Iona battles to Waterloo

Trip 11: Waterloo Farm Leisure, Market Harborough.

Luckily we were not travelling to the real Waterloo but a campsite in Leicestershire . The site has fishing lakes but we will not be fishing. We have had to cancel this trip twice due to the 🦠 covid restrictions so this is the last site that was booked months ago.

I did make a small mistake on the way to the site. In the village of Uppingham the satnav said straight on at the traffic lights but there was a sign for Market Harborough to the right. I ignored the sat nav and turned right onto a B road. It was long and twisty, narrow in places and I did have to dive into a bush on a narrow bend as a couple of cars approached. I stopped to realign the wing mirror and there were only a few light marks on the side vinyls.

The campsite has all facilities open but it is out in the countryside. The good news is that it is on an old railway line that is now a footpath/cycle way, The Brampton Valley Way. This will allow us to walk into Market Harborough .There is a cafe onsite as well as a Cabin that stocks essential food items,fishing bait, antiques and craft goods.

We made our way over a narrow bridge to our pitch.

We have a pitch that is on a slope but with ramps under the back wheels we got fairly level. After lunch we were thinking about a short walk around the lakes and visit the shop but the heavens opened and stopped us.

After half an hour the rain stopped and we went to check out the facilities and the the shop. When we came out of the shop it was raining again so we just did a quick recon of the Brampton Valley Way ready for tomorrow.

On the way back to Iona there was a double rainbow over the lakes.

Tonight we have Gordon Ramsey’s shepherd pie to warm us up.

Tomorrow we hope to walk into Market Harborough.

Day 2:

The weather is looking mainly dry today so we are going to walk into Market Harborough via the old railway line which is now the Brampton Valley Way. We may even have a look in the museum.

We came across a way marker and opposite it in the bushes on the embankment was a spiders web of wool, tied in with baubles.

We continued on our way and found another display of wool and this time in the form of a snail.

The trackway continued and I spotted a tunnel under the embankment which had more of the wool designs in the bushes but there was a picture included with this.

We eventually came to Market Harborough where the pathway continued past a park where there was another marker and then on towards the railway station. However there are now roads and buildings where the old line went.

We left the trackway and crossed through Sainsbury’s carpark and into town. I have been here before many years ago but apart from the church and The Old Grammar School in the market place I could not recognise much more.

After visiting a few shops and buying some sandwiches and crisps for lunch we headed back along the Brampton Valley Way. We did stop in the park to eat lunch but it started to rain so we continued on along the trail and found a bench where we ate lunch.

We continued homeward and came across a plaque tied to a bush. We don’t know it’s significance if any.

We did stop at the first way marker we found and took a couple of pictures.

There was evidence that badgers had been digging for worms in several places along the side of the trackbed. There was an abundance of sloes on the bushes and great quantities of rose hips.

Our walk today was 5.79miles, tomorrow we head towards Northampton and with two tunnels on the old railway line. We have been advised to have a torch each.

The afternoon was spent in Iona, Sue was doing her cross stitch where she had found a mistake and was unpicking it ready to re stitch. I did some reading.

Tonight we have a Mary Berry’s Coq au Vin which Sue prepared at home.

Day 3:

This morning it is overcast and damp. Today we are going to walk along the Brampton Valley Way towards Northampton. Hopefully we will manage to walk the extra couple of miles to the second tunnel at Kelmarsh. The line closed to passenger traffic in 1960 but was kept open for intermittent freight until 1980 when the line closed and the trackbed was taken up.

We started the walk and the first thing we came to was a bicycle water splash.

A little further on we came to where the up line and down line split to go through a superb two arch bridge and then on to the two tunnel entrances.

Apparently when the line was opened it was single track but as the rail traffic grew a second tunnel for the up line was built at Oxendon. A similar exercise was carried out further on at Kelmarsh.

There is a large bank between the tunnels and the up line tunnel is locked with only the down line tunnel open for access to walkers and cyclists.

The tunnel is 418 meters long and you need a torch because the floor is rough in places. The safe refuges are all bricked up and halfway through the Oxendon tunnel is an air shaft that has some ornate brickwork.

Once we were through the tunnel I climbed up the central bank to have a look at the up line tunnel which is identical to the down line.

One of the bricked refuges.
The air shaft
The tunnel from the embankment.

We now had another 2 miles before we got to the Kelmarsh tunnel. On the way we crossed a couple of bridges. I managed to climb down the embankment to take a picture of the first one we came to. It was made up of 6 arches all because of a stream below.

We came to the site of Kelmarsh station which has a bit of the platform remaining although it was not very elaborate when the line was working.

Half a mile further on and you can see where the lines again splits before the two Kelmarsh tunnels. The tunnel here is 480 meters long, again torches are needed.

We walked through the tunnel and sat on a bench for a quick rest before turning back. This tunnel also has an air shaft halfway along. Once through the tunnel I climbed over the embankment and got down to the up line trackbed. The tunnel entrance is nearly the same as the down line although more round as opposed to the oval shape of the original tunnel. It was locked to stop people using it.

The down line tunnel
The up line tunnel

It was getting near to lunchtime so we headed for the next bench which was called Nanna’s Knee, so we sat on Nanna’s Knee and ate lunch.

When we had walked through the Oxendon tunnel I noticed a mosaic on the abutment, so I climbed the bank and took a picture. There was no title or explanation.

Back at Iona we chilled for the rest of the afternoon. Tea tonight was Chicken Curry. A great end to a day, 7.75 mile walk. Home tomorrow.

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