Smisby Striders are the  Smisby WI walking group, which was set up in 2011.

Snowdrops at Dimminsdale 2014

 Members take it in turns to organise and lead the walks on the 2nd Thursday of each month., Each walk is on average about 4 miles in length and may range from 3 to 6 miles

 Smisby Strollers  were formed in 2021 and sometimes meet to offer a shorter walk with few or easy stiles.

Both walks normally finish with lunch!  Members can just join in for the walk or the lunch, if they don't want to do both activities.  Members are notified of each venue by email and are asked to reply if they are attending.

 Well behaved dogs welcome on lead. For most walks we meet at 10:15 am for a prompt 10.30 start.

Please wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the time of year.


Walk details are circulated to members by WhatApp and email, normally a week before the walk.


Strollers June 2024 walk

The strollers walk yesterday was a little longer then anticipated at just over three miles. The breakfast at Lakeside as usual was excellent which set us up for the walk around the 
lakes at Overseal.  Thank for attending, and your company and to Richard, Mo's  husband, for taking a superb picture with all the dogs looking into the camera for a change!


Striders June 2024 walk around the Jubilee woods

Six striders enjoyed a lovely 4 mile walk around the new Elizabeth II Jubilee woods at Heather. The weather was warm and dry which made the walk all the more enjoyable. There were many wild flowers and the ladies had great fun trying to identify them. Wild Orchid, Foxgloves, wild Sweet Pea,  wild Geranium & Ox-eye  Daisy.
A very enjoyable walk thanks Christina and David for leading it.

Strollers May walk around Ashby

Nine hardy people arrived at Bath Grounds for our strollers walk in the rain. Umbrellas at the ready and off we went with Sonia telling us about the history of the very sad looking Royal Hotel and showing us pictures of the Spa baths in their hey-day, when people used to come from far and wide to visit Ashby to take the beneficial waters.

Several Blue plaques were explained to the group before heading to Centivo for breakfast and to get dry. After having refreshments we continued our walk down Market Street, visiting the Bear in the pit at the White Hart, hearing about the murder of a ‘lady of the night’ by a soldier Timothy Dunn and Doctor Mark Baker who died following an attempt to rescue two men overcome by fumes in a well at Ticknall. 

A very interesting walk once again given by a very enthusiastic Sonia, who thoroughly enjoys finding out about our hidden local history



Striders Bluebell Walk 9 May 2024

Six members and one husband enjoyed a 3.5 mile walk from the circular car park in Calke to view the spectacular bluebells in the Calke Abbey woods. The weather was perfect for walking, warm and dry with little wind. On the way back the group stopped for coffee and delicious snacks in the Stableyard cafe. (Click on pictures to enlarge)



Striders walk to Conkers 11th April 

Dry weather at last was enjoyed by the Striders in April. We began our walk at The Pavillion at Donisthorpe, walking down the canal to Conkers and back along the Heritage Trail. Refreshments were enjoyed at the Pavilion.



Strollers visit to Moira Furnace, March 2024

For our March Strollers walk we met at the cafe by the Furnace in Moira for Bacon sandwiches and coffee before the start of a two mile amble. It was a beautiful morning bright and sunny with no rain in the forecast. The walk took us through several woods then on to the Donisthorpe football field where we ended up at the memorial on the corner of Bath Lane in memory of Stuart Keats Taylor, who died in 1930 whilst having four teeth extracted. The weather by now was getting hotter so instead of coffee it was ice creams all round  a lovely walk; no mud, no stiles, and no rain, which was a bonus.March 24 strollers


Striders Snowdrop Walk 14th March 2024

Just 4 hardy members had a good walk, despite the mud and possible showers. We began at Dimminsdale, following the Snowdrop walk that had to be cancelled in February due to sleety showers. We continued into the gardens at Calke Abbey, followed by refreshments at the Courtyard at Staunton Harold.




