Great Central (Steam) Railway & Grand Union Canal day walk
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The Great Central Railway is the UK's only double track, main line heritage railway. It’s the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other – just as it was when steam ruled the rails.
We'll be getting on the Steam Train at 10am sharp for the trip from Loughborough to the outskirts of Leicester (The Leicester North Station, between Beaumont Leas and Birstall) about a 30min ride, the 10am train is the griddle car, because quite frankly Lewis fancies the breakfast.
After a jolly good ride on the train, we'll find ourselves in Birstall where we'll need to start the 16mile walk back. We'll join the Grand Union Canal at Watermead Country Park, in fact for most of the route we'll follow this stretch of canal making the walk fairly flat and there are plenty of pubs along route to choose from for a swift pint and a bite to eat.
The route will divert off the canal at Mounsorrell so we can head towards Swithland Reservoir, where hopefully we'll see the Steam Trains in operation from the sidelines (calling all Train Spotters) whilst heading north to Quorndon (at this point, 11 miles in, if you're feeling it, there may be an opportunity to get the train back from Quorn and Woodhouse Station by steam train again).
The last leg of this linear route re-joins the Grand Union Canal to bring us back to Loughborough Central Station where we started.
What to bring
- Walking Boots
- Gaiters (optional)
- Walking Trousers (not jeans)
- Base Layer
- Waterproof Trousers
- Waterproof Jacket
- Food & Water
- Money for the steam train (£9 single ticket) and breakfast (I don't have prices for this) and maybe a crafty pint.
Food & drink
What better way to start the day than with a hearty Great Central All Day Breakfast, with eggs, bacon, Cumberland sausages, black pudding, fried bread, sauté potatoes and tomatoes, all served aboard a steam train? For breakfast connoisseurs, join me on the griddle car for a feast to set you up for the long walk back.
Other hearty hot meals can be got on the griddle car too - all without the need for an advance reservation.
You’ll find these favourites aboard the griddle car, along with a bar serving beers, wines, spirits and hot drinks (I'm not going to suggest 10am is too early for this).
You will definately still want to bring a packed lunch to this one, the walk is 16miles long, and although fairly flat you'll want to keep your energy up. Make sure you bring plenty of re-hydrating fluids to drink too.