Archive | September, 2017

Walks in Central Notts – Walk 49: Laxton and the Three Field System

27 Sep

This walk is a circuit around the village of Laxton.  For a small village there is a great deal of interest here.  Laxton is the only village in England that still uses the old Open or Three Field system of farming which dates back a thousand years.  There is a visitor centre next to the Dovecote Inn in the centre of the village.  However, this isn’t the only visitor centre that features on our route as not far out of the village is the National Holocaust Centre which commemorates that event and other human rights issues.  The village has a good website which gives details on the history of Laxton.  The walk takes in the visitor centres and the field system as well as a Motte and Bailey castle.

Start:  The centre of Laxton.  You can park in the centre of the village.  The Dovecote Inn, which is worth a visit, has a good size car park which also serves as the one for the visitor centre.  Unfortunately the bus serfvice to the village is rather infrequent.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Map of the Route

From the Visitor centre and car park at the Dovecote Inn go out to the road where there is a triangular island.  You will see the tower of Laxton church straight across from you.  Go over to the pavement by the church which you may wish to visit.  Cross the road and carry on uphill on the pavement alongside the road.  After 300 yards you reach a bend where the main road bears to the left and a minor road called Town End goes straight on.

At this point my original plan for this walk was to leave the main road and carry on straight along the minor road.  After another 300 yards at an information board going straight on should take you onto a footpath which is marked on the Ordnance Survey map.  Unfortunately this footpath became overgrown with nettles and I can’t recommend walking that way if the path is in that condition.  It may be that at a different time of year or if it is cleared that you can walk along it so it may be worth having a look to see if the path is clear.  Going this way avoids walking along the road until the path meets the road just before the Holocaust Centre.

However, my walk now has to stay along the main road.  I wouldn’t want to do that by choice but this road is pretty quiet and so is my preferred option here.  Stay along the main road as it leaves the village.  After 200 yards from the village  just past a bend look for a wide track on the left hand side of the road which is signed as being a Private Road.  This is in fact a bridleway which we can walk along.  The route of my walk doesn’t go that way but you may wish to walk along it for 300 yards to have a look at Mill Field, the largest of Laxton’s field system.  There is an information board to tell you more from where there are also good views.

Mill Field

Go back to the road and carry on away from Laxton.  There isn’t much of a verge but the road is mainly straight from here and you can see what is coming. The verge gets wider further along the road as the hedge disappears. After a mile just after a bend to the left you come to the Holocaust Centre on the left of the road.  It really is the middle of nowhere and a surprising location for such a Centre but is interesting and thought provoking.

Our route leaves the road almost immediately after you pass the Centre.  Look to the right of the road where there is a wooden fingerpost directing you onto a field.  Take the footpath leaving the road to the right. The path follows the edge of a large open arable field with a ditch to the right. The path curves around to the left with trees now next to the ditch until after 200 yards you come to a wooden finger post with a sign indicating the footpath goes to the right. Go right here over a narrow wooden footbridge then into another arable field. There was no clear path in this field when I walked here but you should go straight on from the bridge aiming for a solitary tree 150 yards directly ahead. As you approach this tree you should see a gap in the hedge a little further on to the right of it which should now be your target.

Go through this gap and find yourself at the top of a slope in another field where there is a clearer track down the hill.  Go down this to the bottom of the hill to a wooden post with a yellow top.  To the right of this there is an open gateway which you go through to into a grassy field.  Go through quite long grass for twenty yards then turn left to walk along the bottom of  fields on a slope. We are walking through shorter grass at the field edge here.  Stay at the bottom for 400 yards until we come to a proper farm track going up the hill.   Ignore the track and go slightly to the left through longer grass to stay along the bottom of the fields going towards a wood ahead to the left of the fields.   After another 400 yards go over a stile.  This takes you into the corner of a field where some of the ground has slipped out of the field so you have a short steep climb to go around this ditch.  Stay at the bottom next to the wood (this is Kirton Wood) for 100 yards until you reach a stile with various waymarks. Going over the stile to the left takes you into Kirton Wood which is a Nature Reserve and pleasant little excursion.  If you have a look at the wood come back to the field to continue the walk.

From the stile you can go straight up along tree line for 200 yards in this grassy field with sheep in it until you come to a hedge after the last of the trees where you go to the left to a yellow topped post at the next hedge along 100 yards away.  Alternatively at the stile by Kirton Wood stay along the bottom for 100 yards to the next hedge and then go up the hill to the yellow topped post.   This post is by a stile and wooden fingerpost.  Go over the stile into the next field, which is ploughed with no clear path and a little uneven to walk on when I did it. Aim for a gap in the hedge on the other side of the field immediately opposite about 200 yards away but when you get there don’t go through the gap.  Instead turn up the hill along the edge of the field following the hedge.  After 200 yards you reach the top of the hill then descend a short way to the corner of the field and another yellow topped post.  There follow the field edge right for fifty yards to a gap and into the next field. Follow the field edge in this field for fifty yards where you see a post with a yellow arrow footpath waymark.

The arrow points sort of straight on which this takes you a diagonally across the field.  If you can see an obvious path then take it but when I was walking there was no clear path and I decided to drop down into the field on the left and go straight down a little way on a slightly distinct track.  I followed that until after 100 yards there was a clear line across where the crops changed.  This line is level with a hedge up the hill on your right.  Turn right here and go up the hill until you reach this hedge line which you follow to the top of the rise and then down to the field corner .  There is a gap in the corner which only really becomes clear when you get close.  Go down from the field to an archway in the hedge where you can look down fifty yards to a line of rushes marking a dyke.  There is a footpath post there but you have to go a little to the left to go over the dyke.  This takes you to the bottom of a field where there is another waymark a little further up.  There should be a path diagonally across the field, which you can take if possible, but there wasn’t when I did the walk.  If that is still the case you should go uphill on the right hand side of the field for 100 yards. At that point look across the field as you go and you should soon see a stile on the other side in the hedge.  Go across the field and go over the stile.

This takes you into a grassy field which may contain cows.  Go right up the hill for 100 yards to a small rather muddy area near a gate where the cows have churned the ground up.  Look to the left of the gate for a stile partially hidden by nettles when I was there.  Find your way through the mud and go over the stile to another small muddy patch.  There are bits of wood and stone to help you through the mud.  There are two stiles just past the mud.  One goes into a grassy field but we want the one under a tree which goes to the left.  Go over this stile onto a track between hedges.  This is a little overgrown at first and quite narrow but after 200 yards it beomes wider and grassy and good to walk on.  Carry on this track for 200 yards to a corner.  On the left at the corner look to a field where there is what’s left of a a motte and bailey castle, the largest remaining in Nottighamshire.  There is a board giving details about it and if you are lucky you may be able to go into the field for a closer look.  However, the kissing gate into the field was locked on my visit.

Laxton’s Motte

To continue the walk, at the corner of the track turn right to follow another wide track for 300 yards.  You reach houses and then the main street in Laxton opposite the church.  Turn left down the hill to return to the start of the walk and possibly a visit to the Dovecote Inn.