Archive | August, 2019

The Robin Hood Way: Farnsfield to Southwell via Robin Hood Hill

8 Aug

 

For my first post about The Robin Hood Way I tackle  the walk from Farnsfield to Southwell via Robin Hood Hill

Look for these waymarks to guide you

Start: The Green, Farnsfield. The main bus stop for buses to Mansfield and Nottingham. Close to the church and opposite the Lion pub.

Finish: Near Southwell Minster on Queen Street

This loop wasn’t part of the original Robin Hood Way but is a nice addition with good views from much of it.  It goes from Farnsfield, through Combs Wood and across fields to Halam and Southwell.

Distance: 17 km (10.6 miles) if including the detour to Robin Hood Hill.  Otherwise about 14km.

Map of the Route

The Walk

From The Green and the bus shelter if facing the road go left and almost immediately round a corner. After 50m the road bends sharply right uphill but we carry on straight across a cul-de-sac entrance onto a tarmac path to join the Robin Hood Way.  This path goes straight on between houses on the left and a high wall with trees on the right.

After 250m you reach Beck Lane which you cross to reach a wooden gate.  Go through this into an open grassy area with animals in fields on either side of the path.  There are often rare breed sheep and alpacas here.  The path goes straight on, slightly uphill, between wooden fences for 400m until you reach a narrow exit through a hedge by a bench with views back to Farnsfield church.

Go into an arable field which you cross bearing slightly left for 100m to reach a narrow path under trees.  Follow this path for 200m to come to another bench and a narrow farm lane called Combs Lane.  Turn right.

Stay on this lane for the next kilometre.  You can make a short detour to the Halifax Bomber Memorial which is signposted 150m along the lane.  This adds about 900m as you will be returning to Combs Lane.

About 600m from where you joined  Combs Lane a path is signposted which goes uphill on the side of a field to a wood, Combs Wood.  Ignore this path and continue along the lane between hedges for another 400m.  At the next field entrance on the left follow a signed footpath going diagonally across the large arable field towards the wood.  This goes down and then up for 400m to a stile into the wood.

Once in the wood follow the obvious track through the wood which goes straight for 80m, though this can often be wet, then turns right across wooden planks which once formed a footbridge.  The main path turns left straight after this but is often wet so it is better to go straight for another 20m along a narrow path into the trees then turn left to follow a path parallel to the main track which joins it again about 150m further uphill where it is dryer.  This narrower path can be slightly overgrown with brambles.  The main track then comes to a stile.

Go over the stile into a grassy field which occasionally has cows in it.  Go up a steep climb along the left hand side of the field for 150m, initially over a few small rocks, to the top of the field where you go over another stile.

This takes you onto a firm track.  Turn left going slightly uphill along this gravel track under trees for 150m where you see a footpath sign on the right. The main Robin Hood Way route goes straight on here but for the worthwhile diversion to Robin Hood Hill which returns here adding about three kilometres to the walk follow the route described in italics.

Go through the gap in the hedge on the right by the footpath sign past a large log which takes you into a large field.  Turn right to follow the field edge by a hedge for the next 600m.  There is no worn path but the grass is short and the walking easy.  Turn left at the first corner you reach where the hedge goes left for 20m to a wide gap.

Go right through the gap into another large field with good views ahead of the country to the west as the ground slopes away.  There is a clear track ahead across the field for 150m.  Then turn left along another path for 300m to the end of the field, passing a small area of trees on the right.  Leave the field by a gate and go out onto a quiet road, Greaves Lane.  Go straight across and to the right of a gate opposite.

You reach a wide track.  Follow the track away from Greaves Lane towards a large tree 200m away.  The track is firm and quite a good surface to walk on running between fields. Go under the tree. 100m 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 50m 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 300m 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. 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 and Combs Wood.

Returning to the main route you should walk along the wide track in the wood which is in some places composed of loose white stones.  Stay on this track, which narrows, for 600m until you reach a junction of paths.  Turn right downhill through an open barrier and go more steeply downhill on quite a narrow path with steep sides and trees close by.  The path is usually in good condition though in wet weather there may be a few slightly muddy patches.  After half a mile the path reaches a metal gate and you go out to a quiet road (Greaves Lane).

