Ready to explore? Then get your walking boots on and camera at the ready! This super hike is jam packed with fabulous views, follows beautiful countryside tracks through typical North Nottinghamshire villages, ambles along sleepy waterways and has a few interesting snippets of history and local legend along the way.
One mile to the east of Retford lies the small hamlet of Welham, where we begin our walk. First mentioned in the Domesday book it was originally known as Wellun, Wellum, and by the 16th century Wellom. In c1775 local maps and documents referred to the hamlet as Welham, its name derived from an ancient spring and holy well. The well site on Bonemill Lane, formerly Wellhouse Lane, became a bath house in the 1700s, the waters renowned for healing qualities, were said to be cures for many ailments such as rheumatism and skin conditions because of the ‘high mineral content, soaking from the gypsum in the Clarborough Hills’. The stone bath still exists under the floor of a private cottage, and the spring pours into a dyke close by.
The Baulk in Welham is a high ridge country lane, with fabulous far-reaching views over the surrounding countryside and leads directly to the neighbouring village of Clarborough. It is a paradise for wildlife and the hedgerows are always bursting with life, I love to come up here with my dog and my camera, especially in the warmer months.
The Chesterfield Canal runs through Clarborough, and in the 1700s provided passage to the River Trent, with a wharf which is now the Gate Inn, a different environment to its peaceful tranquillity off today, as it carried coal, agricultural goods and most famously, 250,000 tons of local stone, which was used to construct the Houses of Parliament. The canal totals 46 miles and is known as the ‘Cuckoo Dyke’ The stretch between Clarborough and Whitsunday Pie lock is so peaceful and picturesque. Wildflowers such as violets adorn the bank side, there is plenty of fish to be seen in the canal too, and if you are lucky you may see a Kingfisher, Heron, or a Tern diving for a tasty morsel.
One of many local folklores, Whitsunday Pie Lock was said to have been named so, due to a lady who lived in a cottage close by, baking a huge scrumptious pie for the hard-working navvies who were excavating the locks one Whitsunday; a tradition of pie eating at the lock still takes place on Whitsundays by visitors and boaters alike. One for the diary and don’t forget your pie!
I hope you enjoy this walk as much as I do, happy rambling!
Distance: 4.97 miles (8 km)
Gradient: Mostly flat
Approx time: 2hours 10 min (allow for exploring and photo opportunities)
Maps: Explorer 270 & 271
Path info: Some road, field, track, towpath
Start point: Small road by the A620, next to Hop Pole public house, Retford. SK719818
Dog friendly: Yes, on a lead- respect the countryside code.
Public Toilets: There are pubs along the route, if open, the perfect place to call in for refreshments too!
Refreshments: Some cracking picnic spots and public houses: Hop Pole (start point) and the Gate Inn at Clarborough.
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