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Leicestershire Walk
Desford, Botcheston and Thornton (Reservoir) from Ratby

County/Area - Leicestershire

Author - David McMahon

Length - 11.0 miles / 17.9 km

Ascent - 1000 feet / 303 metres

Time - 6 hours 30 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference SK511057
Lat 52.646638 // Long -1.246171
Postcode LE6 0JG (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Desford, Botcheston and Thornton (Reservoir) from Ratby
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Ratby is a pleasant commuter village to the west of Leicester and south of the M1. Car parking is available (Monday to Friday) at Ratby Sports Ground (entrance on Desford Lane), on the Main Street (opposite Co-op). Arriva Services 26 and 27 from Leicester(see timetable) offer a regular bus service.

To start the walk, continue up Desford Lane and then take the footpath off to the left. Aim right towards the buildings. Continue along the hedgerow and over a slight bump. Follow the enclosed path until you're in a field. Turn left and head for the footbridge. After that turn right and head for the road.

Cross the road into the farm yard and then go slightly right; climb a series of stiles to cross the railway line. After the line head diagonally left, but turn sharp right before going through the gate. Follow the hedgerow, then continue in the same direction across the open fields until you reach Park House Farm. Go to the right of the farm and the bungalow immediately behind it, but then to the left of the hedgerow.

Down to the bottom of the field, climb the stile into the next field, negotiate several roped-off enclosures, walk along the grass track and then swing right to the yellow post. Across the footbridge and turn immediately left onto for the road.

Cross the road and use the wide verge to walk into Desford. Continue along Barns Way and also High St and then turn right into Church Lane. Immediately opposite St Martin's Church turn right again into an alleyway. At the end of it over a stile and aim diagonally left. Follow the enclosed path until you reach a junction and there you turn right. Continue along this enclosed path and then it's a left turn. Almost immediately afterwards it's a right turn over a footbridge and then it's a straight on to cross a railway line and onwards into Botcheston.

On reaching the road turn left and almost immediately take the footpath on the right. Climb the steps and continue up the slope. Over the stile and aim to the right of the electricity pylon. Into the next field and aim to the right of the houses which will bring you onto Markfield Lane.

Turn left and then road walk until you reach the second footpath on your left. Continue along with the hedgerow on your right. Into the next field and you aim diagonally right. Go through the gap in the hedgerow over a stile and then climb the slope between the saplings. At the top of it into the next field (which at the time of writing has a herd of llamas in it) and head downhill diagonally right.

Climb the stile onto a farm track and then turn right before the pond. Cross the footbridge and head uphill and diagonally right through the saplings. Continue along through several fields and onto Merrylees Road. Walk up it until you reach the junction with Reservoir Road.

From here you have several alternatives. You can continue along in the same direction what is now the Main St of Thornton with the Reservoir Inn on the left hand side and further on, on the right, is The Bricklayers Arms (from it you can get access down onto the reservoir footpath) Another option is to turn right onto Reservoir Road and then left through the car park to the footpath which circles the reservoir and you'll find a café further along.

To continue the walk carry on along Reservoir Road to cross the dam proper and follow the road up the slope until you see the stile on the left. Climb over it and then diagonally to the right up the slope. At the top straighten up and follow the hedgeline along to the road. Turn left and walk along until you see another footpath sign on the right.

Turn onto this path and follow the hedgeline until you reach the far left-hand corner of the field and then over the stile and then diagonally right across the next field. Cross into the next field a quick left, right and left again and then walk down the hedgeline to a gate. Through it and down the enclosed footpath. Turn left at its' end and left again when you reach a junction. Eventually the path becomes a tarmac road. Carry on in the same direction and then over the stile and turn sharp left before the greenhouse.

Negotiate the stile and go diagonally right towards the wood. On reaching it turn right and carry on in the same direction, down a slope, over a footbridge and then turn right immediately after the pond. Head for the yellow post and then continue along this wooded footpath though what, at one point looks like a scrapyard, until it opens out into a field. Turn right there and follow the headland around until you come onto a bridleway by Martinshaw Farm.

Turn right onto it and continue along the track until where it does a sharp right-hand turn, but look out for a well hidden path to the left. Turn onto this wooded path and follow it through until it opens out after crossing a footbridge. Continue in the same direction ignoring all sidetracks. Straight on at the junction through the saplings, past an extremely muddy patch and when you see a slight rise you're almost here. Cross the field diagonally to your right and onto a minor road. Walk along it and very soon you'll be on Ratby Main St with the sports ground down to your right.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers

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