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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.

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire – Walk 16: Kirklington and Roe Wood

15 May

Please note that I recently did this walk and some parts near Roe Wood are very overgrown.  I wouldn’t recommend doing it until later in the autumn when hopefully things will have improved.

This is a circular walk starting and finishing in the village of Kirklington.  After an unpromising start alongside a busy road it makes a pleasant circuit of fields and woodland and gives some good views.

Start:  Kirklington isn’t a good place to find somewhere to park.  The best spot is probably near the attractive towered church on the quiet cul-de-sac of Church Lane just off the main A617 that runs through the village.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Leave Church Lane and turn right to follow the pavement alongside the A617 for 400 yards until you reach the end of the village.  This road is extremely busy and used by lorries so isn’t the most enjoyable walking.  On the positive side there is a pavement or footway for nearly all of the way along it.  As you leave Kirklington cross a quiet road on the  right which goes off towards Normanton and Southwell.  Immediately after this road you rejoin the pavement which soon starts to rise quite steeply up the hill.  At first you have fields to your right and as you rise up the hill the views start to become quite extensive to the south.  However, the traffic will probably discourage you from lingering and in any case you will have views that are just as good later in the walk in a quieter spot.  The pavement enters an area of trees as you get near the top of the hill about 600 yards from Kirklington.

At the top of the hill the road bends to the right.  The pavement only continues for a little way after this but the verge at the side of the road is reasonably wide for the next hundred yards.  The road starts to go downhill with a farm now appearing on the left and here the verge disappears.  Look to the opposite side of the road for a gap in the hedge a little further down the hill where a footpath leaves the road.  As you reach this point cross the road very carefully and go through the gap into the field.  At the time of writing the path here goes through an unploughed field and the path is quite rough.  Follow the path downhill going away from the road.  You pass the back of a farm and cross a ditch which may have water in it.  Keep following the indistinct path slightly left towards a gap in the hedge and now starts to rise again across another two fields.

Leave the second field through a gap in the hedge and enter a different world.  You arrive on a grassy track which is surrounded on both sides by trees which meet overhead to form a tunnel.   In such a lovely place it is hard to believe that you are only 300 yards from a very busy road.  Turn left and walk along the tunnel for 400 yards.  It is an absolute pleasure to walk along this track.  The grass is short and easy to walk on and the track is is good condition all the way.  It is a shame to leave but when a gap opens up on the right at the end of the track go out into a field.   This is a large arable field.  Turn left and follow the edge of the field next to a wood.  There isn’t a clear path to follow but the field isn’t too uneven.  After 300 yards you come to another field and follow an obvious path running downhill towards a wood (Roe Wood).

At the bottom of the field you will see a wide track going to the left into the wood.  However, the wood is private and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and you shouldn’t enter it.  Instead at the bottom of the slope head right of the hedge to follow the edge of the wood on quite a narrow path.

You soon come to a series of enclosures, containing horses when I last walked this way.  The horses are contained by what I suspect is white electric fencing although  I didn’t see any signs to indicate it was electric.  I wasn’t going to touch it to find out and you would probably also be best advised not to touch it.  Walk between the enclosures and the wood.  The path is wide enough to walk in single file without much danger of touching the fence, the only slight problem being where a tree branch overhangs the path and you have to duck through the gap going close to the fence.  After 400 yards you pass the end of the wood and soon come to a wooden footbridge over a stream on the left.  Cross the bridge and then turn right alongside the stream by the field edge.  After 200 yards you reach a wide farm track.

If you turn right here you can go up to the small and tranquil village of Winkburn.

We turn left at the track and follow it for the next half mile.  Initially the track rises gently to come back towards Roe Wood.  It then follows Roe Wood on the left with fields on your right.  The track is always in good condition to being firm and wide with hedges a few feet away on either side.  After half a mile a footpath goes off to the right up the hill where  you will see another farm ahead.  However, our route continues to follow Roe Wood.  We leave the track through a metal kissing gate to the left and join a footpath along the edge of a field.  We are now separated from Roe Wood by a ditch.  Go up hill along the field edge until after 400 yards you turn left again to enter another field.  Carry on uphill along this field edge next to Roe Wood until you reach the top.  Step through a  metal gate to leave the field where a line of trees goes off to the right.

