Walk to Fineshade from Duddington
There are two rights of way leading from the picture-postcard village of Duddington up into Fineshade Wood and these, together with all the marked trails within the wood itself, provide a variety of options for round walks. The one shown in red on the map is 6.9 miles (11.2km) and starts and finishes at Duddington's attractive church. It is all on hard tracks apart from short stretches on grassy paths, one through Buxton Wood and two in the Assarts.
There are two or three spaces beside the A43 at Duddington Cemetery, but lots of other opportunities in the village itself, particularly near the church. The Royal Oak pub has a large carpark for patrons use, and this could provide a goal for the end of the walk
If you do this walk anticlockwise (as described below), you will end up coming down the hill to the village, with magnificent views of the Welland Valley set out in front of you.
But if you do a clockwise route, it would mean that you will arrive at Top Lodge knowing you are more than half way round. You'd also be going in the same direction as visitors following Forestry England marked trails for the central part of the walk.
The "holloway" (the Jurassic Way climbing up from the A43)
The deep disused railway cutting alongside Mill Wood
The Cathedral Tree (near the disused quarries shown on the map at the east end of Buxton Wood.)
The village of Duddington stands on the east bank of the River Welland and offers great views of the valley, though places to approach the banks of the river itself are hard to find. Years ago the main highway from Leicester to Peterborough passed right thought the village, but today the A47 and A43 trunk roads pass by, leaving Duddington to slumber There are no longer any shops but the pub at the southern end of the village serves meals.
There is an overflow cemetery beside the main road just beyond the pub and the two rights of way lie on either side of it.
At the end of the footpath cross the busy A43 with care to pick up the ancient bridleway, now part of the Jurassic way long-distance path
This right-of-way from Duddington to KIng's Cliffe must have been used by walkers, riders, carts and carriages for hundreds of years. As it climbs up from the valley all this use has resulted in the track being hollowed out to form a "holloway"
Shortly after entering the wood take a right turn and begin to follow a hard track though Long Spinney, Dales Wood and down a long straight hill.
Continuing along the hard track you pass Forestry England's Danish shelters and Tree House play area arriving, after a long upward climb at the busy Top Lodge Visitor Centre. Refreshments, toilets and even an art gallery make this a suitable place to rest awhile.
Leave Top Lodge following the hard track in front of the old house which passes through a green gate back into the wood. The track winds a little and then follows along beside the disused railway cutting on your right. At the top of a rise there is a junction in the track. Turn left fo follow a broad straight ride. This is shown on the early OS maps as "Justice Riding" and before the coming of the railway in the 1860s this must have let straight from Fineshade Abbey.
After about a mile the hard track turns sharp right, but your route continues straight on along a grassy path. After 200m, look out for a large pond on your right. - a great place to see dragonflies on summer days.
The grassy path ends at the famous Cathedral Tree. (More detail here).
Just beyond it is a farm track that runs north along the side of the wood. Follow the hard track and, shortly after it turns right follow the signed footpath left across ditch and a narrow field and back into the wood.
The footpath enters an Oak plantation - the going can be very muddy here. At the end turn right and follow the hard track. It gradually peters out but continue to follow the grassy ride through the Assarts until it emerges at the site of Gregory's Lodge.
Here panoramic views suddenly open up to the west across the Welland Valley and right across Rutland. On a clear day the house at Burley on the Hill can be seen from here. It stands 9 miles away near Oakham on the far side of Rutland Water
Just 200m away but hidden out of sight is Collyweston Quarry. Now approaching the end of its life, limestone has been excavated for decades from this site. if feeling adventurous, it is possible, with care to climb the bank to see how work is progressing.
The hard track to the left runs along the side of the wood before winding down the escarpment back to Duddington with views of the valley to be enjoyed all the way. If energy permits a stroll down to the river and mill may be a good way to end the walk,