Archive | July, 2013

Walk 8: Farnsfield to Robin Hood Hill (near Oxton)

20 Jul

A walk from Farnsfield over the fields to Greaves Lane. Then along this quiet lane to Robin Hood Hill near Oxton which has excellent views. Returning to Farnsfield via Combs Wood. This is quite a long walk to attempt if you start and finish in Farnsfield.  It is possible to shorten the walk by parking at the top of Greaves Lane and doing the section to Robin Hood Hill, which is the best part of the walk.

Follow the first part of  Walk 4 over the fields and along Greaves Lane (here in italics)

Distance:  7 miles

Start: Parfitt Drive Farnsfield.  This is a road coming off the Southwell Road about 100 yards east of the Plough pub in the village.  There is a bus stop on the main road very nearby and a small car park by a playground.

Parfitt Drive is a quite new development of houses with a large grassy area nearby. Walk past the children’s playground and onto the grass. Pass just to the left of a clump of trees and walk straight on until you reach a metal gate (see photo). Go through the gap next to the gate onto a field with the village allotments. Bear slightly to the right until you reach a wooden fence with a gap which enables you to pass through onto a wide track. Walk on this track for thirty yards towards a metal barrier. Just to the left of this barrier is a gap to walk through where a patch of  shale has been added. Recently a wooden fence has been built which requires a jink to the left of five metres or so before you enter onto the Acres.

The Acres is the main football field in Farnsfield with two pitches at right-angles to each other. The nearer pitch isn’t used by the football club. There were swings just to your left as you walk onto the Acres but now only the rubberised surround remains. Walk straight ahead towards a red-brick building which are the changing-rooms for the football club. After 200 yards you are at the far end of the Acres.

Follow the main path almost straight on as it enters an area of woodland. The trees in this plantation were only planted around twenty years ago but have formed a nice little area to walk through. Over the years various other paths have been formed through the trees. these can be explored if you have time. For this walk I am following the widest path which goes almost straight ahead. The path is a good one on short grass passing between the trees with a clearing and bench on the left after one hundred yards. Another hundred yards beyond this the path dips slightly to a ditch and you leave the woodland.

The path enters a field and rises for about two hundred yards. The field can get a little muddy after wet weather but dries quite well, especially when it is breezy as it is quite open. At the top of the field is a bench which you may wish to take advantage of after the short climb. Looking back from the bench you can see the football pitches again.

Walk straight on by the field edge with a hedge to your left. After 100 yards the hedge ends and the path carries on ahead downhill. It is nearly always well-defined to the bottom of the hollow.  After wet weather it can be a little muddy at the very bottom.  At the bottom you come to a hedge coming in from the right. Go to the left of the end of this hedge and through a gap into the corner of a new field. Our route keeps roughly straight ahead up a steep little hill by a new hedge.  Keep the new hedge, mainly of trees, to your left and follow the field edge up this sharp rise for 200 yards.

At the top of the climb you come to a fence with a stile by another hedge. Nowadays there is a gap by the stile so there is no need to climb the stile itself.  Go through this gap and turn immediately right with the hedge now on your right.  After 50 yards you reach the corner of the field and must turn left going slightly uphill.  After 30 yards you reach the top of the hill. You can see back the way you came all the way to Farnsfield. Ahead of you are views to another ridge and to the east are extensive views towards Newark. On a clear day you can see for miles. To the west you can see Comb’s Wood along the hill.

From the top of the hill go quite steeply downhill along the field edge with the hedge to your right.  The field may have crops in it and if you stick to the very edge of the field the ground is slightly uneven in places. The field and path can get a little muddy but is generally not bad.  After 300 yards you reach the bottom of the hill. Look for one of the gaps in the hedge on the right and go through to the other side of the hedge.  Now with the hedge on your left walk for fifty yards until you reach a stream in a ditch. Turn right here along the edge of the field for fifty yards. The ground here can be wet so you may have to look for  a drier line just in from the field edge.  You come to the end of a farm track on your left leading to a wooden gate. Follow this track over the stream to the gate 80 yards away. Occasionally the gate is open but if it isn’t go to the right of the gate and climb over a stile to reach a road (Greaves Lane) opposite a farm.

Turn right here and walk along Greaves Lane.  The road has a few undulations and bends but doesn’t have much traffic. Nevertheless, you should pay attention near the bends as there are no verges in places.  As you reach the next farm on the left after 300 yards, look to the right of the road for a metal gate and path leading into the woods (Combs Wood).

Where the earlier walk turned up the track into Combs Wood this walk continues long Greaves Lane. You are walking at the bottom of a valley with woods on the slopes to either side. After 400 yards on your right pass a farm. If you look over the hedge just before you reach the farmhouse you will see a good-sized garden pond. Greaves Lane is almost a single track lane here but there is a nice verge to walk on if a vehicle approaches, which isn’t often. Keep going along the lane after the farm as you reach a long straight stretch of road. The trees to the right become less prominent and you can see the fields rising to the top of the ridge. After another 400 yards you reach a slight bend in the road and soon the verge disappears as you climb steeply with the trees to your left now much thicker.  This is the only stretch of the road where meeting a vehicle can be a problem so take care. You will probably be getting short of breath near the top after 300 yards climbing but at the top of the hill the verge reappears and you can admire the view that has opened out ahead of you.

