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Railway Walks & Explorations

A rough, illustrated, guide to the former Belvoir Tramway, Woolsthorpe Railway and part of the Grantham Canal - and what they look like today.

By clicking the icon in the top left of the map window, you can select/deselect other options to view or click the icon top right to view full screen.

The photo album for this map may be viewed separately... HERE.

The tramway route is shown in orange and the railway in purple and my circular walk route is completed in green with the canal in blue.
You can right-click and download my circular walk GPX file here for use in your GPS, Sat Nav or phone mapping.

The 7.6 mile walk route is circular and takes in not just a tramway, canal (under restoration!) and railway, but is also through the magnificent scenery of the Vale of Belvoir and overseen throught by the magnificent Belvoir Castle.

Obviously, being a circular walk, you can start anywhere but I parked on the verge below the castle - which is where the GPX file will take you. There is quite a lot to see around here - and the Castle is its own attraction - but bypassing all that, the route of the tramway was clearly visible in 1973. Now there have been new buildings on the line and the very many old fish belly rails that were strewn around then have now gone and the route covered with a new drive way.

From here there are excellent views down into the Vale of Belvoir - including good sightings of the complete tramway route as far as the distant trees at Muston Gorse Basin. These include the castle's 'best side' and the approach to Woolsthorpe village - which contains a good pub in case you didn't visit the Engine Yard!

It is a steep climb from the pub up behind Cliff Woods but there are excellent views in both directions as you go over the top of the hill to join the Viking Way. From here you can see the rebuilt (1980s?) Casthorpe Bridge and a slightly longer extension if you decide to go down to join the canal at Casthorpe Foot Bridge (63).

Pass under the old railway line (which I remember being in use until 1971 - now a footpath eastwards). A full description of this is given by another author from one of the links below. The canal is then joined at Longmoor Bridge (unless you've taken the Casthorpe Foot Bridge route mentioned above).

Immediately, this is a different world and here there is a living canal, with working locks, another pub and even boats! The first three locks were restored some 20+ years ago and finally the rest of this flight of 7 is being restored all the way to the 'long pound' which takes the canal all the way to Cropwell Wharf some 15 miles away. However, there are many bridges that will need rebuilding before the canal can reach there but, when the seven locks are restored, it will be a major boost to achieving navigability to Redmile. Thereafter, there is another restored section (including swing bridges) near Hickling and, beyond Cropwell, another restored section (with three locks) near Cotgrave.

On the walk however, we cross the flattened bridge at Muston Gorse where the Belvoir Tramway loaded coal for the castle. Historic photos in the links below show how this used to be. In the 1970s, the then Duke of Rutland was quoted to be considering restoring the tramway when the canal was restored - so that tourists from the canal could visit his castle. Now that would be a fine thing! Worth remembering that in a couple of years boats should be able to get all the way from the A1 culvert at Grantham as far as the tramway wharf at Muston Gorse...

I have found a number of websites with more information on the railway and its history. The following are just samples. Follow these links for further information:- All links should open in a new tab.

For a historic map of the routes, follow this link and then adjust the transparency on the slider scale to view the present day appearance:
Click Here for Historic Map

The best starting point for the tramway is probably
this brief wikipedia entry which has other links.
This image, with wagon & horses, of the tramway in use plus other historic images and the same historic images are here but with a little more information

For the canal this website is a good introduction whilst this one is for the Grantham Canal Society who are slowly restoring the canal. The Canal & River Trust information.

For the ironstone railways start here:
The first part of a very detailed exploration...
A general description of the railways.
A related, connected railway at Waltham.
More on the iron ore traffic at Harston.
The Eaton Branch
The Eastwell & Waltham Ironstone Company
A view of the site of a narrow gauge incline near Harby.

Otherwise, basic information is limited to that in 'Stone Blocks & Iron Rails', (Bertram Baxter, 1966, David & Charles, p182)