Circular Walk

Wells & Waterways

Travel writer and photojournalist Sally Outram takes us on a stroll from Welham to Whitsunday Pie Lock.
 |  Sally Outram  |  Walks

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!

The basics

Distance 4.97 miles (8 km)
Severity Moderate
Gradient Mostly flat
Approx Time 2hours 10 min (allow for exploring and photo opportunities).
Stiles None
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 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.


  1. We begin this lovely walk on the old Welham Road which runs parallel alongside the main A620. With the public house behind you, walk along the road until you come across the waymarked footpath to your right. Proceed through the gate and continue keeping the hedge to your left. After a short distance you will cross a stream, continue until you reach a stile.
  2. Cross over the stile, proceed on and you will come to the railway crossing. Advance over the crossing taking extreme care, as this line is still in use. Once over the railway line, walk along the tree lined track/lane ahead for approximately ¼ of a mile.
  3. At its end you will reach Little Gringley Lane. Turn left, crossing over the road with care, and proceed to the junction (large corner on the A620).
  4. Here turn right along the footpath which merges onto a lane (Pinfold Lane). Continue along (slight incline) for approximately ¾ of a mile, to an intersection. Follow the path to the left and onto The Baulk. The views from here are superb, and on a fine day you can see for miles around. Continue along crossing over the railway line, descending the baulk until you reach the village of Clarborough and onto Church Lane. (Whinleys Road is to your right).
  5. Bear left onto Church Lane along the footpath, passing the pretty church of St. John the Baptist. (It is worth taking a few minutes to explore this beautiful grade 1 listed building). Continue along Church Lane until you reach Main Street A620.
  6. Turn right along Main Street and walk for a short distance, until you are opposite Big Lane. Here, cross over with care and proceed along Big Lane until you reach Broad Gores, turn right and continue along Broad Gores until you reach its end, where you will merge on o a field.
  7. Follow the track/path (bear right) over the field, where the path forks bear left and head to the play park area.
  8. At the play area join the footpath to the right then immediately turn left, follow the path and head up towards the main road and the canal bridge. Cross over the bridge and join the tow path. Turn right proceeding under the bridge and walk along the canal path passing the Gate Inn. This is a great little spot to stop and take refreshments, if you are lucky you may even see a narrowboat or two, as they often moor here, especially during the spring and summer months.
  9. Follow the pretty towpath, go under the next bridge at Bonemill Lane, (formerly Wellhouse Lane, another great photo opportunity). (There are super views over both sides of the bridge.
  10. Continue along the towpath until you reach the legendary Whitsunday Pie Lock. You can leave the route here and cross over the main road back to the start point or continue a while longer along the towpath to the next bridge opposite the Hop Pole, and cross over here. I prefer the latter!

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