Archive | May, 2020

Walking The Robin Hood Way: Blidworth to Farnsfield

26 May

Start: Centre of Blidworth

Finish: The Green, Farnsfield

Map of the Route

Distance: 3.9 miles

A short, easy, mostly flat walk between villages through woods and then across arable fields.  If you want to use buses to get from one end to the other they are hourly (Stagecoach number 28) and take you “door to door” from the start and finish of this walk.

Note: This is my earlier Walk 13 done in the reverse direction and is my Mansfield to Newark Walk Stage 3: Blidworth to Farnsfield.  I have only repeated the post here for completeness.  I’m intending to write about stages of the Robin Hood Way going to Blidworth and thought that I shouldn’t leave a gap between Blidworth and Farnsfield for anyone following my directions using the Robin Hood Way post titles.

Start from the bus stop near the main junction in the centre of Blidworth next to the Tesco store (on the site of the former Forest Folk pub). Go past Tesco and turn left along Dale Lane (the wide flat road running east) and follow the road for 800 yards, walking along the pavement on the left hand side. While walking along Dale Lane you will cross several side roads and will notice bus stops at regular intervals. There are regular buses from Mansfield and hourly buses that go on to Farnsfield and Newark.


Path through the trees near Blidworth

As you reach the end of the village immediately after the last house on the left side of the road take a footpath going into the wood. The path through the trees is a pleasant one. Follow the most obvious path through the wood which bears slightly to the left and winds it way through the pine trees. The path is a good one but keep your eyes open for the odd tree root which reaches the path. The path turns a little to the right after two hundred yards and after another hundred yards takes you back out to the edge of the wood near the site of the former Jolly Friar pub, now demolished. At this point turn left. You can either follow the narrow path along the edge of the wood or move ten yards further out to follow a broad grassy ride which runs parallel to the edge of the wood. After two hundred yards you reach a track coming across you. Turn right along this track downhill for fifty yards and then turn left keeping to the wide track.


Path near Blidworth Woods

After 100 yards leave the main track and take an grassy track to the left running almost parallel to the main one straight ahead. The grassy track runs straight between a tall hedge on the left and trees on the right which become more dense. After 300 yards you reach the end of this path and it appears initially that you have reached a dead end. If you look to the left here you will see a gap and a wood plank forming a “bridge” over a ditch. Cross the plank and enter a field.

Turn right and follow the field edge. If you can, follow the path along the grassy bank on the edge of the field. Occasionally this path can be a little overgrown or uneven and you may have to resort to walking along the edge of the the field itself. After 300 yards you come to a wide farm track. Cross this and go a few yards to the right. Go over a stile by a gate and down into a field. The path across this field is usually quite easy to follow. Go almost straight ahead aiming for the telegraph pole in the middle of the field. Carry on past the telegraph pole until you reach the end of the field and the signpost pictured below.


Field on the way to Blidworth

Go slightly up a bank through a gap in the hedge to leave the field and enter another. Go straight on following the edge of the field alongside the hedge. The path may be a little uneven and if necessary you may have to go onto the field itself which often has quite a wide margin free of crops. Go all the way to the end of this field around 300 yards away and continue into the next field. As you go you will see over the hedge to the left a caravan park. As you reach the end of the second field you pass a small concrete shed just before a wide farm track. On the other side of the track is a long hedge going up an incline ahead. Go just to the right of this hedge and follow the edge of the field alongside the hedge up the hill. Again the path can be a little uneven and the grass slightly longer than you would want but it isn’t a great problem.

Just beyond the top of the rise you come to another farm track. Turn left along this track which after fifty yards bends sharply to the right and downhill. Follow the track next to a hedge on your left for 200 yards down the hill and then 200 more yards up again. At the top you reach a stile which you can now go around. You approach the gate to a house ahead but you should bear slightly left so that you go across a track and around the property keeping a fence immediately to your right. You will probably by now hear the roar of the traffic from the A614 which is now just ahead. As you come to a large hedge just before the A614 look for a narrow gap to the right where there is a small metal stile. Climb this and go to the verge of the A614.

We need to cross this road but this is a bad place to do so. The traffic is frequent and fast and partly obscured by a bend when crossing from this side. You can cross here but the best thing to do is to go downhill to the left towards the roundabout and cross at the island just before it. This takes you to the edge of the car park for the White Post Inn where you may wish to stop for food and drink. Turn back up the hill for 100 yards until you are opposite the point where you emerged on the other side of the road. Go into the field on your left either by using the stile or a gap in the hedge about ten yards before it. The path isn’t very clear in this field but you should follow the edge of the field going away from the A614 keeping a hedge just to your left.


Looking back towards Farnsfield from fields going towards the A614.