Strollers visit to Snibston Country Park, February 2024

Nine people enjoyed a 2 mile walk around the Snibston Country Park on Tuesday. We found the Elks on top of the hill and as you can see from the attachment they are really big and all the more amazing that they are made out of Scrap metal.

snibston feb 24

Strollers visit to Cornonation Park , Newhall, Jan 2024

Thanks, Lynn, for organising the Strollers first walk of the year, meeting at Garden King Newhall for breakfast, at 9.30 and then a two and a half mile stroll round the Coronation Park.
A superb attendance; it must be the bacon butties that won us over. Coronation Park is very new with a golf course in the centre, but once the trees grow it will be just like all the other National Forest woods that have been planted over the past 20 years.
The next walk will be on Tuesday 27th Februrary around the Snibston Colliery park.strollersjanwalk

Calke Park Walk, Jan 2024

The first Striders walk of 2024 was from Ticknall village hall car park to Calke Park. The weather was kind to us; cool and dry with little wind. The tracks had dried out well too.   The nine ramblers walked on the tramway to Calke Explore and then through Serpentine Wood, returning beside Mere Pond to the house for refreshments in the café.  We then walked along the main carriage drive and turning right rejoined the tramway at Stanley’s barn top gate. We returned past Calke Explore and past the pond, following the footpath to Ticknall Main Street and then back to the car park.  A  very pleasant walk of 5 miles.


Hicks Lodge walk  Nov 2023

Eleven members enjoyed a 3 mile walk from Lakeside, Shortheath, Moira, through Moira Furnace to Hicks Lodge. Here the group split with some stopping for a coffee and others walking round the lake, where the photo was taken. We all met again at Lakeside and most stayed to enjoy a delicious lunch.hicks23

Strollers Ashby Walk 7th Nov 2023

Nine ladies (and Dave) enjoyed a hearty breakfast at RedZ before setting off on a bright but chilly walk around the streets of Ashby. The walk encompassed the Town Council Blue Plaques, where Sonia explained the history of each plaque - sometimes being the building, sometimes being the person and the talk even covered murder and a stuffed bear proudly wearing his poppies!Nov23Stroller

Bradgate Park walk 12 Oct 2023

Four couples through Bradgate park and the weather was kind to us, being cool and dry. We followed the path to Bradgate House ruins and enjoyed viewing the red and fallow deer, which were very active, since it is the rut. We then stopped for a welcome coffee and cake in the park café. Afterwards, we walked up to view Old John and met one of the park volunteers there. She explained the reasons for the scaffolding on the tower and gave us a fascinating and enjoyable potted history of the park.  Cutting through the copse where the stables used to be, we reached the war memorial. Then we made our way downhill and joined the horse track to return to the car park.


13th July 23 Striders

The walk next Thursday 13th July was approximately 4.75 miles with four stiles. It started  from the Dethick Hall carpark, Manchester lane Hartshorne, 10.15 for a 10.30 start.

Dorothy led this walk, which was originally planned for last March but it snowed heavily that day. The walk route  was  towards the Hartshorne dams and took a circular route round back to the carpark. Lunch was at the Bulls Head Hartshorne.  This was a joint walk with the ladies from walking netball, since we were unable use the leisure centre on this day. It was a good idea to combine the two groups. walk July 23

June 2023 Strollers

The strollers walk on Thursday 29th of June was a guided walk around Grace Dieu woods and Priory situated in 

Northwest Leicestershire. 

After a very hearty breakfast at the Bulls Head Thringston, we met up with Ann, a Thringston WI member, & Bill, her brother, who were giving the guided walk. They told us about the history of the Grace Dieu house and the surrounding woods & Priory, & industrial heritage of the area. Ann & Bill's Grandfather and Father were both gardeners for the family and they lived in the gardener's cottage on the estate so who better to give a first hand account of the area where they played as children.

Seven members two husbands and two dogs thoroughly enjoyed their stroll, accompanied with pictures and childhood memories told to us by Ann & Bill. 

Picture taken in the ruins of the Chapter House of Grace Dieu Priory.


 Strollers May Walk

The Strollers first walk of the year took place on Thursday 25th of May. We have changed our day from Tuesday as several of our members who like to walk volunteer at a Dementia support group held in the village hall every Tuesday. As the name suggests our walks are not long like the Striders, but to make it a little different we start off with breakfast at a local restaurant and then have a stroll.

After breakfast at the Pavilions Donisthorpe, six members, two husbands & three dogs enjoyed a leisurely 2-mile stroll around the old mining village of Donisthorpe. 