Greaves Lane

Greaves Lane

The road starts to go down again but our route leaves Greaves Lane at this point. On the left at the top of the hill is a wide farm track. Often the gate will be open but if it isn’t go through a gap next to it to reach the track.  Follow the track away from Greaves Lane towards a large tree 200 yards away.  The track is firm and quite a good surface to walk on running between fields. Go under the tree. 100 yards past the tree before the track starts turning look for a footpath going up the slope to the right to the corner of a wood. Take this path for 50 yards to the corner of the wood and then follow the edge of the field next to the wood keeping the wood to your left. There is no clearly defined path here but the way just follows the border  between field edge and wood for 300 yards making one sharp turn to the left and right on the way. You then descend to a metal kissing-gate which takes you from the large arable field you have followed around the wood, into a grassy field.

You have now entered an area which was once a ancient hill-fort, Oldox Fort. You are at the bottom of a steep, grassy slope. In the summer this grass can be quite long unless it has been cropped by the sheep which are sometimes there. In springtime take care to avoid disturbing the sheep if there are lambs around. You can go straight up this slope to the top of the hill but it is quite a tough (but short) climb. I prefer to go straight on at the bottom of the slope aiming for a round mound ahead.  This is another part of the fort and is a more gentle climb. The top gives excellent views for miles around, particularly to the west where the ground falls away quite steeply. The area immediately beyond is flat before rising again a few miles away. This allows extensive views for  twenty miles.  To the north-west you can see the redbrick villages of Rainworth and Blidworth. Further south are large areas of forest. if you look closely you can see the spire of Annesley church to the west. To the south is Calverton and in the distance Dorket Head at the edge of Nottingham. To the east a valley restricts the views but it is an attractive grassy, wooded valley. For me this is one of the finest views in Nottinghamshire.

Oldox Fort

Oldox Fort

View from Robin Hood Hill

View from Robin Hood Hill

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There are paths around the encampment which I will describe in my next walk. However, on this walk I will turn for home. From the top of the mound turn back the way you came but instead of  going straight back bear to the right to make your way up to the top of the hill. This way to the top is less taxing than going straight up from the field entrance. The hill is called Robin Hood Hill on the maps although I am not aware of any stories connecting him to the site. There are a few trees at the top but they don’t obstruct the view much. This is the highest point of the walk and for many miles ( metres high).  You can see why it was used as an encampment with the views it allows. From here retrace your steps to Greaves Lane. Either go back down the hill the way you came or take the quick, steep way down the hill. If you take the direct route down take care as the way is steep and a little uneven in places. If I go down this way I go along the top of the hill for thirty yards towards the wood and then down as it is slightly less steep.

Back at Greaves Lane go straight across the road and over a stile to a footpath. This goes straight across the field for 200 yards to the top of a small clump of trees. Just beyond this you meet a grassy farm track coming up from the farm below. Turn right along this track and walk to the gap in the hedge 200 yards away. Go through the gap into the next field and turn left alongside the hedge. Almost immediately the hedge turns right. Follow this hedge along the field edge for 400 yards. Combs Wood is now getting closer on your left. Keep your eyes open for a gap in the hedge as you get nearer to the trees. Go through this gap and down a bank onto a wide track in the wood.

From here you have a choice of routes. In most cases I would recommend turning right along the wide track for 500 yards until you meet the path in Combs Wood that I described in walk. From there you can follow that route back to Farnsfield. However, if you want to see a different part of Combs Wood follow the variant described here (not recommended after wet weather).

Turn left along the track. It starts to descend slightly after fifty yards. Look on the right for a stile into a grassy field. Go over the stile and drop steeply down the hill following the field edge. In the bottom corner of the field are a collection of rocks which have been dumped there. In this corner go over a stile into the wood. The path continues downhill quite steeply in the wood. This path used to be a very nice one to walk on. Unfortunately over the years the channel which allowed rainwater to run off down the hill has become silted up. This has caused the rainwater to spread over a wide area including the path through the wood. This means that unless it has been very dry you will have to try and find the least wet and muddy way through. The wood itself is still a nice one to walk through. It is just a shame that the path has become so wet.  Follow the path down for 100 yards then take a right turn over a wooden plank (under which the water used to flow) Then make a left turn across some more wet ground for eighty yards to a stile leaving the wood.

Coming out of the wood the way across the large field you have entered is usually clear. If crops are growing the farmer generally clears a path. If the path isn’t clear you should look to the far corner of the field on your right at the bottom of the hill about 300 yards away. Aim in a straight line for that corner going initially down to the bottom of the dip in the field and then up again. Leave the field at the corner and turn right along Combs Lane (the track leading from Combs Farm on your left to Farnsfield). At this point the track is slightly sandy but not bad to walk on. Walk along the lane for 300 yards until you meet the path coming down from the other exit to Combs Wood. This is the path described in Walk 4. Follow the lane straight all the way back to Farnsfield. The final stage in the village is repeated here.

The end of the lane meets another road as you reach the village. As you meet the road (actually the junction of Tippings Lane and Quaker Lane) turn left  along Tippings Lane with houses now on both sides of the road. The road starts to bend round. After 50 yards on your left cross a road leading to some new houses (this is Powell Court and The Brambles development).  Continue following the main road around the bend. You come to a little rise and dip just before Beck Lane comes in from the left.  Ignore Beck Lane and carry on ahead as our road straightens. Cross the road Gregory Gardens (named after a man from Farnsfield who explored Australia) on the right and go all the way up Tippings Lane to reach the Co-op car park and the finish of the walk.