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April 2020


John J O’Connor 18th April 2020

“Why are you putting on cricket pads?”
says God to old Saint Pete.
“Cos Norman Hunter’s coming up
and he’s dangerous with his feet.

We’ll put him on Cloud number Six
where he can hang his England Caps on pegs
the cloud is already christened as
‘ Norman Bites Yer legs.’

Despite his reputation God,” says Pete
“he’s liked by all the lads,
but I strongly recommend to you
that you put on your cricket pads.”



This has got to be the first month since I started this blog that there has been NO football in it! The Covid-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic has caused an almost world wide cessation of any sport. The Olympics have been put back to 2021, all football in this country below National League has been called null and void and even at this stage, it looks like it will be a very difficult call for any more league football to be played this season! The cricket season never started, although there is talk of a start possibly being made on or after 1st July, but at this present moment that would seem to be wholly unlikely! The Premier League and The EFL (English Football League) are talking about continuing the season from August and running through to a completion by the end of October. In the meantime, I will just vaunt my affiliation with my home town football badge!!!





Friday 3rd April 2020

Charcoal grey clouds rolled across the slate grey sky first thing this morning, but then pocket sized handkerchiefs of blue crept around the edges and by noon, the sun was quite warm. The walk took me down church gap and across the railway line to Thorpe by Water (where I doubt many paupers live), then on to Seaton where All Hallows’ Church overlooks the vast expanse of The Welland Viaduct. From there to Bisbrooke, crossing the track bed of the former spur line from the Harborough to Peterborough railway, a line which had its terminus in Uppingham. At Uppingham, the school 1st XI cricket pitch looked resplendent, but I doubt I’ll be umpiring there, this season! A woolly pig in Uppingham, too and brown sheep in the fields behind Lyddington, where the monks used to harvest fish from their special pools. From there a straightforward walk back to Gretton! Ten stiles and 11.92 miles

A swan glides effortlessly and silently upstream on The Welland

The Welland Viaduct as seen from Seatom All Hallows Parish Church

Seaton All Hallows Parish Church

The track bed of the former spur railway line that led to Uppingham off the Market Harborough to Peterborough line. The line was opened in 1894 and closed in 1964

Bisbrooke Parish Church of St Michael and All the Angels

The peaceful aspect of the Uppingham School Cricket 1st XI pitch. I was down to umpire here in May, but that ain’t going to happen!

A wooly pig on the track leading out of Uppingham and up to Uppingham Community College

Brown sheep in the fields behind Lyddington

The stumpy spire atop Lyddington Parish Church and, in the forefront, the remains of the fishponds created by the monks of the Bede House for their Fridaymeals where meat was not allowed!


Sunday 5th April 2020

A gentle stroll down to Westhills and back with some wonderful views across the valley to Lyddington and Caldecott and a glimpse of the entrance to the railway tunnel under Rockingham Hill. With Charlotte, three stiles and 4.2 miles.

This is Lyddington in the distance with the short stumpy spire atop the tower of the church. There were monks here in the middle ages and the bred fish for their Friday meals in great man made fish ponds behind The Glebe House.

This is the village of Caldecote on the main A6003 road to Uppingham

The railway line disappears into Corby tunnel underneath Rockingham Hill. There was an accident involving a fatality inside the tunnel in 1975 when faulty brakes led to a train running away into the tunnel.


Tuesday 7th April 2020

A gentle amble down ‘The Dusty’ to Kirby Hall, the Elizabethan mansion from 1570. It doesn’t seem like six years since an edition of Antiques Roadshow was broadcast from there! Up the driveway and across Kirby Lane, a dozen or so ‘tables’ are laid out quite close to the sinister and heavily guarded facility at the junction of Kirby Lane and Gretton Road. These tables are very informative – local history, wildlife, science and nature are all included ….. but all too soon, it is back across the fields to Gretton and the peaceful edifice of St James’ parish church. A lovely warm sunny day with an encouraging breeze, three stiles and 6.8 miles.

Kirby House


Good Friday 10th April 2020

A lovely day with azure skies and a gentle breeze. I left early for Thorpe by Water and passed the 17th century George & Dragon in Seaton before capturing the Welland Viaduct in the early morning mist. An odd and very narrow bridge took me under the former spur railway line to Uppingham and looking back from the A47, I espied another viaduct on the same line as the Welland Viaduct (I’ve put a map at the end of the pictures showing the railways round Gretton in the 1940s and 1950s). I swear the lambs in Morcott are younger than their Seaton counterparts! Passed the derelict White Horse Inn in Morcott and recrossed the A47 to Barrowden at the junction where the beautifully preserved windmill sits. Followed the railway track bed to Turtle Bridge, then on to Harringworth, Shotley and Harringworth Lodge and back to Gretton! Can anyone identify the blossom? Sixteen stiles and 13.75 miles.

The George & Dragon in Seaton, where, many years ago, they had a honky tonk piano to accompany the evenings drinking!

You can just make out the spire of Harringworth Parish Church in the early morning mist on the far side of The Welland Viaduct with its eighty-seven arches (not all visible here).

