Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bradgate Park

Bradgate Park, Birthplace of Lady Jane Grey
Bradgate Park, Birthplace of Lady Jane Grey
Today, I’m at Bradgate Park with my friend from uni (FFU) who is a regular to the park and knows exactly where to park a car for free and to walk away from the main path which in the summer holidays is heaving  with prams, kids on trikes and excited dogs. 

Climbing uphill along a bridalway bordered with swathes of triffid like bracken, FFU's black lab sets a fast pace and soon we’re looking back down over the park.  In the distance are the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s manor house, where local legend has it that the ghost of this Queen of England for nine short days appears on Christmas Eve.

Old John, Bradgate Park
Bradgate’s highest point ,‘Old John’, an ancient stone tower and significant landmark on the local skyline is still above us and a steepish climb is rewarded with sweeping views over four counties.  I've no idea where the name ‘Old John’ actually comes from, but as a child I remember we scared each other with the story of an old man called John who had lived in the tower and whose ghost would ‘get you and keep you there forever.'

Lunch is calling and we walk back down towards the ruins of the house where a tea-shop is also situated and then we spot deer that the park is famous for. 

Deer at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire
Deer at Bradgate Park
It’s lovely to catch up with FFU and as usual we chat about work (or my lack of it at the moment); books we’ve read and films we’ve seen but her creeping towards middle-age has brought out a whole new dimension to her personality and she tells me three filthy jokes!   The fact she’s even remembered them  is deeply impressive.

Still giggling we put black lab on the lead and go for lunch at Jade Tearooms, bagging a table outside.  Jades is good whether you want coffee or lunch with lots of variety at a reasonable price and is much better for food than the tea-room in the park.  I choose a toasted sandwich filled with goats cheese and red pepper at a very reasonable £4.50.

The good: Walks through the rugged Charnwood Forest, having lunch at Jades, the jokes.
The not so good: Blister on my foot through wearing unsuitable footwear.
Go again :  Definitely.  It’s a park for all seasons, spectacular in the snow with a bowl of soup at Jades afterwards and lovely in the summer, big enough to avoid the crowds once you’re off the beaten track.
Jade Tea Rooms, Newtown Linford, Leicestershire
Jade's Tea Rooms

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