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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.

Walk 11: Southwell Trail, Norwood Park, Westhorpe, Halam and Edingley

28 Nov

This walk goes along the disused railway line from towards Southwell before heading across  Norwood Park, entering the Westhorpe of Southwell and going through Halam. We then return to the start via Edingley and across fields.

Distance: 7 miles

Start: Kirklington Station car park. You can extend the walk (by about three miles) if starting from Farnsfield by walking along the railway track to the car park as described in walk. Finish by returning the same way or by walking back from Edingley across the fields using the route in Walk 3. The car park is situated by the old Kirklington station. The station is rather in the middle of nowhere lying nearly half a mile to the north of Edingley and south of Kirklington off a quiet country road.  There is usually plenty of room in the car park and there is also a picnic site next to it.

Southwell Trail at Kirkington station

Southwell Trail at Kirkington station

Winter on the Southwell Trail

Winter on the Southwell Trail

Start the walk by leaving the car park eastwards along the main track by which you enter the car park from the road. The track becomes a road for a very short section by the house. As you reach the junction with track that  goes up a slope out of the car park we carry straight on the old railway track under a large brick bridge. The track is a good one for walking on and is now only muddy in short patches and that is only rarely.  The track is tree-lined and pleasant but is at the bottom of an embankment on each side so the views are very restricted.  Carry straight on for the next mile and a half.  At first you are under the embankment but after 400 yards you pass under another brick bridge and soon after that the sides of the path that have loomed above you start to decrease in height.

Before long you emerge from the embankment area altogether. However, the track is still contained by trees and hedges of hawthorn and blackthorn on either side of you. This restricts the views somewhat although you now can see through to the fields next to the track. Occasionally you will come across crossing places where tractors can pass between fields on different sides of the track. These give a better opportunity to have a look at what lies beyond the confines of the track. In winter these are often good places to see fieldfares and redwings. At all times of the year you may hear and see buzzards.

Maythorne

Maythorne

After a mile and a half on the track if you look to the left you will see the tall mill building of Maythorne. Just before you reach the road you come to a metal barrier. You emerge quite suddenly at the road. Although it is a quiet road you should be ready for this in case of traffic. The railway track continues straight ahead on the other side of the road, going all the way into Southwell. The road itself takes you into Maythorne if you turn left (see Walk 6 for a way back from Maythorne to the railway track near Farnsfield). However, on this walk we turn right along the road. After 80 yards the road turns right and then very soon left. After another 100 yards you come to the main road into Southwell. This can be quite busy so take care crossing and then turn right on the far side where there is a verge and then a footway.

After 100 yards you reach the entrance to Norwood Park. Norwood Park has been much developed in recent years so that it now features a golf course and associated buildings.  It is still a nice walk however. Turn into the entrance to Norwood Park and follow the path on the right hand side of the metal fence which runs alongside the drive for cars.  You are now walking between the metal fence and a practice golf hole but fortunately there is a high, mesh fence protecting you from any stray golf balls. After 200 yards cross the road bearing right to the car park and continue straight on.  Carry on ahead under the trees ignoring all further road turnings for another 200 yards where you emerge from the trees and see the house on your right and golf course to the left. At a crossroads look just ahead of you to your left and you will see a footpath sign and rather obsolete stile.  Follow the sign and go round the stile along a wide avenue between apple trees.  At first the path goes slightly downhill before climbing again.

Norwood Hall

Norwood Hall

Norwood Park

Norwood Park

At the top of this rise you have good views to the right of Norwood Hall and behind you to the left of the golf course.  Ahead of you are the massed ranks of polytunnels used for cultivating fruit.  Depending on the time of year the polytunnels will either be skeletons with only the frames showing or a series of long plastic tubes. Carry on ahead between them going downhill again. Shortly you reach the end of the tunnels and come to a field. Follow the edge of the field straight on down the hill with a treelined hedge on your left. At the bottom you go through a narrow gap in a thick hedge and emerge on the pavement next to the main road from Halam to Southwell. Take care crossing the road as it can be busy and having done so go straight ahead over a ditch into a large field. The path goes straight on up the hill through the field and is usually well- defined. At the top of the field keep just to the right of the row of houses as you come to the Oxton to Southwell road.  At this point you can turn right along the road to cut out the next little section but the road can be busy and although there is a grass verge I prefer the quieter detour described here.

