A WALK IN THE PARK – from Beech Avenue to Grimsthorpe Lake – December 2013
This walk takes you from Bourne Woods to Grimsthorpe Lake, via The Five Bells at Edenham. It is adaptable according to your preferred starting point and also to the conditions. The distance is approximately 3.75 miles each way, although if you're feeling less energetic, you can simply opt for the 2-mile walk to the pub.
The first section to Edenham is very dog-friendly, although the second leg to the lake requires you to cross an electric fence in three places via purpose-built steps. There is room for small to medium sized dogs to wriggle through the woodwork, but you will need to keep them under close control - otherwise they will soon learn about electric fences the hard way. Dogs must be kept on their lead at all times from Edenham to the lake, as there is livestock in the fields and wildlife around the lake.
I started out from Forestry Commission entrance on Beech Avenue entrance, but there are also two access points from the field behind Cedar Drive. These are good starting points if you live on that side of town, but you can easily pick up the trail from the main car park. Be aware that some of the trails can become very muddy after rain, especially if the Forestry Commission vehicles have been active. At the time of writing (mid December), the leaves are covering most of the mud and it is still quite easy to skirt around the deeper puddles.
Beech Avenue to Bourne Woods western boundary
1. Entering from Beech Avenue, simply follow the hard trail in a northerly direction, passing the field behind Beech Avenue. You will pass two stiles, one providing an alternative access from Beech Avenue and the other across the field from Cedar Drive, taking you past a fenced-off, natural spring.
2. At the signpost, continue in the direction of the ponds until you arrive at a wooden seat facing the track leading west. This track continues almost in a straight line to the western boundary, but is crossed at one point by the hard track leading up from the main car park. If you began at the car park this junction comes after about half a mile, just before the track begins to rise. Take the unsurfaced, left-hand fork to the west.
3. The path is quite muddy at this junction, but soon improves as you continue your gentle westward ascent. Continue past another bench, then veering slightly to the right after 50 yards, you will find yourself at the outer edge of the woods. Turn right, walking north along the edge of the field to where the marker post points you in the direction of your descent towards Edenham.
4. Follow the track along the right hand side of the shallow ditch, crossing over half way down to bring you to the little farm bridge over the East Glen river. Turn right, following the river bank until you reach the footbridge that takes you over. Make sure all dogs are on leads before crossing over the stile, then follow the hard track past the cottages and left into Church Lane. There you will enjoy splendid views of the church and graveyard, set high above the road amidst some ancient yew trees.
5. Carefully cross the road and walk toward the Five Bells public house, where you can break for refreshments in front of the log fire before continuing on your way. Cross the river which flows behind the pub's beer garden then negotiate the stile to access the footpath across the paddock and sheep field (replacing the old route through the farmyard). There are three stiles to cross and each one has electric fencing leading up to it, so you will need to keep your dogs under very close control. Cross over the farm track into the grass field and follow the vehicle tracks up to the top end.
Edenham to Grimsthorpe Park
6. This is where it may begin to get a bit muddy, first at the field exit and then where the footpath follows as narrow strip of grass between a sown field and the dike. This is a regular haunt of buzzards and you are likely to hear their primeval, mewing calls as they soar above the treetops. After a short passage through the edge of the spinney you soon find yourself on a chalk road surface which begins your gradual descent into Grimsthorpe Park. As soon as you emerge from the trees, there lies before you the magnificent vista of the lake which forms the centrepiece of Capability Brown's grand design for the castle grounds.
7. The official footpath takes you around the bottom end of the lake, across the bridge over the outfall, then with a diagonal left turn, up and across the field towards Swinstead. I walked to the top of the rise, but the track beyond that point had been turned into a daunting slurry course by farm vehicles, so I turned back, once more taking in the cries of the buzzards and a view that never fails to impress at any time of the year.
8. The route home is essentially a matter of re-tracing your steps, resulting in a round trip of about 7½ miles. From The Five Bells car park to the lake and back is an easy three miles; Beech Avenue to The Five Bells and back is just under 4½ miles. In the summer months, single walkers, couples or small family groups may be allowed a return deviation via Scottlethorpe Lane, but this relies on the good will of the Grimsthorpe Estate. Deviations from the public footpath are not allowed during the shooting season for safety reasons and all other parts of the estate, including the castle and its gardens, are closed to visitors until April 3rd.
See the website for full information about opening times and events at Grimsthorpe Park and Castle