After a short walk through the Donisthorpe Woodlands, the church of St Johns happened to be open, and we had a quick look around before making our way to the allotments and apple orchard. We then crossed the road to loo k at the post box topper of "the old lady who swallowed a fly" made by a local knitting group. After passing a house which was once the meeting place of the Primitive Methodists, it was then a short walk-through roads and a jitty back to the Pavilions and a well earned ice cream.



Bluebell Walk 11 May 2023

Marie’s walk of about 5 miles visited the parish Bluebell woods. She led members through Sharp’s Bottom to Hartshorne via the track from Several Woods farm and then returned via Daniel Hayes, passing the Iron Age village.  Sone of the group then moved to the Tap House, for a tasty lunch, being joined by three other members.

WI walk May23 e

Donisthorpe Woodland Walk  April 2023

Chris Cox led the Striders walk on13th April. Eight members left from our lunch venue of Lakeside Bistro. We were very lucky with the weather following heavy rain the day before. As the photo shows we dressed for the cold wind, but all were rather warm by the end!  We were fortunate to finish before the heavy rain and hail which occured later in the day.
The walk was about 4 miles and included some of Donisthorpe Woodland, the area around Conkers and the canal at Moira. We had a very pleasant lunch.


 Snowdrop Walk 9th Feb 2023

 Jane led the February walk  from the Springwood car park by the southern end of the  Staunton Harold reservoir through Dimminsdale nature reserve and the Staunton Harold estate. Ten members enjoyed the interesting route, easy walking and the perfect weather conditions. Afterwards the lunch was at the Ferrers Arms Lount. Many thanks to Jane for this super route.




Snibston Colliery Tour, Thursday January 12th 2023.


Snibston Colliery was initiated by William Stenson, who came from the Forest of Dean coalfield to sink a mine in Whitwick in the 1820s. Having reached coal, he looked for means of transporting it to Leicester and persuaded the great George Stevenson to support the building of one of the world’s earliest railways from Leicester to Swannington. The Striders walking group have walked several sections of the Swannington incline and now we know how and why it was built.


Stuart, who came dressed as William Stenson, gave a short  history about the life and times of the mine. From the beginning of 1833 to the present, a considerable town was established and Colville had its own pride of community, employer loyalty and spirit of enterprise, all because of the Snibston Colliery.


We were then introduced to two ex-miners who had worked in the local mines so knew all the working of the various industrial equipment that was on show. We were taken to the control room, the nurses sick bay, and the lift shaft that transported men from top to bottom in 43 seconds. Finally we saw how the miners blew up the coal face using explosives, to make it more  social history is right on our doorstep, with  men still around who worked in these mines.

It was a truly fascinating tour given by men who new and worked in the mines, thanks to all who made it so interesting.



Hall Farm Packington Walk

Our November 2022 walk was around Hall Farm, Packington. Members enjoyed a very informative talk given by Andrew the farmer and a superb lunch provided by the ladies in the cafe. 

Striders walk, Loughborough Suffragettes trail, August 2022

This walk was very different to our normal walks, this time we were going back in history to the women's suffrage campaign in Loughborough which started in the late 1870s.
We started our walk in the Market Place out side the Town Hall near to the Archdeacon Fearon fountain, this was the site of the first meeting of the Women's Social and Political Union held in the town of Loughborough.
Many riotous meetings were held there and in 1910 two WSPU members who were campaigning had often used a dray from which to speak had eggs thrown at them from boisterous crowds, and at one time the dray was pushed into the fountain and several times the police had to step in and rescue the ladies and take them to the police station for their own protection.
Jane, our guide for the morning, showed us many of the places where the suffragettes held meetings, the Town Hall, Woodgate Police station, the Schoolroom on Victoria Street, and the Red House where it was alleged that the Suffragettes tried to set fire to the banisters, it was probably outsiders trying to blame the WSPU.
A lovely history tour of Loughborough, which some of us knew nothing about and the ladies who campaigned for women to have the vote. It was also an opportunity for a quick browse in the Thursday market before the walk! To finish off a very enjoyable morning lunch was at the Bulls Head Thringstone which as usual was excellent.


