Introduction to Orienteering

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South West Leicestershire

| Burbage Common and Woods | Fosse Meadows | Market Bosworth |

Burbage Common and Woods

Our map covers Aston Firs, Burbage Common and Burbage Woods most of which is within the Burbage Country Park. The woodlands are probably remaining remnants of the Hinckley Forest dating back to medieval times. It is in all about 250 acres of semi-natural ancient woodland and unspoilt grassland with several miles of public footpaths available. The common is registered common land and designated under the CRoW Act as full public Access. Parts of Aston Firs are now fenced off. There is a permanent orienteering course there.

Fosse Meadows

Where the River Soar meets the old Fosse Way, Fosse Meadows Nature Park backs onto the village of Sharnford. The former farmland was bought by Blaby District Council in two lots, first opening in 1987.

The old course of the river can still be clearly seen across the fields even though it was long ago diverted to its present course and this provides a series of shallow depressions unfortunately often very damp. Much of the site was planted with trees, mostly of native species, but there is also an arboretum. Add in the pond and you have an area ideal for and rich in wildlife. Some copses have been planted with conifers amongst the deciduous trees to provide year round green cover. The shrub areas contain gorse and broom amongst rough grassland, giving a heath effect to the area.

There is a permanent orienteering course in the park.

Market Bosworth

We have an urban map which includes the park area. The town itself Market Bosworth is a market town with a very long history. In 1048 when Edward the Confessor had been on the throne for only six years, the lord of the manor at Market Bosworth was a knight called Fernot. With the coming of the Normans, most of the land in the manor of Market Bosworth was held by the Count of Meulan. Later the manor belonged to the Earls of Leicester from whom, by marriage, it passed to the Harcourt family, a powerful family of Norman origin. By 1200, Sir Richard de Harcourt held the manor of Market Bosworth through his wife Orabella.

It was to Sir William Harcourt that King Edward 1 gave a royal charter allowing a market to be held every Wednesday and a three day fair at the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. In 1554 it was forfeited and returned to the Crown and then given by King Philip and Queen Mary to Sir Edward Hastings of Loughborough who left it to his nephew Henry, Lord Hastings. In 1567, Henry, now Earl of Huntingdon, sold the manor of Market Bosworth to Sir Wolstan Dixie, Lord Mayor of London and Bosworth Hall became the seat of the Dixie family.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were two turnpike roads which crossed in the centre of Bosworth. By 1846 there were carriers leaving Bosworth almost every day to Leicester, Hinckley Ashby de la Zouch and Nuneaton. It was possible to travel by canal all the way to London. By the end of the century, the railway had arrived in Bosworth and there were carriers to Bedworth and Atherstone as well all though no longer to Ashby.

A lot of the history of this town is still displayed in its many fine properties

Bosworth Battlefield
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park is not actually sited where the main part of the famous battle took place. The story of the death of a King and the birth of the all powerful Tudor dynasty is told at the exhibition centre and there is a replica of a typical village of the time and named as Ambion Parva. There are also refreshment facilities in a reclaimed medieval barn.

In the 1400s the Houses of York and Lancaster fought for the throne of England. Each believed they had the better claim to the throne and on 22 August 1485, two armies faced each other in this decisive battle leading to the birth of a dynasty that would last for 122 years and being the last time that an English King was killed in battle.

King Richard III had ruled the land for only two years and Henry, Earl of Richmond ended the day being crowned nearby, as Henry VII. Richard had marched out from Leicester with around 12,000 men with the intention of cutting Henry off from his march towards London but ended up being killed and even that was not the end of his troubles. Years later, when England’s monasteries were being destroyed by Henry VIII, Richard’s bones were excavated from Grey Friar’s monastery in Leicester and are to be given a proper resting place in Leicester Cathedral. Battles were not tidy affairs and skirmishing probably took place all over the area but Ambion Hill and Ambion Wood probably still have secrets to unfold.

The Country Park was developed in the early 1970’s to provide an environment to interpret the famous battle. Four miles of field and woodland paths link the Battlefield Heritage Centre to Cheney Wharf on the Ashby Canal and Shenton Station on the Shackerstone Railway and further paths lead north into Bosworth Country Park.

Ambion Wood itself is privately owned but paths traverse it and the old railway cutting by Shenton Station is a nature trail with quite complex landforms and mature woods.

We have mapped the whole area up to an including Bosworth Park to assist the Country Parks Service in organising a festival pf walks etc at the Battlefield Centre. We have taken advantage of the map to hold occasional small training events.

Bosworth Park
This is a landscaped 35-hectare park which was formerly part of Bosworth Hall deer parkland. There are fine, mature trees, a lake, and a planted arboretum with exotic species, a wildflower meadow and a community woodland. We have used it for small orienteering events for years and it has a permanent orienteering course.

We have used it in conjunction with the streets of this market town and footpaths go south to join it to the Bosworth Battlefield Park and displays.