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Walking The Robin Hood Way: Creswell Crags or The Harley Gallery to Clumber Park Visitor Centre

27 May

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Start: Either the car park at Creswell Crags Visitor Centre, at the Harley Gallery or, if using buses, the bus shelter on the A60 near the gallery. All these are just off the Robin Hood Way.

Finish: Clumber Park Visitor Centre

Distance: 10.25km

Map of the Route

The Harley Gallery itself has a large car parking area 200m or so from the bus shelter. The car park is free and there are worthwhile attractions to visit if parking at the Gallery.  The Gallery itself has a series of exhibitions throughout the year and a permanent collection housed in a new gallery.  There is also a garden centre and café.  The Creswell Crags visitor centre has a large car park (pay and display) which lies directly on the route.  If you are coming by public transport the bus shelter opposite the Gallery is on the number 209 bus route from Edwinstowe to Worksop with buses every two hours during the daytime on weekdays. It is also possible to join the route from Creswell station, which is half a mile from Creswell Crags, on the Robin Hood Line from Nottingham to Worksop. If you are using buses this stage goes close to a bus stop on the B6034 about half way along or you can walk from the end of the stage about 2km to another stop. Both stops are on the Sherwood Arrow bus route to Worksop.

Description of the Route

From the main entrance to the Gallery car park from the main road cross the A60 to the bus shelter. Facing the A60 from the bus shelter turn left and walk along the pavement for 250m where you reach the Robin Hood Way again. To the left the track goes to Creswell Crags and an alternative car park to start from. Our way goes right and crosses over the A60 again. You follow a pleasant driveway straight on, soon reaching the line of trees seen in the picture.

At a junction near Oaksetts Lodge bear left along a concrete road going uphill, ignoring side turnings which are signed as being private. At the top of the rise turn right along the road towards a plantation.  Again ignore side turnings and as the road bears right near the trees you should turn left to follow the edge of a field.  Stay on this course to the corner of a second field where you turn right to go under trees along a wide track.  You soon reach a tarmac track where you turn right for a short way.

At a barrier turn left to cross a bridge between two large lakes, the Great Lake of Welbeck.  Carry on to join a nice straight grass path with fields on either side and the forest in the distance.

This path follows the line of the famous underground tunnels built for the 5th Duke of Portland so that he could travel in his coach from Welbeck Abbey, his residence, to the edge of the estate without being seen.  At one time you could see traces of the skylights but I couldn’t see any on my most recent walk.  After you reach the wood ahead.  Go through a gate to enter a small grass area under trees.  Bear right for a short distance and go past a lodge on your left.  This takes you onto a path where you turn right.  This clear track is called Drinking Pit Lane and you follow this into woodland.

Shortly you start to climb a little and reach a small sandstone gorge where names have been carved by visitors over many years.  The path climbs a little further then flattens out.  The track is generally wide and firm at first as you enter denser woodland but is very easy to follow as you go virtually straight for 2km.  There are some patches of ground that can become muddy further along but these can be avoided easily enough.

Eventually you reach the B6005 road from Ollerton to Worksop, which you cross with care as it is quite busy. Carry on straight along a narrower but clear and well surfaced track for 300m through woods until reaching a road.  This is an entrance road to Clumber Park.  Turn right towards a lodge, Truman’s Lodge, with an arch over the road (seen in the picture from the opposite side of the arch). You can go on along the road into Clumber Park and then turn left at the next junction after a kilometre towards the visitor centre.  However, my route doesn’t go under the arch and follows the Robin Hood Way, turning left just before it along a tarmac brideway which is also used as a road.

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After 800m opposite a small parking area turn right along a wide, firm track going into woodland. The track runs straight for just over a kilometre before emerging onto a wide grassy verge next to a road under trees. Turn left for a short distance to a crossroads where you go straight over. (If you are getting the bus at the end of the stage you can turn right here and follow the road for a mile to reach the bus stop near Carburton). Soon you reach a gateway where payment to enter Clumber Park is taken but for pedestrians there is no charge.

Continue straight on for 700m going downhill past a cricket pitch on the left.  On the right when I was there could be seen a reconstruction of a World War II trench digging machine which was tested here.  Just after this the road bends left towards the main car park but our route goes straight on into the central visitor area for the park.  There are numerous facilities here including cafe, gift shops, tourist information, toilets and an adventure playground.  It is usually busy with visitors.  This courtyard area is a good place to end this stage. If you want to go to the bus stop at the end of Clumber Park about 2km from here you can retrace your steps to the crossroads and turn left to follow the road all the way out of the park to the stop on the B6034 near Carburton.

Walk 64: Going West from Halloughton to Fields and Ridge

20 Nov

This walk starts in the village of Halloughton just south of Southwell. It goes through farmland and grassy fields going up to the top of a ridge with good views.

Important note

This walk goes through fields which may well have cows in them. When I did the walk I was followed by the cows in one field which got up quite a pace and got close to me. Many people find this behaviour from cows quite frightening and even though I have experienced it many times it is still unnerving for me when it happens. If you find cows worrying then you may prefer to do another walk. My technique for dealing with cows has been effective although I can’t promise that it will work. I find that cows follow me when I am walking away from them but if I turn to face them they stop. I then walk on a bit before turning again. As long as I turn frequently to face them before they get too close they will keep stopping.

Start: Halloughton village about a mile south of Southwell. If coming by public transport there is a bus stop and shelter opposite the road into Halloughton on the main road and bus route from Southwell to Nottingham.  There are regular Pathfinder (number 100) buses every half hour during the daytime (hourly on Sundays).  If using your own transport you should be able to park on the road through Halloughton.

Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Map of the Route

If starting from the bus shelter cross the main road and walk along the road into Halloughton village. This is a very quiet road as it only goes to the village and then some farms. The road goes slightly down at first and then climbs a little as you enter the village and go past the church on the right. Stay on the road all the way through the village for half a mile. The road is well-surfaced all the way along. As you leave the village the road continues to climb and the surface isn’t as good, although fine for walking.

After another half mile the road comes to a cattle grid at the entrance to a farm driveway. There is no sign indicating that the way ahead is a path but it is. Go through the gateway and follow the drive uphill to farm buildings. When you reach them turn left along a decent farm track for 50m. Go into a grassy field on the right, which may have cows in it. Go along the right of the field soon going downhill and alongside a hedge. The going may become a bit soft underfoot as you reach the bottom of the field.

At the bottom go down steps and cross a narrow bridge over Halloughton Dumble in the trees. Go up the steps on the other side into a small area of woodland. Follow the path to reach a field where you turn right for 300m to reach a driveway near a building. Follow the driveway uphill for 300m until you reach a wide track at the top. Turn left along the track for 700m, admiring the extensive views from the ridge, until you reach a large green electrical box on the left and a small copse.

View from the ridge

Officially the path goes left off the ridge just past the trees and then skirts the wood but you can take a short cut by turning off at the green box and going into the field on the near side of the trees.

Just a short way into the field you meet the official path at the corner of the wood and continue downhill with the hedge just to your left. At the bottom of the field turn right and after fifty metres go left into the trees and back over Halloughton Dumble. This takes you to the bottom of a grassy field which can be a bit damp underfoot.

Turn left for 150m to the corner of the field and then turn right uphill. You soon reach a metal gate which you go through into a larger field. This area of the field may well be muddy. Go on uphill with trees and hedge on your left. This field was the one which had frisky cows in it when I walked through it so please take care. The grass is quite long in this field and it will probably be quite soft ground underneath. At the top of the field go through another small metal gate and almost immediately turn right at a hedge.

After 100m go into another field and follow the left hand edge of this field next to the hedge for 300m. It makes a small right hand jink at one point. At the corner of the field you reach the top of a wider track and carry straight on, bearing very sightly left, downhill for 150m. The track becomes a proper farm track and you follow it for another 300m down to a farmyard where you turn left and go through it down to the road in Halloughton again. The centre of the village is to the right and you can retrace your steps to the start.

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire Walk 63: Haywood Oaks and Blidworth Woods

10 Sep

 

This walk follows some of the route of Walk 12.  It starts at the car park in Haywood Oaks just east of Blidworth and largely follows the tracks through the woods and around the edge of the adjoining woods.  It is generally well draining and can be done in any weather as the tracks are good although after particularly wet weather the odd patch may be slightly muddy.  One other thing to bear in mind is that there have been cases where dogs have been taken ill after walking  in Haywood Oaks.  This seems to have occurred in late summer or early autumn. No conclusive reason has been found for this as yet but it may be something that grows at that time of year.

Start: Haywood Oaks Car Park just to the south-east of Blidworth on Baulker Lane, the road to the A614 from Blidworth (if the car park is inaccessible park just off the road by the wide track.  If coming by public transport start from Dale Lane near the end of Blidworth village about half a mile from the car park.

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2km)

Map of the Route

From the car park go back to reach the main track which continues from the car park entrance. This is a good, wide, firm track which is fine to walk on in all conditions. Follow the track downhill away from Baulker Lane. After 500 yards straight it bends to the right and then to the left over the next 300 yards. When the track starts to straighten again and you can see a long straight section ahead we turn right off the main track to go onto a narrower path. The path you want is the one with a field immediately to the right of it. This field often contains pigs. The path goes quite sharply uphill alongside the field before levelling out after 300 yards. Keep going straight on along the path until you come to a house after another 300 yards.

 

Just before you reach the house bear left along the track taking you to a road. Cross the road and turn left to walk along the verge. The road has more traffic than you would expect for a country road so take care. After  200 yards you reach another area of woodland on your right. Take the first path on the right that you come to, going through a small hedge. The  path is narrow and not very obvious through the hedge but soon becomes much wider. Go downhill on a wide track at the edge of the public part of the wood keeping next to a wire fence on your right. The path drops quite steeply downhill along a sandy track. After 400 yards you reach the bottom of the dip and start to climb again along another sandy path bearing slightly to the right to keep to the edge of the wood.

After 600 yards the edge of the wood turns almost at ninety degrees to the right.  The path ahead becomes a wide track but on this walk we stay at the edge of the wood and turn right.  The path narrows but is decent and pleasant among more deciduous trees.  It rises steadily with an open field on your right.  Follow this for 500 yards as far as you can go before reaching the corner of the wood where you turn sharp left.  Stay along the edge of the wood, still with open land to your right.  Follow the obvious path for 400 yards until it goes down a little into the trees and meets a wide track.  This track is the Robin Hood Way which goes up to Blidworth if you turn right (see Walk 12).

 

On this walk we instead turn left along this track for 150 yards going slightly downhill before very soon  going up a small rise.  Where the wider track continues straight on we turn left to go back into the wood.  Follow the edge of the wood on a fairly narrow path which has a few small undulations.  After 250 yards it kinks slightly to the right and soon after turns at ninety degrees to the left.  After 200 yards you meet the main wide track through the wood but don’t follow it.  Instead turn sharp right to stay at the edge of the wood on a narrow but obvious path.  After 250 yards turn left in the wood along the edge path near a neat garden by a house.  250 yards later you reach a corner of the wood and for the first time emerge from full tree cover.  Turn left along the edge of the wood which has a few patches where you are slightly clear of trees.

 

After 150 yards turn right and follow the edge of the wood.  The path slightly leaves the very edge of the wood but you are still close to it.  After nearly half a mile you meet the main wide track in the wood.  Join this main track and follow it uphill for 400 yards until you reach the road at the edge of the wood which you crossed earlier.  Go straight across the road to join a narrow path next to the road.  Turn right along the path but after 150 yards bear left on another path going further into the wood.  Stay on this path crossing a wider path after 300 yards. 

After 500 yards you reach the main wide track in Haywood Oaks which when I did the walk had a large pile of logs by the side of it.  Turn left along this main track which soon reaches the point earlier in the walk where we left it.  It bends right and starts to rise towards two very tall sets of posts with yellow on them that tower over the track.  These are about 100 yards apart but half way between them look for a narrow path going off to the right into the wood.  You can carry on up the main track to return to the start of the walk but for a more interesting and only slightly longer finish turn right along the narrower path. 

  

After 200 yards you reach the edge of the wood with decent views over fields to the east.  Turn left and follow a narrow path along the edge of the wood.  A little further along the path it bears left to go slightly further into the wood and soon reaches the car park where we started.

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire: Walk 58 – Farndon and the River Trent

20 Apr

This is another walk that stretches the definition of Central Notts a little. Farndon is just south of Newark in the east of the county. However, much of the walk is by the Trent and literally just over the river from previous walks in the blog so I thought I would allow it.

It is a short, easy walk which is nearly totally flat and navigation is straightforward. It comes to within a mile of an earlier walk in Newark and it is possible to combine the two walks with a short linking section. I won’t go into details here but you can message me if you want directions.

The village of Farndon is about two miles south of Newark and well connected with buses to the centre of the village. From there you can make your way towards the Marina where there is a little area of restaurants, such as the Boathouse, next to the river. There is also a public car park.

Start: The public car park near Farndon Marina and the river.

Distance: 3.2 miles (5 kilometres)

Map of the route

From the car park walk with the river to your left and the Boathouse restaurant on your right onto a grassy area. Follow the path next to the river for fifty yards before bearing right across the grass on a narrow but fairly clear path going away from the Trent. You follow this path which soon starts to go straight into another narrower field.  After 150 yards leave the field and turn right for 50 yards uphill slightly along a quiet road.  As this turns right you go left at a footpath sign through a narrow gap into an area of lock-up garages.  Go straight through this area and into a field.  Carry straight on across this pleasant grassy meadow with the marina soon coming into view on the left.

Continue to go straight on at the end of the meadow to a large arable field where you follow a wide firm track for 200 yards . At a path junction you turn right to meet the end of a road which you follow straight into the village. Turn left at the first crossroads to walk on along Marsh Lane.  Follow this straight for 200 yards where you leave the houses behind you and reach another field with a hedge ahead.

Follow the hedge straight ahead along a narrow but good path. The path then meets the back walls of houses next to it on the right. Keep straight on as the path climbs slightly up a bank near a building which was a windmill just as you reach the river again.  Going right here eventually takes you into Newark and also meets my Walk 42.  For this walk however we turn left along the river bank.  Almost immediately you reach a gate with a sign saying that it is private land.  Don’t be put off by this as the path sticks to the bank and as long as you stay next to the river you can walk this way.  Go through a pair of the white double-gates that is a feature of the paths by the Trent into what appears to be a garden with nice short grass and trees.  You soon leave the garden and reach open land again.

Follow the path next to the river which bends a little for the next half mile.  The path is a good one by the river on grassy fields with occasional hedges and trees.  The most obvious landmark that you will see looming ahead is Staythorpe power station on the other side of the river.   After a mile the river makes a sharp turn left and the track becomes wider with large flat fields to your left.  It has been quiet by the river until now but you will start to hear a rushing sound from a weir as you approach the power station.  From here you can’t see much of the rapid water but can see the calm water at the top of the weir just as it starts to disappear along the other branch of the Trent as it divides for a few miles.

Staythorpe power station

The  power station now completely dominates the view but if you turn to look behind you towards Newark you can see another building, the parish church by the market place, standing tall a few miles away.  Continuing on the walk stay by the Trent as it swings away from the power station on another large bend to the left.  The track becomes less open again as you reach an area with more trees.  You reach the start of a nature reserve area with several pleasant paths going into the trees.  You may wish to have a wander around these before returning to the river.  By the river you come to benches which are a nice place to sit for a while.

The path soon approaches Farndon marina again and going straight on brings you to a white footbridge over the marina entrance from the Trent.

Farndon Marina

 

Go straight across the bridge and then down a surfaced path bearing slightly to the right.  This takes you back towards the starting point of the walk again and you are soon in the car park area with a variety of options for meals or drinks.

 

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire: Map Showing the Locations of the Walks

15 Jan

I thought that it was time to produce a map showing where each of the walks I have described lies in relation to the others.  This means that you can not only plan one walk but possibly link it with another to produce a longer one as many do actually join up.  To see the number of the walk on the map just click on the marker.   The markers aren’t necessarily at the start of each walk but are along the route so that they don’t get cluttered, particularly in Farnsfield, where many walks start.

The list of walks can also be reached from the Home Page

To see the locations of the walks Click Here

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire: Walk 54 Clipstone and the River Maun

27 Jul

This walk takes you through woods and past small and large ponds along the River Maun.  There are good bus links from Mansfield to the start of the walk with buses 14,15 and 16 every twenty minutes going to Clipstone.

Start: The bus stops by the BP garage on the road from Forest Town to Clipstone.

Distance: 4.4 miles

Click here for the  Route of the Walk

 

From the bus stops walk north a little way and take the road bearing slightly to the left (Clipstone Drive) from the main road on the opposite side from the garage (this is not the road going down the hill to the left).  Go to the left hand side of the road and after 100 yards you see a Bridleway sign on left.  Take the path going left down into the wood.  The path is soon under the cover of trees and goes quite steadily down the hill.

