Thanks for the feedback from people on the last article I did about my childhood, especially the comment from Marmite Breath.
I’m due another visit to Leicester in the next couple of weeks, but thought I would put some more memories of growing up there down on the blog in the meantime. This time I’m gonna move on to my teenage years and go a bit further afield than Braunstone Frith and Glenfield.
When you got to the age of 11 or 12 (or younger if your parents were a bit more liberal minded at the time), you started to be allowed to go an all day trips out on the bike. If you lived in my old area, the areas you inevitably headed for Groby Pool, Swithland Woods or Bradgate Park. Armed with your £3 for an ice cream and can of pop, you headed off up Tournament Road, before the road downhill on Dominion Road to Glenfield centre, or alternatively you cut across the fields to the bottom of Price Albert Drive, you dropped onto the main road near the park. Going past the Co-op towards Groby Road and Country Hall, you negotiated the roundabout and headed down the road into Anstey, which has now changed beyond recognition with the A46 bypass junction replacing the only T junction.
After a cruise into Anstey, now was the Crux of the ride, the uphill section from Anstey, which went on for a couple of miles, relentlessly without a break. By the time you reached the top of the hill you needed the steep descent into Newtown Linford to recover. This was the best hill of the ride. Stopping at the shop for an ice cream and a drink, you now either explored Bradgate Park or carried on out of Newtown Linford and then headed up another steep hill to go round the back of the Park to get to Swithland Woods, however when you took the right turn to get to the woods entrance you had the best second best hill of the ride going past the woods. This however would be saved for later.
Bradgate Park seemed massive as a kid, although on subsequent visits as an adult, its size has diminished, as do all distances, the bigger you get, the smaller it seems. With an easy run from front entrance to back entrance at Cropston Resvr, with a detour to the rocks over the bridge just past Bradgate House Ruins, which again seemed masssive as a kid, but when visited last summer as adult climber, looked rather nice for low level bouldering. If you were more adventurous you took the path around the edge of the park, or took the ridge to the left of the main path before heading up to the summit of Old John. If you had the balls, then you did the downhill straight to the park gates, if not, you went off the less severe back path and came round the hill. In between all this you had miles of paths and some great smaller downhill sections.
As an adult I actually prefer Swithland Woods for walking and chilling, but as a child, this was one of the best places if you had a bike to visit on this side of the city, with more tracks than you could visit in a day, long rough downhill sections, streams to ride through, and a very good chance of getting totally lost for a while, if you hit the right time of year, you had fresh blackberries to pick, combine this with the Park and you had a full day out.
I’m not sure of that one of the facts from earlier, my memory fails me, but when I drove down the road from Swithland Woods toward and past Cropston Resvr recently, it seemed a lot less steep than I remember, and didn’t have the sharp bend at the bottom. I know a hill like that was in the area, but it could have a been a childhood exageration in my mind. Either way you had a easy ride down towards Cropston Village, and then headed off right on the undulating hill road back towards Anstey, and then retracing the route back through Glenfield.
In fact thinking about it I think it was the road off to the left towards the Shepshed area, which was very steep with about 5 or 6 humps in the road I am referring to now. I remember clocking 35mph on my bike on it however. Given my memory is obviously going, I’d better sign off here.