This beautiful and interesting walk is still one of my all-time favourites. Beginning in the heart of Southwell; a small market town in Nottinghamshire, it is easily accessed via the A1, rivalling many, with its idyllic setting and its historical past.
Centre stage has to be Southwell Minister, it is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent examples Gothic architectures 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.
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.
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, and exceedingly tasty Bramley apple.
The Saracens Head Hotel 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 him-self to the Scottish Commissioners at Newark Castle the very next day.
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!
Distance: 2 miles / 3.2 km
Gradient: Mostly on the level. Approx time: 1 hour, but allow extra for exploring.
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
Parking: Car Park opposite Southwell 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.
Dog Friendly: Yes; on lead (do not forget to clean up after your dog).
- Begin at Church Street car park; you can park here free of charge for 2 hours, but will need to pay for anything over, using the pay and display. Leaving the car park, turn left and walk along Church Street, notice the classical Georgian architecture and the splendid Minister as you pass by. Continue along, passing Harvey’s Field, and Palace view on the right, until you reach the junction with Farthingate to your right, walk by the front of the Hearty Goodfellow pub on your left, and you will see Shady Lane to your left. Look out for Bramley Tree Cottage, as here is the birthplace of Southwell’s iconic and renowned Bramley Apple.
- Turn Left at Shady Lane, walking by the side of the Hearty Goodfellow pub, continue along, crossing Potwell Dyke, until you reach Burgage Lane. Here turn left and continue along the path, passing a car park and Becher’s Walk on your left. Proceed along for a short distance until you reach the junction with Burgage Green. Cross over the road, turning right and continue along passing the War Memorial, where you turn right on to the Burgage.
- Proceed along the road until you reach the cross roads. Here turn left and follow the path as it veers to the left around Burgage Green in a loop. Notice the imposing yet elegant stone gateway to the old House of Correction, which was built in 1808, replacing an earlier building close to the site.
- This historical and archaeologically significant area is also synonymous with Nottinghamshire’s legendary Lord Byron, as the beautiful Burgage Manor was once his family home around 1804 for a few years. After taking a while to admire the wonderful buildings, continue the loop following the road to the right onto Burgage, which becomes Kings Street, where you will pass the Market Square on your right, and a delightful array of buildings and shops.
- After a short distance you will reach a junction, the old Market Place, to your right you will notice the Old Theatre Deli, a superb spot to watch the world go by, and enjoy a bite to eat or a drink; and is also the place where Lord Byron was said to have participated in theatricals on the old stage.
- Next you will see the historical Saracens Head, bursting with history, it is even reputed to have a ghost or two! Follow the path along, passing the Saracens Head, which then becomes Westgate. The Minster is to your left, such a magnificent view through the arch! Passing the arch, continue along Westgate until you reach Bishops Drive. Here turn left and proceed along, heading towards the bishops Manor.
- Finally, you will see a pathway to your left which takes you into directly to the grounds of the Minster, follow the path and take this opportunity to explore and visit this magnificent building, before you return to the car park, which is directly opposite.
All imagery courtesy of Sally outram.