Bosworth's battle

One of England's most famous battlefield sites

NEAREST LOCATION

Market Bosworth

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

8.25 miles (14.1kms)

ASCENT
279ft (85m)
TIME
4hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Hard
STARTING POINT
SK412031

About the walk

The Battle of Bosworth Field, which took place on 22 August 1485, is one of the key events in English history. Not did it only finally bring to an end the long-running Wars of the Roses, but it also signalled the beginning of a new era, as the Middle Ages gave way to the powerful Tudor dynasty.

The Yorkist Richard III had only been ruler for a couple of years before Henry Tudor landed in Pembrokeshire with a small and rather ragbag force and advanced on the Midlands. The two armies met at Ambion Hill, south of Market Bosworth, with Richard's larger force occupying the higher ground and Henry's scattered below. Nowadays their positions are marked by their standards which flutter from tall flagpoles. A third standard, located some way to the north, belonged to a faction led by Sir William Stanley, who crucially decided to pitch in on Henry's side at the last moment and, in so doing, tipped the scales by cutting off and surrounding the King. Richard was defeated and Henry Tudor became Henry VII of England.

There are interpretative panels all the way along the 1.75-mile (2.8km) Battle Trail, showing the position of the armies and how the fateful day unfurled. The fascinating exhibition at the heritage centre (closed January) is supplemented by regular workshops and re-enactments by local groups throughout the summer months.

The controversial monarch

A memorial stone now marks the place where Richard was slain, but as the last of the Plantagenets – and indeed the last king of England to die in battle – he's since received something of a bad press from historians and chroniclers, most notably William Shakespeare. In fact largely thanks to Shakespeare's play there are few more villainous characters in English literature than Richard III ('I can smile, and murder while I smile'), but whether the reputation is deserved is doubtful. Although he may have been involved previously in the infamous murder of the Little Princes in the Tower, there is scant evidence to suggest that he was any worse as a king than other rulers of the time, plus he seemed to be an able administrator and leader. There is even a society established to clear Richard's name and they meet every year, around the date of the battle, at the Church of St James in nearby Sutton Cheney, where the ill-fated King supposedly heard his last Mass before going in to battle.

Walk directions

Walk down the wide track from the car park past the playground. Before the spinney and pond go left across the wildflower meadow to the corner of the woods. Go right, into the trees, then left past the bird-feeding area. At a junction of tracks go left, through a kissing gate.

Go through this and follow the path for just under 0.5 mile (800m) along the edge of woodland and past Looking Glass Pond.

Go through a gate and on past the right of Woodhouse Farm. The path continues down along the left-hand side of a field, then crosses a stream to climb the right-hand side of the next.

As the hedge falls away head out across the middle of the field on the right of two waymarked paths. Go right, through a hedge gap, and along the top of the next field, then turn left across another to reach the car park of the Royal Arms Hotel. Turn right and walk through Sutton Cheney until, just past the church entrance, you turn right at the road junction (signposted 'Shenton').

Follow the lane as it forks left and in 550yds (503m) turn off left through Cheney Lane car park and follow the clearly marked path across the fields to the heritage centre.

Walk past the heritage centre below the car park and continue across a picnic area to a junction of paths. You can turn briefly left here to visit King Richard's Well and the memorial to Richard III. To continue the main walk, turn right and follow the waymarked Battle Trail across Ambion Hill to reach Shenton Station. Cross the railway line by the gate and turn left out of the car park entrance on to the lane. Walk along as far as the canal bridge.

Go over the bridge in order to double back and turn left beneath the bridge on to the tow path of the Ashby Canal, signposted 'Market Bosworth'.

After 2.5 miles (4km) of easy and peaceful tow path walking, leave the canal at King's Bridge (No 43), the one after the new marina. Cross this, then the railway bridge beyond for a field-edge path across stiles. This path heads half right across a golf course – aim to the left of the house in front of hilltop woodland. Go over another stile and along the top of a field before joining an unmade lane which takes you into Market Bosworth.

At the end join the narrowing road (Back Lane), left and ahead, that comes out in the Market Place. Cross over and walk past The Old Black Horse Inn, then turn left into Rectory Lane. At the end of the lane is the country park.

Additional information

Easy lanes and tow path, may be muddy, several stiles

Gently rolling woods and arable land

Generally very good (care on street sections)

OS Explorers 232 Nuneaton & Tamworth; 233 Leicester & Hinckley

Market Bosworth Country Park (pay-and-display)

At car park, Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, Shenton Station and Market Bosworth

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About the area

Discover Leicestershire

Leicestershire is divided between the large country estates of its eastern side and the industrial towns of the East Midlands to its west. Coal mining was an important part of the county’s industrial development in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is reflected in its heritage, including a reclaimed mine near Coalville, now divided between a nature reserve and Snibston Discovery Park, where families can learn about the mining industry. Meanwhile, agricultural areas are concentrated around the pleasant market towns of Market Harborough and Market Bosworth.

The county’s administrative centre is the city of Leicester, and other major towns are Loughborough, which includes bell-founding among its many industries, and Melton Mowbray, home of Stilton cheese and a particularly English item, the pork pie. One shop in Leicester has been specialising in this meaty delicacy since 1851. Northeast of Melton Mowbray is the lovely Vale of Belvoir, beneath which are large deposits of coal.

Charnwood Forest, with fewer trees than one would expect, provides a wild and rugged landscape conveniently situated for escape from the city. It lies to the northwest of Leicester extending to Loughborough and Coalville, with some interruptions.

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