spire of Castle Donington church (St Edward) and the towers of Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station in front of you. Continue straight ahead, soon you will see the yellow footpath marker at the start of Dalby’s Covert. Follow the narrow track through this which can be muddy in wet weather.
Curious metal stile
Exit the Covert by another curious metal stile and head in the direction of Castle Donington, where houses start to appear in the distance. Cross a footbridge and pass through several fields until you reach a children’s playground. Exit by a gate into a small housing estate. Turn right along Bosworth Road then left into Shields Crescent. Next turn right into Park Avenue and then left into Shields Crescent again. You eventually come to the main road Kings Mills-Donington road (Park Lane). Turn right here and eventually you come to traffic lights after passing some interesting old houses. If you wish to visit Castle Donington shops/restaurants take the road by the Turks Head PH which is Market St. where there are many local amenities. The church yard is a pleasant place to eat your sandwiches.
The walk resumes by climbing Main St towards East Midlands airport. Once again there are many interesting houses and structures on this route with large gardens. On your right do not miss the recently refurbished Long Wells.
Long Wells, Castle Donington
The path gets steeper towards the Nags Head PH but flattens out as you approach the roundabout by the Aero Park. Cross the road at this roundabout to reach a safe metalled pavement. You have about a kilometre of wind-swept walking here that takes you around the airport perimeter. Look out for an old metal milestone cast in Coalville with a curious spelling of the town.
When you see a bus stop on your left cross the road. A few metres on is a track through a hedge on your left. Ignore the sign pointing right for the airport trail and head straight on along the track between two airport car parks. Make for the main road over a track, stiles and a footbridge. Cross the very busy road to a stile ahead of you to the right of the roundabout. The path turns sharp left, crosses a closed and gated metalled road and enters another field by a footbridge where you turn right. You are now on a path that skirts two reservoirs on your left. Soon you are in open countryside and the path climbs uphill slightly to your left (there is a marker). At the top, pass a solitary tree and enjoy the views of Charnwood Forest ahead of you. Cross an open field to a hedge which you keep on your right until you spot a stile in the corner.
After passing a short and lovely hedge of oaks the well marked path goes through several fields until you reach a farm road coming up from Woodhouse Farm (Diseworth) which is on your left. Cross the road and make for another solitary oak tree. You are now in a very large field where navigation is difficult. You need to make a diagonal for the distant hedge on your right. The marker is well to the right of the barn conversion in the far distance. The path you want is roughly in the direction Smooth Coppice which is also on your right. If you get really stuck comb that hedge until you find the yellow marker. If you reach the barn conversion at the entrance to Langley Priory you have gone too far!
The path now cuts the corner of a field and crosses the main drive to ancient Langley Priory (private). Your next maker is ahead of you to the right of a telephone pole in the distance. Cross the stile there and skirt around a pond and the garden of Windyridge. The next post shows two footpath routes. Please make sure you take the right fork. If the route is not clear keep the right hand hedge parallel to your route. When Breedon Priory Church comes into view make for it. At the bottom of the field you will see a yellow marker. The path leads through another field then gently down to a main road. Cross it carefully and follow the well marked route through several fields one of which has humps and bumps and a concrete slab bridge. After passing around the back of the cottage “Church View” cross a minor road and take the path that leads you down to the railway where you turn right.
Walk along the disused railway track for 1.6 km until you reach a footpath sign for a path on your left. Make your way into Wilson and walk up Short Hill. Turn left for the Bulls Head PH for refreshment or straight ahead. Just past the South Derbyshire sign look out for a track that runs parallel to the road. This is part of the old Melbourne Hall Park carriage route. Keep on this track for half a kilometre until you reach an electricity pylon then rejoin the road down a short track.
Statue on Sustrans Cycle Path
Continuing towards Melbourne on the road watch out for a metal footpath marker on your right. This is Melbourne footpath 12 which crosses a large field to Station Road. If the route is not clear head for the small farm building in the middle of this field and then make for the houses on Station Road. You will need to find a wooden bridge that crosses the Carr Brook. The path climbs up to the road by the last house in Railway Terrace.
Turn left here and soon you will reach the Washpit that you passed at the start of this walk.