Archive | March, 2016

Walk 34: Blidworth, Harlow Wood and Fountain Dale

29 Mar

Walk 34: Blidworth, Harlow Wood and Fountain Dale

Start: Centre of Blidworth near Tesco at the main intersection of roads in the village. Blidworth is on several bus routes such as the Stagecoach 28 from Mansfield to Newark and the 141 Trent Barton from Nottingham. if using a car park on the main road to Rainworth, at Tesco or on one of the quiet roads near the start of the walk.

Distance: 6.3 miles

Map of the Route

This walk is a circular one from the village of Blidworth going across the fields to the west giving good views of the surrounding country. The walk then goes into Harlow Wood near Fountain Dale with connections to the Robin Hood story. It returns to Blidworth across more fields, again with pleasant views.

From the junction near the Tesco store walk up the B6020, the main road going north towards Rainworth. This is the road running directly away from the garage going slightly uphill to the main shops in Blidworth, not the road going up the steep hill.  Cross the road so that you are on the side of the road with most of the shops, the left side if walking away from the garage.  After 200 yards, just before New Lane,look on the left of the pavement for a red-brick pattern surface on the ground and for a narrow tarmac pathway just beyond it.  Turn up this pathway and follow it for 100 yards through to a quiet road (New Road) near the post office.  The roads nearby are an alternative place to park if the main roads are too busy.   Cross New Road and go along the left hand pavement of the street opposite (Meadow Road).  After 100 yards cross another road and look to the left of the pavement for a footpath sign near a brick wall and a tree.

Bear left away from the road you have been walking along to go along this footpath which goes beneath trees for 100 yards.  You then carry on out into a field where there is a clear path going slightly uphill straight across the field.  At the far side of the field go up a small bank onto a cul-de-sac at the end of a road (Marriott Lane).  Turn left to go uphill and after fifty yards turn right at a footpath sign to go along a track passing to the left of a sign for a house called “The Meadows”.  After fifty yards look on the left for a small flight of stone steps.  Climb these to go over a low stone wall onto a narrow grassy path with a field on your right.  Go along this path uphill for 100 yards before going over a stile onto another quiet road near houses (Butler Drive).  Carry on uphill on this street for fifty yards, cross over and then look for a narrow jitty or path going straight on as the road bears right.  Go down this jitty and after fifty yards go through a small wooden gate onto the main road.  At this point you almost meet the route from my walk to Hayward Oaks (Walk 12).

Carefully cross the road and turn right to go uphill on the pavement.  After 300 yards you pass the Bird in Hand pub, which has excellent views from the lounge, should you wish to stop.  Carry on up the hill along the main road where after another 100 yards you reach the church, whose fine tower is a prominent landmark for miles around. The church is also renowned for reputedly being the site of the grave of Will Scarlet, one of the Merry Men. Immediately after the church cross back over the main road and turn up the road on the right (Ricket Lane) but after only fifty yards look for two steps on the left as you reach a small group of houses.  Go up these steps and look just to the left of the house opposite where you should see three small yellow footpath waymarks just above ground level on the step up to a grassy path.  Take this path passing to the left of the house.  You go through a metal kissing gate onto a narrow path which passes under trees and between solid wooden garden fences and hedges for 100 yards.  At the end of this path go through a metal kissing gate into a field and follow the hedge at the left side for 100 yards.

Leave this field an follow a rather ramshackle fence on your right for 100 yards to yellow-topped post a before going over a low stile on your right into another field.  Here follow a solid hedge on your left for 100 yards.  At the corner of this field go down between two yellow-topped posts and a kissing gate to emerge at the top of a grassy field.  The views to your left really start to open up as you are quite high up at the top of the escarpment.  Go downhill rounding a tree to your right then descend keeping the hedge and trees immediately to your right.  This is quite a steep descent and is the start of several undulations you will encounter on this stretch of the walk.

View south from the fields

View south from the fields

At the bottom of the hill go through a metal kissing gate and follow the hedge through two more fields.  Next go through two kissing gates close together to enter a more open field.  Go uphill across two fields until you reach a small clump of trees at the top.  Go through a kissing gate and down a step and through another.  Go down a steep grassy slope to the bottom of a dip and then start to climb back up again on the other side, which is rather bare and covered with soil.  Try to aim roughly straight on but this slope is a little tricky to negotiate as there are a series of small terraces.  This means you will have to pick a line up the slope involving a bit of wandering to left and right.   There was a small herd of horses in this barren part of the field when I did this walk and at the top of this short, sharp climb you pass their shelter.

Just past the shelter go through two kissing gates close together and then go down over a track before going through a third kissing gate.  Go downhill to yet another kissing gate and then follow a wire fence to another kissing gate under a tree.  This takes you into a grassy field with trees on the right which you cross to another kissing gate.

Bear right after going through the kissing gate and go through another fifty yards later and a third straight on from that fifty yards later.  After all those small fields you now emerge at the bottom of a slope in a large arable field.  Turn  right along the field edge and at the corner turn left to follow the field edge as you climb quite a sharp little rise to the top corner of the field.  Go up a small bank under a tree where there is a gap and you come out in another very large field.  Turn right here to follow the field edge climbing a little to the top corner of the field.  From here you have clear views to the south with the village of Ravenshead below you being the most obvious feature but good views to some of the small hills in the distance.  From the top pf the field turn left and follow the field edge with the hedge on your right for 500 yards going downhill at first and then slightly up again until you come to a gap in the hedge at the end of the field and go onto a narrow track.

