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Mountsorrel and the River Soar

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Mountsorrel and the River Soar
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 20 Jan 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Leicestershire, Loughborough
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Mountsorrel and the River Soar
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3 mile circular walk from the pretty Leicestershire village of Mountsorrel. The route explores the attractions within the village itself, including the buttercross, market cross and former castle site, as well as guiding you to stride out along a peaceful stretch of the River Soar, part of the Grand Union Canal. There is plenty of historical interest within the village plus birdlife and boat-life to enjoy along the river. The expansive views from the top of Castle Hill make the short climb very worthwhile.

The walk is almost entirely flat for the most part, with just one optional climb up to the summit of Castle Hill. The riverside paths are unmade and can get very muddy after rain and in winter. There are 6 stiles to negotiate (all of which have large spaces within the wooden fence surrounds which should be suitable for most dogs to pass through) plus some kissing gates and steps. The river can be fast flowing and deep in parts and also includes some weirs and locks so take particular care with children. Some of the riverside pastures may be holding livestock so take care with dogs. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

Mountsorrel is located about 3 miles south of Loughborough, just to the west of the A6. The walk starts and finishes from the free Memorial Hall car park within the village which is located at the mini-roundabout junction between Leicester Road and The Green. Approximate post code LE12 7DB.

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Walk Sections

Start to A6 Underpass
Start to A6 Underpass

Start point: 52.7274 lat, -1.1371 long
End point: 52.7237 lat, -1.1288 long

Leave the car park back onto Leicester Road and turn right along the pavement, passing the Baptist Chapel dating from 1879 on the right. Some way along (and just before the Parish Council Office), turn right into Little Lane, signed for the Leicestershire Round footpath. A few yards along turn right again onto the tarmac footpath (again signed Leicestershire Round) which leads you through a squeeze barrier into the Mountsorrel playing fields.

Follow the tarmac path ahead, passing the children’s playground and fenced all-weather sports pitches on the right. Now join the narrow paved path which leads you directly in front of the sports pavilion. Beyond the pavilion, walk at about 1 o’clock to reach the far right-hand corner of the playing field.

In this corner, pass through the green staggered barrier to reach the corner of a car park. Turn left and follow the tarmac path into a housing estate. Cross the quiet road and keep ahead on the path now once again signed as Leicestershire Round. You will come to a roundabout within the tarmac path, take the only other exit (at about 11 o’clock) and follow this path as it swings right and becomes a fenced stone path along the edge of the houses.

The path heads towards the A6 road and then swings right to run parallel with it. Some way along (where the fence on the left ends), you will come to a junction of paths. Turn left, cross over the small footbridge and continue. Further along, the path swings left to lead you through the A6 underpass.

A6 Underpass to Sileby Lock
A6 Underpass to Sileby Lock

Start point: 52.7237 lat, -1.1288 long
End point: 52.727 lat, -1.1239 long

Beyond the underpass, take the first path on the left, a sharp left turn through a wooden squeeze gap (marked for the Leicestershire Round). Follow this narrow path with the A6 running on the left. The path leads you across a stream and, soon afterwards, to a stile on the right.

Cross this and follow the obvious path at about 10 o’clock through the area of scrub. Pass through the metal kissing gate and continue over a sleeper bridge and through another kissing gate to reach the next large field. The path bears right to run parallel with a fence up on the right. Cross the sleeper bridge and then take the left-hand path at the fork.

In the field corner join the long stretch of concrete sleepers which leads you across the marshy area. Continue across the humped bridge and along the next stretch of sleepers. You will emerge to the riverside towpath at Sileby Lock.

Sileby Lock to Mountsorrel Lock
Sileby Lock to Mountsorrel Lock

Start point: 52.727 lat, -1.1239 long
End point: 52.7317 lat, -1.1393 long

Should you wish, you can use the footbridge here (Number 22) to cross the river to explore the site of Sileby Mill, now a boatyard. Otherwise, simply turn left to join the towpath with the river running on the right and the impressive red brick Sileby Mill visible beyond.

Follow the grass towpath as it swings steadily right and soon you are forced to cross the river via a footbridge. Turn left along the opposite riverbank to continue your journey. Cross the stile ahead (you may come across livestock from this point) and continue on the path with the river close on the left. The path swings steadily right under power lines and over the next stile. Stay on the grass riverside path, with the river close on the left, crossing three more stiles and then a gate along the way.

The River Soar actually forms part of the Grand Union Canal for this stretch. The Soar is Leicestershire’s principal river and is a major tributary of the River Trent. In the 18th century, the Soar was made navigable, initially between Loughborough and the Trent, and then through to Leicester. It was not until the early 19th century that it was linked by the Grand Union Canal to the wider network to the south and London. The navigation supported industrial growth and the hosiery industry (which needed a consistent water supply) employed 10% of the Leicester population in the 1850s. By 1895 there were 231 listed hosiery manufacturers in the county. The river was once notorious for its unusual pink colour - a result of discharges from Leicester's prosperous textile industries – but today it is restored to its natural state and thrives with fish, bird and plant populations.

Keep ahead to cross the footbridge over an impressive weir and then the grass towpath leads you back under the A6 road. Stay on the riverside path, passing through three kissing gates, to join the paved quayside. This quayside leads you directly past Mountsorrel Lock.