Path near Spa Ponds

The path is quite a good one, firm at first but then becoming more sandy.   After 600 yards you see a sign to the right of the path telling you that you are at Spa Ponds.  These were kept to provide fish for King Edward II and are now a nature reserve.  Stay on the main path and as the path flattens you see the first of the ponds.  Stay on this side of the ponds and go past another three of them.

Spa Ponds

There is a last little descent after 300 yards near the fourth one which is quite steepish and takes you to the bottom of the wood.

a River Maun

On the left you see the river Maun which you cross over on a wide concrete bridge. Follow a narrower path uphill.  This is a little sandy with trees and bushes close by on either side although not over the path to a great extent.

After 200 yards you reach a junction of tracks at a yellow post.  Turn right onto a wider bridleway.   This is flat but with a slope to the right across the fields down to the river.  These were the water meadows constructed for the Duke of Portland between 1816 and 1839 where water from the river and Mansfield were channelled along dykes to improve the pastures.  Follow the brideway, part of the Maun Trail,  which is generally straight for 600 yards until it reaches a hedge at a yellow post.  Turn sharply right and go down quite a steep path for 200 yards to the bottom of the slope.  Go through a gateway at a hedge to reach a large pond on the left.  This is a popular anglers’ lake.  Go straight on to the far side of the lake and a wide, firm track.  Turn left along this and walk straight along with the lake to your left.

Pond on the River Maun

on  Lilies on a pond on the River Maun

There are nice willow trees across the lake and lilies in the water.  To your right is the wood with tall conifers.  Follow the track almost straight to the end of the pond. Soon you reach another lake which you continue past.  You come to a bridleway sign on the right going into the wood but ignore this first one unless you want to cut the walk short as at the top it meets my walk again.   After another 600 yards  you reach another blue bridleway sign to the right and you should take this second one into the wood.  This is a wide track with trees a little way off on either side.  Climb steeply for 300 yards until the wide track bends to left near a signpost.  The wide track continues as a footpath but counterintuitively the bridleway continues as the narrower track that bears off to the right.  This is the one that we take.  It is uphill at first but starts to become flatter and then after 200 yards joins a wide straight track at the top of the wood.   Turn right along this very long track with a slightly loose surface.  There is a hedge on the left with fields, then forest and the headstocks of the former Clipstone colliery visible beyond that.  This track is so long and straight that in the first half of the 20th century it was used for speed trials and record attempts.

Sherwood Forest and Clipstone Headstocks

The wood  you have come through is on the right.  The track becomes a bit softer but it is steadily uphill for the next mile.  The track comes to the first houses and the road is surfaced for the next half mile as you continue straight along to reach your starting point.

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire: Walk 53 – Newstead Abbey, Nomanshill Wood and Harlow Wood, Ravenshead

31 May

This walk takes in a variety of scenery including the famous estate of Newstead Abbey, coniferous and deciduous woodland of Nomanshill and Harlow Woods, a small lake and the large village of Ravenshead.  Some of it follows the Robin Hood Way but the rest is along good tracks or quiet roads and should be suitable for walking in all conditions.

Start:  There is a choice depending on whether you are coming by public transport or making your own way.  I recommend using the bus to get to the start of my route at Newstead Abbey Gates as there are very frequent buses between Nottingham and Mansfield which stop there.  There is space for cars nearby but you may not be very welcome if your car is there for any length of time.  There is a public car park at Nomanshill Wood with plenty of room.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Click here for a Map of the Route

Description

From the bus stop on the by the gates to Newstead Abbey walk for fifty yards away from the main A60 road past a large tree and go into the Abbey grounds past the quite imposing  gates.

Newstead Abbey Gates

Stay alongside the road on the left hand side.  This is the main public entrance road to the Abbey but is quiet.   As you reach the second driveway on the left of the road go to left for 30 yards along it but don’t go into the property as you will see a sign for the Woodland Walk on the wall ahead.  Follow the arrow for the walk and go into the woods to the right of the driveway.   This takes you down into trees and bushes about 30 yards from the road.  The path follows the road closely but always a little way from it along a shady pleasant path.  The path is quite steep for a short way but then descends more gradually until it comes out again to the road after 300 yards.  Turn left here to follow the grass verge alongside the road for the next 500 yards.  This is another very nice walk along Swinecote Dale on a lovely well-maintained grass verge with tall trees on either side.  It is generally straight but with a few gentle bends.

Swinecotte Dale

After around 500 yards near a 20 mph circle on the road look for where a footpath crosses the road.  There is nothing on the road itself but there is a yellow footpath waymark to the left and a footpath sign to the right.  Cross the road and follow the path to the right uphill into woods.  This is now the Robin Hood Way along a nice track under trees on a decent earth surface.  The track is easy to follow and is mainly straight as you climb steadily.  From the highest point after 500 yards you descend still on this good path which soon goes down some long, shallow steps to reach an open field on left as you get to the bottom of them.

Undulating field

Stay going straight on with the attractive undulating field surrounded by woodland on your left.  Go up for a short way then down again until you go under trees again and uphill on a track with low stone wall on the right and wooden fences by houses on the left. There is quite a steep climb for 150 yards to the top and a small gate.  Carry on ahead towards some large telegraph poles where you turn left.  Pay attention here as you then take a narrow path to the right almost immediately that goes off the main track and out of the wood.