View towards Ravenshead from the top field.

View towards Ravenshead from the top field.

Turn right here and follow the track uphill under trees and soon passing the point where the cycle track meets the main footpath.  Carry on up the hill (Sandy Lane) with a scout camp visible to your left.  At the top of the hill carry straight on as the path descends a short way down to a road (Ricket Lane again).  The path meets the road on a sharp bend so you should take care even though the lane is very quiet.  Cross the lane to the signpost opposite indicating the national cycle network.  Go down the track away from the road between fields with views to the north.  The path is good but descends quite steeply and before long you come to a short section of the sort of deep sand more usually encountered in coastal dunes.

Carry on down the hill and enter woodland (Harlow Wood) about 500 yards from the lane.  Join the wide track in the wood and continue down the hill.  This area of the wood has had quite a bit of tree felling recently and the tree cover is less than it was.  At the bottom of the dip is a stream (Rainworth Water) and then the track starts to climb again, reaching a junction of paths.  There are a large number of waymarks on the posts here.  We take the simple option of a right turn along a wide track with dense woodland to our left and the partially cleared woodland on our right.  After 100 yards on the left of the track we come to an information board with a picture of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck telling the story of their first encounter, which happened nearby.  If you wish you can make a short detour to visit Friar Tuck’s Well, where he is reputed to have baptised converts.  Nowadays there is little to see but to visit the well you should carry straight on from the board for 400 yards leaving the wood and following the path (also part of the Robin Hood Way,indicated by green waymarks) at the bottom of a field.  The Well is on the right of the path in the trees.

Returning to my walk, from the illustrated board go 10 yards further on and then turn sharp left uphill.  Follow this path which is at the edge of the wood with fields to your right for nearly half a mile.  It is a steady climb but the surface is good.  Ignore all paths coming in from the side until you reach a wide track just after a large tree stump.  Here turn right and follow the track, leaving Harlow Wood, with the fields now on your right sloping down below you.

This is a good track to walk along, firm underfoot and with the view ahead quite extensive although the wind turbines are now the most prominent feature.  After 500 yards you reach a farm with an equestrian ring on the right and buildings on the left.  You soon reach the centre of the farm complex and a junction of paths  guarded by a large tree on the right.  Immediately after this tree turn right along a bridleway which soon leaves the farm and goes downhill.  This path is by the edge of fields and is very easy to follow.  It is in good condition with sand at the bottom of the main rut and decent path alongside it.  Follow the path straight down the hill all the way to the bottom of the field where you reach a small area of saplings.  Here bear slightly left for fifty yards until you join the main path at the bottom.  Turning right here gives you a second chance to visit Friar Tuck’s Well, again about 400 yards away.

However, our route goes straight on here down into the wood ahead along the Robin Hood Way.   Go into the woodland on the left and cross a small bridge over a stream.  Leave the woodland going uphill through a gate onto a wide track.  After 100 yards as you pass a house on your left  go through a gate on the track.  Just past this gateway jink to the left as you pass the house to go onto a wide farm track still going up the hill.  This is a steady climb but the path is pretty good despite a few stones.  The track passes between fields on left and right.  As the path starts to flatten out trees appear on the right of the track.  At the end of the track half a mile from the bottom of the hill you reach a quiet road.

At this point the Robin Hood Way goes down the road and along a track into Blidworth.  The way is quite easy to follow and is an alternative route into Blidworth. 

For my route almost immediately opposite you will see a footpath signpost.  Cross the road and follow the sign along the wide track ahead.  This goes slightly downhill on a good track with a line of grass in the centre.  After 300 yards the path gets  quite narrow.  Take a little care not to get scratched by the hawthorn next to the path.  At the end of the path go through a metal kissing gate into a field and bear right uphill towards another kissing gate at the other side of the field about 100 yards away.  Go through this second kissing gate and then a third at the end of the next field, again bearing right and uphill.  Once through the third gate you are in an open field much larger than the previous ones and quite high up.  My recent walk through here in early April coincided with the  lapwing breeding season and they were rather animated as I walked along the path near to their territory.  Try to pass through quickly if there are nesting birds in order to keep any disturbance to a  minimum.  This field is as high as the path gets and there are decent views.

The small pond

The small pond

After 300 yards you leave this rather bare field past a small pond and enter a smaller field next to a much larger pond.  This pond is home to geese, ducks,  moorhen and coot.  Keep going straight on leaving the pond behind and descending into a pleasant valley with grassy fields rising to your right.  Keep straight on along the valley initially in the field and then along a narrower path.  A footpath comes in from the left but ignore that and continue straight on until you reach the corner of a wood.  Follow the path straight on at the bottom of the wood for 200 yards until you reach a crossroads of paths at the end of the wood.

Valley on the way to Blidworth

Valley on the way to Blidworth

There are various options that take you into Blidworth from here.  On this walk we turn left to follow the side of the wood going uphill for 200 yards.  At the top of the path you reach a road.  There is also a bench for anyone wanting a rest.  Turn right along the road and follow it for 500 yards as it enters Blidworth.  Keep going along the road all the way until you come to the main road in Blidworth.