The secret spots of southwell

Sunshine In Southwell

Travel writer and photojournalist Sally Outram takes us on a beautiful and historical circular walk in Southwell.
 |  Sally Outram  |  Walks

This is a beautiful and interesting walk, which begins in the heart of Southwell; a small market town in Nottinghamshire, which rivals many, with its idyllic setting and its historical past, can only be described as a true cultural gem.


Centre stage has to be Southwell Minister, it is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent examples Gothic architecture in the county, and has Cathedral status, which was given in 1884, it also boasts one of the finest Norman naves in Europe. The twin ‘Pepper Pot’ towers are absolutely striking and inside there are even more hidden treasures; the impressive brass eagle lectern being just one example. It originally belonged to Newstead Abbey, but during the dissolution of the monasteries, was hidden in the lake and was not re-discovered for another 250 years. Auctioned by the 5th Lord Byron, it was obtained for the Minster in 1805. This delightful ecclesiastical space is not just for quiet contemplation and worship; it is the heart of the community, attracting visitors from far and wide. 

Southwell is also home of the iconic Bramley Apple. The original tree is in a cottage garden on Church Street and is the source of the variety as we know it today. Loved all over the world, the Bramley Apple is celebrated by an annual festival which has been held at the Minster every October. Performers and musicians entertain you as you walk through the streets, it is very much a community and global event with visitors from around the world taking part in this wonderful celebration of the humble Bramley apple. 

As you stroll through the town, notice The Saracens Head Hotel, it has a long and rich history dating back to the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was originally known as the Kings Head. Kings, nobility, legendary writers, and poets, including Charles Dickens, and Lord Byron frequented the inn; It is said, that King Charles spent his last night of freedom in the King Charles Suite, before surrendering himself to the Scottish Commissioners at Newark Castle the very next day. 

The towns Industrial revolution is clearly evident throughout, and this walk encapsulates some of that. If you get the opportunity sometime; a visit to the Workhouse is a must. It was built in 1824 and its design set the standards for others in the country. This interesting building takes you on a journey through time where you can follow in the footsteps of the inmates, experience the conditions they endured and take part in interactive events, a place where the past comes to life, however because of restrictions it is temporarily closed until mid-August, and tickets will be required for entry. 

This walk just keeps giving, with interesting mill buildings, historic houses, pretty streets, and walkways, and the beautifully tranquil River Greet, is an absolute haven for wildlife, with plenty of places to stop and admire all that nature has to offer. (look out for the exquisite flashes of blue and green of the Kingfisher, which can be seen darting and dipping along the river).

One of the best ways to discover and explore, this this wonderfully pretty, eclectic market town of Southwell, is definitely by foot! So, put on your walking shoes and enjoy! 

The basics

Distance: 2 miles/3.2km
Severity: Easy.
Gradient: Mostly on the level
Approx time: 1 hour, but allow extra for exploring 
Stiles: None.
Maps: OS Explorer 270 Sherwood Forest, 271 Newark
Path info: Surfaced paths.
Start point: Car Park opposite Southwell Minster (SK703539) on Explorer
Postcode:NG25 0HD
Dog friendly: YEs, on lead (don't forget to clean up after your dog)
Parking: Car Park opposite Southwill Minster. Parking is free for the first two hours so you will need to get a pay and display ticket if you anticipate a longer stay.
Nearest Food: There are many cafés and other places to eat in Southwell. The final whistle on Station Road is quirky, eclectic and a must for railway enthusiasts! The Saracen's Head on Westgate is highly recommended as are the Minister Tea rooms in the grounds of the Minster itself. The Old Theatre Deli is perfect for soaking up Southwell's unique ambiance.

(Check current restrictions for public amenities, pubs, and other places to eat)

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