I set myself a little challenge last August but for some reason it didn’t get written up on the blog, so I decided to rectify this little oversight. The challenge was… to climb the three highest points of Nottinghamshire.

The reason I decided on the three highest points was not just because it seemed like a neat objective, but because there has been some dispute about where the county’s highest point actually is. Originally considered to be the former coal mining site of Silverhill Wood at 670ft (204.3m), other contenders are Strawberry Bank in Huthwaite at 666ft (203m) and nearby Newtonwood Lane, which has been found to rise to the lofty heights of 673ft (205m). Clearly, to be able to claim to have stood on Nottinghamshire’s highest spot I would need to climb them all… just in case…

Luckily they are all fairly near each other so can be combined in one walk, so I plotted a circular route that takes them all in and set off for the car park at Silverhill Woods.

Silverhill Woods is a former colliery in North Nottinghamshire that has been landscaped and turned into an attractive country park. I would have liked to have explored more of it but I had an objective in mind, so set off uphill to the top of the landscaped mining spoils that made up my first ‘summit’. It is adorned by a statue of a miner ‘testing for gas’ in a nod to the area’s former use. Although there is a great view from the summit, I was quite glad that this was not actually the county ‘top’ as an artificial hill seems like cheating…

The summit of Silverhill

After a quick snack I set off downhill, through woodland between two lakes for the Silverhill Trail, a former railway serving the collieries that is now a green cycle trail. Although the café was sadly shut, it was a pleasant walk, passing the platforms of former stations as I plodded down the tree lined track. The sun was out and it was uncomfortably warm, and all too soon I had to leave the trail for the outskirts of Huthwaite and my second summit.

Silverhill Trail

Strawberry Bank is not quite as nice as it sounds. Situated on a bend in the road, it is on a housing estate but the land drops steeply away with views towards Mansfield and Nottingham. Patchworks of fields give way to towns and huge industrial estates, and I could make out the M1 snaking its way through the county like a grey ribbon. As this was once thought to be the highest point there is an information pillar and a bench, which I utilised for a snack. Unfortunately it was a chewy kind of energy bar I got free in my goody bag at the York 10k and it pulled out a filling, and I have had to have a crown since, but that’s another story…

The view from Strawberry Bank

I had planned a route across fields to meet up with the Silverhill Trail to take me into Tibshelf; however it soon became apparent that the footpath did not see a lot of use when I had to fight my way through brambles with any trace of a path lost. Just before re-joining the trail, I met a man walking the opposite way so warned him about the brambles… I was quite relieved not to have seen him a few minutes earlier as I had been answering a call of nature!

I managed to get slightly lost in Tibshelf. Following the road into the centre, I bought sandwiches from the Co-op and sat outside the pub with a coke, joined by a local couple who were interested to hear about my challenge but I am sure they found it a slightly mad idea! After discreetly consuming my sandwiches, my next challenge was to find Newtonwood Lane, as road names are not marked on the OS map… I fired up the maps App on my phone and set off towards Newton, back the way I’d come, so there had actually been no need to go right into Tibshelf. In fact, I passed the end of the Silverhill Trail so could have just stayed on it… ah well…

Approaching Newton

I turned onto the road I hoped might become Newtonwood Lane and started climbing, crossing over the Silverhill Trail and the M1. According to my map this was correct, but it was a relief when, after some walking, a sign finally proclaimed that this was, in fact, Newtonwood Lane. As I climbed I could see the houses of Strawberry Bank to my right, and the road rose to its highest point near a set of transmitter towers- not the most scenic county top, but at least I had conquered it!

The view from the summit!

I decided against my original plan to cross fields back to Silverhill when the first field offered a broken style and a herd of cows, so I decided to carry on down the road back to the Silverhill Trail. I don’t usually like to retrace my steps, but at least this offered easy and pleasant walking and given my earlier experience I didn’t have much confidence in the state of the footpaths.

The Silverhill Trail

It was a lovely evening and there were plenty of people out enjoying the late sun on their bikes or with their dogs. I am not familiar with this part of Nottinghamshire and had thought of it as industrial and a bit grim but I was pleasantly surprised- the landscape still bears the scars from its coal mining past, but the spoil heaps and railways have been transformed into parkland and cycle trails. I may need to visit this area again sometime and explore further.

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