Week Off Work Tour 2021 – North West Leicestershire

The WOW (Week off Work) Tour came to an end yesterday (16th September) with a walk in the glorious sunshine of North West Leicestershire, from just outside Measham to Church Gresley, via Donisthorpe and Moira.

The first leg of the tour was a long bus ride from Burton on Trent to just outside Measham in Leicestershire. The bus arrived in Burton about fifteen minutes late, but it eventually arrived. It meandered its way through Brizlincote Valley, Newhall, Swadlincote, Overseal and Donisthorpe, eventually arriving at my stop almost an hour later.

The path I took was formerly a railway line, owned and operated by the Ashby [de la Zouch] and Nuneaton Joint Railway company. It branched off the existing Leicester – Burton line and was built to serve the Leicestershire coalfields, although it also carried passengers until 1931. Most of the line closed to freight traffic in 1971, although the section I walked, Measham to Moira, remained open until 1981. It is now part of the Ashby Woulds Heritage Trail.

After about half an hour of walking, I arrived at the entrance to Donisthorpe Woodland Park. This was formerly Donisthorpe Colliery, a coal mine which operated from 1871 until 1990. In the mid-1990s, the site was acquired by Leicestershire County Council, who oversaw the creation of the woodland park, which is now home to many species of wildlife and plants. To the east of the woodland park is the Ashby Canal, which I didn’t explore on this occasion, but it is on my list of places to visit.

Entrance to the Donisthorpe Woodland. The “DC” stands for “Donisthorpe Colliery”.

I carried on the path towards Moira in Leicestershire. Moira was a former coal mining town until the last pit shut down in the 1990s. The site of Rawdon Colliery in Moira is now “Conkers”, a vast outdoor visitor attraction. Moira is also home to Moira Furnace, a former working furnace which is now a visitor attraction on the side of a restored section of the Ashby Canal. I walked through the Moira Junction Nature Reserve, which was formerly the site of Overseal railway sidings, which closed in 1966. The nature reserve was created in 1991.

I passed by the Moira West signal box, an old signal box which still appears to be in use today on the Leicester – Burton freight line which runs parallel to the pathway which I took to Albert Village, another ex-mining village on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

The final leg of my journey took me to Gresley Woods, which incorporates the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Woodland. Despite me living very near this area for many years, I had never been around here before. I didn’t even know this memorial woodland existed until I walked through it.

The memorial woodland consists of the Children’s Glade, to celebrate Diana’s love of children, the Peace Glade which symbolises her work to clear mines and the Rose Arches, as shown above.

I exited the woods onto a residential street, from where I walked to my mother’s house and had a cup of tea and some lunch, before catching the bus back to Burton on Trent.

That concludes the “WOW Tour” for September. It’s been really good travelling to places I have never been to before on various methods of transport. For me, it’s back to work on Saturday morning, but only for two weeks, and then I’m on holiday again. Who knows where I will be going when I’m next on holiday? Wherever it is, I will be writing about it on Martyn’s Blog, and you can hear about it by following it on social media. The links you need are all at linktr.ee/martynsblog.

Thanks very much for reading, and here’s a recap of where the Week Off Work Tour has taken me this week: