Saturday, March 29, 2014

Melton Mowbray edgelands

East of Melton Mowbray station the railway runs beside the colossal Pedigree Petfoods plant. The factory was originally housed in an old sewing thread mill, but it has greatly expanded since then and parts of it are strikingly modern.

I found today that you can follow a footpath beside a tributary of the Wreake (or perhaps the Eye, as the river changes its name above Melton) and pass through the heart of the Pedigree Petfoods site to the banks of the river itself.

As well as the factory you get to see wildlife, a mural and a fine selection of weirs and waterfalls. There is even a low bridge under the railway that is closed off in times of flood.

Ten or 20 years ago you would, from the train, always see children swimming by one of the weirs here in summer, but that no longer seems to happen. See Chris Ayriss's video about Leicester lidos for a take on the decline of outdoor swimming.

I wondered while I was there if some of these watercourses I was seeing were the remains of the Oakham Canal. But it turns out that this took a course a little to the north of these Melton Mowbray edgelands that is now largely lost under the town's streets. You can trace it on the map on the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society site.

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