Best walks in Nottinghamshire

Discover the best of Nottinghamshire's countryside, from the heaths and glades of Sherwood Forest to the aristocratic heritage of Clumber Park

Sunlight through forest
Published: March 19th, 2022 at 6:00 am

Sherwood Forest, the River Trent, Clumber Park: scenic beauty in the East Midlands county of Nottinghamshire isn't hard to come by. Discover the best of this landlocked county with our round-up of favourite Nottinghamshire walks.

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Lake and trees
Low morning light over Attenborough Nature Reserve/Credit: Vladimir Korolkov, Getty

Best walks in Nottinghamshire

Attenborough Nature Reserve

3.8 miles/5.6km | 2 hours| easy

Nature reserve lake
Attenborough Nature Reserve – now home to thousands of starlings – was once a series of gravel extraction pits, used from 1929 to 1967/Credit: Alamy

Attenborough Nature Reserve lies between Derby and Nottingham beside the River Trent and is easily accessed by train, car and bike from both cities. Made up of nine flooded gravel pits, broken up by islands and spits, the reserve is awash with resident and overwintering birds. Cattle, little and great egrets have all been spotted at Attenborough, while last winter the attractive Slovenian grebe caused much excitement.

Arrive at the reserve a couple of hours before dusk to walk or cycle the Kingfisher Route for an opportunity to see the full cast of wildlife. 

Attenborough Nature Reserve walking route and map


Sherwood Forest

1.5 miles/2.4km | 45 mins | easy

The Major Oak tree in Sherwood Forest
The Major Oak tree in Sherwood Forest/Credit: Alamy

The heaths and glades of Sherwood Forest are the remnants of a significantly larger royal hunting forest that stood 1,000 years ago. Here, that mercurial cove Robin Hood led the Sherriff of Nottingham a merry dance, poaching deer and becoming a folk hero for the oppressed ever since. 

Whether he ever existed in the deepest greenwood is a matter of conjecture; the rebel in Lincoln green is an intangible, fanciful link to the England of yore. Sherwood Forest’s majestic Major Oak, on the other hand, is very much the real thing.

This is the tree where, according to folklore, Robin plotted, feasted and hid. It’s over 900 years old and remains one of England’s biggest oaks, but the Major’s seen better days. Its immense hollow trunk throws out vast boughs to all points of the compass, but requires a girdle of poles and stays to support the leafy limbs that would otherwise fracture and fail. The famous tree, nowadays fenced-off for conservation’s sake, is easily reached on accessible paths from the new RSPB Visitor Centre (and café) at Edwinstowe.

Sherwood Forest walking route and map


Gotham

6 miles/9.6km | 4 hours | moderate

Gotham Hill Wood, Nottinghamshire
Gotham Hill Wood in Nottinghamshire/Credit: Geograph

Gotham village is famous for the legendary Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham, first published in 1540, in later editions sanitised to Wise Men. One story tells how the Wise Men acted as madmen to dissuade King John from passing through the village and taxing them, madness then being thought contagious.

These numerous tales of simple-minded logic include raking the moon out of a pond, trying to drown eels and a rider carrying a corn sack on his shoulders to take the weight off his old horse. Many of the tales date from the 12th century, but it is a mystery how the hapless villagers acquired their reputation.

Explore the home of the legendary Wise Men of Gotham on this butterfly and wildflower-rich walk in the River Trent valley.

Gotham walking route and map


Clumber Park

1.5 miles (2.4 km) | 1 hour | easy

Chapel in Clumber Park near Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Chapel in Clumber Park near Worksop/Credit: Alamy

Four ducal seats, collectively known as the Dukeries, run through the coalfields of Nottinghamshire south of Worksop.

This area, rich in aristocratic heritage, holds abbeys, stately homes (ruined and whole), estate park, wood and heathland, as well as lakes and meadows edged with lodge cottages of decorative chimney stacks, leaded windows and bargeboards.

Take time exploring Clumber Lake, the Greek and Roman Garden temples and the interior of the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin. It oozes Gothic atmosphere with its Charles Eamer Kempe stained-glass windows and highly ornate woodwork in the chancel, filled with finely-detailed angels and saints.

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Clumber Park walking route and map

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