Striders walk, Church and Hall of Brooksby, July 2022


Over the past twelve years the Striders have walked once a month around our area, with occasional walks in the beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire.

This month it was East Leicestershire and to the beautiful church and hall of Brooksby for a guided tour by Malcolm Britton who taught for over forty years at the college. The hall and surrounding area is now an Agricultual College in partnership with Stephenson and Melton colleges. 
The church goes back to the Doomsday Book when it was just a wooden building for the surrounding people to worship in. Brooksby has a fascinating history and should you wish to read more there is plenty to read on line.
After our walk and guided tour Malcolm recommended the Blue Bell at Hoby for lunch, and it did not disappoint lovely food and excellent service. 
We look forward to Malcolm coming to Smisby WI next August to give a more in-depth talk about the history of Brooksby.



Striders Bluebell walk. May 2022


Marie led 13 members and husbands from Smisby through Sharps Bottom to admire the bluebells. The walk then continued to Hartshorne and reurned through the new Dutch plantation to Several Woods farm and back on footpaths to Smisby village hall. Here Suzanne and Pat had prepared a super meal for the walkers at the village hall and several other members lunched too.  The cream cakes for dessert were greatly appreciated!


Strollers Bulls Head Rosliston Tuesday 19th 2022

The strollers meet at the Bulls Head Rosliston on Tuesday 19th for a leisurely walk through the oldest of Forestry
England's community woodlands within the National Forest, it was created from former farmland in 1993 and opened
to the public in 1994.

Eight people and Josaphine, Tina's granddaughter plus three dogs set of across a field from the pub
to enter the woodland to begin the two-and-a-half-mile walk.
The photography was taken at the memorial plantation where people who had lost loved ones could plant
a tree in their memory, the wooden animals have been carved from trees that have been cut down.

The weather was ideal and after an ice-cream stop at the cafe, we made our way back to the pub for


Striders Walk Thursday 14th April 2022


12 members and guest met at Dethick Hall hartshorne for a 3.5 mile walk to Daniel Heyes farm and Sharps Bottom. The walk finished by following the newly stoned footpath through the newly planted 50-acre woodland beside Manchester Lane. The beautiful sunny weather, good walking conditions, plentiful wild flowers and playful lambs all added to the enjoyment.


This walk  revisited the very first walk Smisby W I organised.  Barbara Ball was the leader with Maureen Crabtree, Joan Wilson and Suzanne Jones participating.  This is when we decided to give ourselves a name, the styart of Smisby Striders.


 Afterwards some members continued to the Mill Wheel in Hartshorne for refreshments,  



 February 2022 walk reports

Striders 3 Feb 2022

The Striders walked round Calke  on a lovely bright sunny day. There were lots of people enjoying the Snowdrops by the church  and the display in the gardens and plant theatre.

Strollers 15th Februrary

The two-mile walk was along hard paths with no mud or stiles, a slight incline took us to the summit of the Breedon Cloud Hill Quarry with extensive view across and down into the working quarry. Before heading back, we visited the Rock Vultures made of cast iron by the sculpture Mike Ivens. The walk took us back into Worthington where it was arranged for St Matthew's church to be open for us to look round and we were told about the history of the church. Christina the churchwarden had the kettle on, and after a very wet and windy walk tea and coffee was most welcome. 
Of course, our walks always end at a restaurant the Ferres at Lount being the nearest, where we had a lovely meal and as dogs are welcome into a designated area they came along as well.

click on image to enlarge 



January 2022 Walk reports

Lynne P was due to lead the Striders walk on 13th January , but provided directions since she was isolating. Eight members enjoyed a very pleasant sunny walk round Calke. Thank you Jackie  for the Striders photo taken while standing on the bridge looking over the Staunton Harold  Reservoir. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at the Mill Wheel in Hartshorne. 
Sixteen people enjoyed a very cold walk on 25 Jan 2022 from the Bath Grounds to St Helens Church, and then to the Bulls Head for a very welcome coffee and bacon buttie.
Because it was so cold, we really did not linger to read the very interesting information boards, dotted around Bath grounds. Thank you all for turning up. I was amazed at the turn out, when I went to the pub the day before I had told them to expect 6-8 WI members, so a hasty call upped the numbers and they reserved the tables for us. 
It was lovely to see new faces on the walk I hope you enjoyed it and have now thawed out, and that we will see you again on a "Strollers Walk"