Mountsorrel Lock to Buttercross
Mountsorrel Lock to Buttercross

Start point: 52.7317 lat, -1.1393 long
End point: 52.7301 lat, -1.1397 long

Beyond the lock, turn left to cross Mountsorrel Road Bridge (taking care of any traffic as the bridge is fairly narrow). Keep ahead to join the pavement and continue to reach the T-junction with Loughborough Road. Ahead of you is the Parish Church of St Peter which was first built in about 1240. Its tower still stands but the rest of the chapel was rebuilt in about 1440 and the belfry was added on top of the old tower. You will also notice the typical market town architecture of the other village buildings.

In 1292 Nicholas de Seagrave became Lord of the Manor and was granted by Edward I the right to hold a market in Mountsorrel each Monday. De Seagrave was a member of a very powerful family, his father Stephen de Seagrave being Chief Justice of England. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the market attained considerable importance. Raw wool, leather and woollen yarn were staple articles of trade and Mountsorrel gloves were once as highly regarded as those of Oxford and Woodstock.

To the left is a modern replica of the old Market Cross. The original Market Cross was built in the 15th century, but in the late 1700s it was moved by the Lord of the Manor, Sir John Danvers, to his own estate at Swithland. This replacement was built to commemorate the centenary of the parish council in 1994.

Turn left along the pavement and soon you will come to the domed Buttercross on the right. This is a neo-classical rotunda of eight Tuscan columns supporting a low-stepped dome, surmounted by an urn. It was built in 1793 by Sir John Danvers, to replace the historic Market Cross.

Buttercross to Castle Summit
Buttercross  to Castle Summit

Start point: 52.7301 lat, -1.1397 long
End point: 52.7292 lat, -1.1398 long

Here you have two choices:

To shorten the walk and avoid the steep climb, keep ahead along the pavement and you will come to the car park where the walk began on the left.

For the full walk (the views really do make the climb worthwhile, if you’re up to it), cross over the road to turn right into Watling Street. Almost immediately, between houses 3 and 5, turn left onto the signed public footpath. Go up a few steps and continue on the unmade path with a stone wall on the left and the granite crag slope on the right.

Soon the path levels off to continue with railings for private properties on the left. The path begins to climb once again and you will pass a beacon cage up on the hillside on the right. Soon afterwards you will come to a fork on the path with steps visible down to the left. Do NOT take these steps, instead fork right and then swing right again to climb up to reach the fire beacon.

The beacon was erected to enable the village to take part in the Beacon Europe celebrations in 1993, to mark the start of the single European market. The first time it was lit, however, was in October 1992 to celebrate the opening of the Mountsorrel by-pass.

Facing the beacon, swing left and follow the path through a short area of scrub and then climb up to the summit of the hill where you will find the war memorial.

Castle Summit to End
Castle Summit to End

Start point: 52.7292 lat, -1.1398 long
End point: 52.7275 lat, -1.137 long

Take time here to enjoy the expansive views across the Soar Valley. You will easily be able to make out the course of the River Soar which you have just followed, with Sileby Lock across to the right and Mountsorrel Lock to the left.

Across to the far left is the site of the Mountsorrel quarry, one of the largest granite quarries in Europe. The area has an abundance of the rock known as hornblende granodiorite. This extremely hard stone, usually pinkish in colour is used for road building and in the construction industry. One of its most famous applications is on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, although sadly it was covered with tarmac, for convenience’ sake, some time ago. Quarrying began in Mountsorrel in the late 18th century and it shaped the character of the village and the lives of its inhabitants for many years. It was, for a long time, the most important industry and largest single employer of manpower in the village. Between 1796 and 1809, 40% of all tonnage passing through Mountsorrel lock was granite.

Castle Hill takes its name from the Norman castle which once stood here. The castle was built by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester and a nephew of William the Conqueror. He chose the site carefully for its dominating position overlooking the Soar Valley, which was a medieval roadway from Leicester to Derby. The castle had a short but chequered history, being built in 1080 and destroyed in 1217. Within its short history, Mountsorrel Castle was a key position in political struggles during the reign of King Stephen. Leicester’s own son, Earl Robert, took part in a revolt against the King and a garrison from Nottingham was sent to demolish the castle.

When you have finished admiring the views, retrace your steps back past the beacon and down to reach the fork you passed earlier. This time, turn right to take the flight of steps downhill. At the bottom, continue along the surfaced path through the small park and you will emerge via a gate onto the main village road. Cross the road via the pedestrian crossing in front of you and turn right along the pavement. As you reach the mini-roundabout you will find the car park on the left where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "Mountsorrel and the River Soar"

Good walk that takes in the lovely River Soar. No livestock when we walked it in Jan 2015 - but we could see traces of where they had been. It was quite muddy but nothing that a pair of boots couldn't cope with.

By Richard on 2015-01-20 13:47:45

Great walk but a bit overgrown in places!!!

By leighwhite on 2015-07-04 18:29:57

Much road noise at first and the path goes through a housing estate. However it then improves as you escape into the countryside river and locks. Happy to have walked but unlikely to return. April 16

By Woodbeam1 on 2016-04-03 15:50:20

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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1 images to "Mountsorrel and the River Soar"

3968_0Richard1421761502 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
View across Mountsorrel

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