There is no better way to enjoy a delightfully sunny day than packing your rucksack, lacing those boots, and taking a walk back in time, through one of North Nottinghamshire’s most historical towns, and surrounding countryside. The small and charming market town of East Retford is one of the oldest boroughs in England and is steeped in history and local folklore, from the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, to our local hero, Robin Hood.
We begin this walk in the quintessentially English hamlet of Babworth, where country lanes are lined with evergreens bursting with bright berries, and small paths and winding tracks take you to a little church, hidden amongst some of the area’s oldest trees. All Saints Church is particularly special and must be in one the prettiest settings in North Nottinghamshire; it dates back to over 900 years and has significant connections to the pilgrim story. It also houses the world-famous mouse carvings by Robert (Mousey) Thompson, I am still trying to find them all!
The next stretch of the walk takes us over field edge tracks, through ancient woodland and by road, where we follow in the footsteps of Dick Turpin, before joining the delightful waterway path along the Chesterfield Canal, which is a perfect spot to stop and enjoy a picnic or watch the world go by. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as redwing, kingfisher, swans, and the occasional heron. Depending on the time of year, you can often spot deer, badgers and foxes, especially during the autumn and winter months as the vegetation is sparse. Simply enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Canal as it winds through the countryside as we make our way to the historical Market Town of Retford.
Retford flourished when the Great North Road was rerouted through the town in 1766, the market square became a hive of activity, with its scores of public houses and inns, attracting a bustling passing trade. The arrival of the railway and the Chesterfield canal saw many changes, and by the 20th century, the population had significantly increased. This lovely town continues to grow and flourish with its eclectic choice of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, theatres, and a super museum!
The Town Hall is a grade 1 French Romanesque inspired building, which sits beautifully in the Georgian square with its elegant splendour, and the Broad Stone which is said to be the upturned base of a cross and was used as a vessel for disinfecting coins in vinegar during the plague to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. As you stroll through the town, take a moment to look up at the rooftops and the stunning buildings, the architecture is fabulous!
The jewel in Retfords crown’ has to be Kings Park. It was opened in 1930 to commemorate the reign of George V and the coronation of George VI. Once voted 5th, in Britain’s favourite parks it offers something for everyone, with flower beds and displays, which are beautiful all year, and the River Idle which meanders gently through, attracting an abundance of wildlife, flora, and fauna.
Why not turn your day of discovery into an overnight stay at one of the regions many fantastic hotels, bed & breakfast, or campsites…this area has so much more to offer!
Hope to see you there!