Walk reports: Strollers Walk 23 Nov 2021

Ten members enjoyed a lovely dry crisp autumn walk yesterday from the YHA at Donisthorpe to the fishing lakes at Spring Cottage. 
I love the view across the fields on this walk, the lakes that have formed and the trees that have been planted over the past twenty years what a difference from when it was just clay and coal mining, we are very fortunate that we live in the Heart of the National Forest.
We all met back at the Pavilion Bar for coffee, lunch, and a chat.
The next Strollers walk will be in January around Ashby with lunch at the Bulls Head on Market Street.spring cottage


Walk reports: Open Walk 11th November around the Bluebell Arboretum

Members and guests met at Smisby village hall and walked to the Bluebell Arboretum to see the autumn colour. We were greeted by our host Robert Vernon with mince pies, followed by a guided tour describing the origins and history of some of the most interesting and colourful trees and shrubs. After this entralling walk around the arboretum the 25 visitors returned to

to the village hall for  a lunch including some delicious homemade soup provided by Suzanne and Jane Reynolds. A good morning was enjoyed by everyone. 




Walk reports: Strollers Oct 2021 Barrow on Trent


The strollers walk this month was a short walk round the village of Barrow on Trent and a tour
of St. Wilfrid's church. St. Wilfrid’s is a beautiful medieval building on Church Lane, overlooking the Trent valley and was an outpost for the Knights Hospitallers of St John.
Fourteen members and four husbands enjoyed a very welcome cup of coffee at the church
before listening to a talk on how the church had come to be transformed into a multi-use building.
through funding principally, the Heritage Lottery and various other charities which helped to 
save this Anglo-Saxon building from falling into disrepair.
The group then walked around the interesting church yard and village . Then our next stop was of course at a pub "The Ragley Boat Stop" and as the name suggest it is on the side of the Trent and Mersey canal. Superb food with  lots of convivial chatter for an enjoyable morning.






 Striders Sept  2021 Walk

The hastily arranged walk today was from the Harpur Crew pub to Barrow on Trent,
seven walkers enjoyed the walk along the river to the picturesque village of Barrow. 
St Wilfrid's Church was open for a select group of people who had helped with the £850.000
restoration of the church partially funded by English Heritage and the National Lottery.
We were not included in this group, but we did manage to go into the church for a sneak preview,
Ann the church warden is very keen for Smisby WI to visit the church and have a guided tour so I  a date will be arranged for another visit.



July 2021 Strollers

Pictures from our walk yesterday, short pit stop in the woods at a mushroom I
made earlier!!
Very hot but thirteen intrepid walkers completed the 2.5 miles and after a short
break for ice cream at the Furnace we made our way to Eden Bistro where we enjoyed
lunch with Joise and Angela who joined us, and as you can see Julie and Wendy also
enjoyed a delicious cake.

It was a lovely morning enjoyed by all.









February 2020


Chris Cox and Sue Fitch organised the event. Nine ladies (plus two husbands lurking at the back!) met at the round car park, Staunton Harold reservoir for this month’s walk.

The walk took us past the reservoir, along the deer pens at Calke, through the woods and the new play area, then back to Calke Abbey for refreshments. 

 The paths were a little muddy in places, after recent storms. However the weather was reasonable on the day with just a little rain.

After lunch we walked back to the car park. The route was a little over 4 miles.


January 2020


The January walk lead by Suzanne started at the Lakeside Restaurant, meeting
at 10.15 for a 10.30 start. The walk began from the carpark, a short walk along
the road to woods and an open grassed area lead us onto the canal and Moira
Furnace. There have been several housing developments recently in Moira, so
the walk was designed to walk through the estate and to avoid the very wet
A metaled path took up to New Fields where we joined a track which lead us to
the Hicks Lodge Trail and the restaurant for a coffee. The walk back had a slight
diversion through woods and old open cast mine workings which is now part of
the Ivanhoe walk, this took a bit of navigating as the very heavy rain the
previous evening caused some flooding. Back past the Furnace and through
woods to the restaurant for a well-deserved lunch at Lakeside. We had two
new people join us on the walk, which made twelve walkers altogether and
another member joined us for lunch. The first walk of 2020 was very well
supported, and we look forward to many more this year.



