IMG_1433As part of my training for the Millennium Way Challenge I needed to complete a fairly long walk on Sunday, particularly as I missed a week’s worth of training due to illness.

I dug out my copy of John Merrill’s Long Walks in Nottinghamshire with the intention of picking a walk in an unfamiliar area so it would be an adventure as well. I decided on a 23 mile route along the canal from Worksop to Retford and back along fields and through the woodland of Clumber Park.

I started my walk at the village of Bothamsall part way along the route as this was easiest for me, and set off along fields and tracks towards Clumber Park, an ancient tree lined mound of what was once a Motte and Bailey standing proud against the skyline behind me.

Motte and Bailey at Bothamsall

Motte and Bailey at Bothamsall

We have had such record amounts of rain this winter in the UK I was expecting to be wet all day, but the sun reflected off the red stone buildings of Hardwick village in Clumber Park as I jogged through. There are some delightful forest tracks here, and I crossed the Limestone Avenue and gently climbed towards a golf course and Worksop college, attempting a 4 miles an hour pace by alternating walking and jogging.

The Wier at Hardwick, Clumber Park

The Wier at Hardwick, Clumber Park

Worksop College

Worksop College

I passed a man with his Labrador, who asked me with great interest where I was from and how far I was going, then got slightly lost in Worksop, but eventually reached the Priory with its beautiful gatehouse and impressive church. I have never seen Worksop’s church before but it was spectacular, although I didn’t venture inside as a service was being held.

The Gatehouse, Worksop Priory

The Gatehouse, Worksop Priory

I now had 9 miles of canal to cover to reach Retford. Although good overall, the path was fairly muddy in parts as it followed the waterway past locks and under the A1, and my 4 hour pace gradually fell apart. As I approached Retford it started to rain so I nipped into a handy Asda for some water and to use the loo. Wet, muddy and bedraggled, I felt really self-conscious amongst the pristine Sunday shoppers!

Views along the canal

Views along the canal

The route now let the canal, crossed through Ordsall and through muddy fields following a stream to Eaton. I passed a couple with an excited, muddy dog splashing in the stream who promised to keep her there until I had passed!

I was a little concerned at the prospect of walking a mile along the busy A638 to Gamston (not my Gamston unfortunately as my legs were aching quite a lot by now and I would have been quite glad to be home!) but fortunately there was a path next to the road.

Unfortunately after Gamston there was a 1 ¾ mile trudge along the B6387. Now when John Merrill walked this route it was probably a lot quieter, but unfortunately it is a fast, straight road giving access to the A1 and, as usual nowadays, very few drivers are prepared to slow down and give walkers room.

I went slightly wrong in my eagerness to be off the road. The route leaves the road by way of a farm track before picking up a gated track into Bothamsall. I thought I had missed the farm track, so retraced my steps to a farm I had already passed half a mile before, only to discover it was the wrong farm (they had a very nice tea room though and if I hadn’t have been desperate to finish my walk I might have partook).

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Somewhere over the rainbow…

I forced my legs into a shambling jog back down the road, through a sudden shower of horizontal rain to the next farm, which I realised I had actually nearly reached before I decided to turn round, so I had added another mile on to my walk. Eventually I reached Bothamsall church and collapsed into my car to drink the rest of my coffee.

Bothamsall Church

Bothamsall Church

I was pleased I had completed it, but I am shockingly slow- it took me over 8 hours! Ok so there was a lot of route finding and slithering about in mud, and I lost time at the farm, but I am going to have to work on my speed if I want to complete the Millennium Challenge within the time limit- and I ain’t got much time left!!

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