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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.

Walks in Central Notts – Walk 27: Kelham Hills and Kelham Hall

6 Jul

This walk takes you on a circuit round the fields near Kelham and down a nice little valley with the option of doing a short extra loop around the grounds of Kelham Hall.  This walk is also described on the Kelham Hall Website but I have gone into more detail of the route.  I did this walk in June and describe the fields and conditions at the time but you may find some differences in the path conditions if you do the walk.

Start: The car park at Kelham Hall just off the A617 road in Kelham around two miles east of Newark. If coming by public transport you can get off the bus either near the road entrance to Kelham Hall or at The Fox pub in Kelham near the bridge over the river.

Distance: 7.1 miles

Map of the route

If starting at the Hall car park turn so that the hall is on your right hand side and walk out of the visitors car park past a barrier into another car park. Carry sgtraight on for 200 yards through the car park and onto a path taking you towards a building that looks like a lodge. just to the left of the lodge is a small, quite ornate wooden gate which you can go through onto the pavement by the main road. Cross the road very carefully as it is always busy and turn left along the pavement on the far side past The Fox pub where anyone who starts this walk from the bus stop at The Fox joins our route.

Immdiately after the pub turn right along Ollerton Road walking along the pavement.  Follow the road for 300 yards rounding a bend until you reach the end of the village.  Here a road comes in from the right.  At this point cross Ollerton Road away from the incoming road and go along a wide track going towards a metal barrier near a farm.  Go to the left of the barrier and then follow a wide farm track straight ahead running between a series of small enclosures some of which contain horses.  This track runs dead straight for 300 yards and then reaches another minor road.  Turn left along this road passing houses and a sharp left hand bend.  Just after the bend on the right of the road you should see a footpath signposted.

Turn right along the footpath and walk away from the houses along a farm track.  Follow this track alongside a field straight ahead for 500 yards.  The path then makes a slight bend to the right and you should carry on along the track keeping the hedge to your left.  After another 100 yards the path makes a sharper turn to the right.  At this point you will see a small footbridge to your left which takes another path away.  Ignore the path over the footbridge and follow the main path around to the right following the field edge.  After 250 yards go through a gap in the hedge into another field which at the time of writing was a meadow of quite long grass.  Keep along the path at the field’s edge aiming towards a wood ahead.

After 300 yards you come to quite a new gate at the edge of the wood.  Go left through the gate and follow the edge of the field just below the edge of the wood.  After 150 yards leave the field and go slightly uphill across a small bridge and into another field at the bottom of a hill.  Turn right and walk along the field edge at the bottom of the slope next to the wood for 100 yards.  You come to the corner of the field which when I did this walk was marked by a hedge and fence bearing a sign indicating it is an electric fence.  The path you want goes left along the near side of the hedge but this too had an electric fence to cross when I was here.  However, this fence was easy to negotiate although you shouldn’t have to do so on a public footpath.

View towards Trent Valley from the top of the hill

View towards Trent Valley from the top of the hill

Having gone under the fence without touching it, although the fence may not be switched on, go into a grassy field and up quite a sharp climb with the hedge immediately to your right.  After 400 yards you are almost at the top of the slope and looking back you have good views of the Trent valley (see  photo).  Just around to the right you will see Micklebarrow Hill which you may be familiar with from Walk 26.  Go through a wooden gate on the right into another field with crops in it  and turn left to follow the edge of this field.  The path soon bends right at the top of this field and you follow the field edge for another 100 yards until yo come to a large gap in the hedge on the left hand side.  You should see a post with a yellow top and footpath marker on it.  Turn left through the gap and follow the track for 200 yards.  You come to a wide track and turn left along this going downhill for 100 yards before turning right for another 100 yards until you come to a road.  This road is a very quiet one but pay attention as you cross it.

If you wish to take a short cut here you can by turning right and following the road straight on for a little under a mile.  This rejoins our main route near Muskham Woodhouse Farm having cut about a mile off the walk.

On the main route: Cross the road and go through a gap in the hedge.  Immediately go down some steps into a small hollow under some trees and then straight up again out of the hollow up some more steps.  This takes you out into the open and our first encounter with the gallops of Averham Park horse racing stables with which we will soon become very familiar.  You certainly can’t accuse the stables of not warning you about the gallops.  There are large signs at each of the four crossing points we use on this walk and also information that we are on the Trent Valley Way, a fact of which you may not have previously been aware.  It is unlikely that horses will be using the gallops unless you are there early in the morning but check just in case. If it is clear cross the gallops.

This takes you into a field of crops which when I walked here had a nicely cleared strip to walk along.  At the end of this field the path goes straight on quite sharply downhill on a section of short grass between trees and hedges.  At the bottom of the slope you come to another gallops crossing and then a farm road.  Crossing these takes you into the main farm and stables complex where you should turn right to follow a road bending round and going slightly uphill past the stables.  You soon leave the stables area and following the road takes you past some houses on the left.  Shortly after these as you go uphill look for a footpath waymark on a post on the right of the road.  There are two paths signed here but we want the first path which goes due right away from the road at a gap in the hedge.  This path is along the field edge with a hedge to your left (along a strip of quite short grass when I did it).

