Where to walk in the Leicestershire Wolds, that rolling landscape lying east of the county capital, so beautifully maintained by its farmers and landowners, so overlooked and undervalued by the walking community at large? First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
A glance at the map showed a ring of villages all named ‘Langton’ – Tur Langton, Church Langton, East Langton, Thorpe Langton – each with its own prospering pub. ‘I’ll drive,’ Jane volunteered, unselfishly. Right, then. Half a pint in each, and a damn good walk to link them up and shake the ale down.
Tur Langton sits on the roof of the Wolds, handsome, settled and comfortable with its houses of dark gold stone and its Victorian Italianate church. Glossy horses cropped the Manor’s paddocks and shook themselves for pleasure – ‘Glad to be rid of their winter jackets,’ said the woman tending them. We followed a path through fields of young wheat and of oil-seed rape so intensely yellow under this morning’s sun that it hurt the eye to gaze on it. A yellowhammer sat on a wire, giving out its characteristic chatter and wheeze. Its head and breast were yellow, too, but of a shade so subtly rich as to put the brashly glaring rape to shame.
In Church Langton, a half of Old Golden Hen outside the Langton Arms, to the nostalgic chime of church bells. At East Langton, a half of smoky-flavoured, locally brewed Caudle Bitter, in the garden of the Bell, to the intrusive splutter of a microlight overhead. Never mind – the beer was great, and so was the walking, moving on over ridge-and-furrow fields where medieval villagers ploughed and sowed before the more profitable sheep usurped them. At the Bakers Arms in Thorpe Langton, a tasty half of Bakers Dozen from the village’s own Langton Brewery, and we went floating along the lilac-fringed lane that led up to the high spot of the walk, the summit of Langton Caudle hill. A view to take your breath, a view to all quarters – a landscape sailing and billowing with yellow rape and green corn, patched with thick brown ploughland under a huge blue and white sky.
Down in Stonton Wyville, grassy lanebanks showed the layout of an abandoned medieval village. In a sheltered hollow near Tur Langton we found the square-mouthed well where in 1645 King Charles I, in flight from disastrous defeat nearby at the Battle of Naseby, stopped to give his horse a drink. It was poignant to picture the beaten man in bitter contemplation by the pool, a fugitive from his own subjects in the wide land where he was no longer king.
Start: Crown Inn, Tur Langton, Leics LE8 0PJ (OS ref SP 713946)
Getting there: Bus service 44 (centrebus.info), Fleckney-Foxton
Road – Tur Langton is on B6047, 1 mile north of Church Langton (signed off A6 Leicester – Market Harborough road)
Walk (8½ miles, easy, OS Explorer 233): From Crown Inn, right (west) along street. At right bend (710946), ahead down The Manor drive (fingerpost). Immediately right over stile; follow yellow-topped posts (YTP) and yellow arrows (YA) through paddocks and round farm buildings. In field with chapel ruins, cross stile (708945), then ahead down right side of field. Path bends left along field edge past moat. At bottom of slope (704941), blue arrow points left along left bank of stream; this is wrong! Ignore, and cross stream; right along right stream bank. In 400m, left over footbridge (704937, YTP, YA); up field with hedge on right, following YTP/YA towards Church Langton church tower.
Cross road in Church Langton (722932); by Langton Arms pub signboard, enter pub car park. In 30m, right over stile; left to cross next stile (YTP); follow YTPs to road (725931). Right to T-junction (725929); cross road and stile (fingerpost); at bottom of field, left through gate (726928, YTP); on to reach road opposite Bell Inn, East Langton (727927). Left for 50m; right (fingerpost) up path beside Yew Tree Cottage. Cross stile (728927); across field to cross stile (YTP, YA) by last house on left. Narrow hedged path to road (728926). Left; through kissing gate and follow ‘Leicestershire Round’ (LR) for nearly 1 mile to pass church in Thorpe Langton. At T-junction beyond church (741924) left to road. Right; just before Bakers Arms, left (741925, LR) down lane. At ford, keep right over right-hand bridge (743930, LR); follow LR for ¾ mile up to trig point at summit of Langton Caudle hill (795942).
Walking on from trig point, ignore YTP ahead and to right; keep to left-hand hedge in corner of field, left through gate (BA, YTP), follow BA, YTP for ½ mile down to lane (738946). Right to cross road (737948); ahead (‘No Through Road’) into Stonton Wyville. At right bend, left (736951, YTP) through iron gate; half left across field to YTP; right along hedge. At far end of lumpy ground of Stonton Wyville medieval village (735949), aim half right for YTP and cross footbridge (733949). On to go through hedge gap (YTP); left (YA) up field edge with hedge on left. Follow YTP past King Charles’s Well (722949) and on to Tur Langton. Cross road (715946); down road opposite, to reach Crown Inn.
Lunch: Crown, Tur Langton (01858-545264): Langton Arms, Church Langton (01858-545181); Bell Inn, East Langton (01858-545278); Bakers Arms, Thorpe Langton (01858-545201).