A quirky footbridge underneath the spur line which left the main line to make its way to Uppingham. The spur had a lifetime of only seventy years, opening in 1894 and closing in 1964. To get to Uppingham from Gretton by train in those days, involved three changes – Gretton to Manton, Manton to Luffenham and Luffenham to Seaton from whence a train to Uppingham. It is only about five miles from Gretton to Uppingham – be easier to walk!

After crossing The Welland Viaduct, from Harringworth in the direction of Manton, there is a second, much shorter viaduct of eight arches which crosses over the Uppingham spur line (see map above).

The White Horse Inn in Morcott, once a meeting place of bikers and once run by the husband of a former member of my teaching staff, sadly now, derelict!

The walk from Morcott crossed the A47 at the turn off for Barrowden and this beautifully converted windmill.

This is a section of the former railway line which went from Market Harborough to Peterborough just after the junction where the line split for the journey to Stamford (and the spur to Uppingham). It looks very narrow, but it was double tracked!

Not entirely certain what these blossoms are, but I think that they might be cherry blossom!


Easter Sunday, 12th April 2020

A gentle jaunt, this morning, across to Westhills and a clear view of the villages of Caldecote and Lyddington nestling in the distance across The Welland Valley. It was a beautiful morning and the flora was flourishing – Blackthorn blossom, Self Heal, Spurge and even Celandines adjacent to a babbling brook! With Charlotte, three stiles and 4.6 miles.

The farmer has been doing some ditching work beside the track


Lyddington with the short stubby spire on its church

A Babbling Brook!


This is Gretton Pocket Park and the Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Water Spout!


Tuesday 21st April 2020

At last!! After more than a week indoors with a bad back, a gentle foray across to Thorpe by Water under a cloudless azure sky, but with a gentle cooling breeze! There were late flowering bluebells and forget-me-nots down church gap and an array of other flora en route, crossing the railway line and then the road to Lyddington (closed for re-surfacing) and back via Gretton Weir and Arnhill. With Charlotte, six stiles and 6.78 miles

Late blooming bluebells

Difficult to know what this is! It could be flax or speedwell or blue eyed Mary. It is definitely not forget-me-nots!

The tiny village (hamlet?) of Thorpe by Water.

Looking back along the mainline from The Welland Viaduct towards Corby and Kettering at the pedestrian crossing on the walk to Thorpe by Water.

Re-surfacing work on the road between Gretton and Lyddington



Saturday 25th April 2020

A very pleasant walk this morning under field grey skies, down “The Dusty” (or Fullen Lane if you prefer its correct nomenclature), and past Kirby Hall where oil seed rape appears to be the choice of staple crop this year. Beyond the crop you can see the great white elephant of Rockingham Motor Speedway. Onwards to Deene with its array of Hansel and Gretel houses and the tall monument in the middle of the field dedicated to parents and A.M.D.G. (ad maiorem dei gloriam – to the greater glory of God). But why a teapot on top? Across the swamp to the A43 trunk road … “silent as a peak in Darien” both times I crossed it ( having negotiated the fallen tree at the footbridge over the river!). Over to Bulwick and the parish church of St Nicholas – and a new thatched roof for the village shop that burned down a year ago last January. The village school closed in the 1980s, but there is still a Nursery with a poignant bon mot at its entrance. Back to Gretton via Harringworth Lodge and yet more oil seed rape – taller than me! 12 stiles and 11.27 miles.

Kirby Hall, Elizabethan Mansion

Across the field of oil seed rape the Rockingham Motor Speedway stadium is just visible.

Hansel and Gretel houses in Deene

The Monument in the field beyond Deene

“This monument, sacred to the memory of our parents was put here in the year 2000 – EB & MB”

But why a teapot on top?

The fallen tree blocking on end of the footbridge across the river just before the path reaches the A43

“Silent as a peak in Darien”

St Nicholas’ Parish Church in Bulwick

The village shop, where walkers could get a coffee and a snack. It was also the centre of a thriving jam and preserve making enterprise. It burned down in early 2019. Since my last visit, the thatched roof has been replaced.

A sign on the front door of the (closed) Nursery

Harringworth Lodge

Oil Seed Rape……. taller than me!


Sunday 26th April 2020

A gentle amble down The Dusty and across the fields to Kirby Hall with the sun beating down remorselessly from an azure firmament! There was plenty of flora on display, maybe some field mouse ear and definitely some Lords and Ladies (cuckoo pint) and ……. fauna … just a fleeting glimpse of some muntjac, well camouflaged amongst the trees! The return journey across the fields featured cows and calves of all colours grazing peacefully, whilst in the distance reared the great monstrosity of Rockingham Motor Speedway, built to host Indy Car racing and rock concerts, but never really utilised! With Charlotte, four stiles and 4.9 miles.

Lords and Ladies (cuckoo pint).

Muntjac, barely visible, camouflaged amongst the trees!

The Rockingham Motor Speedway

The outside garden at our property. Strictly speaking, it does not actually belong to us, but we – or should I say, Charlotte, = maintains it!


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