Turn left and follow the lane for 300m where you see a house on the right.  Go to the drive of the house.  After ten metres 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 150m to the end of the field and then turns sharply left to go into a strip of trees.  The path here goes uphill and is narrow next to a field before going along a sunken path between two banks.  Follow this path for 200m 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 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.

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 80m 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 400m 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 600m.  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 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 80m 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 50m 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).  If you wish to finish your walk in Halam turn left for 500m 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 turn right and follow the road which very soon turns sharply left and then right again.  Take care here as there is no pavement although the road is quite wide and you can keep well to the side.  As the road straightens out again to leave the village you should look to the left for a footpath.  Turn along this path which goes away from the road rising steadily.  The path is narrow and runs between tall hedges.  Occasionally it is a little overgrown but generally is in reasonable condition.  The path curves to the left and after 150m reaches a kissing gate at the bottom of a large field rising quite steeply up a hill.  The field often contains cows.  Go into the field and go up the hill bearing slightly to the right aiming for the far corner at the top of the hill and keeping a fence across the field immediately to your right.  At the top 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.

Go through the gate away from the field and go on 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 200m 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.

Leave the driveway and go onto a narrow road (Saversick Lane).  Turn right and follow the road for 300m 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 200m the road bends sharply to the left and you should follow this turn.  You are now entering the Westhorpe area of Southwell.  After another 100m 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 even gave 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 but return to this junction of paths.

Go uphill on a path for 400m where you reach a hedge on your left and the top of the hill.  Go straight on downhill for 300m and through a gap in the hedge.  There is an information board here.  Turn right for 80 yards to the field corner then turn left to climb uphill for 300m by the field edge.  Go through a gap and wooden gate at the end of the field and enter another one, affording fine views.  Go straight on uphill for 150m next to a hedge on a good path to the top of the hill.  There are fine views of Southwell, including the distinctive pepperpots of the Minster, behind you.  Also prominent are the towers of Staythorpe power station a little further to the right.  At the entrance to the field there is also an information board,

 

View of Southwell and Southwell Minster

View of Southwell and Southwell Minster

You will see a gap in the hedge which you should go through.  Turn left along a narrow lane and and continue along the lane for another 400m until we come to the main road.  Carefully cross this and turn right for fifty metres to reach an entrance road into Brackenhurst College.  Ignore this one but after another 250m you reach the main entrance road to the college.  Turn left along this road and enter the College complex.  Stay along this road for 400m to a junction near a car park.  Turn left along a road under trees with football pitches on the left for 200m and another car park on the left to reach a junction with a road from the left by some more buildings.

On the right there is a grassy track and a signpost with a Robin Hood Way marker.  Turn along this track where you soon have to negotiate two metal gates with a farmyard on the left.  Carry straight on across a small grassy area to a wooden gate.  Go through this and onto a quiet, narrow road.  Go straight on along this for 50m to the next bend in the road where you leave the road to go into a large field.  Bear left diagonally across the arable field on a clear path for 300m.  At the next field bear right on a clear path for another 250m to the corner of the field by a hedge where you turn sharp left to follow another hedge.

This soon starts to go downhill quite steeply and reaches a fence next to school playing fields on the left.  The path is squeezed between this fence and the hedge and is quite narrow.  After 300m you reach the bottom of the hill and the end of the playing fields.  Go under trees to reach a wide path and turn left for a short distance to reach a surfaced road.  This is a private road and won’t be busy.  Turn left along the road across a stream, the Potwell Dyke, which when you see it will probably find hard to believe it caused so much chaos when flooding a few years ago.

Carry on along the road on an avenue of lime trees going past a playground on the right, bowling green and tennis courts on the left for 250m to the corner of the park and the arches of the War Memorial.

Southwell Minster

Southwell Minster

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Turn right out of the park, 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.