Day 7. Melton Mowbray to Market Haborough
The day started with a visit to the ‘Flower Pod’ in Southwell, and then Mum and I drove to Melton Mowbray to pick up my starting point. The plan was to follow mainly footpaths and bridleways to stay off-road, but as I soon found out, the wet ground was muddy and heavy underfoot, which meant slow going to Market Harborough.
After a morning of some gentle yoga and foam rolling, followed by porridge and black coffee, we said our goodbyes and thank you’s to Al & Anna and packed up. The first point of call was Flower Pod, a project run by Anna and Southwell Care Project. It was amazing to hear about the transition that the site of the pod had been through, from north facing farmland to terraces of south facing flower beds – all guided by the vision of Anna. An eco-building of straw bale construction designed by Al forms the hub of Flower Pod, where function rooms are set up to cater for a variety of groups. There are poly-tunnels and outdoor working areas to produce and prepare orders for fresh cut flowers, and it’s evident to see the hard work that has gone in to the Pod’s development. Read more about Southwell Care Project and the Flower Pod online, and consider ordering beautiful fresh flowers the Pod next time you’re in the Nottingham area.
Arriving in Melton Mowbray the weather was blustery but dry. I jumped out of the car and on to a footpath heading across fields, generally in a southerly direction. The first interesting section wasn’t too far away and I can honestly say that if you are looking for muddy and tough situations then this winter is for you! Specifically I can recommend travelling to Leicestershire and finding the Dalby Hills Path. It can’t be very long in reality, but it will feel like ten miles of slog, and you will sink, be sucked, and slide in as much mud as you could ever wish for. OK, maybe I’m over exaggerating slightly but on tired legs it was a cry-then-laugh-at-your-own-riduculousness experience. And the photo below doesn’t do the scenario justice.
Thankfully around the corner was Burrough Hill Fort bathed in sunshine under blue skies. I took a path around the base of the fort through an ancient woodland thick with lichen and moss. It was then a climb through spiky gorse bushes to the top of the iron-age fort, revealing stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It’s amazing how in a short space of time your spirits can soar, and after a quick refuel I was soon ready to start the next section of trail – the Midshires Way.
The rest of the day ‘moving’ along the Midshires Way revealed more of the Leicestershire countryside. Passing through fields and farmland, I was followed by sheep at one point (video evidence to follow soon) and had a near miss with a tractor. The light started fading and after all the mud and slip-sliding my knees had almost had enough. I eventually decided to call it a day before dark just outside Market Harborough, feeling slightly defeated and totally drained, having covered 17miles, which felt more like 30. The highs and lows of distance running rang true in my ears. Tomorrow is always another day.