Archive | April, 2020

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire: Walk 61 – Bilsthorpe and Inkersall

29 Apr

Please note that the paths near the start of this walk close to the building site are currently very overgrown and I wouldn’t recommend this part of the walk.

Trying to keep the walks local I realised that I hadn’t done a walk along the paths to the west of Bilsthorpe for a while. This one goes along the edge of Bilsthorpe and along a pleasant track into Sherwood Forest before returning along the disused railway line into Bilsthorpe. There are a few opportunities for short cuts which I will elaborate on. This walk can be done in all seasons as it is on good firm tracks.

Start:Forest Link Car Park, Bilsthorpe.  If using public transport you can start either from the main road going out of Bilsthorpe towards the A614 or centre of the village. This description starts from the car park at the end of the Southwell Trail,  a disused railway line running to Farnsfield and Southwell. This is at the end of the road called Forest Link. Buses run to Bilsthorpe from Mansfield and Nottingham regularly during the day.

Distance: 6 miles (9.7 km)

Map of the Route

From the car park go onto the Southwell Trail, a good track, and follow it for a very short distance. You come to a small area of grass on the right where you should look for a narrow path to the right which takes you off the Trail,  over a ditch and to the edge of a field. Turn right to follow the edge of the field which soon goes downhill a little. At the bottom of the dip follow the path as it turns left and after 80m right. Go over a hump of concrete that crosses a stream and then turn left to follow the path along the bottom of the dip. A little to your right through a gap in the treeline you see a new housing development being buit.

The path is a bit muddy after wet weather and after passing the end of the housing development you should go up through the tree line and follow the path left which is dryer than at the bottom. It goes between broom plants which often have bright yellow flowers and then bends right towards a red gate.

At the gate go onto the end of a cul-de-sac (Allandale) and walk along it for 100m. Take the first left turn going downhill and at the bottom turn right along another quiet road. Follow this all the way to the end of the cul-de-sac then take the path to the right which takes you to the top of some steps. Go down these onto the pavement next to the main road (Mickledale Lane). Turn left going downhill past a petrol station and a bus shelter, which is where you can start this walk if using the Sherwood Arow bus service to Nottingham or Ollerton.

Carry on along the pavement to the bottom of the dip where you cross a stream and then uphill to meet the A614.  Cross the A614 very carefully and carry straight on along a well surfaced road.  This is only an access drive and has very little traffic.  You can either walk along the road or next to it on grass.  The road is very straight and soon climbs quite sharply for a short distance before becoming flatter.  It is a pleasant tree-lined avenue with fields to your left.  You are approaching a more heathland type environment which is evidenced by gorse bushes with their coconutty fragrence and bright yellow flowers.

There are no navigation problems as the route goes straight for a kilometre, passing Inkersall Kennels and a couple of other enclosed areas.  Where the road bears left to quite a grand gateway carry on through a metal gate onto a footpath which continues in the same direction as you have walked for the last mile.  The path is quite a narrow one but good for walking on with nice woodland on your left and a field on the right.   After 500m you reach the end of the field on the right and the path goes over a very low barrier with a blue arrow on it.

Here you can cut a mile from the route by turning right along a narrow path through trees which reaches the top of a railway embankment after 100m.  Take the left hand path down the bank which goes down very steeply at the bottom (so take care) onto a disused railway line.  This may have cyclists or walkers on it so watch for  them as you whizz down onto the track.

My main route continues straight on at the blue arrow.  The path gets wider and soon becomes a wide shale track with conifer trees dominating on the left.  Ignore side tracks on the left but after 1000m you will see a wide track entrance on the right.  Carrying straight on here takes you onto my Walk 24 but for this walk you should turn right onto the wide track going into the trees.