November 2019

Our last walk of 2019 was lead by the two Lynn’s starting from Ticknall Village car park. Six of us arrived at the staring point expecting or should I say hoping to just go for coffee at the Scoff and Shop due to the  weather forecast  prediction  of  slight rain until 12 noon and then torrential rain in the afternoon. As we knew we would be back by lunch time it was decided to do the walk, we started off at 10.30a.m in light drizzle but by 11.a.m the torrential rain started. We were halfway round the tramway trail so decided there was no point turning back, and that’s how it continued, we walked past the new Hub and toilets that have been built in the woods, we just put our heads down and continued at a fast pace back to the car park.

All of us were soaked but after lunch in the Smisby Arms we were very pleased to have done the walk, and look forward to the next one in January 2020 when hopefully the weather will be kinder to us.

I tried to take a photograph of our walks but the ones I did take were obliterated by the rain so sorry you will just have to take our word for it, it was very very wet.

Suzanne Jones

Melbourne September 2019
Our September walk started from the church in Melbourne, turning right we had a short walk to a gate which lead into a field overlooking Melbourne Hall. Now that Ash,  Laurel, and Sycamore has been cleared we can now see the house and garden so splendid as a back drop to the 
photograph taken of the walkers.  The three and a half mile circular walk lead by Lorna finished with lunch in the Melbourne tea rooms, a superb walk, not to strenuous, through fields and woods was enjoyed by all the walkers.


Willesley Woodside July 2019
The Striders June walk unfortunately had to be cancelled as only one person was able to attend due to members taking holidays. Also  the June date was in one of the wettest weeks of the year, especially on the Thursday,  so it all turned out for the best.
July's walk started at the Oakthorpe Colliery car park in Donisthorpe, a very local walk for us. The weather could not of been better,  gloriously sunny with a slight breeze. The walk was through Willesley Woods to the  Scout Camp on the site of the Willesley Hall, which was demolished in 1953.  After walking by the side of the golf course we turned left and across the road and entered the Hicks National Forest Cycling Centre, after a further two miles we came to the visitors centre where we were able to have lunch, it was then a short walk  back to our cars, it was a lovely walk many of the walkers did not know the area so it was all new to them, and Bryn my Border Collie really enjoyed the 4.5mile walk with the ladies.



Hartshorne May 9th 2019

Thursday's walk was lead by Jean our President, the weather was very cold and overcast when we met at the car park in Hartshorne to begin the walk. A short walk through the village took us on to Nether Hall Wood and to woods that backed on to Jean's house. In the woods there is a derelict building which was once a mill.  The picture is taken on the bridge which goes over the steam, after coffee and biscuits at Jean's it was a steady climb up to Caukley Wood which when looking back offered beautiful views of the rolling South Derbyshire hills. A gentle walk down hill to Hartshorne went past some beautiful old buildings, and then to the car park where we started our walk. The four mile walk was finished with a well deserved lunch at the  Greyhound public house  Woodville. Click on photos to enlarge


February 2019 Dimminsdale


The February’s walk began at the car park by Dimminsdale woods, after a climb up through the woods we came to what is know as the ridge, this takes you along to a hill which over looks Staunton Harold Hall. The weather was superb ideal for walking and for taking photographs of the hall and church which looked  magnificent set in the hollow of the valley. The idea of the walk is to see the magnificent show of Snowdrops and when we got there, they did not disappoint.  A truly wonderful display of Snowdrops in a woodland setting, and a superb five mile walk, and of course a lovely lunch to finish at a local pub.  Click on photos to enlarge


Jan 2019 Lakeside walk


It was decided to have lunch before the January walk, so to start 2019 we met at the Lakeside Restaurant in Moira for a light lunch and with weather conditions being suitable we would walk afterwards.
The weather was fine if a little overcast so we walked from Lakeside to the YHA and continued  on to Bath Yard and the canal. When we reached  the Furnace it started to rain so we decided to divert the walk through woods to arrive back at Lakeside for tea and cake.
The National Forest have erected seven interpretation boards through-out the region telling the story of the local area and the people who lived and worked in the mines. We passed three of them and members found the information very informative. 
The picture is of our group on the trail which used to be a railway taking coal  to the Ashby Canal at Measham.  A lovely walk with some local social history.