Follow a narrow path down to road with a small open area to the left at first.   After 100 yards you emerge next to a fairly busy road. There are also bus stops here.   Go left for a short way then cross the road.  On the other side of the road keep going left until you soon reach a junction.  Turn right along this road going downhill along a wide verge for 100 yards.  At the bottom of the hill there is a wood to the right where there is a “No Tipping” sign and a narrow path through the hedge on the right which you should take.  Just through the hedge go down a small dip then up a little then take a path to the left which soon comes to a car park which is the alternative start point for the walk I mentioned earlier. Bear right in the car park going away from the road and leave the car park at the far end.  You soon come to a large information board with a map of the woods showing the local trails here in Nomanshill Wood and Thieves Wood. Follow a large footpath sign for the White Trail which goes to the right a little.  This leaves the Robin Hood Way until the next junction.

Follow a wide, firm light-coloured track with trees on either side.   The track is mainly straight but bends gradually to the left and is a little undulating.  After 500 yards you reach a major junction of tracks.   The main wide track bears left but you should take the right hand track uphill going into the woods.  This is along a slightly less open and more earthy track.  Go straight along for 150 yards where the path kinks a little to the left but stay on the path for 200 yards until on the left you see Fountaindale school.  Continue for another 150 yards all the way to the A60 then turn right to follow the pavement alongside it for 150 yards.

Carefully cross the A60 here where on the opposite side you should see a footpath sign.  A very short distance to the right along the A60 here is the Sheppard Stone which commemorates an unfortunate girl who was murdered here.  From the footpath sign go straight into the wood (Harlow Wood) on an indistinct path for 80 yards to meet  a wider track. On that track go just to the right and follow the main track that goes straight on.  Follow this good wide track which is quite straight but goes into a small dip around a patch that can be a little muddy. Then soon the track becomes very straight in more open coniferous forest.  After 400 yards the path bends to the right and after another 300 yards you can see a small lake through the trees on the right as you reach more deciduous areas. Soon you come to a major junction of paths in the wood with a signpost pointing to several different tracks.  We now follow my Walk 34 but in the opposite direction.  Turn right at the junction of paths going down a dip to cross a stream (Rainworth Water) where tree felling has recently taken place.  Go uphill and bear left into the woods along a clear path.  Soon you leave the wood and reach a straight sandy path going quite steeply uphill, making it quite energy sapping.  The path has fields to either side and there are nice views across them.  After 500 yards you reach a quiet lane on a bend.  Go straight across the lane and join a narrow path on the other side of it.  Follow this straight on going up into woodland a little further before starting to go down again.  You may hear the sounds of a nearby scout camp here.  As you leave the wood we leave the route of walk 34 and continue down the track straight between hedges with fields on either side for another 350 yards.

Lake in Harlow Wood

Go down to a wooden gate and through that,  After 60 yards on a wider track turn right along a short row of houses that start with Fishpool Cottage. After 80 yards you reach the end of the lane and go through a metal kissing gate under a tree in a hedge.  Turn left for a short way and go through another kissing gate into a grassy field.  Go to the right of the wooden fences ahead of you and past the beer garden of the Little John pub on the left to reach a gate.

This takes you out to a road that you cross carefully to reach the village of Ravenshead. Go to the right for a short way and take the first road left uphill (Bretton Road) and follow this for 100 yards where it bends right and left to become Hereford Road.  Follow this for 300 yards up and down then turn right along Swinton Rise.  Follow this road for 500 yards as it curves to the right gradually before meeting a wide road (Church Drive).  Turn right along this and continue for 150 yards to the end of the road.  Look ahead just to the left on the opposite side of the road you have come to and you will see a sign for Pilgrim Close.  Go across to this sign and follow a pedestrians only path for 150 yards.  This emerges near the A60 and ahead you will see the Newstead Abbey gates where we started.  If you want to cross the A60 there is a crossing just to the right.

A guide to some of the nature that can be seen on my Central Nottinghamshire Walks

25 Feb

At the moment the underfoot conditions are very muddy and many of the walks I have described aren’t seen at their best. I thought that rather than doing a new walk in muddy fields that for a change I would describe some of the nature that can be seen on my earlier walks. This may help with your choice of walks if you are interested in the flora and fauna of the area. I don’t pretend to be a great expert on plants but I have a reasonable knowledge of birds and animals.

Many of my walks involve paths through fields and you will often find yourself flushing out pheasants and partridges which are lying low in the undergrowth. Overhead you may see buzzards soaring and making their “mewing” call. The best places to see them can be near woodland. My record number at one time is half a dozen which I saw circling as I walked between Bilsthorpe and Eakring. That area is also somewhere I have seen kestrels.

Skylarks have suffered a large decline in numbers over recent decades but there is still a good chance of hearing and seeing them in the fields near Farnsfield. I have seen them in the fields to the south near Combs Lane, to the west on the way towards the White Post and to the north on the way to Hexgreave. They can be difficult to spot as they fly high but I once saw a dozen on the ground in the fields just beyond Belle Eau Park on the way from Farnsfield to Eakring.

The hedges next to fields can be a good place to spot birds such as the yellowhammer although these have declined somewhat. A good place for these are the fields to the west of Halam on the high tracks near Newhall Farm (Walk 12).  Large arable fields are the best places for birds such as lapwings although my closest sighting on one of my walks came when walking across the fields to the west of Blidworth on the walk from Rainworth (Mansfield to Newark walk stage 2) .  I once encountered a flock of golden plover on a winter’s day near the disused railway track when crossing the fields from Kirklington to Farnsfield.

The best place close to Farnsfield to see ducks and geese are the ponds near Kirklington. Crossing the fields from Farnsfield takes you close to the “big” pond. This will often have ducks such as mallard, tufted ducks and gadwall on it although they are usually at the far end from the path. If you are lucky you may see swans, a heron or little grebe. Near to the pond I have seen grey and yellow wagtails although not for some years. The smaller pond also usually has ducks on it and occasionally greylag geese.  The pond known as Eakring Flash which is on my walk 37 has had regular visits from the quite rare garganey duck in recent winters.