After 50m you reach a crossroads of tracks.  The track coming across is a cycle track with large rocks to the left.  Turn right along this track which is a disused railway line and so is almost perfectly straight.  Straight tracks like this are generally a bit dull as they stretch out ahead of you but this is quite pleasant as there are trees to either side.   You can’t go wrong as you will follow this track all the way for two miles straight into Bilsthorpe.  After half a mile as you leave the main tree cover you may notice a path which has been worn down the steep bank on the right.  This is where the short cut mentioned earlier rejoins our walk and you should watch for anyone who has taken that hurtling down the bank onto the track!

After just more than another kilometre the track crosses a bridge over the A614 and then you find yourself on an embankment with decent views over fields to either side.  The one to the north often has pigs in it with long lines of pig shelters on it and to the south you see the road we walked along earlier.  Just after the track goes close to houses on the right you reach a crossroads of paths with gates on either side of the track. 

There are three options here.

  1. Going through the gate on the right takes you downhill between houses to meet the road we walked along earlier near the petrol station.  From there you can retrace your steps to the start.  

2. Going straight on along the old railway track you soon approach a bridge.  Just before it you leave the track on a path to the right that goes up to meet the road by the bridge which option 3 uses.

3.  The route which is used on the map for this walk adds about half a mile to option 2.  Go left from the railway track through a green gate to join a clear path going uphill across a field.  After 200m this meets a surfaced track which you follow in the same direction.  This takes you by a large area of sports pitches on the right.  Follow the track for 500m until you reach a road (Eakring Road).  Cross this and turn right along Eakring Road, ignoring the road coming in directly opposite the track  you have just walked along.  Walk along the verge by the road which soon becomes a pavement as you reach a works entrance on the left.  Continue into Bilsthorpe and the bridge over the railway track.  Cross over the road where route 2 joins us.

Carry on along the pavement going into the centre of Bilsthorpe crossing two roads on the way.  If you are using buses you might consider starting the walk from the bus stops here as you are on two bus routes rather than one (the 28 as well as the Sherwood Arrow).  About 250m on from the second road you reach a roundabout where you  take the road to the right (Forest Link). This is a road going into a housing estate with lots of red-brick buildings. The road is usually quiet and meanders through the estate. Stay on the main road all the way until you come to the small circular car park where we started.


A Wandering Mind – Love (Walking) In The Time Of Corona

20 Apr

Going for a walk is a popular activity at the moment. For anyone cooped up inside, especially when the weather is good for the first time this year, it’s great to be able to get out. I went for a ten mile walk on a lovely sunny day this week from Farnsfield to Kirklington and Roe Wood. I would perhaps expect to encounter half a dozen people on this walk but this time I must have met twenty . Everyone was keeping their distance, even on the narrower paths.

The most recent walk I did was from home in Farnsfield in late March.  I went along Brickyard Lane and across the Southwell Trail before bearing right across the next field.  It’s amazing how the field has changed in just a week of dry weather.  I had avoided the field for months as there were so many puddles and so much mud but now after one small patch the field’s surface was almost rock hard and the clods of earth just off the path were awkward to walk on if keeping your distance.  I looked in on the lake near Kirklington where a few tufted ducks swam in the centre.  I reached Kirklington and went on to the second, smaller pond but not many birds were around as wood was being burnt on a bonfire nearby.

Large Pond near Moor Farm, Kirkington


Smaller Pond near Kirlkington

My route took me to Roe Wood, about a mile north-east of Kirklington, on my Walk 16.  I hadn’t been this way for a long time and the path wasn’t as clear as it had been then.  The walk goes along a tunnel of trees which I love walking along.  In Walk 16 I say how beautiful this is and when the leaves are on the trees it is even better so I recommend doing this walk a little later in the year.  I used to go along this path regularly when I was training as a competitive athlete but since then have only been here a few times.  Revisiting it is like seeing a friend you used to know but haven’t seen for ages.  The path down to Roe Wood was another that had obviously dried recently.  Hoofprints went to a depth of at least three inches and had to be avoided to preserve my ankles.