Follow this for 300 yards to the corner of the field where a tree stands guard over a small pond just after you cross the gallops again.  Turn right at the corner and follow the edge of the field for 100 yards until you reach a wide gap in the hedge.  Go up a wide track with the hedge to your right.  At the top of this hill you come to the gallops for the final time and cross them to reach a wooden gate.  Go through this onto a road and turn left for fifty yards.  Then look for a gap in the hedge on the right and take the footpath there across a large arable field, which when I walked it had a strip cut so that the path across is obvious.  If there isn’t a clear path to follow you should aim for the corner of the wood almost straight ahead 200 yards away.  As you reach the wood at a hedge cross a small wooden plank bridge and enter another field.  Follow the field edge with the wood to your left.  The field contained crops when I walked here and there was only a narrow margin at the field edge to walk along making it slightly awkward.  After 150 yards you leave the wood behind and the views become quite expansive ahead as we are near the highest point of the walk.  Carry on along the field edge as the path starts to go down the hill.   After 300 yards you reach the end of this large field and should turn right to follow a path with the hedge on your right.  The path goes slightly uphill again and after 200 yards you leave the field and come to a nicely mown strip of grass next to a hedge and  field.  Go along this strip  until you reach a rought track next to the houses at Muskham Woodhouse Farm.

View from the highest point of the walk

View from the highest point of the walk

Pass these few houses on your left and the track becomes a proper metalled road driveway.  Follow this drive dead straight for 500 yards until you reach a road.  This is the road that you crossed just before you came to the gallops and which you could have followed as a short cut.  At the road turn left and go straight along for 400 yards.  There is no verge to speak of but the road is very quiet.  At the first junction you come to turn right along another road.  Follow this for 400 yards passing a house on the right after 200 yards.  Just after a very slight left-hand kink in the road look on the right had side of the road for a footpath sign.  This sign is partly obscured by plants so look carefully.  There is a metal gate on the track just off the road near the footpath sign which you should look for (see photo).

The metal gate on the track.

The metal gate on the track.

The track was rather overgrown when I did this walk but look closely and you will see the track.  Turn right off the road onto the track and go around the metal gate.  Continue straight along the track going down a hill towards a telegraph pole.  You may find that the track is overgrown but there is a line of least resistance where the plants have been slightly trampled and you can brush through more easily.  I was doing this walk in June when plants are at their most overgrown and it may be that when you do this walk the track is clearer.

Valley near Kelham Hills

Valley near Kelham Hills

At the end of the track some 250 yards down the hill go through a metal kissing gate to arrive in a much nicer environment.  You find yourself in a grassy field at the top of a very pleasant little valley.  Go striaght on down the hill for 100 yards to the bottom of the dip and then turn left at some trees to walk down the valley.  Follow the bottom of the valley downhill for 400 yards aiming towards a wood at the bottom.  Towards the wood you should look for a small stream and the most obvious path worn going slightly off to the right.  Cross the stream and follow the path which soon enters a small area of trees and bushes.  Keep to the bottom of the slope going straight on until you come to another clearer area of grass.  Aim straight ahead towards the next wood around 200 yards away and enter the wood by a metal kissing-gate.

Go straight ahead in the wood.  The path is initially quite clear but then becomes a little overgrown.  I was able to find the way because the plants had been well trampled down.  Go up a small bank onto a little track in the wood running across our route.  Go a few yards to the left on this track and then go down the bank on the far side of the track.  Carry on in the same direction you had been  going before the track.  The path in this part of the wood isn’t too clear but you should be able to make it out.  Very soon you reach a metal gate and go through it into a grassy field.You are at the bottom of a hollow here.  Carry on in roughly the same direction at you have been going staying at the bottom of  the hollow.  Aim for the gap in the trees  just to the right ahead about fifty yards away (see photo).

Just after the wood in the field. Aim for the gap in the trees.

Just after the wood in the field. Aim for the gap in the trees.

This takes you out into a larger grassy field which you should cross going straight ahead.  It doesn’t really matter too much exactly which line across the field you take but you should be able to find a track running straight ahead from the gap in the trees, slightly above the lowest part of the field, where the grass is a little shorter and easier to walk on.  After 300 yards go through a gap in the hedge at the far end of the field where the track is a little more obvious.  Keep straight on through the next field for 200 yards and go through a gap in the trees where the path is again more clear.  This takes you into a smaller field where you should aim slightly left towards a road and the line of a pylon beyond it.  After 100 yards you go through a metal kissing gate onto the road.

Turn right onto the road and follow this very straight road for the next half mile.  The verge isn’t very wide but the traffic isn’t usually too bad and the straightness of the road gives you ample warning of anything approaching, although this can be quite fast.  Another road then comes in from the left to meet ours. Our road then bends slightly to the right before going straight for another 500 yards until we return to Kelham at the point where we left it near the start of the walk with the metal barrier.  Carry on back into Kelham along the road retracing our steps until we reach The Fox pub and the main road in Kelham.  Cross the road and go back through the ornate gate into the grounds of Kelham Hall. Here you can either return to the car park the way you began the walk or do a small circuit of the grounds which adds about half a mile to the walk.

If you do this extra circuit the route is to turn left just after the lodge and follow the narrow driveway road through the trees.  This shortly approaches a car park.  (Not the car park that we went through at the start of the walk.) Follow the road to the right of the car park until you approach the main Kelham Hall building and on your right a large domed building.  Before you reach the buildings you follow a track to the left which takes you to a gate.  Go through this gate into a grassy area next to the river and walk down to the riverside where you may well find anglers.  Turn right and walk along the river bank past the anglers’ pegs which decrease in numeric value over the 300 yards where you follow the River Trent.  You reach peg number 1 as you arrive at woodland.

Kelham Bridge from the riverside

Kelham Bridge from the riverside

Turn right away from the river and follow the track straight thorugh the woods for 300 yards until you reach a large open playing field area.  Turn right across the playing fields, also used as a campsite, passing tennis courts on your right.  Carry on towards Kelham Hall until you return to the car park where you started.