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I had a commission in rural Leicestershire on Monday so my partner, Dawn and I decided to use it as an opportunity to explore the area. We booked a couple of nights at the Sysonby Knoll hotel on the outskirts of Melton Mowbray. The hotel’s part of the Best Western group & displays all the quirkiness & individuality that many of their properties do. It’s set in an attractive garden that’s bordered by the meandering River Eye. Our gorgeous first floor room looked out across the river & meadow beyond to the embankments of an old railway. As we had fabulous sunshine blessing our visit we both decided to go for an early morning walk along the footpath that’s replaced the rail tracks*. What could possibly go wrong?

Lazy & ignorant dog owners, that’s what!

We noticed the first pile of poo within minutes of stepping off the pavement. After 100 yards it became obvious the area was heavily used by dog walkers. It was like walking through a faecal minefield – and some of these dogs were clearly a damned sight bigger than Chihuahua’s! What should have been a pleasant walk & chance to explore was marred by inconsiderate dog-owners who (metaphorically & literally) didn’t give a shit.

The condition of the River Eye wasn’t much to write home about either. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt living on the clear Calder with its abundant wildlife & pristine waters. In contrast the Eye is a murky mess that bares the hallmarks of pollution from phosphate run-off from farmers’ fields along its banks.

What a shame. People remember Melton Mowbray for its pork pies & cheese. Sadly, Dawn & I will always associate it with dogshit.

* For anyone interested in old railways & who’s foolhardy enough to run the dogshit gauntlet here’s a link to the line’s history (and a selection of fine old photographs) run by local enthusiast Peter Smith;

I’ve added a selection of pictures from the walk & the rest of our trip here: