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Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods

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Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods
Author: Claire, Published: 14 Dec 2016 Walk Rating:star1 Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide star1 Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide star1 Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide star1 Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide star0 Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide
Leicestershire, National Forest
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide boot Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide boot Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods Walking Guide
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A 6 mile circular walk from the village of Thornton in Leicestershire. The route is a real countryside classic, starting with a circuit around Thornton Reservoir with lots of wildlife to enjoy. Leaving the reservoir behind, the route heads through the village, passing Thornton Mill and crossing paddocks and a railway line to reach a section of the National Forest. Manor Wood and Bagworth Heath Woods occupy the site of a former colliery and are now planted with a huge variety of native trees giving a wonderful wild effect. Beyond the National Forest, you join a simple enclosed path and then a short section across pastures to return to the village where hospitality awaits.

The route has several steady climbs and descents throughout. Some of the paths are surfaced, but the unmade stretches can get very muddy. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates, some steps plus 7 stiles (3 of the stiles have adjacent dog gates, the other 4 have fencing gaps suitable for small dogs and are fairly low for larger dogs to climb – our standard poodle managed to hop over with no problems). You will need to cross the railway twice, at official crossing points but without signals, so look and listen carefully for trains before you cross. Most of the route is free from livestock, but you will need to cross three paddocks (one holding three inquisitive donkeys and two holding horses when we walked), two pastures that may be holding cattle and one pasture that may be holding sheep. Allow 3 hours.

Thornton village is located just west of the M1 motorway, about a 3 mile drive from Junction 22 in Leicestershire. The walk starts and finishes from the Severn Trent Water Thornton Reservoir car park, which is open daily 9am to dusk (except Christmas Day) and is free of charge (correct Dec 2016). Approaching Thornton village along Reservoir Road, you will find the car park entrance on your right, just before the 30mph signs. The nearest post code, LE67 1AN, would take you further into the village so don’t miss the reservoir car park.

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Walk Sections

Start to Reservoir Exit
Start to Reservoir Exit

Start point: 52.6625 lat, -1.3056 long
End point: 52.6684 lat, -1.3121 long

Standing at the bottom of the reservoir car park, facing the water, turn right along the gravel path and follow this out through the metal gates to reach a T-junction with the road. Cross over to the far side and turn left, joining the pavement which leads you over the reservoir dam wall. At the far end of the dam wall, turn left (crossing back over the road) and passing through the wooden kissing gate to enter the Severn Trent Water reservoir site.

Follow this surfaced reservoir-edge path, with the reservoir to your left and open fields to your right. Thornton Reservoir is more than 150 years old, set in a picturesque valley surrounded by a landscape of rolling farmland and mature woodland. Built in 1854, the creation of the reservoir took almost seven years of planning and building works. It was originally constructed to provide water for Hinckley and Nuneaton, together with the western parts of Leicestershire, and has a total capacity of 1,320,000 cubic metres. Severn Trent Water closed the reservoir in 1982, but it was reopened to the public in 1997. The 31 hectare site is now a refuge for a diversity of wildlife and a peaceful and picturesque location for walkers.

As you reach the tip of the north-eastern finger of the reservoir, the path swings sharp left, crossing a bridge over the inlet stream. Stay with the reservoir-side path, now leading you along the northern bank. As you pass through a stretch of woodland, ignore all paths off to your right, instead stay with the path closest to the water. Eventually the reservoir narrows, heading towards the tip of the north-western finger. Ignore the path signed right into a crop field, instead stay with the reservoir path as it bends sharp left, crossing another bridge over an inlet stream. Just 20 paces later, you will see a waymarker post and a kissing gate on your right. This is the point at which we will exit the reservoir.

Reservoir Exit to Thornton Mill
Reservoir Exit to Thornton Mill

Start point: 52.6684 lat, -1.3121 long
End point: 52.6669 lat, -1.3207 long

Turn right through this kissing gate, follow the path through the small belt of woodland and you will emerge to the bottom of the village playing fields. Walk straight ahead on the path leading you uphill to reach the kissing gate at the top. Pass through this and follow the enclosed path between buildings to reach the junction with the village road.

Cross over to the far pavement, turn left for a few paces and then turn right into the side road, Hawthorne Drive. Follow this road downhill, swinging right and then levelling off. Where the road bends sharp right again, go straight ahead to join the footpath (signed to Bagworth) which runs just to the left of House 37. This enclosed path winds downhill to reach a metal kissing gate.

Pass through this to enter a horse paddock and, with your back to the gate, cross the paddock at 11 o’clock. At the far side, pass through the kissing gate and turn left along the vehicle track, heading gently downhill. You will enter the cobbled parking area in front of an old property. Notice the old mill stones set into ground. This is the former Thornton Mill. Thornton derives its name from an old reference to the vegetation that grew wild around the village, its name translates as the town of thorns.

Thornton Mill to Bagworth Heath Woods
Thornton Mill to Bagworth Heath Woods

Start point: 52.6669 lat, -1.3207 long
End point: 52.6639 lat, -1.3256 long

Immediately beyond the buildings, turn right and cross the stone bridge over the mill race to enter a small paddock (this was holding three inquisitive donkeys when we walked). Cross this small paddock and cross the second bridge (via two gates) over a stream to enter a second paddock. Continue straight ahead across this horse paddock and leave via the kissing gate at the far side.

Immediately after this gate, turn left and follow the path along the left-hand edge of the field. Cross the gate ahead and you will see the rail crossing ahead. This is an official crossing point but is unsignalled, so look and listen carefully for trains before you continue. Cross the railway via the two stiles and steps. At the far side you will emerge into Manor Wood, planted in 2002-3 and part of the National Forest.

