Archive | September, 2014

Walk 18 : Duke’s Wood and Eakring

28 Sep


After reaching the halfway point of my Mansfield to Newark walk I thought it was about time to do another walk somewhere else for a change.

This is a circular walk taking in the village of Eakring and the nature reserve at Duke’s Wood which has a small museum about the oil drilling that took place there during the Second World War.  I have made this walk quite short so that you also have time to expore Duke’s Wood.

Distance: 3.9 miles

Start: Duke’s Wood car park about a mile south of Eakring just off the minor road running from the A617 near Kirklington to Eakring.  If you are using public transport you can start the walk in Eakring which lies on bus routes.

From the car park go into the Duke’s Wood nature reserve passing an information board.  Walk straight along the wide track for 200 yards until you reach the oil museum and visitor centre.  On the right you will pass a pond.  On my last visit this was looking rather sad as most of the water had gone.  However, this was after a long dry period and it may well be that when we have some rain the pond will be restored.  In the past I have had very close views of dragonflies there.

Next to the information centre on the left is a wooden art work in the form of a wall.  Duke’s wood is a nature reserve and has a nature trail which you can incorporate into this walk.  The trail is a little over a mile long and has numbered posts at intervals around it to guide you.  To follow my direct route you should carry straight on along the wide track passing an open area on your right near the museum.  Soon you come to another open area on the right which was the location of a statue of an oil worker, the Oil Patch Warrior.  The original was damaged when someone tried to steal it.

Officially at this point you have been in Pudding Poke Wood but carrying on straight along the wide track takes you almost imperceptibly into Duke’s Wood.  Keep to the main track as it bends to the left and ignore the little paths coming in from the side.  After 300 yards you reach the far end of the wood by nature trail post number 12.  Here you should turn left and follow the path along the edge of the wood with a large field outside the wood beyond the hedge to your right.  After 250 yards you will see on your left a post marked with number 13.  This is the last official part of the Duke’s Wood reserve and there is a path by the post turning left back into the wood.  However, my walk continues straight on along the wider track ahead between hedges to either side.  You leave Duke’s Wood but after 300 yards you approach another area of woodland.

Duke's Wood

Duke’s Wood

As you arrive at the end of the track you will see metal gate and fences to your left and straight ahead.  There is also a sign informing you of cattle grazing nearby.  Don’t try and go over the fence or gate.  Instead look just to the right of the fence at the end of the track and you should be able to see a narrow path going into the woodland ahead.  Go into the wood and follow the path.  This isn’t an official footpath but it has clearly been used extensively as the path is very obvious.  It twists and turns a little but runs roughly straight ahead through the trees.  You should be a little careful here as there are several tree roots along this path and after wet weather it will be slightly slippery.  After about 300 yards you meet a proper path just as you come to a metal gate.

Go through the metal gate on the left and enter Mansey Common, another Notts Nature Trust conservation area.  This is a peaceful area of woodland providing good habitat for variety of animals and birds.  There is an information board here providing further details.  Having gone onto the common you should carry on along the path.  The path is reasonably clear to follow but after wet weather this bit can be particularly boggy.  You soon come to a clearing and should carry on in the same direction.  There is an arrow for the Robin Hood Way which seems to point to the left but this is slightly misleading and you should aim more straight on.  The path is a little less obvious at this point but if you go straight on through the scrub you shouldn’t go too far wrong and soon the path does become clearer.

You reach the far end of Mansey Common around 400 yards after entering it and descend to a dumble, a small wooded valley over a stream.  Cross the footbridge and climb up some rather worn steps up a steep little bank to reach a large field.  Go straight on up a rise to reach the middle of the field which affords good views as you are at the highest point of this part of the walk.  You will also see wind turbines featuring prominently in that direction.  However, the view to the north and east is undisturbed and a good one.  To the north-west you will see the tower of Eakring church which gives a useful guide to the direction we now take.

Top of the field coming from Mansey Common

Top of the field coming from Mansey Common

Carry straight on along the path for 200 yards going slightly downhill to a hedge.  Go through the gap in the hedge to enter another field.  On my last walk here the field had been recently ploughed and the path hadn’t been restored so I took what I thought to be the best route.  To follow my route you should aim straight down the slope across the field until you reach the track at the bottom where a line of trees and hedge go up the hill in the next field.  At the bottom cross the track and follow this hedge/tree line up the hill.  You can go either side of the hedge as there is a gap at the top.  If you walk up the far side of the hedge is a firm track which may be easier walking if the path is muddy.