In winter the fields may sometimes contain members of the thrush family from Scandinavia, fieldfares and redwings. These birds also congregate in trees sometimes with fieldfares being quite noisy in larger groups. The trees near Robin Hood Hill near Oxton have been a good place for seeing these flocks as have the trees and fields near the disused railway track running from Bilsthorpe to Southwell.  Another rare visitor is the waxwing which I once saw on the track near Combs Wood.

Summer visitors include house and sand martins, swallows and swifts.  As I mentioned in the description of the walk at Fiskerton (Walk 32) you may be able to see all four of these in one area.  You are only going to see sand martins if walking along the Trent in my area but the other three species can be seen elsewhere.  You are more likely to see the martins in areas of housing but swallows are common on many walks around the fields in summer and come as close to Farnsfield as Parfitt Drive and the Acres playing fields.  One of the best places to see them is the barn just off the road going into Southwell which you walk past on Walk 10.  In the area of this walk near Kirklington station I have also seen a little egret in the one of the fields.  The first sign of summer migrants is often the sound of a chiffchaff, although often they are less easy to see.  A good place for them near Farnsfield is where the path continuing from Brickyard Lane meets the railway track.  I once saw a treecreeper near here in a tree on the track.

There is a variety of different woodland in the area covered by my walks.  The walks to the east of Farnsfield tend to be where there are more deciduous trees whereas the west is more coniferous.  These latter trees can be a bit oppressive with the dense cover they provide but they are good homes for birds such as goldcrests and if you are lucky crossbills in the areas of heathland near the Major Oak.  I prefer walking in deciduous woodland as the variety of trees is greater.  One of the nicest avenues of trees near Farnsfield is the 300 yards long one of lime trees on the road to Hexgreave from Farnsfield from Walk 2.  A little further along in the Hexgreave woodland I have seen nuthatches.

The area of my walks doesn’t have too many smaller rivers to speak of but the Maun about a mile west of Edwinstowe is my favourite for birds.  I have seen mandarin ducks several years ago and last year saw a kingfisher.  The Trent is of course the main river on my patch and you may see black-headed gulls in many places along the river, especially perching on the fence north of Fiskerton.  Cormorants frequent the river and once I saw oystercatchers near the power station at Staythorpe (Walk 22).

Cuckoos have become a rare sight and I haven’t seen or heard one in the area for two years.  In the three years before that I did hear and see one near Greaves Lane to the south of Farnsfield. The plantation just beyond the Acres when leaving Farnsfield can be an area where jays make an occasional appearance and on the Acres I have seen green woodpeckers.

Moving on to some of the animals I have seen on these walks.  There aren’t many really unusual ones in Nottinghamshire but it is nice to see something like the deer in Blidworth Woods (Walk 39), a hare running across the fields near Haywood Oaks (Walk 12) or Combs Wood, or a lizard in the sun in the grounds of Newstead Abbey. For more domesticated but also interesting animals you can find alpacas in the field to the south-west of Farnsfield which features on my walk 1.

Finally I shall just remind you that with nature you never know what you will see and nothing is guaranteed.  This is just a guide to what I have seen but if you keep your eyes and ears open you may be lucky to see some of these things or something even better.

Walks in Central Nottinghamshire Walk 51: Epperstone

26 Jan

This is a walk starting at the small, attractive village of Epperstone.  It climbs out of the village across fields and then some surprisingly testing undulations before reaching a track at the top of a ridge with good views across the Trent Valley.  After a walk along the ridge it returns to Epperstone along another track.  Most of the walk is on good paths and tracks however, there is a short section which is quite boggy and I wouldn’t recommend that after wet weather unless you have good boots.

Start:  The centre of Epperstone on the quiet main street through the village.  There should be space to park along the street if making your own way there.  If coming by public transport there is the 747 bus every hour or so until around 2pm from Monday to Saturday from Lowdham and Calverton. Then a long wait for the next one.  The walk starts next to the bus shelter in the centre of the village.

Distance: 5.75 miles

Map of the Route

From the bus shelter turn left off the main road through the village, Main Street, to follow a quiet road, Chapel Lane.  There are a few houses near the road but you soon find yourself leaving the village behind.  After 200 yards turn right off the road at a wooden gate with a footpath sign next to it. Go through the gate and along a nice strip of short grass between fences. This takes you to a footbridge over a stream which you cross into a large arable field. Here you are at the bottom corner and turn left to follow the edge of the field going gently uphill along a mainly grassy path. After 300 yards there is a path and bridge going to the left which you ignore. Continue up the hill in the field as it starts to climb more steeply than before for another 300 yards.

The path has been straight along the field edge all the way so far but now you come to the corner of the field by a hedge and a yellow-topped post indicating the footpath. Turn right and follow the hedge for 100 yards to another yellow post. Go left up a few steps through the hedge into another field pausing to look back at the increasingly expansive view. In the next field you follow a hedge on your right and a good grassy path which climbs quite steeply for 500 yards. At the top it is a good idea to pause not only to recover your breath but to turn and admire the view which now extends for miles. Keep going to the corner of the field where there is a pond just through the hedge. Turn left to follow the field edge and go to the right of two small pine trees to reach a yellow post.

