Having grown up between Newark and Nottingham I have an affection for both towns. Newark, though, retains a certain charm which Nottingham sadly lost along with many of its historic buildings.
This Friday we took the train from Nottingham, out through the villages I grew up in and around, to Newark. My partner had found a walk on the Trent Vale website which was around 6.5 miles long. The walk began at Kelham and we realised that we could follow the Trent Valley Way out to the start. I love a good picnic lunch so sandwiches were made and rucksacks packed up.
Heading out from Newark
Heading off from Castlegate, we were soon on the route but discovered that, to follow the Trent Valley Way to Kelham, you must take your life into your hands a couple of times! Crossing first the A46 and then the A617 is a risky business, as cars come flying round corners and off roundabouts. I find it surprising that there is no safer option for walkers on this long distance footpath.
All fears were calmed, however, when we got in our first pony hug of the walk. In one of the fields between roads a charming skewbald came strolling over to greet us. He clearly fancied a bit of attention and thoroughly searched us for snacks and treats. Although I am supposed to be the horse crazy one, it was my partner who could not tear himself away from his new buddy.
Our path crossed Newark Rugby Club grounds, where they were building their bonfire ready for the weekend. After 1.5 miles we arrived at Kelham and we easily found the start of our walk.
To Kelham and Beyond!
Don’t be fooled by the title of the walk; Kelham Hills Circular, there really aren’t any hills. At most the walk is slightly undulating. It was charming though. I love to head to the Peak District but this was a great way to discover a little more about the countryside closer to home.
Throughout the whole route buzzards seemed to be soaring overhead. When we sat on the world’s smallest picnic bench to eat lunch, I was pretty sure the buzzards were circling with intent! I love to see these huge birds catching the thermals and scanned the ground but other birds seem less happy. Thinking that buzzards only ate carrion, I wondered why other birds were so upset by them. A quick check of the RSPB website confirms that they also eat small live animals. The birds are right to be afraid.
Approaching Averham Park, a racehorse training yard, there are signs warning you to take care crossing the gallops. We passed through the, very well kept, yard and back over the gallops on the far side. Averham (pronounced air-am) Park was originally built in 1723 as a hunting lodge for Kelham Hall.
Despite it being early November we were very lucky with the weather. The sun shone on us for a lot of the day and the wind only added a slight chill. It is England at its best; sunshine through autumn leaves.
The peace of the countryside
We barely saw a soul for the entire walk but the paths were well trodden and maintained. I think we must have just picked a quiet day. It was lovely to feel as though we had the countryside to ourselves.
Heading back into Kelham, we resisted the temptation to stop off at The Fox pub, opting instead to wait for the real ales of Newark. I could tell we were both looking forward to seeing our equine friend on the way back. Handfuls of grass were snatched up in the approach to his field. Clearly we had made an impression as we were greeted with a whinny this time. I thought I may end up going home alone this time, as I tried to prise my partner away!
The walk, with the additional out and back from Newark, was just under 10 miles long. A decent length and not arduous due to the lack of hills. As CAMRA members, we thought it would be rude not to try a couple of the local hostelry’s before heading home. We chose to visit The Vaults for one drink before heading to The Ram for a Titanic Plum Porter. Both pubs were very welcoming and had a good range of real ale. Having picked up a Newark Pubs Together leaflet it looks as if we will need to visit again soon!
Trains run pretty regularly between Newark and Nottingham and we were home by four thirty, feeling well exercised, well fed and well refreshed.
Get out and do it yourself…
If you fancy walking the Kelham Hills Circular you can download the route here. Don’t forget to give out some pony hugs on the route though!
If you’re looking for some great places in the UK to go walking then check out this article by the fantastic Zena’s Suitcase.
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