At the top of the hill you will see a new-looking wooden footbridge on your left.  Cross this and turn left to follow the edge of the field downhill for 400 yards.  At the bottom you reach the corner of the field and turn right.  You will see a yellow post marking the footpath about fifty yards away but you don’t have to go that far as on your left a path goes down into the trees.  This takes you down to another dumble where you cross a footbridge and go up to a field.  Carry straight on up across the field.  On the right hand side you will see a football goalpost which has probably seen better days. Go over a low stile at the end of the field which takes you onto Triumph Road.  walk straight down the road for 150 yards until you reach the main road.  Cross this and then almost immediately opposite go up the footpath along the little alleyway, also known as a jitty or twitchell in these parts, between houses.

At the other end of the jitty you reach Blind Lane, a quiet backstreet.  Turn left and cross the road where almost immediately there is another footpath off to the right.  Take this path past some allotments and after 200 yards arrive at a paddock where horses are often kept.  Turn left to follow the path around the edge of the paddock and when you reach the next paddock field turn right.  Follow the path, keeping the hedge immediately to your right, until you reach the end of the field. Go down through a gap in the hedge to a wide farm track.

Here the route goes left but just across the track is one of the more interesting local features which it would be sad to miss.  Go across the track and follow the path up a short rise through the trees to reach the corner of a large field.  On your left here is a set of railings guarding a small cross.  This is a memorial to Rev. William Mompesson, the Rector of Eyam in Derbyshire which had suffered badly from the plague in 1665.  He was appointed vicar of Eakring in 1670 but the villagers refused to let him into the village fearing he carried the plague.  He held his services under an ash tree on this spot, which is known as Pulpit Ash.  That tree was hit by lightning but a young tree was planted to replace it and has grown here.

Mompesson Cross

Mompesson Cross

Retrace your steps onto the wide farm track and turn right so that you are going slightly uphill away from Eakring.  Follow this track for 300 yards where first it bends to the right then left before running straight for 500 yards until you reach a corner.  Here there is a small clump of trees and a small log bench. This is a nice spot for a rest.  Turn sharp left to follow the track alongside the hedge, going slightly downhill for 250 yards.  Then at the end of the hedge turn right along the track where you find yourself at the bottom of a hill.

From there carry on along the wide farm track, keeping the hedge on your left, as it starts to rise.  At first this is quite gentle but as the track turns slightly it gets steeper.  Carry on up the hill as the track now passes alongside a line of trees on the right with a field on the left.  After 200 yards you reach the last tree and continue for the last short climb to the top of the hill.  You come to a junction of farm tracks with ours  and carrying on ahead bearing to the right meeting one coming in from the left.  At this junction stop to turn round and admire the view.  To the north west you can see Sherwood Forest, the top of Rufford Abbey and the spire of Edwinstowe church in the near distance although the view extends much further.  To the north-east is the Trent valley and on the horizon to the east you may on a good day be able to see Lincoln cathedral.  To see it clearly you will need binoculars and should go just down from the hill top so that the hedge to your right isn’t blocking your view.

View north along track towards Eakring

View north along track towards Eakring

From the top of the hill continue our walk by taking the farm track  I described coming in from the left.  This track runs very straight alongside a hedge on the left for about 300 yards with another hedge starting on the right a little further along.  At the end of the track you come to a metal swing gate which stops vehicles but is easy for walkers to go around.  Go round the gate to reach the Eakring Road.  Turn right and walk along the road, which isn’t a busy one although the traffic can be going quite fast here.  The verge is quite wide so you can step off the road easily.  The verge itself is a bit uneven and it is easier to walk along the road edge.  Walk along the road for 500 yards passing a small wood on the right.  The road takes you back to the entrance to Duke’s Wood.  Turn left onto the pleasant tree lined track taking you to Duke’s Wood where we started.

Mansfield to Newark Walk Stage 4: Farnsfield to Southwell

3 Sep

This stage is the continuation of my Mansfield to Newark walk, picking up from Stage 3.  However, it is a nice walk in its own right with a couple of short climbs leading to good views of the local countryside with fields and woods featuring strongly.

Start: The Green, Farnsfield

Finish: Bus stops by Southwell Minster on Church Street.