Cross this road and almost straight ahead on the other side you will see a narrow footpath going between the houses. Go down this footpath for 200 yards until you reach the road at the bottom.  This is a quiet, pleasant  road in the Westhorpe of Southwell. Turn right for 300 yards and at the end of the road turn right again going quite steeply up a narrow hedge-lined road. After 200 yards you are back at the Oxton road at a crossroads. Cross the road and go straight along the road opposite (Saversick Lane).  After 200 yards you come to a house on the left with a wide tree-lined driveway.

Turn down the driveway but move over to the left to follow the fence on the grass next to the drive. After 100 yards you pass the house which is to the right of you. Pass a bit of wooden fencing and then keep straight on by the hedge on the left until you reach the corner of the field. Go through the gap in the corner and enter another field containing fruit in polytunnels.  Keep going straight on following a path which passes the ends  of the tunnels. This can be a little muddy in small areas but you can get around those patches. After 200 yards you reach the end of the polytunnels. Go  straight on along a narrow path between trees next to hedge which in twenty yards takes you to the top of a steep grassy field. The view from here is excellent with the steepness of the field ahead seeming to accentuate the height of the hill beyond.  If you wish you can go straight ahead into the field and down the hill where there are paths at the bottom which take you into Halam.  This field often has cows in it and the last time I was there they were blocking the way into the field. This meant that I took a different, and in a way more interesting, route down to Halam.

Looking West to Halam and our route beyond.

Looking West to Halam and our route beyond.

To take this route don’t enter the field. Instead turn right along a narrow path between the hedge on your left and trees on your right. This soon starts descending and turns to the left in a small wood where the slope is steeper.  At the bottom of this wood you reach the entrance to a grassy field. Head diagonally across this field downhill aiming just to the right of the church. You leave the field and enter the churchyard. Go through the churchyard on a firm path going straight on down to the main street in Halam.  Cross the road and turn left along the pavement for two hundred yards.

As you get towards the sharp left bend in the road at the end of the street (you are still in the village) look to the right for a footpath going along a drive at Manor Farm. Take this path and head towards tennis courts. Pass to the right of them over some grass. You cross a footbridge over a stream then turn left along a narrow path for thirty yards before entering a grassy field at the bottom of a hill.  Turn right and go up the hill next to a hedge on your right. After 200 yards leave the field next to a house (Machin’s Farm). Carry on straight up the hill passing the house and then enter a narrow tree-covered path for 100 yards. Emerge from this small copse through a kissing gate into a large field. You now walk along the ridge with the hedge immediately on your left.  The views are very good as you are now high up relative to the surrounding countryside. As you get further along the ridge you can look behind you to the east and often see plumes of smoke from Newark. Walk straight along the ridge for 400 yards until you reach the road at Newhall Lane.

Turn right along the lane passing the entrance to the caravan site at Newhall Farm. Then go downhill and then uphill again along the very straight lane. Pass a few more dwellings as you descend to the junction of Newhall Lane and Little Lane.  Turn left onto Little Lane but after only fifty yards down the hill take a slightly rougher road to the right. After another fifty yards look for a footpath on the left going downhill diagonally across a field. Take this path, which is usually well-defined, and go into another smaller field. Follow the path across and leave this field, going onto a short pebbly drive next to a house. Scrunch your way the short distance to the road. You are now in Edingley.

Cross the road just to the left of the junction opposite where another road meets the main one. Turn left along the pavement for twenty yards where you come to the corner of a large field, most recently containing small saplings. The field is slightly lower than the pavement. Go down into the field and walk along the edge of it away from the road alongside the dyke containing Edingley Beck. After 400 yards you reach the end of this field. Go over the stile into a much smaller field and carry on in the same direction across this and another two small fields. You come to a farm road. Cross this into the field opposite and carry straight on by the dyke through this large field and three small ones. The path continues almost straight all the way until you climb the steps up  the embankment taking you back onto the railway track at Kirklington station where you started.

Walk 3: Farnsfield and Edingley

2 Dec

Walk 3: Farnsfield and Edingley (2.8 miles)

Introduction: Edingley is the next village to the east of Farnsfield, lying about a mile away along the main road. This walk takes you from Farnsfield to Edingley and back along local footpaths.

Start: At the Farnsfield Co-op in the centre of the village as with walks 1 and 2.

