Archive | March, 2020

A Wandering Mind – walking from Kelham to Farnsfield – où sont les neiges d’antan?

25 Mar

With things currently largely in lockdown it’s great for your state of mind if you can get out for a walk.  It may be tricky to go too far from home and so rather than come up with new, more distant walks I thought I would write about some of my recent walks which have some updates on my earlier routes.  These aren’t officially numbered walks for the blog but instead feature things I noticed on my walks.  These posts will be collated under the heading, A Wandering Mind, as I often find my thoughts drifting as I walk.

The words où sont les neiges d’antan? in the title of this post translated literally mean “where are yesteryear’s snows”? though more generally it can be taken as “where has the past gone?”.  Both meanings seem apt as the years go by but it’s the literal meaning that I found myself contemplating as I did the walk below.  With the exception of the “Beast From the East” in 2018 we seem to have very little snow these days.  Even in 2018 the cold snap was only for a matter of days.  Most winters now are mild and wet with the most recent one the worst most people can remember.  Many paths have been best avoided because of mud or large patches of standing water.  I love walking in fresh snow and it would be nice to have a few days each winter where I can indulge myself.

In February I walked from Kelham to Farnsfield on one of the rare sunny days but the ground was pretty waterlogged. As I walked past the wood about a mile west of Kelham I startled three Fallow deer which ran off uphill. I last walked this way five years ago when the field next to the wood had an electric fence obstructing the path and things hadn’t changed five years later. The fence was only one wire which could be ducked under but it shouldn’t be allowed on a public footpath.

View towards Trent Valley from the top of the hill

The view from the top of the field over the Trent valley was good. As I walked round the next field I heard a gruff croaking in the sky behind me. I have heard that noise before, in the Lake District, and recognised it as a raven. I wasn’t sure if I was hearing correctly as I have never seen one before in Nottinghamshire, though I have heard that there have been sightings. I looked up and thought it seemed larger than crows but on its own the scale was hard to judge. I went through the hedge over a water filled ditch into the next field where immediately you meet the gallops for racehorses trained nearby. Carefully crossing these took me into the open part of the field where I could look back to the tree where the raven had settled. After a minute it took off along with three other corvids which went off in a different direction but appeared smaller confirming my identification.


As I continued across the field I heard the wonderful sound of skylarks singing and tried to spot them. As always seeing them is much harder than hearing them but after a short while I saw one, my first of the year. My spirits were lifted by this harbinger of spring as I went through the stables at the bottom of the hill.

After some wet walking round field edges I crossed the A617 to the bottom of Micklebarrow Hill where a sign warned me to Beware of the Bull. The farmer here didn’t appear to encourage walkers as there were also strands of possibly electric fences here as well. I couldn’t see any signs of a bull so I proceeded up the hill stepping over the strands as I did so. The top of the hill has a house with tennis courts but once you are past that the views across the Trent Valley are excellent. Staythorpe power station’s chimneys feature prominently a few miles away. It’s quite a steep descent off the hill and after a few fields you reach the road into Upton. The first 300m are without a pavement but on reaching the village cross over to the other side of the road where there is one.

View from Micklebarrow Hill towards the Trent Valley

The Pingley Dyke


I decided to turn down a track before going far into Upton. The track was fine as I descended but once at the bottom I turned right near one of the dykes and the track became much muddier. The mud and puddles caused me to veer from one side to the other in an attempt to avoid the worst of it and after half a mile reached the surfaced drive to Farm. I turned left and crossed the dyke but before reaching the farm went through a gate into a field. As I did so I heard the sound of a woodpecker drumming his bill against a tree trunk. On this beautiful sunny day it really did seem like the start of Spring.


The path soon reached the bank of the River Greet and followed the river for the next mile. The river wiggles about like a snake in tiny meanders here as you walk along the field edges. Finding the right spot to leave the river is slightly tricky but when you can see the tree line and embankment going up to the road to Southwell racecourse it’s time to head off along the field edge. Turning right along the road after going up the bank takes you straight for a kilometre before you reach the houses of Southwell.

Mill Building


I crossed the main road near the Southwell Workhouse and followed the river Greet along a nice quiet path past the community orchard where many varieties of apple tree are grown and a board nearby tells you which is which. The path also passes a picnic table where I have eaten lunch before. The river still meanders here, though not as crazily as earlier, as it passes under trees. By the river is a very tall building, once a mill, at the next road. Here you can turn left to head to the Burgage and the centre of Southwell or like me carry on westwards where there is a choice of paths. The more interesting one runs alongside the river but on this occasion I thought it would be too muddy and opted for the somewhat monotonous but relatively dry path along the old railway track, the Southwell Trail.

Norwood Park

Norwood Hall

After an easy mile on the straight, flat track I reached the road to Maythorne but instead of continuing on the track I turned left along the road to go through the Norwood Park estate. The path takes you past a golf course and through the middle of the fruit trees on a nice path. This brings you onto the road from Southwell to Halam which has a pavement for some of the way but the best route is to go along Saversick Lane and then turn off onto the driveway of a house before following the path through what was an orchard but is now rows of other fruits. I exchanged greetings with the eastern European girls who were having their lunch break from pruning before heading downhill into Halam via a rather muddy track.

Looking West to Halam and beyond.

 


After crossing the car park of the Wagon pub and following a path across the next field I left Halam along the back road towards Kirklington (Holme Lane). About 400m along is a gap into a field. Until last year this has for some time been a permissive path. It no longer has the signs to say it is but clearly people are still using it as such and there is still a bench at the top of the hill. There is still a well-defined field margin and path here so I have decided to still use it, very occasionally. If this is no longer a right-of-way I am happy to avoid it in future and will correct that impression in my other walking routes. The path was quite wet in places with some very soft ground for part of the way but it’s a nice way of getting to Edingley with good views from the top of the hill.
The path reaches the road again at the top of Edingley Hill. It’s always a bit of a dilemma here which way to go into Edingley. If I have time I will usually go straight across the main road and onto Greaves Lane but if I want to save a few minutes and there is no traffic I will run straight down the hill. You are always taking a chance doing that as there is no verge and a steep sided cutting. It takes me about twenty seconds to get to the track on the left halfway down the hill so I can usually make it without encountering anything. Going this way then takes you down across a field before scrunching across the stones of someone’s drive for a few strides. You emerge at the main road again.
There are two paths from Edingley to Farnsfield. I took the path a little past the Reindeer pub that goes off to the right near some allotments. The path is good at first but gets muddy after wet weather as you cross the fields to reach the wide track that becomes Brickyard Lane. You are near the railway track again here. Turning left brings you into Farnsfield a kilometre along the way.