This is the second of a series of articles about particular aspects of Fineshade that help to make it such a special place.
Features of Fineshade
2: Justice Riding
This wide, almost straight ride runs for just over a mile across the middle of Fineshade Wood and includes part of the Forestry Commission's Dales Wood Walk and Smelters Walk as well as the Family Cycle Route.
This ride runs along the boundary between the King's Cliffe parish and the current Duddington with Fineshade parish. Parish boundaries were often established in the middle Saxon period or even earlier, so it could be that people have been walking along this route for well over 1000 years. Many old maps show this straight north-western edge of Westhay Wood.
Years ago we were shown a map of the wood that pre-dated the Ordnance Survey. On that map this track was named Justice Riding and it led down to Fineshade Abbey - this was before the railway was constructed in the mid 19th century. Why Justice Riding? Could it have been a route used by the justices of the peace attending court hearings?
At the point where Justice Riding intersected the Duddington-Kingscliffe bridleway was also marked the Fair Tree. We try to use these historic names to refer to the track and the corner, often wondering about their derivation. Perhaps there was once a significant tree where a regular fair was held, halfway along the old bridleway from Kingscliffe to Duddington.
Before and after
Like many of the other rides in Fineshade, Justice Riding has been widened considerably in recent years. These two images were taken 10 years apart from almost the same spot. In both pictures you can see the seat and the large Oak tree behind it.