This walk, led by Jo and Peter, started from the beautiful grounds of Staunton Harold Hall, near Ashby de la Zouch. Lying in a green valley is the privately owned house, the church (National Trust) and the stables, now converted to craft shops, workshops, gallery and tearoom.
As it does lie in a valley, naturally we started off by doing a little gentle hill climbing and after reaching the top, walked along the Staunton Ridgeway.
The path has a number of unusual features including a ‘Look through the keyhole’ in the stone wall through which Peter could look back at the church. Honestly - that's what he was doing!
Also, there are 13 stiles, each bearing incised lettering. Stiles 1 and 3 bear a monogram and the date 1994, and nos. 2 to 12 show arts of a quotation from Hilaire Belloc (south to north) and Staunton Harold Hall’s owner John Blunt. (north to south).
Our walk then took us through a field of Highland cattle which, although fierce looking, seemed remarkably docile; Jenny even spent some time chatting to one, even managing to scratch its head. Rather her than me!
After a coffee break we carried on to the outskirts of Melbourne Hall estate, where we had time to ponder over the weir by the bridge over the lake.
Shortly after we came across a field containing a herd of Old English Longhorns (Pics 8 and 9) which were also fierce looking but equally docile.
After walking through the Breedon Priory golf course, we had a short but steep climb past the Bulwarks – remains of Iron Age earthworks - and reached the high point of the walk, the summit of Breedon Hill, 400 feet above sea level. Richard was obviously very pleased to get to the 13th century church at the top where we had our lunch stop.
We also found the historically significant church open to visitors and we all had a leisurely look around inspecting the tombs of the Shirley family.
Before we set off down the hill, we took advantage of the excellent views from its west side, near the beacon. There is a sheer drop into Breedon Quarry from here.
We then went down the hill into Breedon village and over a stream where we found masses of snowdrops. After that it was only a couple of miles over the fields to get back to Staunton Harold Hall.