From the Co-op car park walk away from the Main Street down Tippings Lane. Immediately after the end of the car park turn left along a little path called Sunnyside. This has recently been resurfaced with tarmac. Walk straight along this path for 150 yards all the way to the end ignoring the turn-off to the right half-way along. You pass between hedges,  gardens and houses.  At the end of Sunnyside you reach Quaker Lane. Turn right for 10 yards then cross Quaker Lane and join another path between houses opposite. After 20 yards this surfaced path becomes rougher and turns into an ordinary footpath.

After 100 yards you come to a junction of paths.  Take the firm path bearing slightly to your right (not the grassy path). This path has houses to your right and a hedge to the left. Carry on along this path for 200 hundred yards, crossing a road which goes to the cul-de-sac of houses on the right, continuing straight on.  The path then meets the corner of a wide track which leads to the Acres playing fields (described in walk 1).  Follow this track almost straight on towards the playing fields with swings 50 yards ahead.

Just before reaching the playing fields turn left along a wide grassy track passing the swings (with the fence between you and the swings). After 100 yards this reaches a gate. Go through a gap to the left of the gate and immediately afterwards go over a stile into a large field. This field sometimes contains cows. Walk all the way to the far end of the field keeping the hedge just to your left. You will notice that you are on a little ridge about two feet higher than the rest of the field.  After 300 yards you come to a gate. The area around the gate can be rather muddy due to the cows entering and leaving the field. The gate itself is rather flimsy. For some reason the previous, sturdy one has disappeared.

Closing the gate behind you enter Cotton Mill Farm. You may encounter a three-legged dog in the farm!  Turn right along the track through the farm but after twenty yards go through a gate on your left into another field. Again this can be muddy by the entrance as this is used by cows. There are a few paths from the farm so make sure that you are following the path with a ditch and tree-lined stream, Cotton Mill Dyke, just to your right.  Walk alongside the stream for 400 yards turning slightly to the left as you near Allesford Lane, leaving the field by another gate and crossing a small footbridge to reach the lane. Go straight over the lane into another field.

Looking back towards Allesford Lane

Looking back towards Allesford Lane

In 2012 this field had head-high maize in it but the path through was clear. If there are smaller crops you can see the way across which is straight on for 200 yards towards tall trees  separating the path from a garden. On reaching the far side of the field keep going straight as the path becomes a track which is the drive to the house. Walk straight on along the track and go through a gate into a nice grassy field next to an equestrian arena. Cross this field to another gate in the next hedge 100 yards further on.  Once after extreme rainfall this gate was surrounded by a large puddle and I had to find a gap in the hedge further along. However, this was exceptional and you should have no problems here.

Go through the gate and cross the next grass field to a taller hedge which has another gate in it which you pass through.  In the following field bear slightly left to a footbridge over a stream.  Cross this and continue slightly leftwards across a field to another gate.  You are now in Edingley near the church.  Going through this gate takes you onto a drive. Turn left and walk for fifty yards to the road.  Cross the road and turn left along the pavement. Follow the pavement for 300 yards passing the Reindeer pub on the way.  As the road bends to the left look for a footpath sign on the right of the pavement near some allotments.

Turn down this path past the allotments and across a bridge over a stream (the Cotton Mill Dyke again). The path now goes along the edge of a field for  50 yards before going straight across the field past a big tree. Follow this footpath to a gap in the hedge opposite and over a little bridge in the hedge. The other side of the hedge is a large field. The path goes at about 45 degrees to your left for 100 yards to another hedge. From the hedge turn right and follow the field edge for 200 yards to the end of the field.

Here you almost reach the disused railway track. Stop just before that and take the wide grassy path to your left running parallel to the railway track . After thirty yards you join with the route of walk 2 of this series. Follow that route all the way to the Co-op in the village as described here.

Walk  along this track through a slightly muddy section and keep going straight all the way back into Farnsfield. After 100 yards the track leaves the grass behind as you reach a house on the left. The path becomes gradually firmer. Near the pumping station and the first houses on your right the track becomes a metalled road (Brickyard Lane). Just past the turning to the pumping station the road passes between hedges with no verge. In the unusual event of a vehicle coming down the lane take care here.

You soon reach the main part of the village with houses on either side. Carry on all the way to the end of Brickyard Lane where it turns sharply right to meet The Ridgeway very near to the junction with the Main Street.  At this point you can join Walk 1 from this site by crossing the Main Street and turning left. The two walks combined make a circuit of just over five miles.  On the north side of the street near The Ridgeway is The Plough pub. If you are just doing walk 2 turn right along the Main Street. You can proceed on either side of the street but need to cross it at some point to return to the Co-op.  After 300 yards you return to your starting point.