View towards Epperstone

There turn right to follow another hedge on your right in a flat field.  Keep going in this direction straight ahead.  After 300 yards the path starts to descend quite steeply towards a wood at the bottom of the slope.  At the bottom of the field drop down into the wood and cross the narrow stream in this dumble.  Very soon you come up out of the dumble and wood and find yourself at the bottom of another grassy field.  The waymark here directs you to the right and you should follow that arrow along the bottom of the field by the wood for 200 yards until you reach another yellow post.  This points up the hill with a hedge now on your left.  Go up the hill with a grassy field on your right.  Again this is quite a testing little climb for 400 yards to the top.  Almost immediately you start to descend again and go for 300 yards to the bottom passing to the right of a house and a small line of trees by the driveway. At the bottom you go a little to the right and then turn left to go through another narrow area of trees.  You find yourself facing yet another climb, fortunately the last one of the walk.  This is quite a sharp one again on grass for 300 yards towards a farmhouse.  Aim just to the right of the house towards the trees where you should see a footpath post.  Bear right to go through the gap in the trees onto the rough driveway and follow that out to a wide track.

Turn left along this wide track until after 200 yards you reach a large farmyard area (Bankwood Farm).  There are buildings on most sides of the yard but if you bear a little to the right, although still going roughly straight on you see that the track continues.  Follow this track out of the yard.  It is a properly surfaced road at this point although only open to farm traffic.  After 300 yards you reach a barrier which you can go to the right of to continue the walk.  This track is at the top of a ridge and if you turn round there are good views to the south towards the Trent Valley.  Continuing again on our walk the track runs almost straight between hedges before bending a little to the right near Thurgarton Quarters Farm, which is on the left of the track beyond the hedge.  800 yards from the barrier you reach a red-brick farmhouse on the right of the track just before it reaches Hollybeck Garden Centre.  Opposite the house look for a track in the wood to the left although I couldn’t see any signpost here.

The track is reasonable at first but after 100 yards you turn left and come to the start of a quite boggy area.  The path is mainly grassy but it is wet underfoot and it seems that horses have been ridden along here because there are hoofprints evident.  This has caused sections to become very muddy and because the track is quite narrow in places it is hard to avoid all the muddy patches.  I came along this way after one wet day but otherwise dryish weather so it will be pretty unpleasant after wet weather and would need waterproof boots.  Having said that the worst of the mud is only for about 400 yards as you go along what would be a nice grassy track in dry conditions.  The way is obvious along the hedgeline even though it takes a few twists and turns.  After 400 yards of muddiness you reach some trees and turn right.  Leaving the trees takes you out into a field and the rest of the walk is almost mud-free.

Stay on the left of the field next to a hedge for 100 yards then turn left over a footbridge.  This takes you into another large field.  Turn left along the grassy margin next to the arable field and walk for 100 yards to the corner of the field near a wood.  This corner may be a little muddy but you can cut off the corner before the last and muddiest bit.  Here you turn right and follow the edge of the field with the wood on your left.  At then end of the wood turn left to reach a proper track after 200 yards.

The track is a good one and well signposted through the farm area by wooden fingerposts.  Follow the track towards the farmhouse for 300 yards.  50 yards before the farm buildings turn left along another good track at a fingerpost.  After 200 yards you reach a hedge and fingerpost where you turn right and follow another track alongside the hedge.  This track is mainly grassy but there may be a few puddles and small mud patches.  The track goes straight for 500 yards to the corner of the field where you come to a footbridge on the left  that crosses a small stream in a narrow wood and then comes to another field.  There is another wood to your left as you follow the edge of the field for 150 yards until reaching another proper track.  Turn left along this good, firm track next to the wood.  As you leave the wood behind you reach a hedge by the next field.  Keep straight on beside this hedge going downhill.  You soon arrive at more trees on your left but keep straight on going downhill following the tree line.

Woods overlooking Epperstone

On your right all this time has been a large field and beyond that views to a wood.  As you reach the corner of the field the path takes you out of the field and into the trees on a decent path.  Follow this path downhill through the edge of this wood for a short distance with views over fields to the left.  After 150 yards you leave the wood and come to a lovely grassy track between hedges which takes you down to a farm.  At the time I did this walk there was some building work going on here but it is straightforward as you keep going straight on past the house then turn sharply to the left and make a steep descent for fifty yards to reach a farm road.  Turn right along this and follow it straight for a just over half a mile into Epperstone, where it becomes Chapel Lane again, until you reach your starting point.

There is a very well-regarded pub, The Cross Keys, just along from the bus shelter.  This is well worth a visit, especially if you have missed the 2 o’ clock bus and have to wait for several  hours until the next one arrives.

Walks in Central Notts – Walk 49: Laxton and the Three Field System

27 Sep

This walk is a circuit around the village of Laxton.  For a small village there is a great deal of interest here.  Laxton is the only village in England that still uses the old Open or Three Field system of farming which dates back a thousand years.  There is a visitor centre next to the Dovecote Inn in the centre of the village.  However, this isn’t the only visitor centre that features on our route as not far out of the village is the National Holocaust Centre which commemorates that event and other human rights issues.  The village has a good website which gives details on the history of Laxton.  The walk takes in the visitor centres and the field system as well as a Motte and Bailey castle.

Start:  The centre of Laxton.  You can park in the centre of the village.  The Dovecote Inn, which is worth a visit, has a good size car park which also serves as the one for the visitor centre.  Unfortunately the bus serfvice to the village is rather infrequent.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Map of the Route

From the Visitor centre and car park at the Dovecote Inn go out to the road where there is a triangular island.  You will see the tower of Laxton church straight across from you.  Go over to the pavement by the church which you may wish to visit.  Cross the road and carry on uphill on the pavement alongside the road.  After 300 yards you reach a bend where the main road bears to the left and a minor road called Town End goes straight on.