Leaving the field you will see ahead of you a ditch which is crossed by a wooden plank bridge.  That path takes you back to the A617 .  We don’t cross the ditch.  Instead our route turns right and follows the line of trees.  This is a narrow track which runs straight along the line of trees.  While taking a generally straight course it twists and turns slightly as it runs between the trees.  Considering it is such a narrow line of trees it is surprisingly well covered and is a nice walk.  The only slight  concern is to watch for tree roots.  After about 500 yards look for a gap in the hedge on the left where you will see a post indicating a footpath and also a waymark for the Robin Hood Way. Turn left through the gap and enter a field.

Carrying straight on along the tree line takes you to Dukes Wood which has a small visitor centre with information about the oil-wells that used to be on the site.  It is also a nature reserve.

Once in the field go straight ahead along the edge of it looking for yellow topped posts indicating the footpath, aiming for a big barn at the end of the field near some woodland.  Then you join a farm track which goes to the left of the big barn and then past another smaller barn.  After this second barn keep following the wide farm track straight downhill for 400 yards to the bottom of the dip and then uphill again for another 300 yards.  This takes you to the end of the field where you can admire the view ahead without the traffic spoiling your enjoyment.  Go over  the farm track coming across you and follow the path through the  wide gap in the hedge ahead.  This takes you onto a wide track going quite steeply down hill below a clump of trees.  Below you to the right you can see a small lake and the large building of the former Rodney School .  Follow the obvious track down the hill.  It turns on the way down.  This is a fine track to walk down as it has good views to the south and pleasant woodland above you on the escarpment to the left.

At the bottom of the hill go through a rather basic improvised gate and step over a cattle grid.  Fifty yards later you reach another cattle grid with a wooden gate on the right.  Go through the gate and onto a tarmac drive next to a series of buildings.  Turn left along the drive and follow it for 100 yards until you reach the main A617 road again.  Here you can return to the start of the walk again along the main road or do an extra half mile or so along my recommended extra loop.

For this loop go  straight across the main road and carry on down the track entrance opposite with the barn to your right unfortunately now obscured by boards.  After fifty yards at the end of the track carry straight on across a field for eighty yards until on your left you reach a wooden bridge over the river.

The bridge is about ten feet above the river which at this point has high, muddy banks as it meanders through. This bridge is a good point to pause for a short while. I have stood quietly here watching a good variety of birds in the nearby trees which were seemingly unaware of my presence.  On leaving the bridge you have to find your way through a small but quite dense patch of woodland. There are a few paths through the wood and you may have to look  a little carefully to spot the way. You are aiming diagonally through the wood to your right as you leave the bridge and the right hand path takes you in that direction. Go along this path for 200 yards until you reach the corner of the wood which has a yellow waymarked post.

From this corner cross the thirty yards of the field in front of you and then go for a short way with the hedge on your right until you come to a gate with a stile next to it.  Either go through the gateway or over the stile into a large, grassy field. Turn left and walk between the hedge on your left and a fence  on your right for fifty yards. The fence then disappears and you enter a wider expanse of the same field. Ahead of you down the small slope you can see a pond. Head just to the right of this pond down the hill for 150 yards.  The path then crosses a bridge but we aren’t going that way.  You may wish to pause by the pond for a while.

Smaller Pond near Kirlkington

Smaller Pond near Kirlkington

Our route goes back up the hill in the field we have just crossed only this time we aim leftwards towards the hedge near the house at the top of the slope.  The path is usually quite clear.  After 150 yards you reach a wide gap in the hedge.  Go through the gap and then immediately turn right alongside the hedge for 200 yards going gently downhill.  As you near the end of this field look for another small grassy field or lawn on the right.  Turn right and cross this lawn to the far end where it meets the end of Church Lane.  Turn left and follow the lane towards the main road where we started the walk.

Walk 6: Southwell to Farnsfield near the River Greet

30 Mar

Start: Car Park at the end of the disused railway track, now known as the Southwell Trail,  off  Station Road near The Final Whistle Pub.

Distance:5.7 miles

This walk is a point to point walk from Southwell to Farnsfield. It runs close to the old railway line between the two places but I prefer to avoid the track itself as the views are often restricted by the trees. If you want to make this walk a circular one you can easily do so by returning to Southwell along the railway track which takes you back to your start point. Alternatively you can get the hourly bus between Farnsfield and Southwell (number 28).

