Fleckney, Smeeton, Saddington 6 miles

Many of us have covered this walk, or parts of it, but never like this! Once our leader arrived, we headed off from the car park along Saddington Road. Just before the Appleyard housing estate we took the footpath on the opposite side of the road leading to the canal. Anita had done her homework on the route and when we recce'd it there was very little mud about. Not so on the day! As you can see from the images below, the recent rain left behind lots of mud and large puddles.

Not to be deterred, we soldiered on up to Mill Lane and passed by the wind turbine and around to the football field. We turned right by the pylon and sauntered back onto Mill Lane. This route was intended to cut out the dilapidated stiles and the muddy footpath around the cricket ground. Little did we know what was waiting for us!

A rather large tree had blown down and was completely blocking our path. Luckily, there was a very kind gentleman walking his dog and they had managed to scramble over the tree. While I went in search of a possible way around, he helped our members over said tree. I failed in my quest and was also helped over. We are very grateful to this chap as without him this natural stile would have caused us to turn back to the stiles we had hoped to avoid!

Ok, so then we headed down Mill Lane and turned right onto a footpath leading to Smeeton Westerby Church. To avoid more stiles, we walked through the graveyard and out onto the road. We turned right and headed uphill and turned left onto Pitt Hill. A little way along this road we turned into an alley that led us onto Westerby Lane. Smeeton and Westerby were once two separate villages but I have, so far, been unable to find out when they became joined.

Anyway, we turned left on Westerby Lane and walked around to the topiary of a man with a hat (I still think it looks like a turtle!) and through the gate onto the path alongside the house. As the path veers to the right we look out onto a large square pond with an island in the centre. In the summer you may see some Canada Goose chicks being raised here by their parents.

Through a couple of gates and then over a couple of rather soggy fields we went. After a slight incline, we reached bridge over the canal and reassembled there whilst admiring the views. We turned right after the gate and headed along the edge of the field and down to the gate and footbridge over the stream. The muddiness of this area had increased greatly since the recce and a couple of us stumbled and slipped.

We made it down the slope without any major injuries and headed for the "secret wood". For folk who have lived all their lives in the area it was no secret, but for us it was a new find and it meant we avoided trudging through what would have been the muddiest part of the route. There are no pictures of this wood as otherwise it would not remain a secret!

Eventually, we were back on the true path and headed over the footbridge, through some gates, over some fields, and on up to Saddington. As we were making extremely good progress we were well ahead of The Queen's Head opening time and so the decision was made to plump for The Golden Shield in Fleckney as our pub stop.

The route along the road from Saddington to Fleckney was pretty much uneventful but by now the clouds had decided to cry on us. Our leader took us up Western Avenue, along Elizabeth Road, onto Edward Road and around to the path leading to the car park for The Golden Shield where we enjoyed a drink and a chat.

Usually, the story ends here, but not this time. Anita invited us around to her new home, the old Carmel Chapel on Wolsey Lane. We were provided with mulled wine and a choice of chilis to warm us up. To round off the event we were also musically entertained by Anita and her friends.

Thank you Anita for not only leading the walk, but also for your hospitality and allowing us into your spectacular home.

Anita’s description:

“Choose a path, try to find the best route for all, things fall in the way, a little help is needed, few ups and downs, a secret is revealed 😀 the heavens open then beers and company are what is needed, find a home, eat well and stay merry and sing a li’l song 🎵 😊”

13 of us (and me!) waiting for our leader!

There was a little mud about.

Some water too!

Where’s our leader?

Single file – in twos!

Keep together?!?

Here she is!

A quick head count!

This was unexpected!

We made it through – thanks kind person!

Watch your step – and the view!

Our intrepid leader …

… waiting for this lot!

What’s Paula doing with that cup?

Tucking in. Thank’s Anita. (Pic: Dave)

Dave recorded our entertainers.

The chapel pulpit lives on!

I recorded our entertainers too!