At this point my original plan for this walk was to leave the main road and carry on straight along the minor road.  After another 300 yards at an information board going straight on should take you onto a footpath which is marked on the Ordnance Survey map.  Unfortunately this footpath became overgrown with nettles and I can’t recommend walking that way if the path is in that condition.  It may be that at a different time of year or if it is cleared that you can walk along it so it may be worth having a look to see if the path is clear.  Going this way avoids walking along the road until the path meets the road just before the Holocaust Centre.

However, my walk now has to stay along the main road.  I wouldn’t want to do that by choice but this road is pretty quiet and so is my preferred option here.  Stay along the main road as it leaves the village.  After 200 yards from the village  just past a bend look for a wide track on the left hand side of the road which is signed as being a Private Road.  This is in fact a bridleway which we can walk along.  The route of my walk doesn’t go that way but you may wish to walk along it for 300 yards to have a look at Mill Field, the largest of Laxton’s field system.  There is an information board to tell you more from where there are also good views.

Mill Field

Go back to the road and carry on away from Laxton.  There isn’t much of a verge but the road is mainly straight from here and you can see what is coming. The verge gets wider further along the road as the hedge disappears. After a mile just after a bend to the left you come to the Holocaust Centre on the left of the road.  It really is the middle of nowhere and a surprising location for such a Centre but is interesting and thought provoking.

Our route leaves the road almost immediately after you pass the Centre.  Look to the right of the road where there is a wooden fingerpost directing you onto a field.  Take the footpath leaving the road to the right. The path follows the edge of a large open arable field with a ditch to the right. The path curves around to the left with trees now next to the ditch until after 200 yards you come to a wooden finger post with a sign indicating the footpath goes to the right. Go right here over a narrow wooden footbridge then into another arable field. There was no clear path in this field when I walked here but you should go straight on from the bridge aiming for a solitary tree 150 yards directly ahead. As you approach this tree you should see a gap in the hedge a little further on to the right of it which should now be your target.

Go through this gap and find yourself at the top of a slope in another field where there is a clearer track down the hill.  Go down this to the bottom of the hill to a wooden post with a yellow top.  To the right of this there is an open gateway which you go through to into a grassy field.  Go through quite long grass for twenty yards then turn left to walk along the bottom of  fields on a slope. We are walking through shorter grass at the field edge here.  Stay at the bottom for 400 yards until we come to a proper farm track going up the hill.   Ignore the track and go slightly to the left through longer grass to stay along the bottom of the fields going towards a wood ahead to the left of the fields.   After another 400 yards go over a stile.  This takes you into the corner of a field where some of the ground has slipped out of the field so you have a short steep climb to go around this ditch.  Stay at the bottom next to the wood (this is Kirton Wood) for 100 yards until you reach a stile with various waymarks. Going over the stile to the left takes you into Kirton Wood which is a Nature Reserve and pleasant little excursion.  If you have a look at the wood come back to the field to continue the walk.

From the stile you can go straight up along tree line for 200 yards in this grassy field with sheep in it until you come to a hedge after the last of the trees where you go to the left to a yellow topped post at the next hedge along 100 yards away.  Alternatively at the stile by Kirton Wood stay along the bottom for 100 yards to the next hedge and then go up the hill to the yellow topped post.   This post is by a stile and wooden fingerpost.  Go over the stile into the next field, which is ploughed with no clear path and a little uneven to walk on when I did it. Aim for a gap in the hedge on the other side of the field immediately opposite about 200 yards away but when you get there don’t go through the gap.  Instead turn up the hill along the edge of the field following the hedge.  After 200 yards you reach the top of the hill then descend a short way to the corner of the field and another yellow topped post.  There follow the field edge right for fifty yards to a gap and into the next field. Follow the field edge in this field for fifty yards where you see a post with a yellow arrow footpath waymark.

The arrow points sort of straight on which this takes you a diagonally across the field.  If you can see an obvious path then take it but when I was walking there was no clear path and I decided to drop down into the field on the left and go straight down a little way on a slightly distinct track.  I followed that until after 100 yards there was a clear line across where the crops changed.  This line is level with a hedge up the hill on your right.  Turn right here and go up the hill until you reach this hedge line which you follow to the top of the rise and then down to the field corner .  There is a gap in the corner which only really becomes clear when you get close.  Go down from the field to an archway in the hedge where you can look down fifty yards to a line of rushes marking a dyke.  There is a footpath post there but you have to go a little to the left to go over the dyke.  This takes you to the bottom of a field where there is another waymark a little further up.  There should be a path diagonally across the field, which you can take if possible, but there wasn’t when I did the walk.  If that is still the case you should go uphill on the right hand side of the field for 100 yards. At that point look across the field as you go and you should soon see a stile on the other side in the hedge.  Go across the field and go over the stile.

This takes you into a grassy field which may contain cows.  Go right up the hill for 100 yards to a small rather muddy area near a gate where the cows have churned the ground up.  Look to the left of the gate for a stile partially hidden by nettles when I was there.  Find your way through the mud and go over the stile to another small muddy patch.  There are bits of wood and stone to help you through the mud.  There are two stiles just past the mud.  One goes into a grassy field but we want the one under a tree which goes to the left.  Go over this stile onto a track between hedges.  This is a little overgrown at first and quite narrow but after 200 yards it beomes wider and grassy and good to walk on.  Carry on this track for 200 yards to a corner.  On the left at the corner look to a field where there is what’s left of a a motte and bailey castle, the largest remaining in Nottighamshire.  There is a board giving details about it and if you are lucky you may be able to go into the field for a closer look.  However, the kissing gate into the field was locked on my visit.

Laxton’s Motte

To continue the walk, at the corner of the track turn right to follow another wide track for 300 yards.  You reach houses and then the main street in Laxton opposite the church.  Turn left down the hill to return to the start of the walk and possibly a visit to the Dovecote Inn.