The village that changed sides

A fine autumn morning beside the River Trent with a view towards North Muskham. If you were here prior to 1575, the River Trent would have flowed elsewhere and this would have been meadow land.

The 77 mile long Trent Valley Way follows closely the River Trent as it passes through Nottinghamshire. The path commences at Long Eaton and ends where the River trent meets the Humber Estuary. Over the past few years I have walked much of this path and whereas it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it provides some fine stretches of peaceful riverside walking and passes through some attractive and old villages.

For this walk I am walking the section between Newark upon Trent and Girton. On a previous walk I ended up walking along an unpleasant section of the Newark Western Bypass to get to a convenient bus and this was a mistake that I wasn’t going to make again as this busy road doesn’t have any pavements.

I’m setting out by following some quiet residential side roads through to join the Trent Valley Way to Winthorpe. Winthorpe is a very quiet village with roads leading nowhere other than connecting to the main arteries nearby.

The historic church in the small village of Holme. A fascinating place.

A fine still morning to be cruising on the River Trent near Holme.

In the bright autumn morning sunshine I leave the village taking the lane towards Holme. Once over the level crossing I am soon following the River Trent embankment towards the village. It is great to be out on such a fine morning with hardly a breath of air. The odd patch of stubborn high cloud does obscure the sun for awhile. At Holme I briefly leave the Trent Valley Way to visit the historic church of St Giles. Unfortunately it is locked but from the outside it looks a fascinated building. Holme was once part of North Muskham but a catastrophic flood in 1575 changed the course of the River Trent insomuch it then changed its course to run between the two communities and as a result Holme became a separate parish and is now on the eastern side of the River Trent rather than the west side.
Back on the Trent Valley Way, I continue north following in places an embankment before taking a course a bit further away from the river. I later take a small diversion to Cromwell Lock which is the highest tidal point on the River Trent. The adjacent weir is one of the largest of any such weirs on a British river.

Cromwell Lock on the River Trent and the highest tidal point on the river and yet you are many miles from the sea.

I soon now turn towards Collingham, initially along a track then quiet lane. At St John’s the Baptist’s Church I pause for my morning break. The church is Grade 1 listed and dates from the 12th century but was greatly altered in Victorian times. Again the church is locked but I find a seat in the churchyard but the only downside is the cold shady location.

St John the Baptist Church at Collingham is Grade 1 listed but was locked on my visit.

All Saint’s church in North Collingham is also Grade 1 listed but it appears that all churches are locked in this area.

Heading north through this attractive village I stop at All Saints’ Church which is another grade 1 listed building which too is locked. It was here that I could have caught a more frequent bus back to Newark but I opt to press on to Besthorpe. A good track leads northwest from the Collingham, later passing beside extensive former sand and gravel workings but there are still some active workings. Some of the pits have been turned into what is called the Langford Lowfields Nature Reserve, a joint venture between the RSPB and the contractor Tarmac. It is a lowland wetland habitat with extensive reed beds on which can be found the rare bittern and several other birds including marsh harriers and avocets.

I reach the east bank of the River Trent briefly before turning away to reach Besthorpe. A seat by the village church is my lunch stop but again unfortunately is in the shade. Holy Trinity Church, built in 1844 is unusual insomuch that it is aligned north south rather than east west.

Holy Trinity Church at Besthorpe is unusual in that it was built north to south rather than the customary east west.

The last bus of the day in this area is at the very early time of 14.18pm from Girton and I still have plenty of time to spare and it doesn’t take me long to reach the hamlet of Girton. It will mean a long wait to catch the bus back towards Newark. A quick look at the map shows that I can do a small loop before leaving the Trent Valley Way. I now head further north beside former sand and gravel pits before heading east leaving the Trent Valley Way on a track frequented by gravel lorries. At the A1133 I turn left and soon right onto a minor lane. Here I made a detour to read the Spalford Warren Nature Reserve display boards. This is a rare sand blown heath land with many rare plants and not too dissimilar to the Brecklands in Norfolk. During the WWII the site was used as a munitions dump and visitors are warned to avoid picking up any metal objects.

To get to my bus stop I decide to take the signed path to the south. I soon find out that this is little used and is well overgrown despite relatively new kissing gates. At Tomkins Farm I give up on this path which by now is very overgrown path and I decide head west to the A1133 along the farm drive. By now time is getting on and I am anxious not to miss the last bus of the day. I reach the bus stop with around ten minutes to spare and just time to sit down for a rest and a drink before the early arrival of the bus back to my start point.