The last time I was here as I reached Roe Wood the path was blocked by a mound of rubble and I had to detour through the adjacent farmyard.  Things were much better now as the path ran alongside the wood with no obstructions.  The paddocks of horses next to the path had been very cut up especially in the corners, another reminder of the wet winter we’ve had.  Just past the paddocks the path crosses a narrow wooden footbridge where one of the planks is a bit rickety.  A little after this I joined the track which goes off to Winkburn village to the right.  I turned left towards Roe Wood again.  Just to the right of the track at the top of the rise was an industrial bird scarer, one which makes a really loud bang like a cannon.  I was relieved it hadn’t gone off before I knew it was there as it would have given me quite a shock and wondered if there were any regulations about them being next to paths.  I was about 100 yards along the track when the cannon went off.  Even that far along it was enough to startle me.

The route follows the track by the wood then goes left into a field beside the wood.  At the top of the hill I turned right away from the wood along a narrow path where I saw chiffchaffs, always the first of the summer migrants to arrive and a week earlier than I have seen them before, and a jay.  This path twists and turns between the trees but is basically straight along the narrow strip between large arable fields on the left and grass on the right.  I don’t often see people along this path but this time I met two pairs of walkers which meant stepping just off the path so everyone could keep their distance.  The path continues along to Dukes Wood but I left it to turn out onto the fields just by a surprisingly large puddle, a few feet across, the biggest I saw on the walk.

I crossed what I call “the plateau”, a very large expanse of fields, on a wide track, before descending a nice path past trees into a field overlooking the lakes and the old Rodney school.  I returned to the small pond and crossed a field with ewes and lambs.  As I approached the gate in the corner I was expecting two lambs there to run off.  They only moved a little and after going through the gate int o another of sheep I found why.  Each ewe had a number sprayed onto it and her lambs had the same number.  The first field had sheep with blue numbers and the second field orange numbers.  A “blue” lamb was in the “orange” field and was trying to get through a too narrow gap back into the other field to join its mother and siblings, the ones in the corner.  One of the “orange” ewes was also butting the blue lamb, although not too aggressively, every time it got close.  I thought about trying to reunite the blue family myself but then noticed the farmer was in the farmyard nearby.  I told him what had happened.  He thanked me and said “I’ll make a shepherd of you” before opening a gate to let the lamb through to its mother.  

I went past the old Kirklington station and across the fields to Edingley.  The last time I went this way was before Christmas when the path had several inches of standing water in places and my feet were soaked when I got home.  This time the path was fine.  However, the path from near Edingley church across the fields to Allesford Lane, which I had also been avoiding wasn’t.  There are often puddles by the gates after wet weather here and I had hoped that after a dry week it would be clear.  The middle field is always the worst one and there was still a few inches of water.  I decided to go to the left hand edge of the field where ther . e is another gate.  Usually you have to climb over it but this time it was slightly open and I ducked under thorns that were nearby to go through.   I think that after more dry weeks this path waill now be fine, though be aware that there are several gates on this part of the route which you should consider in the current Covid-19 climate.

The rest of the way to Farnsfield via Cotton Mill Farm was clear although a young cow was blocking the path temporarily in the field going to the Acres.  It stepped away as I approached and gave me room to get past with no alarms before it returned to bellow at the cows in the next field.  This path can be a bit narrow between the hedge on one side and barbed wire fence on the other which sometimes leans in towards the path.  At the end of the field the gate next to the stile has fallen over leaving a gap.  You reach the Acres and can cut through by the allotments to reach the Parfitt Drive fields.  From there you can take the direct route to the main road through Farnsfield across the main field area or follow the narrower paths to Quaker Lane, Sunnyside and Tippings Lane.  If taking these and you meet someone coming the other way you should try to keep your distance.  Since the social distancing etiquette rules came in it takes me longer to plan routes now as I have tried to avoid routes with narrow paths and gates, something I hadn’t even considered.