At the end of this field the path becomes a bit more obvious although occasionally crops and ploughing may slightly affect it. Aim slightly to the right across the next field where you should see a gap in the hedge at the far side of the field. Go through the hedge and follow the path through another four quite narrow fields in each case bearing slightly to the right. You then come to a hedge and bank where you must climb steps up to reach the next field. In the previous fields you have been crossing in the middle of long fields but now you follow the hedge at the field edge. After 300 yards you reach the end of this field and pass under a tree in the corner which brings you into a very large field extending from the road a few hundred yards away on your left to well past you on the right. Cross the field straight on along an obvious path aiming for the hedge 400 yards ahead of you. You are at the highest point of the field looking left across to the road which runs from the White Post to Farnsfield.

As you reach the hedge at the far side of the field go just to left of it and follow it as far as a kissing gate. The field becomes more enclosed and as you go through the gate you come to a nice small, grassy field between hedges. Continue alongside the hedge through another gate into another shady field where a bench awaits if you wish to rest. The way continues straight on along the wide track between hedges and gradually becomes a lane (Vicarage Lane). 300 yards from the bench you come to a road at an extremely sharp bend. If you wish you may continue straight on downhill along the road which after a left turn at the bottom of the hill takes you into Farnsfield at The Green, the main bus stop in the village, which is on your right with “The Lion” pub just ahead. However, there is no pavement or footway for the 200 yards down the hill and the road does have some traffic. My choice here would be to add a few minutes to your walk by going through the gate into the field on the left at the end of Vicarage Lane.

The field is a pleasant grassy one, often occupied by sheep or horses. Aim straight ahead from the gate going down quite a sharp slope to the bottom of the field before a small upslope to a gate at the far end. This brings you out beside the Mansfield road next to a bus stop, from where you can catch a bus back to Blidworth, Rainworth and Mansfield. If you want to finish this walk at the main stop in the village, The Green, turn right from the field and walk along the pavement for 150 yards until you reach The Green where a tree stands in the middle of an island between three roads. The main bus stop is on your right over the road past the tree. Alternatively you may wish to stop for refreshment at The Lion pub on the other side of the main road.

April is the cruellest month, supposedly. It is also the dryest.

8 May

The most remarkable thing about the past month apart from the extraordinary lockdown situation has been the glorious weather. The paths have changed from quagmires and paddy fields to hard, arid prairies.  Tracks that I have avoided since last autumn because I would be sliding around or getting soaked feet have become accessible again.

The official statistics for the month are now in and show that it was the sunniest April ever recorded and one of the dryest.  We have been keeping rainfall records since 2007 at home in Farnsfield and can give a more local perspective.  It was the fifth dryest of any month since we started recording figures, with 13.75mm of rain.  Until the rain came in the last three days it was actually on course to be easily the dryest month ever as only 1.5mm had fallen compared to the record of 9mm.  That record was from April 2013 and what is noticeable from the stats is how often April is dry.  Six of the top ten dryest months since 2007 have been in April.  (Incidentally the wettest month of all was April 2012, the exception that proves the rule).   

Apparently the explanation for this is that the south-westerly winds from the Atlantic which tend to produce a wetter climate are at their weakest at this time of year.  As the spring and summer progress the winds strengthen and the months gradually get wetter.

My own theories about our weather based purely on my intuition with a bit of science that I recall seeing is that we are getting longer spells of unchanging weather.  It seems to me that the incredibly settled April we just had, where the weather hardly changed for weeks, followed a pattern.  The winter just gone was one of the wettest ever seen where it seemed to rain consistently on many days.  There weren’t many huge totals on any one day but the accumulation over months were overwhelming.  The end of the winter saw a pattern of storms or near-storms coming in from the south-west every weekend for five weeks.  I had first noticed this trend a couple of years ago.  In June and July we had almost a month with no rain at all where every day seemed the same. In other recent years we have had periods with a “blocking pattern” of weather which doesn’t shift.  One idea about this is that the jet stream, which has a large role to play in our weather is getting, caught in blocking patterns because global warming is melting Arctic ice and changing the flow of the jet stream above it.

The April weather has opened up some paths again, as I said earlier.  In fact they are as dry now as they would normally be in high summer .  Two paths I often use to measure how wet things are underfoot are the ones through Combs Wood from Combs Lane to the south of Farnsfield.  The first path into Combs Wood if walking from Farnsfield is one going straight uphill by a hedge.  As the path enters the wood it gets narrow and for most of the winter is so muddy that you have to straddle the path and step carefully with one foot on either side of the mud.  After a normal winter it is dry enough to walk up comfortably by the middle of March but this year it wasn’t until early April.  Now it’s fine, as is the top of the hill on this path which has been quite badly churned up all winter.

The second path into the wood goes diagonally across a large field before entering the wood.  The path through the wood is one of the wettest in the area and is usually too wet to walk until summer.  Even then you often have to follow extra paths made alongside the main one that avoid the worst mud.  I have recently been through and it was as dry as I can remember it in April.  If you want to check out this attractive woodland path now is a good time.  It is on the Robin Hood Way route, incidentally, and I wrote a description of the Robin Hood Way from Farnsfield to Southwell which follows this path.