Where: Stathern, Leicestershire.
Distance: 17 miles.
Ascent: 1,407 ft.
Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 247 & 260
Parking: Limited on the street near the start. The Red Lion has a car park. Check with the landlord first and spend some money in there after your ride!
Overview: One of the best routes in Leicestershire taking you up and down the escarpment looking out over The Vale of Belvoir. This route reverses a lot of the trails used by the Viking Challenge. Typically for Leicestershire this route is best ridden in dry conditions. Parts of the route are frequently used by motorised off road vehicles so beware of them. However in summer they are less frequently encountered and the route can be as tranquil as any other.
Local Bike Shop: Rutland Cycling
Map: (click the symbols on the map to view photographs of the route)
Details: (click on a grid reference to centre the OS map above on that point)
1. (0 miles) SK772310 Start outside the Red Lion pub, Red Lion lane in Stathern. Go up Toft's Hill across the green from the pub - signposted "Unsuitable for motors".
2. (1 mile) SK789304 At the end of the Toft's Hill track turn left onto the road, then immediately right onto the gravel track which is part of the Jubilee Way. Follow the track ignoring a couple of right turns until you reach a T-junction with a road at the bottom of the first fast and pleasant descent of the ride. Turn right and ride up into Branston. Turn left opposite The Wheel Inn down Knipton Road.
3. (3 miles) SK814293 At the bend in the road at the top of the short hill - turn right onto a track. Follow this up and down a couple of hills, past the sewage works and then up a concrete road climb into Croxton Kerrial. At the end of the road turn right then immediately left up Thorpes Lane. Turn right at the top of this and carry straight on to the junction with the A607. Turn left onto this.
4. (5 miles) SK844292 At the curve in the road turn right (signposted Hungerton & Wyville) into a layby / junction type thing. Follow the lane down for about a mile until the Viking Way crosses it. Turn left onto this and pick a rut. Update: Summer 2009. Much of the Viking way has beeen widened and levelled making the going far easier than it used to be. Wet weather combined with motorised users will no doubt restore it to the usual entertaining rut fest. in time? The Viking Way route is straight and very obvious! You will go over the A607, down a technical descent (the kerbstone descent) and over two more roads until you eventually reach a bridge over the Grantham canal. The descent to the canal bridge is no longer the quality singletrack it once was due to (illegal) motorised use. It can still be fun though.
5. (10 miles) SK850350 Carry straight on over the canal bridge and then take the first track on the left. Follow this to another canal bridge by the "Dirty Duck" pub (also called The Rutland Arms). The track now becomes a tarmac lane. Proceed to the T-junction and turn left towards Woolsthorpe. At the crossroads in the village turn right and follow the road up and around Belvoir Castle.
6. (13 miles) SK815328 At a right hand bend in the road turn right onto the Jubilee Way. This is well signposted up and through the woods until it comes to a T-junction at the top of Toft's Hill. Turn right and enjoy descending the track that you ascended at the start of the route. Enjoy one of the excellent real ales in the Red Lion!
Possible extensions: Plenty both north and south of the loop. The Viking Way is nearly all rideable and there are plenty of bridleways, tracks and lanes crossing it at regular intervals. We usually cross straight over the A607 at Croxton Kerrial, turn left at Saltby church then take the bridleway on the right to meet the Viking Way at the edge of the airfield.