A Walk Around Thornton Reservoir and Browns Wood On Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire.

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The Thornton Reservoir Walk.
A 4.5-mile walk from the village of Thornton
On Charnwood Forest in North West Leicestershire.

An enjoyable and interesting walk taking you from the south-west corner of the Thornton Reservoir in an anti-clockwise direction around its east shore and on up to its north-eastern corner.   From there you continue along the north shore west-wards until about halfway along you leave it to walk up through the lovely old mixed woodlands of Browns Wood and on up to the woods northern boundary.  From there the walk continues northwards to carry on through the meadows, copses and farmland that lie above it to the north-west, swinging back southwards again to work its way down through the younger part of Browns Wood and eventually bringing you out again by the reservoir at its north-western apex.  The walk then continues along the west shore, under the village of Thornton to bring you back round to the car park.

Nearly all of the walk is on footpaths , bridle tracks and green lanes with the exception of two short sections on road.

The walk starts from the small free car park at the south-west corner of the reservoir.

If the car park is full alternative parking can be found in the village.

 Map OS Explorer 245. SK 471 047.

In the text you will see Y’F’P’ this is short for yellow finger-post.
A footpath marker.


Close all gates and make sure that they’re
 securely fastened.

Obey the signs to keep dogs all on lead !

All dogs means all dogs not just the badly behaved ones. 


Food Refreshments and Toilets.

There are several pubs in Thornton that do food, the Bricklayers Arms being one, and you can reach this by a footpath leading up to the village from halfway along the main track on the reservoirs western shore.  In addition, tea, coffee and snacks can be found at the Boat House Cafe that sits beside the reservoir about 200m from the car park.
Public conveniences here.

St Peters Church Thornton.

 If you have enough energy after completing the walk you may wish to extend it by taking the next footpath along from the Bricklayers path, sign-posted St Peters Church Thornton to have a look around this lovely old building.
Also if you would like to inspect the interior of the church you can obtain the key from Normans Convenience Store situated on the corner of the drive leading down to the church from the main street in Thornton.



The Walk

Walk out of the car park onto the road and carefully cross to the other side, turn left and take the footpath that crosses over the dam to its eastern end.  Keeping an eye open for traffic speeding down the hill to your right, cross the road to a wide gateway displaying a large Severn Trent sign welcoming you to Thornton Reservoir.  Pass through the wicket gate to the right of the five-bar gate and walk along the wide stone ride on the east shore of the reservoir, taking in the grand views over the water to the village of Thornton and the village church of St Peters, keep strolling along this level tree-lined track as it gently curves round to the narrow north-east apex of the reservoir.

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The weir at this end of the reservoir has become silted up and very overgrown and has developed into an area of marsh and reeds, with old dead and decaying willows scattered around its margins, this makes it prime real estate as far as the waders and waterfowl are concerned and a great place for bird watching.
When I did the walk in the spring I saw both Great Crested and Little Grebe, Coots, Moorhens, Mallard, Tufted Duck, a pair of Swans and their Cygnet’s and for me the first sighting locally of a Little Egret. It’s a lovely spot to stop look and Linger, especially so with the mournful whinnying sound of the Great Crested Grebes drifting into your ear and with a pair of Buzzards mewing high above.

 

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 The next part of the walk is a really lovely section, taking you through the middle of the fine mature woodlands of Browns Wood and on up to its northern edge.

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From here the track turns abruptly to the west and follows the north shore towards its north-west apex.  Keep wandering along the ride through scattered trees until on the right you meet the old part of Browns Wood.  Carry on for 15m past the start of the wood until on the edge of it you will see two white circular signs, one cycling and one footpath, take the footpath as it leads on up into the forest.

Carry on up under the woodland canopy, admiring the fine mature Ash trees and Sycamores overhead until you come to a wide cross ride.
Pass straight over this to re-join your path, walk on through the forest as it develops into a mixed woodland of Oaks, Scots Pine and Hazel, before long the path begins to twist and turn slightly.  Carry on bearing leftward and eventually you will come out of the wood onto a wide grass cross ride, the more recently planted part of Browns Wood facing you.

Turn right on to the ride and walk uphill for about 100m or so until you see on the right a Y’F’P’ sign and a metal five-bar gate just beyond it.
At this point turn to your left and take the narrow slightly overgrown path through the new part of Browns Wood to a clearing containing two reedy boggy ponds.

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On my visit on a hot day and May, the ponds were alive with aquatic insects of all sorts, including several different types of colourful Damsel and Dragonflies.

