Walk 2315 - printer friendly version
Old John & Beacon Hill Walk
Author - James Rhodes
Length - 8.8 miles / 14.2 km
Ascent - 900 feet / 273 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference SK523098
Lat 52.683378 + Long -1.2277877
Postcode LE6 0HB (approx. location only)
This circular walk climbs two of Leicestershire's most popular hills, also visiting Ulverscroft Priory and the pretty village of Newtown Linford. Although there are two fairly long climbs, the paths are very clear and the going easy throughout. Bradgate Park and Beacon Hill can both be very busy on summer weekends, and those seeking peace might prefer this walk in the week. The walk is described from the large pay-and-display car-park serving Bradgate Park in Newtown Linford, but there are several other car-parks close to the route and also limited street parking in both Newtown Linford and Woodhouse Eaves.
Leave the car-park on the main driveway to the north and then immediately cut left on the clear bridle-track heading gradually uphill into Bradgate Park. After 200yds or so, take one of a number of forks right onto clear paths through the heathland heading quite steeply up to the little copse, Tyburn, at the highest point of the horizon. This is a very pleasant shady and quiet spot even when the rest of the park is busy. Veer right out of the copse to join a very wide and worn track north towards the obelisk-topped hill ahead; the gradient is slightly easier and the path more pleasant if you slant left onto a narrower path about halfway there. The obelisk commemorates the dead of the two World Wars, and this is a good point both for reflection and to take in the views of the rest of the park. Bradgate Park is lovely walking territory, and you can easily spend hours here tramping around the many good paths between the hills and spinneys, with many half-wild deer inhabiting the eastern areas of the park.
Skirt to the right of the small copse to the north of the memorial and then steeply uphill to the top of Old John. This rock-topped hill is named after the impressive tankard-shaped tower on its summit, an 18th-century folly. Next, head downhill towards the gate at the north-west corner of the park and go through the carpark to emerge at a road junction. Head across here and onto Benscliffe Road, turning right after 200yds onto the waymarked ( 'Leicestershire Round') path heading downhill through Rough Hill Wood. Stay on the main track where it forks to emerge from the woods onto a golf-course. The next part of the walk is a little bit of a trial as the right-of way spends a good distance crossing the fairways - keep to the waymarks (of which there are many, with the path also being worn and clear on the ground) and show due respect for the players.
On leaving the golf-course, the path heads across a field before joining a track and then a road heading right downhill into Woodhouse Eaves. Stay on the road until just before a pub, then take Mill Road uphill to the left. This lane soon becomes unsurfaced and then a path, but follows a straight route across the wooded flanks of Windmill Hill, with good views over the hills of Broombriggs Country Park to your left. When reaching a road, head straight across and then turn left onto the cycle-track opposite to begin the climb of Beacon Hill. Turn right at the first opportunity, beside a sign warning of pedestrians, to leave the track and then after about 125 yds, turn left again onto the main path heading gradually up the hill for nearly a mile. Towards the top, you may wish to take a gate on your right onto a grassy track that cuts the corner and heads straight up through a field of brooding long-horned cattle. The summit area, which features a trig-point and a helpful AA toposcope among the rock crops, is a very good viewpoint and - easily accessible - usually quite busy.
Leave the summit area south through the car-park and then turn right and fork left (signed for pedestrians) onto a pleasant gravelled path heading downhill through the woods. As this curves right at its lowest point, there is a somewhat out-of-character charcoal burner to your left; take the narrow grassy path that heads behind this out of the park to a crossroads. Cross carefully and take the road signed to Copt Oak, heading uphill on a wide verge. After about 300yds take the signed lane left just before a small wood, forking right as the trees end to take the footpath south-west. On reaching a house, turn left (due south) to join the drive heading past a pond to the largely-intact ruins of the moated Ulverscroft Priory. The drive continues past the Priory, with pleasant views of the wooded hills to your right, to emerge at a road junction. Continue across and onto Ulverscroft Lane and then follow this quiet tree-lined road for about three-quarters of a mile.
Take the footpath signed to Newtown Linford to your right, forking left to follow the clearer of the two signed paths when it opens out into a field after crossing a stile. The way is generally clear from here as the well-trodden path heads across fields and through woods, but there is one slightly confusing point where another path cuts across shortly after you pass a ruined building to the left. Turn left here and then almost immediately right over a slab footbridge to head back into Newtown Linford. Walk down the main street of this very well-kept village (passing - or not… - two good pubs on the way) to return to your vehicle.