From the car park walk to the road near the pub. At the road turn left and pass the tall mill building overlooking the River Greet and pond. Immediately after the mill turn left along a footpath. This crosses a short patch of gravel before becoming a narrow path with the river Greet on your left and Reg Taylor’s garden centre on your right. you are separated from the garden centre by a fence but can see through that. Shortly you can see a pond in the garden centre which can be worth having a look at to see the birds.

River Greet near Southwell

River Greet near Southwell

The path itself can be rather muddy at this point as it seems to get a fair amount of use and is narrow. The river here is about six feet wide. Carry on straight along the path as you reach the end of the garden centre. You now reach fields on your right with the river still at your left as it starts to make small meanders. The walk continues straight along the path. The fields on the right can be quite varied in character depending on the time of year you walk. In recent years these fields have often had maize in them. In the spring you will be able to see across the fields but as the year goes on the maize grows higher and higher until it really is “as high an elephant’s eye” before harvesting in the late autumn. If the maize is tall I think it gives a rather exotic feel to the area. You walk along and can imagine being in a tropical country with the vegetation towering above you. It also gives a sense of isolation. Someone could be twenty yards away and have no idea you were walking there hidden by the maize.

Maize field near Southwell

Maize field near Southwell

Eventually you have to make a sharp right turn at the end of a field. Ignore the temptation to carry on into the clump of trees. There is a path going into the trees but that has been caused by people thinking that is the correct path, me included. It comes to a dead end at the river and you will have to turn around. Having taken the sharp right turn follow the field edge for about 200 yards before taking a left turn through a gap in the hedge.

River Greet near Maythorne

River Greet near Maythorne

The river Greet appears again on your left as you emerge from the hedge. It is slightly wider than before and is flowing more quickly. Walk alongside the river for 200 yards before you have to divert your course slightly as you reach the hamlet of Maythorne.  As you reach a wooden footbridge it is worth walking the few yards towards the tall mill building in Maythorne to reach a narrow footbridge over the river as it sweeps down from the mill. If you wish to return to Southwell from here you can easily do so by walking through the “courtyard” area of Maythorne past the few buildings. Then go up the road for 100 yards to the old railway track and turn left along that.   You can follow the track all the way back to the start of the walk.

Near the Mill at Maythorne

Near the Mill at Maythorne

To continue the walk to Farnsfield go back to the first footbridge you came to near Maythorne. Go slightly downhill under some trees towards a stile. Cross the stile. The area around the stile can be rather muddy at times and you may have to step carefully around to reach the field beyond the mud. This field can be a little wet underfoot after heavy rain but otherwise is a pleasant grassy meadow. The path across the field can usually be seen quite clearly. You are aiming to the right of a few trees in the middle of the field towards the hedge on your right as you cross the field. You should reach this hedge at a point roughly level with the trees. Continue along the hedge for 100 yards.  Go through the hedge across a stile then immediately turn left over a wooden plank bridge and another stile. You enter a new field, dryer than the last. Aim diagonally across this field towards the hedge corner on your right. On reaching this corner turn right uphill, walking in the middle of this narrower part of the field towards a telegraph pole. Go to the right of the telegraph pole towards the corner of the field where there is a stile by a gate. Cross the stile and go downhill for 10 yards onto a road. This is Corkhill Road.

Turn left along the road going quite steeply for a short way downhill. You emerge from the trees at the bottom of this little hill. On your right is a long, quite steep ridge whilst on your left are flat fields.  Follow Corkhill Road for about a mile. The road isn’t very busy but you will probably encounter a few vehicles as you walk along. Fortunately the verge is wide all the way along. I chose this way because the views here are better than if you walk along the railway track. There is nothing very remarkable but you can see quite a long way on your left hand side across the farmland towards small clumps of trees. You may see buzzards as you walk along. On your right you pass a few farms at regular intervals.

Eventually you reach the village of Kirklington where Corkhill Road meets the busy A617 coming down the hill. Carry straight on along the A617.  This road isn’t very nice to walk beside but there is a pavement and we are only alongside for a short time. After 150 yards look for a footpath sign on the left as you reach the entrance to a farm and barn area. Turn left and walk straight down the track entrance with the barn to your right. Carry straight on across the field for eighty yards until you reach a wooden bridge over the river.