Distance: 6.3 miles

Starting at the main bus stop in Farnsfield at the Green head along the Main Street towards the centre of the village passing the church on your right after 100 yards.  Carry on along this side of the street for another 200 yards until you reach the end of Tippings Lane where it meets the Main Street.  Cross Tippings Lane so that you are near the entrance to the Co-op but continue along the Main Street.

Continue along the Main Street along the pavement. After 50 yards you will come to Atherley’s bakery. This is very popular with villagers and if you want a snack before or after your walk good quality food can be bought here.

Continue along the pavement past the entrance to the Pot Yard. After 100 yards you reach Quaker Lane. Cross the end of Quaker Lane and walk past the bus stop with The Plough pub on the other side of the road. There is a good size car park at The Plough as well if you wish to start the walk from here. Pass the bottom end of The Ridgeway, also on the opposite side of the road, and walk for another 200 yards and turn into the entrance to Parfitt Drive.

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.

Where Walk 1 turns right down the track,  this walk continues straight ahead.

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.

Back towards Farnsfield from the top of the hill

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 Combs Wood along the hill.

Towards Greaves Lane from the top of  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.

Looking back up the hill from near Greaves Lane

On reaching the lane turn left and then almost immediately right across the lane to the drive of the house opposite.  After ten yards look for a footpath gate on the left and go through it onto a grassy area.  Turn right to go up the hill with a field on your left and the house and outbuildings on your right. The grassy path rises straight up for 150 yards to the end of the field and then turns sharply left to go into a strip of trees.  The path here goes uphill along a sunken path between two banks.  Follow this path for 200 yards until you reach a gate. At the side of the gate is a narrow gap with a metal piece which can be lifted up to pass through, which I find slightly quicker than using the gate.  Just after the gate look to your left for a gap in the hedge. If you go through you will find an information board about the Robin Hood Way (this path is an offshoot of the Way) mounted on a large stone plinth.  There is also a bench which you may well want to take advantage of as it gives great views back to Farnsfield over the path you have walked.

Resume our walk by going to the top of the path just a few yards up from the plinth where it joins a farm road  Officially this is Carver’s Hollow although there is no sign to this effect.  Bear left to go straight along the farm road along the ridge with good views to the north.  After 200 yards you meet a wide track coming in from the right.  Turn along this track which approaches a farm after 80 yards or so.  As you get close to the farm the track turns to the left.  Keep following the track, which is these days a good one, almost straight for 400 yards with hedges on either side.  In places on the right you may be able to see through gaps in the hedge where you can see over to the next ridge.  At the end of the track you pass the mound of a small reservoir on the left and reach a farm road.

The road drops quite steeply in both directions but we want to go straight across it and into the field opposite.   Follow the hedge along the top of the ridge for the next 600 yards.  The path isn’t clearly defined but is easy to follow if you just keep the hedge immediately to your right.  It can be slightly uneven in places but is usually pretty reasonable.  The views to the left are good as the field falls away down the slope.

At the end of this long field you go through a kissing gate and into a small copse.  Go down the path through the trees with a hedge on your left.  After 80 yards pass a red brick house on your right and enter an open field with a few trees in it.  Continue straight on down alongside the hedge to the bottom of the field and then turn left to go along a narrow path with a solid wooden fence to your right and a hedge to your left.  After 50 yards the path drops to a concrete bridge over a stream surrounded by trees.  Cross the bridge and go out into a small grassy area near a tennis court.  Go straight across the grass and through a gate onto the drive to the house.  Carry on ahead along the driveway for fifty yards until you reach the road.  This is the main street in Halam (Church Lane).  Turn left and walk along the pavement for 300 yards along the generally quiet road.  On your right you see the village church.  If you wish to finish your walk in Halam carry on for another 200 yards until you reach the main road from Southwell where you can catch buses either onwards to Southwell or back to Farnsfield and beyond. To continue walking to Southwell cross the road and go into the churchyard.

Follow the path straight through the churchyard and out into the field beyond.  Bear to the right uphill aiming for the corner of the field about 300 yards away and a kissing gate.  Go through the gate into a wooded area and go up quite a steep path.  After wet weather this path can be rather slippery.  Follow the path as it continues up the slope and then turns to the right getting a little narrower.  The path then starts to flatten out and after 50 yards you come to a gate at the top of a field.  Don’t go into the field but take a few minutes to look at the view back to where we have walked earlier (pictured here).

Looking West to Halam and our route beyond.

