Sherwood ForestIt promised to be a lovely day and I needed a nice long-ish walk to help me prepare for the Baslow Boot Bash the following weekend (it’s quite funny when it gets to the stage where you think of a 19 mile walk as long-ish!)

Funds dictated that travelling too far was not a great idea, so southern Sherwood Forest fit the bill quite nicely and I turned to my trusty copy of ‘Long Circular Walks in Nottinghamshire’ by John Merrill.

I chose a walk I’ve done a few times before- a 17 mile circular route starting from near Blidworth and passing through pockets of forest- it’s a pleasant and quite easy route.

I parked the car at Haywood Oaks and took the track to Blidworth, where I stopped to watch a couple of hares running in a field. Blidworth is reputed to be where Robin Hood had his famous fight with Little John but I’m sure that there were a lot more trees around then! After a brief stop at Tesco’s to stock up on lunch supplies, I left the village by way of a bridleway gradually climbing out of the valley, where a flock of lapwings were busy pecking over ploughed soil.

A pond near Blidworth

A pond near Blidworth

The route gently ascends to Harlow Woods, and I stopped for a cuppa as it was getting really warm. Summer was out in full force, and everything seemed so green and fresh- I love this time of year…

As I walked through Harlow Woods, the trees became denser and I had a bit of a mad dash across the main Mansfield Road into Thieves Wood- I can imagine how it got its name but thankfully there are no thieves around now. I followed a path known as the ‘Great Way of the King’, presumably King John who enjoyed hunting in the Forest, to a car park where I sat and consumed my lunch. I felt a little guilty at not buying anything from the burger van parked optimistically in the rather empty car park, but had come self-sufficient today. Plus I am a vegetarian…

Harlow Woods

Harlow Woods

A sign nearby indicated a 1 km ‘white route’ through the forest, so I though I could follow it to add on a little mileage. Well that was a mistake- as soon as I set foot off the path I lost the white topped markers, and ended up back near the main road, so I ended up adding on about a mile!

The next stretch is particularly nice, passing a smallholding and walking through the grounds of Newstead Abbey. A lovely tree-lined path leads from the lodge down into Papplewick, where I found a little circular path leading to Moors Pond Woods and its remains of water channels and ponds which fed the 18th century cotton mills. The Robin Hood legend is alive and well around these parts- Alan la Dale is reputed to be buried at Papplewick.

Track to Papplewick

Track to Papplewick

I left the village along the Robin Hood Way, climbing fields to the A60 and the private Park Hospital at Burnt Stump Country Park. From now on the remainder of the route is mostly forest- through Sansom Woods and into Blidworth Woods.

Sansom Woods

Sansom Woods

I sat on a bench in the car park and had just finished the rest of my coffee in preparation to walk along the path straight through the wood when a woman with two dogs stopped me. She said that there were some youths messing around in a car further up the path, and she had been so frightened she had ran back down to the car park. She offered to drive me round, but I declined, as I had noticed a marked trail on an information board that described a large circle round the wood, intersecting the main path nearer to the top car park. I figured I could play it smart, walk half of this trail and pass by them.

Well, I really should have known better as me and marked trails through woods just do not mix… I followed the markers until I reached a wide track and turned left along it, thinking it was the main track to the top car park. After what seemed like an age I finally reached the car park and headed out onto the road, looking for my track into the next bit of wood.

Blidworth Bottoms

Blidworth Bottoms

It wasn’t there. Where there was supposed to be a track and car park there was a house instead… something wasn’t right. I got out my map and realised that there had obviously been more than one wide track in the woods and instead of picking up the main one, I had followed a different one back down to the car park I’d just left… No way was I trying that again, so I marched back along the main track- no sign of a car so I reckon the youths must have got bored or grown up or something.

Haywood Oaks

Haywood Oaks

I was feeling pretty tired by now, and the walk through Haywood Oaks seemed to take a long time, but the weather was lovely so it was still pleasant. What with all the extra mileage I think I easily did 19 miles- my longest walk for a while. It is one of the prettiest walks I have done in the area though, especially for folks who like walking through lots of trees. Just stay away from those marked woodland trails!

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