Planning a trip in England – walking, open garden days and markets

A few years ago I wanted to go walking in England with my sister-in-law, but we didn’t quite know where to start planning without committing ourselves to some formal tour arrangement.

Coincidentally I saw an article in our local newspaper about an “open garden day” planned in our town – this is where 10 households would volunteer to open their gardens to people who buy tickets for the weekend, and the proceeds go to a charity. So I googled “open gardens England June 2003.” One of the first search results told us about an open garden day in Old Dalby. We planned an entire trip around a Sunday in Old Dalby.

That was a very good way to provide a bit of structure to the trip plan, and get some interaction with people living there.

We took the train from London to Melton Mowbray, where this is a fabulous market. There is a Car Boot Sale on Sundays but Tuesday is the best day, with a Farmers Market, Antiques, and Fur and Feather.  I couldn’t resist that – FUR AND FEATHERS – I had to see that!

After a couple of nights in Melton Mowbray, sampling their meat pies, we walked to Old Dalby (maybe a couple of hours, which was much needed after the meat pies), spent the day wandering from garden to garden, chatting with the locals who were very pleased that we had come all the way from Canada for their day, and then we walked to the next small village where I had reserved a bed and breakfast. From there we walked back to Melton Mowbray in the pouring rain – 2 middle aged women with backpacks and dripping rainwear.

English: Farmland north of Great Dalby The tre...

English farmland north of Great Dalby Image via Wikipedia

We climbed over stiles and walked over hill and dale, across farmers’ fields, along country roads. We took OS Explorer maps, followed the waymarking, sometimes needing the binoculars to see the next arrow, and even figured out how to use the compass. That came in handy several times to keep us going in the right direction.

It was lots of fun. I’d like to do a similar vacation, but other more exotic trips keep appearing and I figure I can walk in England when I’m old, whenever that is.

I found a blog entry from a few years ago that has photos of the walking routes near Old Dalby. The photos show it well. The same website has tons of great information that I find very tempting.