Turn away from the field and go left up into an old orchard now occupied by fruit being grown in polytunnels.  Go straight on through the field keeping the tunnels to your left and tree-lined hedge to your right.  After 200 yards leave the field in the corner and go into a well-manicured area of grass which is actually the large garden of a house.  Keep straight on along the edge of the grass and pass a rather lonely looking bit of fence.  You are now alongside the driveway to the house and should follow the grass next to it all the way to the drive entrance.  This is another part of the walk where the pipe laying work is prominent.

Leave the driveway and go onto a narrow road (Saversick Lane).  Turn right and follow the road for 300 yards until it rises to meet the Oxton-Southwell road.  Go straight across the road, taking care as it can be quite busy with traffic, and then go down a steep slope along the narrow road opposite (Leachcroft Hill).  After 200 yards the road bends sharply to the left and you should follow this turn.  You are now entering the Westhorpe area of Southwell.  After another 100 yards turn right at a road junction.  Follow this lane (The Holme) as it goes slightly uphill and then after a couple of bends past houses downhill to the bottom of a hollow.  Cross the bridge over a stream and immediately after the bridge turn left along a footpath.  At first the path rises to reach a field.  Follow the path straight on alongside the hedge and trees on your left and a large field rising to your right.

Through the trees on your left is a classic example of a dumble, a stream at the bottom of a wooded slope.  This feature gives its name to a nearby pub.  If you want to have a look at the dumble take the steps down from the path you are on when another footpath crosses it after 200 yards.  Otherwise carry on roughly straight on along the bottom of the field for 400 yards until you come to what appears at first sight to be a dead-end at a hedge at the end of the field.  On closer inspection you will see a gap in the hedge in the corner which you should go through to reach a very nice tree covered path alongside the stream (Potwell Dyke).  The path can be a little slippery after rain so take care.

After 200 yards you arrive at a quiet residential street (Halloughton Road).  Cross the road and turn right up a small rise for fifty yards.  Look for a footpath signpost pointing to the left and follow that between houses.  As you approach the houses you may again think you have reached a dead-end but on the right you will see where the path picks up.  Follow the narrow path as it meanders around the houses.  However, you can’t really go wrong as there are no alternative for 300 yards.  Immediately after a churchyard on your left you enter a large field.  There are a few paths running across this field but you should take the one going just right of straight ahead which after 100 yards arrives at the busy Nottingham Road.  Use the crossing to reach the other side and turn left to follow the path and pavement taking you to the road entrance to the Minster School and Southwell Leisure centre.  Cross the road leading to the car park to reach the wide pedestrianised path by the bridge over the stream.

Turn right here and go towards the large building at the end of the path.  Just before the entrance turn left along a narrower hard pathway.  This path takes you past sports pitches on your right.  After 200 yards look for a path down to the left which takes you to a small bridge over a stream,The Potwell Dyke again.  Looking at the stream it is hard to believe this caused widespread flooding in July 2013 after a torrential downpour.  Cross the bridge to enter a park area next to an adventure playground.  Go past the playground and aim for the far corner of the park to the left of the buildings, bowling green and tennis courts at the other end of the park.

Southwell Minster

Southwell Minster


As you get to the far corner of the park you come to a nice avenue of lime trees and will see some stone arches marking the War Memorial.  Go through these and carry straight on along a short section of road and then along a path past houses on your left and into the grounds of Southwell Minster.  Fifty yards further on turn right towards the main entrance of the Minster.  If you have never been to the Minster before you really should take this opportunity to go inside and look round.  If you don’t wish to go inside then walk along the path  around the outside of the minster, turning right and then take the first path on the left which takes you out onto Church Street where the main bus stop is very close.  This side of the road is for buses to Mansfield and over the road you can go to Newark.

Alternatively, if you have the energy you could walk back to Farnsfield either along the disused railway line or by using my walk along the River Greet (walk 6).  To reach the start of either of these you should go from the bus stops to the main junction in Southwell just up Church Street.  There turn right up King Street and carry on up the hill and then down the hill along the Burgage.  At the bottom of the Burgage cross the main road and carry straight on down Station Road until you reach the start of my walks just after the Final Whistle pub on the left.  This is a link of a little over quarter of a mile.

If you are attempting my Mansfield to Newark walk you are now over halfway.  If doing it over two days Southwell makes a convenient stopping point as it is the largest place between Mansfield and Newark with many amenities including restaurants, pubs, shops and even accommodation should you require it.