The bridge is about ten feet above the river which at this point has high, muddy banks as it meanders through. This bridge is a good point to pause for a short while. I have stood quietly here watching a good variety of birds in the nearby trees which were seemingly unaware of my presence.  On leaving the bridge you have to find your way through a small but quite dense patch of woodland. There are a few paths through the wood and you may have to look  a little carefully to spot the way. You are aiming diagonally through the wood to your right as you leave the bridge and  one path takes you in that direction. Another goes almost straight on from the bridge and on emerging from the wood you should turn right and follow the edge of the wood until you reach the corner of the wood which has a yellow waymarked post.

From this corner cross the thirty yards of the field in front of you and then go for a short way with the hedge on your right until you come to a gate with a stile next to it. Cross the stile into a large, grassy field. Turn left and walk between the hedge on your left and a fence  on your right for fifty yards. The fence then disappears and you enter a wider expanse of the same field. Ahead of you down the small slope you can see a pond. Head just to the right of this pond down the hill.

Smaller Pond near Kirlkington

Smaller Pond near Kirlkington

On reaching the pond you come to a solid, wooden footbridge over a stream. Crossing this bridge you reach metal kissing gate. If you wish to return to Southwell you can go through that gate and follow the path and waymarks along a field edge. You soon reach a road and can join the old railway track by turning right, then a left turn at the next road junction.   However, our route ignores the kissing gate. Instead we turn right to follow the path with the stream on our right. After eighty yards turn left away from the stream and follow the field edge. On your right now is a paddock field which usually has a horse in it.  There is a gate into this paddock marked as a footpath but I prefer to go just past this gate and turn right alongside but just outside the paddock.  After eighty yards the path becomes a rough lane with houses on either side. After another one hundred yards this lane meets a road. Turn right and walk along the pavement. Soon you see the drive to a  farm, Moor Farm, on the opposite side of the road which has a wooden footpath finger-post pointing along it. Cross the road and turn into the driveway.

Walk along this drive, a roadway between hedges, for 300 yards. As you near the entrance to the farm property look on your right for a path between trees. Walk down this path. After 50 yards you reach a large pond (or small lake). This is a lovely spot and home to a good selection of water birds. You will often see mallards, coots, moorhens, swans, geese, tufted ducks and little grebes. I have also seen herons, cormorant and gadwall here along with grey wagtails in the area to the right where the water from the pond drops into the pool and river.

Large Pond near Moor Farm, Kirkington

Large Pond near Moor Farm, Kirkington

Pool near the pond

Pool near the pond

Sapling Plantatation

Sapling Plantatation

Retrace your steps to the driveway and go straight across it to reach a stile going into the field opposite. G into this field and walk straight ahead for eighty yards with a ditch on your right. Then turn ninety degrees to the right. You walk for 400 yards between the ditch and hedge on your right and sometimes a plantation of saplings on your left. Go all the way straight along until you come to a tall hedge at the end. The hedge on your right comes to an end just before this and you turn right when that hedge ends. Keep the tall hedge on your left and walk beside it for 200 yards. The path can be quite muddy for a short section here.

At the end of the hedge turn left to cross a small field for fifty yards to a row of trees. As you cross the field you can see to your right a small fence belonging to an equestrian cross-country course. Go straight across the row of trees to a yellow waymark post and keep going straight ahead across a large field. You should be able to see the way ahead as the path is reasonably well-defined. You are aiming for the corner of the hedge ahead. You reach this hedge corner after 300 yards and then aim for the gap at the end of the field. The path goes just to the right of the field edge and after 150 yards you reach the end of the field and come to the disused railway track which goes all the way back to Southwell if you turn left.  If you wish you can go back to Southwell which is just over three miles away.

Otherwise go into Farnsfield as I have described in earlier walks.

Cross the railway track and go through a gap opposite near a bench. This brings you to a wide grassy track. It can be muddy at this point for about twenty yards or so but thereafter is in a good state. Turn right along this track through the 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. Turn left to follow the Ridgeway for twenty yards onto the Main Street. Turn right along the Main Street to reach the centre of the village.