22 September 2012

(8) UK - Hambleton Walk, Pie Fest, 2 Windmills and Country Roads

Today dawned bright and sunny - hurray!!!
Due to the favourable weather conditions, we aimed for Hambleton to do the 7 mile walk around the peninsula. Rutland Water was created in the 1970's to meet an increasing demand for water. A couple of villages vanished beneath this large expanse of water, however the spin-off was a wonderful area for waterfowl and Osprey (unfortunately gone already as they are here from March to early September each year) The views on this walk are glorious and I would recommend it to all. This man-made lake is the largest in Europe and the walk we did was voted as one of the top lakeside walks in Britain. And we did it!
We parked at the Finch's Arms and walked down - found a "Right of Way" very wet path which looked as if it had not been used in ages. I wanted to turn around but James insisted it was THE path! I turned round and we found an elderly gent walking his dog who showed us down the road to the correct path. He was telling us that Hambleton is a very expensive place to buy property - starting at approx. 800,000 thousand pounds up to 2 million pounds! As a retiree, he loves the area and we can see why. It's truly beautiful, quiet and peaceful.
We passed a fly-fisherman, waist deep in the water and seemingly enjoying himself! At least the fishermen in their small boats were dry. The only sound was the crunch of our feet on the gravel - if we stopped, the silence was absolute. The path is very popular with cyclists who have their own warning signs, for example, steep hill or cattle grid ahead - dismount! Walkers and runners were also out enjoying the sunshine today.

I felt that 7 miles was rather ambitious but it is such a lovely experience with incredible view over Rutland Water for most of the way except when walking through Hambleton Woods. If I thought I had a problem with sheep pooh last time, this was even worse in places where the cows were grazing! Sloppy, wet cow dung is best avoided at all costs and it required great skill to avoid the numerous cow pats!
The walk took us about 2 hours and we decided to give the Finch's Arms another try after our diabolical experience on Sunday. We chose our beers and were shown our table..........and then we waited. Apparently, they only print the menu's at 12 noon so there is no food available before then. We had nearly finished our beers so James went to find a waiter only to hear again "The menu's have not yet been printed" When they eventually arrived, we told the waitress that we were leaving. The Manager then approached us and asked if we had done a "Trip Advisor" review on Sunday. He told us that he had done 190 covers on Sunday and if we had waited 30 minutes we could have been served! NOBODY said we would be served - we were told categorically that no food was available after being shown to a table. This manager also said that there was a difference between the pub and the restaurant. Again, nobody had told us this. He was quite scathing about other British pubs - calling them the "plastic menu" brigade! Somewhat full of his own importance I would say and certainly not very friendly to visitors.
Apparently, this printed menu can also change mid-way through lunch when the chef runs out of ingredients and then has to improvise! A weird set-up and certainly not a welcoming British pub.

Now without lunch, we decided to head for Melton Mowbray where the Pie Fest was being held. We wandered around the Saturday Market with it's fruit and veg, beautiful plants and flowers, tons of NIGHTIES and could not find the Pie Fest! We asked eventually and found out that this consisted of a few stalls with hardly any pies left for sale! There were tables outside for the PIE-NIC but they were all full. We bought a pie from Mr Kew's Pies - not much choice left. They are award winning Pie makers from Norfolk. I will let you know what it tastes like when we have it for supper!
Melton Mowbray is famous for Pork Pies and Stilton Cheese and the queue into the Olde Pork Pie Shop was horrendous! So we ambled around and viewed the Melton Mowbray Town Estate Memorial gardens. These are lovely gardens with many names of those lost in battle. A tribute to the fallen.
Once back in the market place, we found a small cafe for some tea and a sandwich whilst James insisted on the real thing - a Pork Pie with Stilton Cheese!
Luckily, when we had finished eating the queue at Dickinson &  Morris had calmed down to a trickle and we could purchase two small Pork Pies plus a Lemon Madeira Cake.

Our nest stop was to 2 different windmills, one still apparently operational and the other not. The one at Wymondham can be climbed to virtually the top - can you  believe that after all my morning exercise, I actually ventured up these steep and narrow stairs? Getting back down again was a challenge! The other windmill which is still operational, was not open but it was well worth the detour for the photos of the sails. This is the Whissendine Windmill which still supplies flour to places like Hambleton Bakery. The windmill dates back to 1810 and was restored in 1996g t. Traditional scales are still used! It's a beautiful mill and visits can be pre-arranged during the week.
Our trip back to Barnsdale took us via some simply incredible country roads - so narrow that they have "passing" places only. It was so truly in rural Britain and a lovely drive! We had to stop at Ashwell to wait for the train to pass at the crossing. It came belting along at a very fast rate!
At Barnsdale Country Club, we had to change units today. Our new unit is very close to the water and the ducks and squirrels all came passing by while we enjoyed out teatime treats.
The countryside in Britain is very quaint and pretty and these 4 counties that we have been visiting are both interesting, entertaining and certainly worth visiting.

© Judelle Drake

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