Walk straight ahead on the woodland path. A few metres ahead, at the first waymarker, keep straight ahead (signed as the Leicestershire Round path). At the second waymarker, go ahead passing a picnic bench and then descending into the valley bottom. Keep ahead, climbing steadily, to reach a junction with a tarmac path. Turn left along this tarmac path. You will pass signs on your left which explain that you are leaving Manor Wood to enter Bagworth Heath Woods.

Bagworth Heath Woods to Car Park
Bagworth Heath Woods to Car Park

Start point: 52.6639 lat, -1.3256 long
End point: 52.657 lat, -1.3243 long

Now simply follow the main surfaced path, as it winds and undulates through the woodland. There are several benches along the way that make the most of the lovely views. This 75 hectare Country Park has been transformed from the scarred industrial landscape of Desford Colliery into a valuable recreational resource. Owned and managed by Leicestershire County Council, Bagworth Heath Woods are made up of woodland, grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds.

Just before the end of the track, you will have lovely views across to your right of the large pool set within this parkland. A pit wheel sits on an island in the centre of the largest pool as a reminder of the site's industrial past.

At the end of the track, pass alongside the metal vehicle gates to reach a junction with the access road. Turn right along this access road (taking care of any traffic) and then turn left to enter a car park.

Car Park to Rail Crossing
Car Park to Rail Crossing

Start point: 52.657 lat, -1.3243 long
End point: 52.656 lat, -1.3137 long

Turn left through this parking area, follow this as it begins to swing right and then turn left onto the stone path (soon passing between wooden bollards). On the left here, is a section of beautiful old dry stone wall. Pass a tall metal sculpture on your right (which marks the site of the old coal mine and honours the miners) and the path swings right to reach a T-junction.

Turn left and continue for just a few metres to reach a subtle crossroads with a grass path. Turn right to join this grass avenue leading you steadily uphill through the trees. At the brow of the hill you will come to another crossroads of grass paths. Turn left here and you will pass a yellow waymarker on your left.

You will come to a T-junction with a fence ahead (and another waymarker). Turn right and follow this next stretch of grass footpath, dog-legging through a fence and then continuing as a grass avenue between fences. Ignore the stile on your left (into Brickworks Wood), instead follow the enclosed grass path zig-zagging ahead.

Further along, the grass path turns left passing a property on your right. Now stay with the grass footpath for some distance, with the fenced quarry workings to your left (using the yellow waymarkers to guide you). The path runs with a road on your right for the first long stretch and you will come to a junction with a substation (and an industrial estate visible ahead). Turn left here and follow the next stretch of grass path, with the fence for the industrial estate running on your right.

After about 800 metres, the path turns right, leading you down a flight of concrete steps into the industrial estate. Go straight ahead across the access road and pick up the footpath at the far side. Follow the path which leads you past Lagoon 1 on your left, then turns left and immediately right to pass Lagoon 2 on your right. Beyond the lake, you will come to the next rail crossing.

Rail Crossing to End
Rail Crossing to End

Start point: 52.656 lat, -1.3137 long
End point: 52.6628 lat, -1.3058 long

Again, this is an official crossing point but is unsignalled, so look and listen carefully for trains before you continue. Cross the stile, climb the steps, go over the rail line with care and, at the far side, descend the steep stone steps to reach a footbridge. Cross the bridge and take the stile into the pasture ahead (which may be holding cattle).

Cross the pasture at about 11 o’clock, heading just to the left of the pylon visible in the distance. At the far side, cross the stile (with dog gate) to enter a second pasture (which may be holding sheep). Walk at about 11 o’clock to reach the stile in the top left-hand corner of the field. Cross this stile (with dog gate) and continue directly ahead through the third pasture (which may be holding cattle) following the line of hedgerow on your left. At the brow of the rise, you will be rewarded with beautiful views ahead. Just a few paces beyond this brow, turn left over another stile (with dog gate) and turn immediately left through the fence gap to reach the end of a residential road.

Pass the garage block on your right and then bear left to follow the road between houses. At the junction, turn right (uphill) and you will come to a T-junction. Turn left along the pavement and follow this road as it swings steadily right. You will emerge to a T-junction with Main Street in Thornton village. If you glance to your left, you will see the Reservoir Inn – the perfect place for post walk refreshments should you wish. To return to the car park, cross over to the far pavement and turn right along this. Turn left into Reservoir Road (signed to Markfield) and this will lead you directly back to the reservoir car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 comments for "Thornton Reservoir and Bagworth Heath Woods"

Walked this route on 19/02/17 & really enjoyed it. I'm new to walking and my primary goal is to loose weight and get fit so that as I progress my walks can get longer and more demanding. Took 2 hours to complete walking at a fairly steady pace and had s couple of challenging uphill sections that get the blood pumping! The scenery is great around the reservoir and then out through the woods, the trail is well defined and wasn't too muddy.

By merrikin on 20 Feb 2017

We walked this route on May 1st 2017. Lovely walk with lots of different scenery. As said in the previous comment a couple of uphills, one near the end, which are challenging to a new walker but good. Recommend the tortilla wraps at the reservoir inn in Thornton, which you pass just before you finish. Loving the map which helps you stay on track. Car park gets very busy so try to go early.

By jilltomordy on 01 May 2017

Walked into in June 2017. Nice walk within fields and woods. Like the start to warm up on flat ground. Beware of cows at the end.

By Jry on 25 Jun 2017

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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