Bluebell Nursery and Arbouretum Walk October 2018

The village of  Smisby are very lucky to have on our doorstep the Bluebell Arboretum, so as the Autumnal colours are now at their best it was decided to pay it a visit.
Robert Vernon the owner greeted fourteen members and two husbands, and over some delicious cake made by his daughter in-law he told about the history and how the arboretum got its name.
We spent a hour and a half being guided round the nine acre woodland garden by Robert,  and saw  trees of all sizes including many rare species from all corners of the globe, two of our ladies even got to hug the very first tree planted by Robert, a Giant Redwood (or giant sequoia). A superb morning and the weather was even kind to us, we certainly will  go back in the spring to see the wonderful selection of Magnolias he has in the woodland. A hidden gem in South Derbyshire staffed by friendly informative staff, and is  well worth a visit. Click on photos to enlarge.



Aston on Trent, September 2018

Eleven members enjoyed a beautiful autumnal walk round Aston-on -Trent, in South Derbyshire. We followed a history trail leaflet put together by the SDDC and Aston-on -Trent local history group. The three mile walk took us to Aston Hall, now apartments. The very interesting Saxon church with a stone set into the wall which has a carved design resembling early Christian crosses. We found a fire-mark plate on the side of a cottage, then on to the octagonal shelter, built to house the village pump.

After walking across several ploughed fields we joined the path back to the Malt public house for lunch. A very interesting walk and a lovely day, there are several information boards located in the village which were very useful and the display of old photographs in the pump shelter where very interesting.astonwalk

Our next walk in October will be to the Arboretum at Smisby to see the Autumn colours.


May 2018 walk and 90th birthday lunch


The open bluebell walk in May 2018 was from Smisby to Hartshorne via Sharp’s Bottom. It finished with a meal at the village hall, which was planned as a 90th birthday lunch for Jean Statt.  As well as the walkers and some of their partners, other WI members came to this special lunch, which was prepared by Suzanne and Pat.

Jean has been a member of Smisby WI for 30 years. She has photographed many WI functions, e.g. parties and craft mornings. She has also photographed most of the changes in the village too and produced albums showing the village history.  The guests were able to browse these wonderful albums to remind us of these events.

Thirty three people welcomed Jean to the party. Barbara Ball gave the congratulations speech. Sheila Heap had made a birthday cake, decorated with  a camera and  calendar on to celebrate Jean’s photography and aa a reminder of her many photographs published in the DFWI calendars  over the years. Jean took home with her many birthday cards, a planter full of plants that will last all summer and the cake to share with her family. Jean


cheese 2






 Walk reports


11January 2018

Chris led the 4.7 mile walk from Conkers car park, taking fourteen members along easy tracks with no stiles. We walked round the Mushroom Lane pond and through Gresley and Tunnel woods, following Sustrans route 63 for some of the way. We returned beside the railway line to Spring Coaatge and back into Conkers. We. then drove the short distance to Lakeside tes Rooms at Short Heath water for lunch. As usual the hospitality and food was excellent.walkj18




13 July 2017 Dovedale circuit


Members and husbands met at Ilam Hall. The route started through Ilam village, and across fields behind the Izaak Walton, and crossed over the bridge rather then the famous stepping stones (to avoid a large school party) to follow the Dove upstream past Lover’s Leap, Tissington Spires, and Pickering Tor. Crossing and leaving the river we turned northwest along the enchanting Hall Dale towards Stanshope. Just short of Stanshope we walked south across hay fields to the  road with spectacular views of the rocky Bunster Hill returning through Ilam Village and back to the cafe and facilities at Ilam Hall.This pretty walk was just over six miles. Click on picture to enlarge.

Overseal Health Walking group.


Some WI walks have been jointly organised with Dot Morson. She leads regular walks on a Tuesday for the Overseal Health Walking group.