After exploring the ponds return to the path to leave the clearing through a gap in the hedge just right of the second pond and out onto a wide ride.  Walk on northwards passing another small pond on the right to carry on down the ride for some way until you come to a Y’F’P’, carry on past this and pass under an electricity line to a fork in the ride.  Take the right-hand branch and keep plodding on down the ride and soon a lovely Buttercup field with a large Oak tree in the middle of it will come into view, our footpath crosses diagonally over this field.  The ride now drops gently downhill to the right-hand corner of the wood where you will find a stile situated next to a Y’F’P’ and a notice board displaying a map of Browns wood.

Cross the stile and go through the farm gate immediately to your left and into the Buttercup meadow.  There is no footpath sign at this point, don’t worry though as it is a right of way and is part of the Leicestershire Round Walk.  Cross the field diagonally uphill, keeping about 50m right of an electricity pole and 100m left of the large Oak.  Keep the same line across the meadow and as you gain height, in the distance on the far hedge line you will see a Y’F’P’ and a metal wicket gate.  Head for this and go through the gate to turn left and walk down the nice old green lane by the side of the wood.

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Follow the lane for some way as it becomes more rutted by farm traffic, ignore the Y’F’P’ on the right and carry on with glimpses of a school playing field through the hedge to your left.  Ignore a second Y’F’P’ on the right and walk on for about 50m to third Y’F’P’, this time in the hedge on the left and with a stile situated next to it.

Pass over the stile and walk along the right-hand edge of the playing field.  Keep straight on passing two large Oak trees and keeping the school to your right you will arrive at a stone drive.  In front of you in the hedgerow and under a third Oak you will see a stile marked by a Y’F’P’.  Cross the stile and follow the hedge line to the next Y’F’P’ to the right of a stable shed.  Go over the stile to pass more stable sheds on your right to yet another Y’F’P’ and a stile in the corner of the field, cross this to turn right onto the short shady and very pleasant green lane leading to the superbly named Lame Duck Farm.  { Great name that, could do with more farm names of that sort.  Blind Pig Farm or One-legged Chicken Farm would do ! } !   Bear right and walk along the lane until you come to a road.  Markfield Lane.

Turn left and walk for 150m along Markfield Lane until you see a green footpath sign on your left, go through the gap in the hedge and carry on straight ahead down the ride and under the power line into Ashley’s Wood.  When you come to a pair of electricity poles bear right and leave the power line behind you and walk on towards some tall thin Poplar trees, carry on past these to a left-hand bend in the ride.
In front of you in the hedge line is a stile and over to the left in the meadow an old black tin barn.  Pass over the stile to cross the meadow and sticking to the hedge line walk to its far right-hand corner, just to the left of this is a Y’F’P’ and a stile, cross over this to enter
Browns wood. again.

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The meadow that you have just walked through is a lovely old ridge and furrow medieval meadow and in the spring when I last did this walk the pastures were frothing with Pig Nut flowers, Lady’s Smocks and Buttercups.  It reminded me of the little wildflower meadows that used to be so common just after the Second World War before all of the hedgerows were pulled out to make the sterile arable prairies that we have today.

 Take the ride in front of you and follow this shady path to a cross ride, go straight over this and at the next Y’F’P’ go straight on again to a small bridge over a dry ditch, bear left and cross the bridge to a Y’F’P’.
Bear right and follow the path crossing a wide ride, Y’F’P’ and follow the well-worn and shady path gently downhill to the edge of the wood to re-join the Leicestershire Round Path.  In front of you in the hedge, you will see a stile with a five-bar gate to its right, cross the stile and walk down the field just to the left of the hedge to pass through a wicket gate, to re-join at the reservoirs north-western apex the stone ride that traverses around the reservoir.

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Over the other side of the ride in front of you is an old moss-covered log and as you only have about three-quarters of a mile left to go to the end of your walk, this is a lovely place to sit, rest and listen to the Chifchaffs and Willow Warblers, while enjoying the shade of the Crack Willows lining the side of the stream that feeds the reservoir

From here follow the ride rightward and walk across the bridge that passes over the feeder stream to plod on along the reservoirs western shore.  As you come out of the trees, the north shore and the weir come into sight and a great view southwards over the whole length of the reservoir gradually opens up.  Walk on for half a mile or so to by-pass the footpath the takes you up to the Brickmakers and shortly after the one leading up to Thornton and St Peters church.

If you don’t feel up to taking the detour to have a look around the church, keep walking along the track until you come to some large wooden gates crossing the ride and you will see the Boat House Café and Public Conveniences just beyond them.  Pass through the wicket to stop for a brew or continue the last 200m back to your car. 

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