Gunthorpe, Hoveringham and Caythorpe

Statistics and Files
Start: Gunthorpe Distance: 6.3 miles (10.0 km) Climbing: 12 metres
Grid Ref: SK681437 Time: 3 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Gunthorpe
Statistics
Start: Gunthorpe Distance: 6.3 miles (10.0 km)
Grid Ref: SK681437 Time: 3 hours
Climbing: 12 metres Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: An very flat walk through river meadow and along field headlands. The walk is within a popular walking area and on well maintained paths with lots of interest along the way.

(Note: This walk is kindly contributed by Ken Brockway)


The Walk:

Views of GunthorpeViews of Gunthorpe
Gunthorpe's Italian optionGunthorpe's Italian option

I keep surprising myself with these short walks. I can complete them in a few hours and finding that half day window of opportunity is so much easier than committing a full day to walking. The forecast was perfect - early bright sun, clouding over from noon. I set off at 9.30 having found a parking spot away from the river side where yellow lines imply that Gunthorpe gets busy. Other indications of the honey pot appeal are the many eating and drinking establishments that front the river. Today all is peaceful and I share the walk only with the ever present dog walkers. Gunthorpe Bridge was built in 1927 as part of road improvements along the A6097 linking the Fosse Way to the Great North Road, an improved route to East Midlands towns avoiding Newark. We soon pass the abutments of the 1875 bridge and toll house aptly named the Bridge and Bayleaf, this now being the Indian cuisine option.

Gunthorpe Lock and WeirGunthorpe Lock and Weir
River Trent at HoveringhamRiver Trent at Hoveringham

A warehouse to our left reminds us this was a trading waterway. The massive (by UK standards) lock was built in 1926 as part of improvements to allow larger barges to reach Nottingham. Commercial traffic has disappeared along with the lock keeper so if the traffic light shows amber boat crew have to operate the lock themselves. Fortunately it is fully mechanised. Below the lock we get the best view of the weir where turbulence in the water fed by sewage treatments outflows from Birmingham, Stoke and all the towns along the way creates that distinctive foam and smell. Don't let this put you off a visit, it soon disperses. It would be surprising to walk along this next reach without seeing a boat on the move. White cruisers, some capable of sea going, or long thin steel 'narrow boats' move more sedately unused to such an expanse of water.

At the time of my walk there was much talk of low river levels and the desperate need for more rain but there was an evident current on the wide and deep Trent. I passed an evaluation site for the installation of more wind turbines. No doubt someone will say not in my backyard. I was interested to see that some of the old towpath double gates have been retained. They can be difficult to operate but they could be a unique feature of the Trent Navigation so worth preserving. Having been around on the internet a steel structure on the left attracts my attention as it might be of interest to The Pylon Appreciation Society. I am also attracted to Fernhill, a new home for sale but out of my league. I quote from the agents blurb:- stunning newly built home, lovingly crafted by one of the Midland's most sought after developers, Guy Phoenix.

Hovering Cricket Pavilion and Reindeer's Boundary BarHovering Cricket Pavilion and Reindeer's Boundary Bar
Hoveringham MillHoveringham Mill

We leave the river at Hoveringham at what was The Elm Tree Inn which closed many years ago and was converted into a care home but is now apartments. A pub that could today be a gold mine, it's role has been taken by the adjacent Ferry Farm Park Restaurant. A short section of road walking but there's a pavement then around the back of the village through paddocks and finally out through the Cricket ground passing the Reindeer's Boundary Bar with a window that opens out onto the field. With the river section behind us we've moved onto the lakes and streams. Again I am surprised how much water is flowing. A splash turns my head, hoping to see a frog or vole but it's neither. A shoal of small fish dart along through the clear water while lapwings give their pee-wit call from the grass surrounding the lake to our right.

This expanse of water was created during the extraction of sand and gravel by the Hoveringham Gravels Company, a name which spread through the country before it was taken over by Tarmac. I well remember their fleet of orange lorries with Hoveringham in huge block letters down the side and the mammoth logo on the cab door. Now the site is a peaceful haven for wildlife. I was tempted to explore this area by a picture of Hoveringham Mill supplied by a friend and here we are. The approach suggests the public have been pushed behind a hedge, excluded from view but at the last minute our path passes through a gate onto the drive. What a lovely location. Those on horseback can splash through the ford while those on foot use the bridge which offers a raised view of the the fine mill house. I pause to admire the view and listen to the water cascading perhaps over a wheel or more likely a weir within the dilapidated mill.

Caythorpe MillCaythorpe Mill
Good walking along headland pathsGood walking along headland paths

Immediately our route takes a footpath left and follows the twists and turns of the mill stream, its power now spent. Looking back I can see a scene that Constable would have been pleased to capture on canvas. Entering Caythorpe the house by the bank has a carpet of daffodils and the weeping willow tree is just coming into fresh green leaf, Spring is here. I nearly miss the next mill despite the car having Olde Mill Pottery lettered on the rear. It's the old gear wheel in the wall I initially spot. When I study the map I see that these mills are on the Dover Beck which has Lowdham Mill further upstream passed on a previous walk.

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