Pub walk: Exton, Greetham and Fort Henry in Rutland
Published June 22, 2012
This is the perfect 5.5 mile pub walk to blow away the cobwebs. As you stride out into farmland between Exton and Greetham, you’re guaranteed to be woken up by a refreshing wind that gives the expansive views and big skies added impact. The route’s mainly flat, so the walking’s easy, but remember to wrap up warm and take a hat – you don’t want too many gusts of wind down your lugholes.
Exton (meaning ‘ox farm’), near Oakham, is a beautiful old ironstone village with a memorable rectangular green at its centre, scattered with impressively ancient-looking trees. Overlooking the green, matching the trees for stature, is the Fox and Hounds pub – a grand old chunk of a building.
Exton has been dominated by Exton Hall and Park for 500 years. Exton Park, which this walk dips in and out of, started life as a deer park in medieval times before the Noel family (the Earls of Gainsborough), developed it and built Exton Hall in the Tudor period. That burnt down in 1810 and a new hall was built, which still remains.
Greetham is an equally pleasant village but in a different way. With its village shop and pubs it has a slightly less aristocratic air than Exton, but is none the worse for that.
On this walk you pass a mock gothic fishing folly on the edge of a beautiful lake covered with water lilies and swans. The building is called Fort Henry and was constructed in 1788 by William Legg for one of the Earls of Gainsborough.
Click on map to enlarge
1 Park in Exton at The Green and with your back to the Fox & Hounds, walk away from the pub (if you can bear it!) up Stamford Road (the road on the right). At the T-junction, go straight over the road, following the National Byway sign onto New Field Road.
2 At the end of New Field Road, cross the cattle grid and walk forward along the track. Cross a second cattle grid and follow the track into arable fields.
3 Carry on for around 500 yards until you reach a fork in the track. Go straight up the grassy path, following the middle sign. Descend towards the wooded area and join a concrete track. Follow the track downhill, admiring the lake views to your right and left.
4 At the second public footpath sign, turn left, following the ‘Footpath To Greetham’ sign. As you walk through the ancient trees, Fort Henry becomes visible on your left.
5 Follow the grassy path around the lake and past a line of tall trees. Walk through a wooded area with a tiny brook on your left. Climb the wooden steps, turn right and then immediately left to descend more steps.
6 Cross a wooden bridge and follow the path around Greetham Valley golf course, following the yellow markers.
7 Walk past the driving range and through the golf course car park. Look for a metal gate to the right of the clubhouse. Walk between the wooden bollards to the right of the gate. Carry on to the next yellow post and follow the arrow to walk down the gravel path. Follow the track to the right of the trees and at the yellow post go straight on (hedgerow on your right).
8 A few yards after a gnarled, dead tree sticking out of the hedgerow, turn right over a stile. Then turn left and walk around the edge of the field. At the marker in the corner of the field, hop over the low fence and drop down to walk over a wooden bridge. Turn right, aiming for Greetham church spire.
9 Walk along the edge of two fields, with a stream to your right, all the way into Greetham. At the end of the second field, follow the very short track and join the main road. Turn left, or alternatively pop in for refreshment at The Wheatsheaf.
10 Walk past the Black Horse (closed when we did this walk) and look out for a garden on the right with a dovecote. Just past Great Lane, turn left, following a well-hidden sign to the Viking Way and ascending nine steps. Alternatively, carry on to The Plough.
Inside The Wheatsheaf
11 Follow a narrow path, go through a gate, over or around the stile and onto a broadish, gravelly track. Follow the track and go through a small metal gate to the right of agricultural buildings and out into a grassy field. At the end of the field go through a gate and over a stile. Turn right and then immediately left, following a slightly raised gravel path.
12 Stick to the path as it bends to the right and drops downhill. At the bottom of the hill, climb over the stile, cross a wooden bridge and walk diagonally left over the field to the next stile. Climb over and go straight on uphill. At the T-junction, turn right, following the Viking Way to Exton.
13 Follow the flat road and when you reach the tall trees, take the left fork. Stick to the road, go over a cattle grid and towards farm buildings. Follow the road to the left, go through the gate, then right, following the Viking Way sign into Exton.
14 Stick to the road as it bends left, then turn right at the buttermarket and onto the High Street. At the end of the street you’ll see The Green.
The Fox & Hounds, Exton
The Fox & Hounds looks like a proud, aristocratic pub from the outside, and has recently been refurbished to give it the feel of a luxurious boutique hotel inside. The menu has been designed to match.
The Fox & Hounds, 19 The Green, Exton, Rutland LE15 8AP, 01572 812403
The Wheatsheaf, Greetham
At first glance it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a great village pub and an average one. The garden can be a giveaway and the signage is sometimes an indicator. But you just can’t tell till you go in and try the food and drink.
The Wheatsheaf looks lovely, with a stream trickling gently along in the garden and the pub’s neat exterior giving passers-by the come on. And with chef Carol Craddock in the kitchen, the food served here is up there with the very best in the region.
The Wheatsheaf, 1 Stretton Road, Greetham, Rutland, LE15 7NP, 01572 812325