Walks in Central Nottinghamshire – Walk 56: Hazel Gap and the Thynghowe Trail in Sherwood Forest

14 Nov

This is a great walk for autumn when you can appreciate the colours of the leaves. Most of the walk is in deciduous woodland and along well maintained, firm tracks which are good for walking on in all conditions. There are a few gentle undulations but this is quite an easy walk in the most famous forest in England, not far from the Major Oak if you wish to add an extra two miles to the walk.

Start:  Hazel Gap, which is about one mile west of Budby on the A616 just after a slight bend to the left.  There are no signs saying Hazel Gap but look for a small area where you can park on the north side of the road where there are waymarks for the Robin Hood Way and National Cycle Route 6.  Unfortunately there are no bus stops close to the walk.  If you are coming by public transport and want to take in some other sights I suggest following the first part of my Walk 30 which starts in Edwinstowe and goes past the new visitor centre before going to the Major Oak.  You can then go to the Centre Tree and from there turn right along the wide track to meet this walk before returning to Edwinstowe.  The extra distance is about three miles.

Distance: 4.8 miles

Map of the Route

From Hazel Gap turn away from the road, bearing slightly to the left, going south-east along a narrow but nice firm path which is part of the National Cycle route 6. The path is compact gravel with a reddish tinge under light tree cover with nice views to the right over fields towards part of Sherwood Forest. Follow it very straight as it descends gently for 600 yards . You come to a road (Netherfield Lane) which is quite busy so take care as you go straight across to reach a quiet road directly opposite. On the right after you have crossed is a lake formed by the River Meden with some of the common water birds often present.

Go straight on along the quiet road past the lake and continue as the road becomes a wide track. You start to go steadily uphill with fields to the left and trees on the right as you go into the forest. Go past a metal barrier. This is a popular cycle track and you may well meet groups of cyclists. About 600 yards from the lake you reach the end of the fields on the left and go under more tree cover as you come to a major track junction and a signpost with a large number of signs indicating the various options available to you.  Carry straight on along the main track which undulates a little over the next part of the walk.  Soon the trees on the left disappear and you see the open heathland near Budby South Forest.  You come under more substantial tree cover again and about half a mile from the previous signpost reach another junction of tracks.  The left hand track goes to the Major Oak which is a little under a mile from here.  Going straight on you can reach the Centre Tree in half a mile.  However, we take the track to the right here.  Follow this for around 600 yards.  The path is straightish but curves a little to the left as you reach a clearing.

Not long after that  you reach another junction of paths.  You have reached the hill of Thynghowe, also known as Hanger Hill.  This has been a meeting place of people in Sherwood Forest for over a thousand years.  It is at the border of three parishes and may even have been the border between the ancient kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia.  The most striking feature is the prominent tree just ahead to the left of the path.  The path we have just reached is Hanger Hill Drive and local people have devised a three mile Trail, the Thynghowe Trail with points of interest marked by wooden posts with letters corresponding to points on the Trail Guide, along it.  Here we are about half way along the Trail.  If you go left you can see more of the Trail but my route goes right here.  Turning right you start to descend.  Surprisingly the path we are following, in the middle of the forest, is a hard, properly surfaced drive which at one time went all the way to Welbeck Abbey.  On the right you shortly see a wooden post and if you look to the right of the path can see two earth banks marking the site of a World War II ammunition store.

Sherwood Forest in Autumn

Near the Thynghowe Trail

The path is straight and in good condition and again undulates a little in the next half mile. Carry on past lime trees and a clearing to the right of the path.  After a little more than half a mile from Thynghowe descend to a major junction of tracks near a large tree on the right.  You are at the bottom of a dip in the path coming across which may have freewheeling cyclists going quite fast so watch for them.   We have also been following the Robin Hood Way for the last half mile and here it goes left.  You can follow that as our route meets it again shortly but on my route we go straight across the wide track ahead and continue along the Trail on a narrower path under trees.  You stay on this straight path for half a mile emerging from the Forest and crossing a bridge over the River Meden.  In fact this is also the Robin Hood Way but here it is coming the other way as it returns to Edwinstowe.

The River Meden


Shortly after this the path reaches the quite busy Netherfield Lane again.  Cross carefully and go through a small gate to the right of a house and left of the main gate.  Keep going straight on into woodland again on a narrow, unsurfaced but decent path.  The path climbs a little and at one point you make a small diversion round a fallen tree but it is easy to follow.  After 400 yards you reach a path junction where you turn right onto another track, meeting the other part of the Robin Hood Way again.  This climbs a little more and soon goes into tree cover on a narrower path with fields to the right.  In autumn you will find piles of leaves here which you can scrunch through.  The path rises a little more until after 500 yards you reach the road at Hazel Gap where we started again.


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