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.
From Gotham church with its 13th-century stone spire, walk north past the 1885 village water pump house. At the bend beyond Kegworth Road, turn and continue ahead onto a lane which heads for the foot of Gotham Hill. Its hedges and verges are alive with butterflies such as commas, ringlets and red admirals amid the lady’s bedstraw, campion and vetch.
Go through a gate into cattle pasture, go half-right to ascend to the left corner of Long Spinney and the site of Weldon Spring, until 1862 the only source of village water during droughts.
Go through a gate, walk left along the ridge, enjoying the wide views, and through a kissing gate into Gotham Hill Wood.
Continue ahead at a cross path to descend steeply, emerging from the wood to follow a farm track between cornfields.
Now cross Nottingham road, the A453, on a farm bridge. At the lane turn right and at a footpath sign, go left and continue ahead across two arable fields and a paddock into Thrumpton village. Turn right and walk past the Tudor-style 1830s gatehouse to Thrumpton Hall.
Continue as far as the former river ferry site (a brick pier and other remains), before turning round and walking back, passing Thrumpton Church. Outside on the nave wall there is an unusual war memorial effigy of a soldier within a medieval-style tomb recess.
Continue along the village road, many of whose 18th-century houses were built by the Emertons of Thrumpton Hall. Go right at the T-junction and shortly left alongside a garden hedge, then over a footbridge to the A453. Across this continue ahead along a metalled track. Beyond a cottage, bear right onto a footpath sheltered by ash trees. Through a gate, bear left up through pasture and into Cottagers Hill Spinney via another gate. Out of the woods continue ahead on a farm track which descends to the Kegworth road.
Cross this and continue on Wood Lane. Passing a wood, go left through a hand gate and continue alongside the wood towards Gotham.
A tumulus here, Cuckoo Bush, is the supposed site of the fence the Wise Men of Gotham built to keep a cuckoo trapped so that summer would go on forever. When the cuckoo flew away, they declared they should have made the fence higher.
Descend to a gate, follow a hedged path and cross a road to continue ahead to the Leake Road and back into Gotham.
The walk combines the ridge of Gotham Hill and the West Leake Hills with the flat valley of the River Trent. It is an area of mixed farming, so there are some pastures with sheep and cattle as well as arable. A few stiles and gates.
How to get there
By car: Gotham is accessed by lanes off the A453 Nottingham Road which joins the M1 to the south-west.
By public transport: Nottingham City Transport’s mostly half-hourly bus service 1 from Nottingham city centre (Beastmarket) to Loughborough stops in Gotham.
The Cuckoo Bush, Leake Road, Gotham NG11 0JL
0115 9830 306
Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps 246 260
Grid ref: SK 536 300
On the north side of the River Trent, beyond the next village north of Gotham, Barton in Fabis is the superb Attenborough Nature Reserve formed from 145 acres (145 hectares) of flooded former gravel pits. Opened by David Attenborough in 1966, it is well known for the variety of birds that visit and there are waymarked walk routes. Open all year, Mon-Fri 10-5, weekends 7am-Dusk. Admission free.
0115 9721 777