It’s the penultimate day walking the Jurassic Way and today is going to be a much shorter walk than the previous two days and just a mere twelve and a half miles. I reach the attractive Rutland village of Barrowden in good time for the little shuttle bus which plies between Stamford and Uppingham so I am in plenty of time to wander around the village first including visiting the parish church.
The bus journey takes me to Uppingham where I can take another bus to Caldecott to walk across fields to Gretton and hence pick up the Jurassic Way where I left off on the previous day but this would make my walk too short. Well that is my original plan but instead I decide to walk from Uppingham and visit the historic Bede House in Lyddington en-route to Gretton.
Uppingham I find is an interesting small town frozen in history with many old buildings and dominated by its large private school which was founded in 1584.
I set off south and I am soon out of the town and following an undulating field path passing through playing fields before crossing ploughed and recently seeded fields to reach the attractive village of Lyddington. I now make for the interesting Bede House which originally formed the medieval wing of a palace belonging to the Bishops of Lincoln. Sir Thomas Cecil, son of Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister converted it into an almshouse in 1600 for twelve poor ‘bedesmen’ over 30 years old in age and two women over 45 years old in age who were all free of lunacy, leprosy or the French. Today, most of the rooms are unfurnished but a couple are which gives an insight on how conditions were in those days.
Continuing south from Lyddington I pass many cottages of attractive warm golden stone and turn left at the end of the village. A roadside seat a short way along this lane and below Bee Hill is a good spot to have an early lunch and today I am in no hurry as I have ample time to complete the walk before nightfall.
With sandwiches eaten I’m heading next towards the hamlet of Thorpe by Water but now the clouds are looking quite angry to the north east and there was no shelter around. I press on to reach the B672 just as the first spots of rain start. There is much open field walking next across the Welland Valley to reach Gretton and it seems likely that I will get caught in a heavy spell of rain. As luck will have it, it is fortunate that I reach a small underpass at the disused railway just as the rain comes on heavy and I couldn’t have wished for a better shelter. This is not marked on the map so it is a real bonus and so for the next half an hour I stay put as there isn’t much point in crossing large open fields and getting wet. When I do set off I cross an impressive new footbridge over the River Welland before striking out across open pasture with cows grazing. I am so glad that I had made the right decision to hold back awhile. Ascending towards Gretton I have to cross some sticky ploughed fields and in this part of the country the mud does really stick to your boots which impedes your walking pace. At long last I join the Jurassic Way which involves initially some road walking through the village of Gretton before taking a field path to the east. I get the impression that this area has been quarried for iron ore in the distant past and has now been landscaped. It’s a lonely section of countryside with large fields and bordering woodland blocks and devoid of any habitation but I later turn north by the isolated Harringworth Lodge. I cross more fields and following field boundaries, some with limestone walls which is like walking through a part of the Cotswolds. A minor road is crossed and I later make a descent to the Wellend Valley. Dominating the valley is the impressive Welland Railway Viaduct which at 1,275 yards long and has 82 arches. It was completed in 1878 and is the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in Britain and is a Grade II listed building. At the foot of my descent is the hamlet of Shotley and now I head west along a road into the village of Harringworth.
My route to reach Barrowden is now alongside the River Welland following a field path. Heavy clouds are threatening again and in this part of the world there is little shelter. I reach the unusually named Turtle Bridge as the first spots of rain are felt but have time to photograph this interesting location. I am surprised to find a county sign on the far side welcoming me to Rutland despite being on a green lane.
It now seems likely that I am going to get caught in a shower and so opt to see if there is any shelter at a nearby disused railway bridge. From the farm track I manage to get down the embankment to find some shelter and it isn’t long before the rain goes off. The next mile is just a case of walking along a field boundary before crossing a couple of ploughed fields. The rain is intermittent now and thankfully doesn’t amount to much. I finally join a lane into Barrowden and head up through the village back to the car.