I walked this, the seventh stage of the Hit The North expedition, in June 2013.
I picked up the trail in Oakham and headed out of town in a northerly direction. I was looking for remnants of the Oakham Canal, opened in 1802 and closed a mere 45 years later as it was not financially viable.
I first encountered the canal within Oakham itself though there was no towpath to follow.
I left the town and soon found myself transported into an English idyl. The sun was out, the temperature was mild and a shady footpath took me alongside the canal.
Eventually I found the towpath, and what a beautiful scene!
It was love at first sight with this glorious canal.
Sadly the grassy towpath only runs for mile or so and after that the canal is either covered over by agricultural land or overgrown and with no towpath.
The good news is that local groups, such as the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society, are actively restoring these wonderful waterways and gradually opening them up for us all to enjoy.
The rest of the hike was a little bit of a anti-climax after the wonders of the canal.
I joined the Rutland Round footpath for a while…
…I passed through the village of Whissendine, home of at least two nice looking pubs.
Whissendine is also the home of a windmill, still working, built in 1809.
I walked over some lovely rolling green hills
and past grazing sheep, classic scenes of rural England.
But too much of my time was spent trudging across fields and I started repeatedly checking my watch, never a good sign.
Not from far my destination I crossed the county boundary into Leicestershire. I sat down by a pond and had some tea and biscuits to celebrate this historic occasion.
I reached Melton Mowbray in the late afternoon. I could have done with a pint and one of those famous Melton Mowbray pies but alas I had not a penny in my pocket so made do with some bombay mix on the station platform.
But oh…that canal!